Suncups: Late Season with David Steele
By David Steele.
My winter has taken on a strange division the last few years: there’s the winter that everyone else knows, with lifts and soft snow and hot chocolate and park laps. Then, April hits. My number of ski buddies starts to decline as the bikes come out and people pull their boats from storage. The second parts starts, and at last, only a ragged few are left to chase down the last pockets of long melted drift. To ski couloirs deep in the shadow. Walk the volcanos. Camp in refrozen snow and make early ascents as pink tinges fill in the horizon.
I’ll keep skiing as long as there are interesting objectives, and motivation is high. Carrying skis, boots, and mountaineering gear up long approach trails gets a little less pleasant as I get older, as I’d rather skin in--this makes for a balance that lets me properly appreciate a light pack or running vest once the snow is more gone. But motivation tempers this: I accidently watched all of All.I.Can back in late July, and ended up skiing the next day. Not deep pow. Nothing even close--I had a mountain goat following the bootpack I kicked up a slushy coulior.
My summer lines can get a little wild, both on the up and the down. Avalanche rarely enters the equation that late in the season, so it’s fun to up the angle and narrow the path. All the skiing I’ve done, from moguls to park to freeride, comes together in clinging to the steeps via spikes or blending a slide through a choke.
It only takes one turn to get that feeling. Maybe it’s the rare ability to feel so much freedom to go as fast as you could, but instead curve over and curb that rocketness, that tug downward, then feel the speed start up as the next turn begins. To do the same over and over again. Blower pow or icy sun cups: it’s there in both.
A week ago (third week of August), a guy we ran into on the trail saw our skis and commented, “Seems a little early in the season, right?” We laughed, but it was spot on: it’s not late season. We’re just getting a jump on next year.
But seriously. Actually coming soon.