It was my second season backcountry skiing that I had a snow-safety epiphany.
Until then, I’d been privileged with a strong group of experienced skiing partners, both male and female, to follow around.
On the day of my snow-safety epiphany, I happened to be backcountry skiing with a group of seven men. I was the only female. All day, I asked questions, “Why are we going this way? What are you thinking?” I had no idea. But nobody answered me. Instead, suddenly, one of the guys would take off, and the rest would fall behind him… “What?” Wait! I’d follow along, wondering what the heck?
But the kicker for me was that the guys had also invited a friend who had limited skiing experience. I had limited backcountry experience, but I’d been skiing my whole life. Our goal that day was a committing, 4000-foot, ski mountaineering objective. Not only was our friend a novice skier, he was hung-over, had limited water and no food.
I stressed about our friend all day, meanwhile the guys laughed. I thought, “Great. If he breaks his leg, then what? He doesn’t even have enough water. What if he bonks?”
Later, the sun suddenly fell behind the ridge as I stood below and watched him face-plant. A humid wind pushed down the slope and met me in the face. And, I promised myself, from then on, that I’d gain the skills and knowledge to answer my own questions.
The next day I signed up for a weekend avalanche course at Brighton, Utah. And I talked to my friend and skiing partner, Julie. Together we committed to take a 3-Day Avalanche course in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
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