February 2019 was one of the coldest months in Calgary’s history. With an average temperature of -18*C, I was unable able to run outdoors very often because the cold air was too harsh on my lungs. Fortunately, I made the happy discovery that touring is an excellent cold weather sport. My ventilation rate while skiing is significantly lower than while I’m running, so I was able to spend up to 5 or 6 hours outdoors without issue. I added it up, and it turns out I ran 12 times in February, and skied 9 days. There were also a couple of indoor workout days, as I rehabilitated my sprained ankle.
Cold weather often equates to spectacular bluebird days. I love the sound of the snow squeaking beneath my feet and relish the solitude of the trails.
A few highlights:
- East Ridge of Panorama. At -27C this was a very cold day out, but it was also my first ever ski summit and we got to ski beautiful, powdery snow.
- Jimmy Junior. At -15C this was a relatively warm ski. My 2nd ever ski summit, with spectacular views and incredible snow conditions. Getting up the mountain was very hard work and both of us were totally gassed when we got the top, but it was amazing!
- Delirium Dive. This adventure is a highlight and a lowlight for me. I have been having a blast learning how to ski. I have become comfortable with falling and I’m eager to keep pushing the learning curve. Unfortunately, being a new skier there are lots of hazards I am unaware of or don’t fully appreciate. On February 22nd I skinned to the top of Delirium Dive and attempted to ski down. The slope is very steep, with lots of cliff hazards. On this particular day it was windswept and the snow was hard. We chose the easiest route down and I figured I would be able to pick my way down. I fully expected to fall once or twice but I didn’t see that as an issue; I fall all the time! I wound up falling as expected, but instead of stopping once I hit the ground I began to slide uncontrollably down the steep slope. I fell for a long time, picking up speed and wondering when I was going to go over a cliff. I thought about all the people who had told me they thought I was capable of skiing the Dive, I thought about Matt who is so supportive of all my adventures, I thought about all the people who would be emotionally hurt if I got hurt. It’s fascinating that as I was falling, the only thing that mattered to me was that I didn’t want to hurt any one else by my own poor choices. Eventually I came to a stop, a metre or so away from the edge of a cliff. Miraculously, I was intact and other skiers were able to gather my gear which was strewn across the slope. My boot had a minor break, and my confidence was severely shaken, but with the help of some friends I managed to ski back down to safety. I had to take it easy for the next few days as my lower legs were quite sore from pushing against the tops of my boots. I also had a large bruise below my knee, but thankfully the bruise was benign.
I didn’t have any serious injuries from my trip down Delirium Dive, but once again I finished the month having to take a few rest days, and down on my overall elevation gain. I am now 40,000ft behind pace on my 1 million feet of climbing goal, but I’m not going to panic. This means that I’m going to have a very fun summer climbing all the mountains 🙂