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Chico's Eyes

A thank you to Chico Rock Star for the use of this photo...

He titled it "finally" which I take to mean the long wait for skiable snow here in Iceland is finally over. Oh, don't get me wrong, you can play snow sports all year long on our various glaciers (for how long, though, we don't know as they appear to be shrinking rapidly) but good old fashioned downhill skiing and snowboarding sites with tow-lines and a lift or two have been slow to open during the past few years. Valentina told me that her cousin went boarding in Akureyri over the holidays and that the site had their snow machine going to pad the hillsides. Weird stuff so far north.

We used to go as a family for one week every winter to Tahoe, and usually skied at Alpine Meadows (today's snow report: 60-124 inches of snow with "31 inches of fresh powder!").

There is absolutely no comparison between Sierra Nevada skiing and that on offer here. The sheer scale of the mountains, the number of trails and lifts available, the trees...I think by the time I was fifteen I had done every trail at Alpine, including double black diamond Scott Chute and all the short numbers front side below the Sherwood Express. Admittedly, some of those trips were accidental: I'd find myself at the top of a trecherous chute with no other option but down, hopefully not on my butt.

My most memorable incident at Alpine, however, was the time my hard-core Icelandic parents decided a little snowstorm wasn't going to stop us from enjoying the slopes. We bundled up, my sister and I a little hesitantly (I was probably eleven years old), and followed them out of the lodge and into what was building up to be a blinding snowstorm. After a few initial runs lower down the mountain, my parents, with a bizzare Nordic love of elemental adversity, decided we should go higher up the hill. By the time we got to the top of the Alpine Bowl Chair, visibility was literally only a few feet, with horizontal winds whipping ice crystals into my cheeks. The last thing I remember hearing up there at the top was Mom laughing something like "This is just like back home!" And very Icelandic this weather was. Within moments I'd lost them, lost my direction, lost sight of the tip of my skis, lost feeling in my fingertips and toes and lost my nerve. A few tears of self-pity froze onto my eyelashes as I hopelessly called out to anyone who might be able to hear me. After a few more seconds I accepted that the only way out of this dilemma was by moving: by finding first a trail head then by inching my way down the slope until something lodge-like came into view. And that I did. What must have been almost an hour later I reached base, furious, driven, heated and proud of myself. Though unintentional and ethically questionable, my parents had helped me prove to myself that I was a survivor: tough, capable and very Icelandic.

1 comment:

Maria Alva said...

I've been trying to edit the last sentence because it's gramatically incorrect, but blogger's buggin' only on this post ... weird stuff.