An Adventure to Remember- Skiing at White Pass

The weekend before last, my Rooster and I went on a ski trip.  It was an exciting prospect, we took the new (to us) RV and planned on skiing all day and hanging out with our friends April and Matt all night.  We needed a break from home.


We spent the two days prior to the trip getting everything ready.  For him that meant checking all of the fluids on the bus (oil, water, propane), finding and buying the correct size tire chains, and locating and inspecting his ski gear.  He hadn’t been skiing in nearly eight years, but used to work as ski patrol in his younger years, he was so excited to get back on the proverbial horse.

For me that meant finding snow clothes, all I own are the boots, and by that, I only mean snow boots, I have nothing near ski boots.  I contemplated Goodwill for snow pants and a jacket, but somehow just was not excited about wearing stranger gear.  I’m not sure why, since I would definitely have my own clothes under them.  I daydreamed about bright yellow puffy pants, purchased for $5.99.  But then I got a brilliant idea.  My sister Patty and her family go to the mountains every winter for a family weekend.  She had just posted all of the photos of everyone having fun in what…… wait for it…… lots of magnificent ski clothes.  I knew just where to go.

Having successfully borrowed pants, it was on to the grocery store for supplies.

On Friday, we met up with Matt and April at Barney’s Corner, fully loaded and excited for the weekend.  We headed in a tiny parade (of two RV’s) up to White Pass.

White Pass is special in that RV camping is free in Parking Lot C.  There are no hookups or amenities, but you can live there as long as you like.  The men parked the RV’s side by side and we set up camp.  According to the White Pass website, there were 217 inches of snow on the slopes that day, and it grew by about six inches over the weekend.  It snowed almost the whole time.  I love snow so much, everything about it is magical.

The first thing we did after getting set up was walk down to the lodge.  The bar, gift shop, rentals and and restaurants were all closed for the evening, but we got a tour of the three story monstrosity anyway.

Back at camp, we had a barbeque and played a little left, right, center.  Then we walked to the community bonfire.  There are some very nice people that ski White Pass, many of the ones we met that night work as ski patrol and medics.  At least we had names for the people that would likely have to save me from myself.

You see, I was nervous.  I was nervous the entire week before the trip.  I hadn’t skiied since I was 14, and even then, it was cross country skiing.  I was delusional enough to really want to give it a try.  I wasn’t delusional enough to think that I would be a natural.

Eventually, like it always does, morning came.  It was time to gear up and hit the slopes.  Well, hit the rental office anyway.  It is my impression that White Pass is amongst the more affordable of the ski resorts in Washington.  Renting skis, boots and poles was only $35 a day.  $35 is crazy you say, but for some reason I had it in my mind that it would be $65 or more, so that was a pleasant surprise.  Once my Rooster and I were both geared up, we headed out to the snow.  A day on the slopes (lift ticket) was a different story, and while I wasn’t sure I could even handle what happens after you get off the ski lift, we got the whole package.  $63 per day, each.  Since we had finally finished giving all kinds of money to White Pass.  It was time to get down to business…… I mean fun!

My very first experience on downhill skis that day was one of surprise.  On downhill skis, the boots are locked in, both in front and in back.  Cross Country skis give you a loose heel, thus allowing you to flex the ankle and propel yourself forward.  Downhill Skis………. no propelling with the legs.  One must (or I did anyway), move yourself forward with arms and pole propulsion.  It was slow going.

My first venture on a hill was a teaching hill.  You basically get on a 100 foot conveyor belt that grabs the skis and slowly takes you up the hill.  I’m using hill pretty loosely here, it was a very gentle slope.  My Rooster and I got on the conveyor with the other four year olds.

At the top he proceeded to give me a number of excellent tips, keys really, to skiing.  Keep your knees bent, lean forward into the front of your boots, point the skis in together (without crossing them mind you) to slow down and stop.  Or as the instructors were telling the four year olds, make a piece of pizza with your skis.  Sounds easy huh.

First time down that baby slope, crash……. right onto my side, popped one of the skis right off.  It’s ok, it made for easier getting up.  Back up the conveyor.  Down the baby slope, this time I managed to make it back down to the bottom upright.

My ever positive Rooster thought that I was ready for the next step.  Let’s call it the Bunny Slope.  The Bunny Slope was populated by older kids, probably 6-13, some being taught by an instructor shouting “Pizza Slice, Pizza Slice” at them.  On this one, a disc on a bungee rope is handed to you by a ski worker and you put it between your legs, it pulls you up the hill, probably 300 yards up.  When you get to the top, you release the disc towards a target and gently glide down a small slope to flat ground.  Sounds easy.  Sounds Fun.  The first time I nearly wiped out a group of tweens standing too near the exit.  When I let go of the disc, I lost my balance.  I luckily recovered it before crashing into the snow (and the kids), but I probably looked like I was trying to break dance on a slip and slide.

We moved to a fairly empty spot and my Rooster encouraged me to give it a try.  Don’t forget, we were still on the Bunny Slope, and so far he had exhibited a lot of patience with me and I knew I was holding him back from getting up to the top and barreling down the mountain.  I really appreciate him helping me.  My nerves had not calmed even a little bit.

I did make it down the Bunny Slope, but it took me at least half an hour.  I crashed 4 or 5 times.  In the meantime, my Rooster would demonstrate again and have me try and I would crash.  He skied down to the bottom, and came back up to wherever I was on that never ending Bunny hill.   He went up and down several times during my single trip down that slope.

We had promised to meet April and Matt at 11 in the Lodge for a beer and to report on how it was going so far.  I was never happier to drink a beer.  Did I mention that I don’t drink beer?

When we finally reached the Lodge I was worn out.  Tired from stress, tired from crashing and finding a way to get back up, and tired of failing.  I was what you might refer to as a “Hot (Cold) Mess”.

I wanted to quit.  After one beer, Matt and my Rooster headed out to go to the high slopes. I was happy to see them go.  My Rooster wasted his entire morning trying to help me.  I knew his itch to get way up there and go fast was getting out of control.  In the meantime, April and I stayed in the Lodge and had another drink.  I just wanted to take those boots off and cry in the corner.  Let’s just say, I didn’t take the boots off.

After a run or four Matt and Rooster came back.  We all had one more beer together and Matt convinced me that he would give me a lesson, “Half and Hour”, he said, “just give me half an hour, I can have you up and skiing by then”.  It was probably the beer, but I agreed.

The four of us headed out, and where did we go?  To a chair lift.  Matt promised that it was a “short run”, and what the heck, I didn’t come all the way out there just to chicken out.  I couldn’t remember having ever been on a ski lift before, there’s always that right?

I rode up the lift with Matt, all the while he’s giving me lessons verbally.  About halfway up he pointed out a girl that was walking down the hill, there was a man skiing behind her carrying her skis.  It was curious to me, because she didn’t appear to be hurt in any way and her skis looked to be unharmed.  Matt saw me looking and pointed to her, “You know what that is right?  It’s the walk of shame.”

Soon enough the lift ride reached it’s end, and I managed to jump off at the top and come to a stop without falling or looking like I didn’t have any bones.  Then we turned around.  While the “run” didn’t look all that steep, it had several turns to it, and wasn’t particularly “short” in my opinion.

Matt had me start off slowly.  Herein lies the whole problem with me and skis.  They go too fast.  I cannot slow down.  As soon as I think that I’m going too fast and that I can’t slow down, I stand straight up, then (according to Matt), I stick my butt out and start to wobble, then (wait for it)……. CRASH.  He attempted to teach me to stop by doing a sideways slide (since the pizza slice method didn’t seem to be working), I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called.

At first it was working.  Then for some reason I got a little cocky with the move, and every time I tried I over rotated.  I would end up going backwards (still fast), rather than a controlled sideways slide to a stop.  Backwards with my skis crossed.  You know what happened after that……. CRASH.

While this was going on, my Rooster and April would soar right on by, they must have done that run five times while I was busy attempting to ski it once.  I did really well about 20 yards at a time, then (you know the drill already) I would think I was going too fast, attempt to slow down and CRASH.

We made it about 2/3 of the way down that hill.  After what would end up being my final and likely most dramatic crash (I rolled several times and lost both skis before coming to a stop), Matt took my skis away.  He told me that he was afraid that I was going to really hurt myself, and probably break something.  He was probably right, and I gladly did the walk of shame the rest of the way down.

It doesn’t seem like it, but that was really the whole day on the slopes.  We headed back and got dried up (me especially), everyone was sweaty and tired.  I hurt all over, and I couldn’t tell if it was from exertion or injury.

After setting up the BBQ and the pop up tent, Matt and my Rooster took another couple of runs, it was fortunate that one of the ski lifts (my nemesis) was near the RV lot, it was convenient for them to take a few more stabs at it.  April and I busied ourselves making dinner sides, and we got big steaks ready for the grill.

I let everyone know that I wasn’t going to ski the next day, that I intended to go snowshoeing across the street.  April agreed to go with me.  She didn’t have to and I told her as much, but I am happy she did.

After dinner it was a few drinks and an early night, everyone was exhausted.  My Rooster and I watched Snakes on a Plane in the RV.  It amazing how well you sleep when you’ve run your body through a wringer all day.  After an impressively sound and comfortable rest, we were all up and ready to start the day.

The four of us headed out bright and early.  We left the guys at the chair lift and April and I proceeded to the Lodge to turn in my skis.  No need to pay that second day’s rental fee…… $35 refund!  Yes!

Across the street from the main lodge is the “Nordic Village”.  There you can rent cross country skis and snow shoes.  It was much more my speed (or no speed as the case may be).  For $20 each, we were outfitted with snow shoes and poles.  There are clearly marked (by signs) trails for a trek around the lake or to the waterfall.  We chose the lake route (Leech Lake) and marched all the way around it.

It was so beautiful.  There were thick snowflakes falling from the sky, the lake was iced over and everything was calm.  The only noise was the crunch of our shoes and the occasional comment as we traveled the path.

We did see a couple of other groups of people snow shoeing and a few cross country skiers.  We even talked with a woman doing snow skating.  It was so interesting, it reminded me of speed skating, the method anyway.  The snow skates looked a lot like ice skates, except for that the “blade” was plastic and at least 2 inches thick and it was as long as our snow shoes.

After our trip around the lake, we stopped in at the Warming Yurt for some tea and began the trek back to the Lodge to meet back up with the guys.  It was just about time to break camp and head for home.

Before that though, we managed to have lunch and spend some quality time in the Lodge, seeing the Packers lose and making new friends.

My Rooster wants to go skiing again this weekend.  I have agreed that I will be staying home, unless there’s someone out there that wants to snow shoe all weekend with me?

There are lots of morals to this adventure.

Never be afraid to try something new.

Sometimes in a situation that promises grave bodily injury, it’s ok to quit, at least for the day.

I am not good at Skiing, if you can even call my attempt skiing.

Until next time everybody, stay safe, and happy adventures!


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