Split Decision


A week of firsts. First I got an iphone after my boyfriend traded for a backpack or something and gave me the phone. It has this camera app that takes old-timey photos. I took a picture of my first couloir skiing excursion. Couloir is french for passage or corridor and it’s a steep, narrow gully. This couloir isn’t that narrow, if you take the right way. It’s called split decision because the route splits into two paths. One has a mandatory air, meaning you have to huck off off of a small cliff. The other has a few obstacles, but not as extreme.

The snowpack this year and coverage has been really good, especially for this early in the season. The avalanche conditions are also pretty stable, so I was ready for my first run down Split-D last week. At least I thought I was. Standing at the top I was really nervous. Mostly because I didn’t know exactly where I was going and also because there were a group of dudes I was skiing with watching me from below and I was the only girl. Even though conditions were stable, you don’t want to stop in the middle of steep avalanche terrain, so I was supposed to ski the run top to the bottom stopping point in the safety of some trees. Where we were skiing is accessed from the ski area, but it’s the backcountry. There are no ski patrol or controlled conditions. Shannon did his best to prep me at the top and I kept asking him if I was a good enough skier to do the run. He said I could turn back and ski back into the resort boundary. Yeah right! If I did that he’d never take me again. He told me which way to go, but I was afraid I would follow the wrong set of ski tracks down the more advanced run.  The top part was great, but then my heart started racing. I don’t even know which way I ended up going, but heard a guy at the bottom yell go right go right, and I thought I was supposed to be going left. So I don’t know if I went they way I had intended or not and I did get stopped on a small rock/cliff, but it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. I made it down safely, heart pounding through my chest, but ready to do it again. We went they rest of they way down to where a few snowmobiles were stashed to get us out of the canyon.

On Friday, I did do it again and much more confidently. I knew exactly which way to go and there was even more snow after a foot had fallen on Wednesday. Now it might be my favorite run I’ve ever done.

Shannon hiking up the ridge to Mary's Nipple.