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The Thin White Line March 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — chrysscada @ 4:38 am

My column in the Denver Post in the morning is about my trip to legendary (aka bad ass) Silverton Mountain, but the most scared I’ve been this season was on a resort trail named after the silliest member of the barnyard.

“Goat Path” at Telluride to be exact. 

Neither one of those words together or separately sound intimidating; but it was on Goat Path that my future seemed to come down to one of two options: a) foot the bill and face the shame of getting airlifted out or b) missing the rest of my daughters’ birthdays.

The run started out well enough, fabulous even. In fact my husband was so excited about the snow on the top of Gold Hill Chutes he skied right by the collection of warning signs at the gate. With this thin snow season I’ve gotten used to the collections of signs: “Unmarked Obstacles Exist,” “Caution: Thin Cover,” “This Run Only for Those Who Don’t Value Their Lives.” etc. But among this grouping of signs was a white board that the Patrol had bothered to write a personalized note on.  If they are going to put the time and effort into writing a note, I’m going to read it. “Egress to the ….”

Well, I’m going to read it if my ski partner hasn’t headed off without me and left me looking like I lack the confidence to keep up. So it’s totally his fault I didn’t finish reading the sign. The sign that said (as I would find out later), “Egress to the right.” 

We went left. Right onto a path that ended up the width of one (not two) skis across a field of rocks on top of one really big outcropping of rocks commonly known as a cliff.

I’ve been in similar situations before, but the path wasn’t quite so narrow and the cliff not quite so steep. I’m pretty sure a mountain goat is the only being alive that could traverse that bad boy.

I completely freaked out. 

“Just lift up one ski until the snow ends and then walk your skis across the rocks,” was the wise ski partner’s advice. Makes sense, but I just couldn’t do it. I knew it was my only option. If I took my skis off I’d never be able to get them back on on such a steep slope. Walking on rocks with my skis on just didn’t seem right. I was trapped. 

In the end I did walk acoss the rocks, trying to hold onto the edge of the cliff by digging my ski edges in. 

I say “in the end” because first I had to sweat a lot and cry a little. I lived to take the chair up again and chat with a nice ski patroller about my experience. To which he said, “Didn’t you read the sign?”

Next time I will, next time I will.