Location: Mt. Hood, Timberline Lodge Ski Area
Level: Extreme Beginner
After a long process of decision making, the Watsons and Westbrooks settled on getting lift tickets for night skiing, 4 pm to 10 pm. It was the cheapest, it was the most convenient, and it allowed sleeping in. We set off for our drive to Mt. Hood around 1 pm. Once we arrived, we got tickets, got a locker, and rented equipment. We were set. Brad and Colt are pros and can basically ski in whatever kind of circumstance and terrain. Mirela has been snowboarding before, but has never been skiing. I have 3 days of skiing experience under my belt.
We walk outside of the lodge into a crazy blizzard of snow. I thought it'd be annoying, but it wasn't that bad. It was a beautiful view with the trees covered in snow and the outside lights on. Unlike my other skiing experience, where you must get on the lift first before ever skiing, we got to ski down to the first lift. It was extremely helpful. This was basically the bunny slope. We did this a couple of times and then decided to hit the greens. We ask a random man, who said he was familiar with the area, "Which way do we go to get to a green?" He pointed us in the correct direction. I thought, "This is going to be AWESOME."
We begin skiing towards where we thought were green runs. We come to a certain point and realize we have no idea where we're going. It's not too crowded at this time, so we couldn't rely on following people. We sent Colt and Brad to ski a little further and see which way they thought was the best. Colt and Brad came back and said we'll have to hike back up and go to another lift to get to the greens. They said that our only choices here were blues or blacks. It was practically flat, so our plan was to keep our skis on and hike up.
I was currently stopped in an awkward position right at the point where it started to slope. I was fine and standing still, but turning around was going to be tricky. There was a tree a several feet down from me and that was my concern. I said outloud that I would probably need someone to brace me while turning around. Well, I attempted it on my own and totally lost control. I was going backwards down the slope and trying to stop, but I couldn't. So, I just fell. I had not fallen once at this point and I was MAD. I kept saying, "I'm not supposed to fall!! I was fine!! I wanted to go to the whole night and not fall!!!" Tears were flowing. I'm a woman of records and I wanted to be able to say, "I didn't fall." Nope, couldn't say it. This was the beginning.
After many, many minutes of gathering my composure and trying to stand back up, I was finally ready to go. We arrived at our destination but Brad was held up by a dysfunctional ski. Now, if he was a beginner, I would think he just didn't know what he was doing, but this guy clearly knows how to put a boot in a ski. It took about 10 minutes for him to get his boot in and he had to do it manually. No fun little 'click' sound to let you know you're secure. No, he just shoved it in and fixed it himself. So, finally, we headed down the mountain.
Our plan was to go down these greens to the bottom of the lift and eventually, Colt and Brad would leave Mirela and I so they could do their crazy blacks. It wasn't long after we started down the mountain that we got to a familiar point. This is where we JUST WERE. How did this happen?? Where are the freaking greens?? We're all pretty frustrated at this point and the beautiful blizzard is now a bunch of knives pelting my face. Up the slope was a man with a snow mobile, so Colt went running up to wave him down. We figured he could just bring Mirela and I back to the top and we'd just play on the bunny slope all night long, even though that's terribly boring. But, at least we wouldn't die. After the four of us yelled and waved, the snow mobile drove off. We're pretty sure he saw Colt, but just ignored him. Now, this was a turning point. Either we get insanely mad or laugh really hard. We all chose the insanely mad route.
We had to go down the blue. This was not a blue that turned into a green. This was not an easy blue. This was not a short blue. This was a long blue run. This was the only way unless we wanted to hike back up AGAIN and I was not going to do that. After more tears, more falling, and more skis that fell off, we made it to the bottom. We didn't even rejoice at the fact that we did a blue, we were just ready to get on that dang lift.
Mirela and Brad stepped up to get on the lift and as it took them away, Mirela's ski fell off. In my experience, when this happens, they stop the lift, grab the ski, and hand it to the next 2 people on the lift, which would be Colt and me. In thinking this thought, the chair came around at full speed and totally caught me off guard. I was on the lift... but I was NOT in the chair. I was literally hanging on by a thread and I kept screaming, "I'M NOT ON, I'M NOT ON!!" Oh, don't worry, the workers here at Timberline text and take naps while on the job. I was stuck way up in the air and my bottom was not in the chair. Colt was the only thing holding me and, after what seemed like forever, he pulled me all the way up. I was bawling. Yes, I was already emotional from an entire day of being set up for failure, but this was scary business. I really thought I might die. Brad and Mirela had only heard screaming and crying from where they were so I can only imagine what they were thinking. While sitting on the lift, I look down and realize I have one pole. Perfect!!! Colt gave me his so I could get off the lift and not complete one more failure for the day. After Mirela got off the lift with one ski and Colt got off the lift with one pole, we had made it. We told Brad and Colt to continue skiing so they could enjoy themselves and we headed inside the lodge to sit by the fire.
Mirela and I pulled out the trail map to figure out what in the world we were doing out there. Mirela said, "Oh... Claire, look at this." She pointed to the legend on the map that had a yellow square and next to it said, "night skiing." And there it was. If we would have only NOTICED that the night runs were highlighted then we would have quickly realized that there were no green runs even open. Since we were warm and drinking hot chocolate by the fire, we actually laughed about it.
It was terrible and horrible and every bad word there is, but I really love skiing and I plan on going again. :)