|Bleep bleep bloop blap!|
I spent the later half of January and a few days of February in an intensive NOLS training seminar. And by intensive, I mean skiing powder in the Tetons most every day for three weeks. The first week was a professional level 1 avalanche training which I found extremely useful and learned a lot from. The final two weeks was spent ski touring a loop in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) where we were provided ample time to practice what we had learned during the previous week.
During the avy 1, we skied every day. Most days were good, but one day was great! We spent most days skiing on and around Teton Pass as the NOLS base is in Driggs, ID. One day we went to GTNP, which happened to be the day it snowed about 14 inches. My group skied a popular route known as Maverick and had some of the best snow I've ever skied.
|Skiing Maverick in GTNP. Three cheers for Teton cold smoke!|
In preparing for the next section (the WIS, or winter instructor seminar), we decided that our team name would be the Rocketships. With two groups of four and a group of three comprising the Rocketships, we naturally needed names for all the groups. I ended up in the Millennium Falcon, after the famous Star Wars ship. Coincidentally, Ava and I had just finished watching all six Star Wars episodes shortly before I left. This started a theme for the trip that would pervade the remaining 12 days.
The first day of the next section was spent at Grand Targee Ski Resort, where we spent the first half of the day learning how to teach both alpine and telemark skiing progressions and spent the second half of the day learning how to make ourselves better skiers/teach more advanced telemark students. The day was beautiful and I was pretty impressed with the 'Gee, as some locals call it.
|Grand Teton from Grand Targee|
|Inside our first quinzee/cave|
|Sledding loads from our first base camp to our second|
On the last day of the trip before heading out, we skied enjoyable powder on northern aspects, which was quite amazing considering it hadn't snowed measurably in two weeks.
|Sweet north facing lines in 2-week old powder (mine are the furthest right :)|
On January 28th, after several days of overdoing the whole theme (my name was Chewie and the other three members in my group were Leia, Han, and Luke), we all woke up inside the snow cave to the sound of the Star Wars theme song. After several seconds of thinking we were crazy, I realized that the sound was coming from my bag of papers/notes/etc. Turns out the birthday card Ava had me bring along got set off inside of its envelope and happened to be a musical Star Wars card with a light up light saber on the front. Best and most unlikely coincidence of my life. After opening the card on my birthday the following morning, it was played nearly constantly as well as used to light up the inside of the snow cave in a beautiful shade of light saber green.
Prior to leaving our final dig-in location, several models were created including a death star, star destroyer, millennium falcon, and a life-size R2D2. I can proudly claim the R2D2 as my own. Hopefully the first picture now makes since to all who managed to read this far.
We skied out without incident, completing a riotous time in the backcountry with a fantastic group of people. I'm now cleared to teach winter courses for NOLS, but perhaps more importantly, I feel compelled to spend at least one winter in the Tetons at some point in the future.