Aspiring Level II Ski Leaders Train on Cameron Pass

The lactic acid courses through my thighs as I drag my ski forward. I think I can hear the crepitus in my hips of one bone grinding against another. My butt feels like a month of squats, and my lungs tear at the inside of their pleural cavity, begging to explode my ribs and seek more air. I silently curse myself for not getting skins that fit, heel risers, or tele bindings with tour mode.

My right ski slowly loses purchase and slides about two feet behind me. Carefully, awkwardly, I bring it back to meet the other in such a way that I’ll stay stuck to the hill somehow. Imagine running up a sand dune piled high in soft, porous sand. Every time you take a step, one foot slides back so that with every step forward, you lose half that ground in an exhaustive cycle of sliding and regaining the ground you already thought you had accomplished.

I only have to remind myself of what awaits me at the top of this snowy mountain and my legs inexplicably power through the last half mile or so of dense, exhaustive powder. Once at the top, we de-skin and look back down the gulley we just ascended.

AL SmithStanding at tree line on Cameron Pass, every cell in my body quivers, both from exhaustion and from excitement about skiing the newly fallen, thigh-deep powder laid out before us like an inviting carpet. The clouds dull the sparkle of the snow and I change my goggle lenses for the low light of the blizzard. I carefully reattach my skis to my feet, made frustratingly difficult by the broken guide tabs on my heel bales.

And here we go. Gaining enough speed to be able to glide through this much powder takes effort, but once it’s done, I’m flying. I’m floating and drifting through the feet of white fluff that flies into my face with every turn. Left, right, left…right, left.

I can never accurately explain why I love skiing so much, especially why I love telemark skiing like I do, I always just tell people they have to get out there and experience it in order to understand.

AL Smith 3It’s the feeling of gratitude to the mountain, the deep connection you feel with the earth, and the hunger for more that inevitably follows every day out skiing that drags you up every stretch, pushes your tired legs past every mile, and drags you out of bed at dark, ungodly hours of the morning in search of the newest stash.

That addiction is what brought nine of us to Cameron Pass over Half Block Break for Level II Ski Leader training and what continues to drag CC students out of their comfy beds in various states of disrepair after Friday nights.

Keep getting at it, CC! And get stoked for the Hut Trips occurring over fifth block break that follow Block 5!

Caleigh Smith

Caleigh Smith

Caleigh is a sophomore and began writing for the Catalyst during her first block at CC. She then became the Active Life editor a year later in the fall of 2015. She designed her major (Ecological Translation in Adventure Journalism) with a minor in both Spanish and Human Biology and Kinesiology. She is passionate about all things outdoors and is excited to see the Active Life section expand.

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