First Skin

I’m not going to say I was super amped when Dan suggested at 10 pm last night that we head up to A-Basin for the 7 am start of a race. Heck, the Irwin race just got canceled, I was tired, and we had yet to do an actual skin. I kind of wanted to just sleep in. But sometimes you have to ask yourself what is more important:

Sleeping in, which is something I do have the choice to make, every single day…

Waking up for our very first skin of the year at 4:30 am, skin up a beautiful mountain for the sunrise with my amazing husband and be back at the house by 10 am?

Well, when I thought of it that way, it seemed obvious which decision to make.

So, it was time to really round up the ski gear. Of course, it wasn’t that hard, as we’ve had it around the house for months, but really getting it in order. We have these brand new boots…


The Aliens have landed!


(A common comment: there are bits missing from them! Yes, there are bits missing from them.)

They are made by Scarpa, and have an absolutely incredible range of motion, but we had yet to ski them – or mold them. Well, with the winning times being projected at around 40 minutes, I figured I’d come in around an hour (this was an individual race, but Dan would stick with me) – and really, how much harm can you do to your feet in an hour? Not too much, I figured. (Now, if anybody came into Neptune’s and said they were going to do that, I would have strongly advised them to not. But, what’s my own advice worth?)

Packed up, ten thirty, into bed. What felt like seconds later, the alarm went off, we were soon in the car and on our way.

Pulling into the parking lot at A-Basin, there were already a few cars there. We put our boots on, and walked in to get registered. The lady behind the desk took our picture for an uphill pass (I didn’t know I was getting one!), in which I look almost petrified. It was early, what can I say.


All too soon, we were putting on our skis, and we were off! And I almost completely blew myself up right out of the start. It was fun for all of 30 seconds, when the I’m-tired-and-dizzy-and-want-to-go-back-to-bed feeling kicked in. We made it to the halfway point, skied around the flag, and started ripping skins, me sucking in air steadily, trying to calm my breathing. Damn, a race being your first skin of the season is rough!

It was down the mountain for us, and I was shocked at how well the boots skied. As a definite rando race boot, I didn’t expect much out of them, but they surprised me with their performance.

We skated around the flag at the bottom, and began to put our skins back on. The girl that Dan had told me to keep an eye on was already completely up the first pitch, and I watched her skin into the gray morning.

My feet were popsicles. Tiny, frozen popsicles, like little rocks rattling around in my boots. We only had twice as much to skin up what we already had, so I figured I’d be fine. (Besides, at the start, which I was slightly too tired to listen fully to the talk, they had mentioned something at the top, and I thought it might have been a lodge that I could warm me feet up in before skiing back down.)


And so we started up again, but this time I paced myself better – still hard, still sucking wind, but not blow-up pace. Up, up, up steadily. Past the mid point where we had turned around before, and on, the mountains popping out in the early morning light, glistening like huge gems all along my line of sight. The higher we skinned, the more beautiful it became, the sun bursting out and gilding the top of the peaks, and the snow sparkling like hundreds of stars at my feet. It was a glorious moment, out there, with most of the racered minutes ahead of us, and more minutes behind us, Dan and I were just simply out, skinning up a mountain. Not hiking, not running, not biking, but skinning – what I love most, with the person I love most.


Up, up, and up, until it was up the very last pitch, and then it was time to pop our skis off and run to the finish! Ha! Run! I sort of skip-walked, poles flailing and heart pounding. There was a lift-op and a ski patrol there, taking down times. Dan and I both thanked them for putting on this little adventure, and wondered back to our skis.

Dan was definitely a sport through the whole thing. He could have easily done the course about twenty minutes faster, but instead chose to stick with me, and made it a wonderful experience for us both.


Well, that was fun!

We stayed up at the top for a while, admiring the beauty and chatting with a few other participants. People may think that rando racers are really weird, but really, they’re normal people, who may or may not like icy air burning their lungs more than most.

Skiing back down to the base area was a blast, I have to say, even on super short, skinny skis and tiny boots, the wind numbing my fingers, and turning them into ten frozen popsicles inside my gloves to match the two solid popsicles inside my gloves.

A-Basin had given us a free cocoa with registration, so we dumped our gear in the car, and headed up to the cafe to redeem that. After a bit of talking with the other participants (Eldora, you really, really need to let us skin up your mountain!), we headed out.

It’s a bit odd, back at the house, a fire going, a 2,300’ skin done, and soup in our bellies, all by noon. But it’s very, very nice. This is winter. This is life. This is what we dream of. And maybe the weather pattern will change, and this will become a bit more normal!

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