The blast of snow that we enjoyed so much in BC after Xmas was enough to make conditions pretty decent at Mission Ridge by New Year. It wasn’t stellar skiing, mostly groomers with the odd Lemolo and the like excursion. But it was skiing and fun. And the New Year parties were fine.
Conditions got no better in the next week in this so far weird winter. So we skipped the weekend and just went cruising Snoqualmie East on Sunday. Heavy snow was falling, but the ground below was as solid as Trump’s base. We lapped various groomers in the sparse crowds and were having enough fun to go to lunchtime. But about 11am I got off the old double chair on the back of East, and the super low get off made my left knee feel kinda weird, with some strange feeling in the middle that even my battered knees hadn’t felt before.
About 20 turns later a tiny inoffensive hop around a bump in the trail caused my left knee to buckle. I managed to ski down, meet Jan, and head up the lift for a painful cat track to the bottom. It was obvious something bad had happened. Next stop, my local Emergency Department at Cherry Hill hospital – my second visit in 2 years. Literally 4 blocks from home, it’s sure convenient. I left on crutches and drowned my sorrows on wine and one of the best burgers in Seattle at Red Cow in Madrona. Hopping around on crutches was no fun – made a roadie almost impossible.
It was pretty obvious I wouldn’t be skiing for a while.
Three doctors visits later an MRI has revealed tears in both my lateral and medial meniscus. I have a funny feeling that most of the damage for both tears had been done a while ago, and that low lift ramp just tipped things over the edge. A cortisone shot didn’t seem to have much effect, but at least by midweek I was walking again unaided. It was about all I could do really.
The next two weeks were just a lot of walking, weights in the gym for upper body, and hanging out in hotels while my buddies skied at weekends. I was a bit like Homer Simpson without beer and doughnuts. I guess at least I still had beer.
The following weekend I managed a few slow groomers at Silver Mountain in some nice soft conditions, but things obviously weren’t right. I probably shouldn’t have been skiing. In fact, I definitely shouldn’t have. But I don’t think I did any more damage. Luckily.
More weekends in Wenatchee followed. I skied a few gentle Mission runs the first weekend and a few more both days the following weekend. Things were improving, but there was still a long way to go. If there was any consolation, conditions were pretty average. At least I wasn’t missing mega storms and deep pow.
After 4 weeks I finally felt confident to get back on my bike, both to work and in the gym, and do sessions on an elliptical. I kept the resistance and gears low, and while it wasn’t exactly 100% pain-free, I didn’t feel like disaster was lurking on every pedal stroke. The following weekend we had a Desert Ski Club trip to 49 Degrees North. The mountain was mostly frozen solid, but I went up and skied half a day Saturday afternoon and a little more Sunday. I wasn’t the only one who stuck to groomers. Conditions off groomed were glacial.
And this last weekend, we hit Schweitzer with a bunch of Aussies. Conditions were pretty fabulous really. Lots of fresh snow, cold, some fierce winds and finally sunshine with great windblown pow all over the mountain. The quality of snow tempted me off piste probably more than I should have, and Monday I skied something approximating a full ski day. My knee was a tad throbby in the car on the way home, but ice, vitamin I and 24 hours seemed to do the job. It felt fine on my bike Tuesday.
So things are looking up. The target is 10 days from now when we hopefully wake up in Lech for the first day of a 9-day ski vacation. I think I’ll be skiing just groomers this weekend at Mission, even if the snow comes down as forecast. Thinking of a trip to the wonderful Arlberg should be enough to keep me safely on the corduroy.
Mission Ridge: 6200m 5200m vert
Snoqualmie East: 3000m vert
Silver Mountain: 2800m vert
Mission Ridge: 1200m, 2300m, 2400m vert
49 Degrees North: 4200m, 4600m vert
Schweitzer: 5400m, 5800m, 6500m vert
29 days, 193,400m vert, 7 powder days