A Tale of Two Boots
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness ..."
SnoFest 2010, the annual snow festival hosted at Keystone Resort for Front Range military installations, took place this weekend. The weather was perfect, the snow was perfect, the equipment was... well.... not so much.
Never mind that my Koflach ski boots would have been more at home in a museum than on a black diamond run in Colorado. After all, I purchased them 19 years ago on consignment in Banff, Alberta (i.e., used, putting their age around 20-25 years) for CAN$90 -- about US$60 at the 1991 exchange rates. And never mind that, upon buckling up for my first run on Friday morning, one of the upper buckles snapped off. Big deal, I thought, I have three more buckles!
" ... it was the age of foolishness ..."
All was well, truly the best of times, until I ventured onto North Peak's Geronimo: the run in the top photo of this post, which is accessible only from a narrow roped-off gate, with a sign warning of "hidden obstacles" and "variable terrain". So I pointed my 195cm Olin 870s (no, not parabolics) into a nice fall line, made a turn, made another turn, then bounced off one mogul into a trough in a puff of powder. When I looked down, one chunk of my boot was next to my skis and another (from the other boot) was uphill. That red you see on the back of my foot on the photo below should have been covered by rigid white plastic....
This is the chunk from my left boot (the right boot piece is still somewhere on Geronimo):
So what is one to do when barely one-quarter of the way down the most remote run in a massive resort like Keystone? Why, keep skiing!
That lasted all of four more turns. When your ankle is free to move independently of your feet, your skis will go whichever way they want, and the red plastic digs into your achilles....
By the time I actually reached the bottom of the run, I had perfected the fine art of "butt sledding" -- carrying my poles in one hand, my skis in the other, braking with my boots, and crab-walking over moguls when my momentum slowed.
Once I made it down to Silver Mill Village (after riding the flat, non-mogul portion of the run on the skis; taking the chair lift to the summit; then riding the gondola down), I stopped by Christy's Sports. I asked the folks in their rental shop (who put a nice belt wax on my Olins that morning for my 27-second NASTAR race time, and who found a reasonably close facsimile to replace the lost basket on my boss's poles that I borrowed since my poles were left in Colorado Springs) about one-day boot rentals. When they said boots cost $20/day (i.e., 1/3 the price I paid for my boots 19 years ago!), plus $10 to adjust my bindings, oh and the caveat that they can't touch bindings that are out of warranty (which I guarantee my 20-year-old Tyrolias are), that made my decision for Saturday's gear trivial: