Sunday, March 16, 2014

Nordic Skiing At The Badger Pass Cryosphere

Will Rogers once said, "Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."  

I just committed a trifecta of bad judgement

• I chose the wrong place to go cross country skiing because I wanted to go some place with different scenery.

• I chose a venue with a lower altitude because of my difficulty with breathing at Mammoth's 8700 foot elevation.

• I didn't pay enough attention to the snow conditions report.

Just last month -- after a 25-year hiatus -- I cross country skied at Mammoth Lakes, and had a great experience.  If fact, I had such a good time I came home and went on a quest to buy the perfect pair of new style (NNN) nordic skis.  

I bought a new pair of Fischer Offtrack Skis and wanted to go cross country skiing one last time before the season ends.

I decided to go the Yosemite's Badger Pass Ski Area because of the natural beauty there, the ski area is 1500 feet lower than Mammoth Lakes, and the "snow condition" reports claimed to have 31 miles of open groomed nordic skiing tracks.

Badger Pass has a web page that updates ski conditions daily.  Their latest report stated the snow surface is "spring conditions."  I learned first hand that "spring conditions" is really euphemism for solid ice.  They also had not verified the condition of the trails -- some of which are not in good condition.

They say you're never too old to learn

Lessons learned at the Badger Pass cryosphere are...

• An artificial hip is not helpful when attempting to snow plough on ice.

• Cross country ski poles do not replace good snow plough technique.

• You can't pole vault with cross country ski poles. 

Now don't get me wrong, if you are a young, athletic, and a skilled nordic skier Badger Pass has a lot to offer.  On the other hand, if you are in your 70s, haven't skied much recently, and have an artificial hip maybe Mammoth Lakes is a better choice.  Next year when there is fresh powder snow at Badger Pass I might go back and try to ski to Glacier Point.

In the meanwhile I will be working on my physical fitness -- especially strengthening my hip rotation muscles.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of my Yosemite cross country skiing adventure was the total lack of snow at the Mariposa Grove nordic ski trails.  I had been looking forward to skiing there the first and last days of my trip.

20/20 hindsight

I'm really sorry I didn't go back to the Tamarack Ski Area at Mammoth Lakes.  The trails are much leveler, so are more forgiving for an older skier.  They also might be a better place for a beginning skier to learn.

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