Iron Man of Snowbird

By SkiMum Valerie

I had the pleasure this morning of riding up the Little Cloud lift with an
enthusiastic young man named Joe Wale.  His first words to me were, “Do you mind if I put the bar down?  My legs are killing me.”  Turns out I had actually seen Joe earlier that morning on my drive up little cottonwood canyon.  I had passed him near the Red Pine Trailhead as he was riding his bike up the road with his skis strapped to his back.  “That is one ambitious guy”, I thought to myself as I passed by.  Little did I know, that wasn’t half the story.  Joe explained that it had always been a dream of his to bike up the canyon and ski Snowbird.  In the early, early hours of  Friday morning  Joe decided to make his dream a reality.


It all started Thursday night when he and his friend decided to ski the backside of High Traverse at Alta.  They took off at 11:00 PM and got back home at 3:00 AM.  Joe slept for 30 minutes during the car ride home.  After collecting his ski gear, 3 liters of water and a pile of Cliff Bars, he took off on his 20-year old Cannondale mountain bike in search of snow.  It was now 4:30 AM under a full moon.  Joe reached the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon at 6:00 AM and arrived at the Snowbird Center at 8:15 AM.  After skiing for 2 hours, he loaded up his gear and headed back  down the canyon.  The roundtrip was 40 miles with a 4,600 vertical gain.  Impressive!

End of the story?…not quite.  I emailed Joe the photos I had taken of him at Snowbird.  He replied and gave me an update on his day.  After returning home from skiing he slept for 2 hours and then got a call from some friends asking him to go mountain biking with them.  Naturally, he accepted the offer and biked from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM.



By Skimum Valerie

FEAR.  It is my four letter word of the day.  I often wonder if I had learned to ski as a young child instead of a 30 something mother if I would have quite so much anxiety when I ski.  As much as I enjoy skiing the Lupine Loop trail in Mineral Basin on a sunny morning, I know that it is not going to make me the great skier I want to be.  Every now and again there needs to be a little fear – something to get me out of my comfort zone and that tests my skills and nerves.

So today the Skimums wanted to take the road less traveled and go off the beaten path.  Our ski Sherpa, Emilia, took us down skinny chutes, bumpy traverses, and crazy deep moguls.  As I suspiciously looked down over the edge of one particularly treacherous chute, I was convinced Emilia was trying to kill me.  I tried to remember all of the instructions she had been giving us about skiing moguls, “keep your hips open, shoulders downhill, and use a spring motion,” but her last inspiring admonition was “just point your skis downhill and go!”  So with much trembling and trepidation I pointed my skis downhill…and dropped into the chute of no return (That’s what I call it anyway).  And I’ll be honest, it wasn’t pretty.  In fact I’m pretty sure there was no grace or finesse involved at all.  But with my Skimums cheering me on, I slowly negotiated my way downhill.  I MADE IT!!   Looking back uphill at where we had been gave me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Maybe it was the adrenaline or endorphins, but I was even up to doing it again!

As I spent the rest of the afternoon on some groomers I was amazed how much easier my skiing seemed.  My confidence was way up.   When I returned home from skiing that day, exhausted…but all in one piece, I felt like I could take on the world.  I was no longer just mom, I was Supermum, ready to take on whatever the day might bring!  Thanks Emilia for scaring me today and thanks Skimums for cheering me on.  You ladies are the best!