There is no resisting the lure of a good ski friend |

There is no resisting the lure of a good ski friend

Sara’s husband thinks I cause trouble. Maybe he’s right. I’m there for many of her mishaps, but it’s usually her fault. Sara’s confidence and inspiring optimism has lured me into following her on numerous crazy adventures in the backcountry. But these great qualities are also her nemeses. She’s sure it will take three hours, and it takes six. She insists there’s nothing to fear, but I always have a moment – balancing skis on a knife-edged ridge, or climbing a peak in 50 mile per hour winds – while she schusses ahead.

I’m a good partner though, with only an occasional grumble, and of course, it’s fun to brag the next day. Plus, I’m the prepared one with all the right equipment. Sara, on the other hand, always forgets something.

She’s the type who does five things at once, and I can imagine her thinking, “So what if I forget anything? I’ll still survive.” Later, when we’re a tad lost, I’m the one with a map.

A few weeks ago I visited Sara at her new home in Ridgeway – a small, beautiful town surrounded by the rugged San Juans. Now that Sara is busy with her 2-year-old daughter, I figured the epic adventures were over, and I felt safe telling her that I was up for anything. I had visions of mellow ski tours, hot-tubbing in Ouray, drinking wine, eating cheese.

I knew I was in for it when she told me two hard-body, ex-racer studs were joining us for a day of backcountry skiing on Red Mountain Pass. Combine their testosterone with Sara’s history as a successful adventure racer, and you’ve got the ingredients for a lot of endorphin-pumping out there. Oh boy.

Of course, when you think things are going to happen a certain way, they always do. We carried our skis for hours up a steep, exposed ridge, climbed Trico Peak (Sara wanted to climb another one), skied 20 scary turns in an avalanche chute, and I got my period en route, which is usually a day I reserve for doing laundry. I survived though.

It was day two that got us into trouble.

Because I was a little woozy from womanhood, I didn’t quite get it that since we just shuttled our cars for an hour, it implied a long day ahead on skis. Sara’s confidence got us into trouble before we even left the car. The snowpacked road was more trail than road, yet Sara insisted it was driveable. We buried her car to the axles. That’s it for our ski tour, I thought; her only tool for digging was a coffee cup. “I guess it makes sense for us to just go ahead and ski to your car,” she said. “I’ll leave Chris (her hubby) a message so he can help us out later.”

Once on skis, my brain cleared a bit, and I asked Sara how long this outing would be, expecting it to be around five miles. Long pause. “Didn’t you hear Mike yesterday say 17 miles?” she asked. No, I was never close to Mike yesterday. But since our only functioning car was 17 miles away, we didn’t have much choice but to go forward. Plus Sara sheepishly told me she needed to check out this route on the Dallas Trail, because it was next week’s Sneffels Nordic ski race.

Being mad wouldn’t have helped, so I talked myself into making the most of what actually was a superb, albeit very long, ski trail, rolling below the mighty Sneffels range. It was hard to feel relaxed though – there was pressure to get this over with and go dig out her car. On a clear day the views of these jagged peaks are spectacular, but the snowy drizzle kept things foggy. I did have to lend Sara my faster skins, because she forgot to re-glue hers. I must admit, as it always is with Sara, when we were done I was proud of our accomplishment, and the skiing was phenomenal.

We got to my car at sunset and home to a very angry husband soon after. He had gotten our message, and rather than wait for our help, had spent two hours shoveling the car out. I looked like the trouble-maker again. You’d think, after 18 years, I’d know better. But good friends are like bad habits. You keep coming back for more.

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