One last hurrah


So as I said that I would in the last blog; yesterday, after my Gondola shift, I headed back to mountain ops. And for the first time in 6 weeks, I buckled up my ski boots, picked up my skis and poles, and went out to the mountain with the intention of doing something other than watch other people skiing.

I wasn't too sure how this was going to go. There were a lot of looming questions about the strength I now had in my left knee. Because since the injury, I had used it for nothing but walking. So I wasn't sure how it would react to a more strenuous activity such as skiing. Though I was hoping, and felt moderately confident, that I had the strength back in the joint so that I could make it back up the Mile 1. To play it safe though, I headed over to the beginner hill instead. And for the first time in my life, I was riding the Magic Carpet to ski off of it.

I was surprisingly nervous. This would be the easiest run I'd done all season in terms of the hills difficulty. But there was just so much uncertainty about the strength I had in my knee, I was nervous about if this would be my last attempt to ski of the season. Although, I wouldn't have been out here if I didn't think I could do it. So I was quietly confident.

Anyway, I turn left off the top of the carpet, and decide to head down the platter run. This is the least steep run on the mountain, so it'd be the best place to go. But as I put my skis on, it didn't feel as good as I'd been hoping.

Even positioning my boot to the angle that I could secure it into my bindings hurt somewhat. The weight of the boot was probably heavier that anything else my leg had had to lift for 6 weeks. And it gave off a bareable, but very noticeable pain.

And it was only probably 2 or 3 yards on effectively flat snow that I had to move until I was on the downhill of the run. But the weight, and the angles I needed my knee to go to, to walk with skis on. Man that was something far more strenuous than anything I had put the joint through in the past 6 weeks. So just getting to the top of the run I was having serious doubt in my mind that this was a good idea. One fall and I could be back in the Zimmer splint.

But I perservered. Walking with skis on wasn't really an option. So I'd just had to push myself up using my poles. And as I started to go down the hill, skiing certainly wasn't yet the pain-free activity that I had hoped and expected it to be at this point in my recovery. Far from it. Skiing is all about pressure. You turn and stop, by placing pressure on your skis in different ways. And putting sufficient pressure on my left ski so that I could turn... I could feel the joint aching every time. But worse than that, to turn left you need you right ski to have greater pressure on it than the left one. So a part of this is relieving the weight on the left ski. Basically, lifting your left leg up somewhat. And this just didn't feel good. The weight of my ski and boot, just plain hurt the joint. And I got the distinct impression that I could be doing more damage to the injury. A sacrifice that the rewards of this limited skiing certainly do not justify.

But I made it down to the bottom of this 475m run. Very slowly. Getting overtaken by kids and other retards. But I made it down none-the-less. And at that point at the bottom of the platter lift, I had made the decision that this was going to have to have been my last run of the season. There was very obvious pain within the joint still. And I wasn't here just to go down the Platter run. I don't care about that. This was simply a test to see if I had the strength in the joint to get down the Mile 1 runs. A test that I had sadly failed. So as I started riding up the Platter, I had decided to call it a day. This was my season over. I had hoped and expected to have healed sufficiently to be able to do some light skiing again. But as this run had just demonstrated to me, I didn't.

As I got to the top though, I don't know what it was that made me want to do another run. As I was getting off at the top of the platter, I was still convinced I was done. But as I stood there at the top, putting my poles around my wrists to get back to the Carpet and go back down, something just switched in my brain. And something just said give it another go. Just one more run. Just one more final run.

I had put my poles on to push myself back up to the top of the carpet. But as I went to push off, I didn't go up to the carpet. Instead I headed down the Platter once more.

This really was playing with fire. I had tried it. It hurt. I should stop. Just the skiing was proving to be much more painful than I had anticipated. So the reality of a fall, was that I could go back 6 weeks. I could be back at square one again. Wearing my Zimmer splint. But I went anyway.

And I don't know what the difference was this time. Maybe that first run; where I had been using my knee for something other than walking for the first time in 6 weeks, was just loosening it off. Shaking off the cob-webs. Maybe I had just learnt to adjust my skiing technique sufficiently that all significant strain was taken by my right leg. Or maybe the painkillers I took just prior to coming out here were starting to kick-in. But something was better. There was still noticable sensation within the knee. But there wasn't the grimacing pain in the joint that there was on the first run.

One other thing I was noticing, was that big, wide turns were the most painful to make. If I kept my skis largely pointing forward, this was the least painful way to ski. Though this obviously means much more speed, so any falls while skiing this way could be far more catastrophic to the joint. But this run went well. So I stayed on the Platter. And did 7, 8, maybe even 9 runs down here. In the near scorching sunlight that I spoke about in the last blog, the snow was nothing like the snow I had been skiing on 6 weeks ago. It was slush now. Very sticky. Very slow. You could control your speed and turn, with significantly less effort than had been the case before the injury. And this snow-type, was perhaps what allowed me to stay out here. In these slow conditions, I could ski with relatively little effort. With little strain on the joint. And from my season being over moments earlier, I was now skiing, albeit on a beginner slope, with relative ease.

I didn't however make it up the Mile 1. Which was my target. And I am writing this on the morning of the 08th. I have today off, and I have tomorrow off. And common sense says "why the fuck are you sitting around typing? This is you last chance of the season. Get to the mountain." Which is what I'll be doing later. But in the morning right now, the runs are icy. In the nighttime sub-zero temperatures, the slush turns to ice. Something that could be dangerous to a semi-cripple such as myself. But as the sun shines throughout the day, this ice softens up. And ice becomes slush. So my plan today is to get the 13:30 bus to the mountain. That will mean I have my skis on by about 14:15. So hopefully by then, the conditions will have become accomodatable enough.

I don't know how far I'll get. I'll be starting out on the Platter again. By the end of yesterday, I was optimistic I would be able to make it up the Mile 1 today. And then tomorrow, perhaps even up to the summit one last time. Who knows? But this morning, there is a definite soreness in the joint. Presumably caused by my antics yesterday. So I'll be starting out on the Platter again. And just doing what seems sensible. Taking it easy. As I've said before, healing my knee is my number one priority. Anything on top of that is a bonus. Skiing down the Platter is more than I thought I'd be able to do again this season at one point. So I'm not going to push it. But I just hope that I can at least get up the Mile again. I just want to be able to get a final run in.

That being said, my cardinal fear has yet been realised. I was confident I could ski before I got back out there. As it turns out, I really can't. At least not well. But my real fear, is falling. And the angles that I could contort my leg to when I have skis as long as I am tall, attached to my feet. That's where I could do serious damage. And I should be able to ski the Platter 100 times without falling. And going at those speeds, it probaly wouldn't matter if I did. But going beyond that... it could end badly. So I'm curious how the next 2 days could go. I could make it up the Mile. I could make it up Champagne. I could even make it up to the summit once more. But in doing that, I could set myself back to square 1 with a bad fall. I could be back in my Zimmer splint. I could make it even worse than when I initially suffered the injury. Who knows? All I know, is that after these 2 days, my chance to get up to the summit again, is over. Probably forever. Seeing as my attempts to get a visa for next year are so far proving in vein, when I catch the bus out of Invermere a week today, I may well never be back at Pano again. After Thursday, I am working the final 3 days of the season. Working all the hours that the chairs to the summit are open. This is it for me. My last chance. One last hurrah!

And who knows? By the time you read this, I could be house-ridden with a splint on my leg. Think positive.


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