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One side benefit to being a year round climber is that I have a fair amount of outdoor gear for different types of conditions. So when my Brother in Law asked at Christmas if I wanted to go skiing the next week, I knew that I had enough clothing gear to get me through the predicted chilly temperatures and snow fall. A bonus was that I knew I'd also get to wear my Chaco Mara Boots (which I have been loving since getting them and had already worn during rainy weather outings).

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So here’s my deal, I've gone skiing twice before. I've gone snowboarding once. But my short trips (2 days tops in duration) have always been a minimum of 5 years apart. Consequently, while I had fun on these trips, I never really progressed skill wise and am a recurring beginner. After this past weekend I think I can finally say I’m beyond that.

Saturday:

So here’s how it went, after about a 2 hour drive, my Brother in Law and I arrived at a busy Snow Summit. At their rental shop I got my first look at the “new” skis… the last time I skied was over 16 years ago! I then went with my Brother in Law on the Bunny Slopes, luckily I didn't fall getting off the lift, and I didn't fall on the short run either. Apparently I remembered how to Snow Plow. 

After one more run, we decided to go up to the Family Fun Park area of the mountain, hoping for shorter lift lines, and also knowing that that area had green as well as green / blue runs.

I spent the rest of the day on the various runs up there. I fell at least once on each run. Sometimes I’d fall on the blue sections but towards the end of the day I seemed to only fall towards the end of the run where there were lots of people. They were like mine fields to me which made me nervous.

All and all it was a great day and at the end my Brother in Law went straight to the office to sign up my two nieces to Little Bear Ski Camp. He was committed to returning.

Sunday:

“It’s snowing!” I said excitedly as I saw the first flakes falling as we drove up the mountain a second time, this time with my five-year old nieces accompanying us in the back of the car. As a born and raised Southern Californian (even one with outdoor experience) it’s still an out of the ordinary occurrence for me to see flakes coming down. I've been in snow plenty of times but actual snowfall was rare. My nieces were also excited. They at first didn't believe that the white dots were snowflakes.

When we arrived in Big Bear we could tell right away that it was going to be different than Saturday, where on Saturday we had to wait in a line to park at Snow Summit, this time we were able to drive right up to the free parking area and find a spot quickly. We breezed the girls through rentals and got them to their class. 

After that we went straight for the top of the mountain. The plan was that we’d go down the long green Summit run from the top and my Brother in Law would give me pointers on how to do proper turns as we made our way down.

After lunch at the summit my confidence was high enough that we decided to split up for the day, just to meet up in time to watch my nieces at their school. Snow had continued to fall throughout the day. I felt really good and this time I didn’t fall at all, though this may be partly due to the fact that there were a lot less people about than on Saturday.

Riding up a lift by myself I suddenly thought, “I get it. I see why folks buy season passes. This is fun!” I couldn't help but feel a bit of pride that I had progressed so much in my two days. I couldn't get my turns to the left as good as the ones to my right, but I was actually able to stop without snow plowing (or falling) and I could carve in the snow!

By finishing a little early I was able to watch my nieces go on their first real Bunny Slope run, they were so cute doing their Snow Plows, or, as they later told me “the pizza slice”.

In the parking lot of Snow Summit, as we got in the car, both of my nieces declared that it was, “The Best Day Ever!”  I can’t quite agree with them, but I’ll have to say it was certainly a banner day for me. I finally “got it” and while I need a lot of practice I think I could become a pretty good skier

As it so happens… apparently my Brother in Law and nieces were so happy with skiing that the whole family (including my sister) will be going back to Big Bear this weekend. They've invited me to go with them.

I said, “Yes!” I gotta at least keep up with my nieces right?

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About Chaco Ambassador Team member EILEEN RINGWALD: Born and raised in Southern California, Eileen spent many of her summers on family camping trips scrambling on trails and rocks and growing her love of nature. She took this love of adventure and formed Rockgrrl.com, a climbing and outdoor community. She is also the organizational force behind the annual Joshua Tree National Park rock-climbing meet up. Eileen’s photography can be seen at photography.eileenringwald.com.

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