Black is beautiful

Oz Travel Blog

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Don't all slopes look gorgeous and innocent from below?

Skiers and boarders will know exactly what I mean when I say, "it was black, it was powder, the sky was clear and blue, a few scattered trees on the slope". To those skiers and boarders this sounds like heaven and it almost was. I say almost, because underneath the 25cm of fresh fallen powder snow, there was an icy and bumpy black slope. For those of you who don’t know what that means, let me explain. There are four types of slopes, ranging from very easy to extremely difficult. Each type is designated its own color. The easiest is a green slope, almost level, very wide and down at the foothill mostly. Then blue slopes follow; a little more steep, but yet still smooth and wide. Red slopes are next in line; even more steep, often narrower and with bumps or so called buckels (heaps of snow created by many people taking a turn on the same spot).

A bumpy slope
Last but certainly not least, you have black slopes. They are extremely steep, often very narrow with man high buckels. Most of the time these black slopes are found on the north face of a mountain. The icy conditions there add to the difficulty.

It had been thawing during the day and freezing for a couple nights now, so the basis of the black slope I was on was hard and unforgiving. Due to the fresh snow on top, you couldn’t see any bumps. The slope appeared as smooth as a baby's bottom with generous amounts of talcum powder. I was gliding in a straight line when suddenly my body sank away underneath, a meter or so in to the snow between two bumps. I didn’t see that coming. Neither did I see the next bump coming, so after half a second, I was launched, propelled almost onto the next bump.

Can you see how steep it is?
Wow, that was scary. The steepness of the slope added to the sensation and for a moment I was thinking, “How can I make it off this slope alive”.


I was half way down, passed the steepest bit when I had to make another turn. Three quarters into that turn I felt ecstatic. I was glad my path would miss the tree I saw nearing. Furthermore, the shallow part of the slope came in sight. Every fibre in my body thought ‘I survived, I made it alive!’ and you know things can only go wrong from here. All of a sudden, and as I said, three quarters into the turn, I lost one of my skis. With lost, I don’t mean it went off, well it did; it dug itself into a snow bank and my boot shot out of the binding.

The black slope I lost my ski on. What you can't see in this picture, are the icy ground and bumps (buckels).
But what I mean with lost is, I couldn’t find my ski in the powder around me anymore.


Of the six of us, I was the last one coming down. My friends were way ahead of me and there was no one else on the slope. At first, a slight panic came over me, but it was soon followed by acceptance. Prodding with my ski pole, I went looking for my other ski. First up, then down a bit and then back up again. After a few minutes, I feared the worst and in my head, I was shopping for new skis already. It was that acceptance again. I gave up the search for now, created a little seat for myself, sat down and had a smoke. Then my phone rang. From all the way down the mountain, my buddies saw me walking up and down the slope, which is never a good sign.

Here we are passed the steepest bit. Can you see my ski anywhere?
Although, walking did mean I didn’t break any bones. When I answered my phone, the very first question asked was, “one or both?” I have very understanding friends :)


My friends were coming up to help me look for my ski. It would take a while though. They had to take a ski lift up and then ski down the black slope I was on. So, I sat back and relaxed a few more minutes. After I had just lost my ski, I had walked up and planted my remaining ski together with one pole, in the snow to mark the position where about I must have lost it. I planted them like an X, the international sign for distress or to summon caution. I wouldn’t want anyone to trip over my ski, or even worse, me. After all, I was sitting two meters below the cross.

Either I'm thinking; "how can I prevent this from happening again" or I'm choosing from the menu
When I caught my breath again, I scanned and poked the area some more, but still couldn’t find my ski. After about 20 minutes, my friends came and joined the search. At first, we were scattered on the slope but soon after, we formed a decent line and went up in search of the mysteriously disappeared ski.

When we couldn’t find it we had to widen the search area and break formation. Logically, I returned to the original crash site, to coordinate from there. As I reached my ski, I stepped on something hard and a tiny though straight crack appeared in the snow. No, it couldn’t be, could it? I pushed my boot down some more, and the crack grew wider. I reached down, put my hand in the snow, felt around a bit, grabbed a foreign object and then pulled it up to see it was… my other ski! On my initial walk up, I apparently managed to plant my remaining ski only a tenth of an inch next to the one I lost, which was hiding under the snow.

A smoke to relax after my ordeal
Although I thoroughly searched the area, even poking the snow with my ski pole, I somehow succeeded in just missing my ski every time. Please remind me never to become a darts player :) With my ski back on the foot it belonged, I went down the slope, this time uneventful but in desperate need of a coffee to recover from my ordeal.

Sweetski says:
Hahahaha LMAO :D
Posted on: Sep 02, 2010
ilvagul says:
Skis mostly... ;)
Posted on: Sep 02, 2010
Sweetski says:
You know what they say: "what happens on the mountains, stays on the mountains" :D
Posted on: Sep 02, 2010
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Dont all slopes look gorgeous and…
Don't all slopes look gorgeous an…
A bumpy slope
A bumpy slope
Can you see how steep it is?
Can you see how steep it is?
The black slope I lost my ski on. …
The black slope I lost my ski on.…
Here we are passed the steepest bi…
Here we are passed the steepest b…
Either Im thinking; how can I pr…
Either I'm thinking; "how can I p…
A smoke to relax after my ordeal
A smoke to relax after my ordeal
26 km (16 miles) traveled
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photo by: Sweetski