Like I said in last week’s post, I went skiing over the weekend!
We went by car (big thank you to my coworker, Yui), and it took a little under an hour. I can’t believe there’s a ski resort so close to where I’ve lived for 2 and a half years, and I only just now went skiing. And at the end of the season, so we don’t have time to go again!
It was my first time, so I hadn’t been sure what to expect.
I had to ask my friends and coworkers what I needed to buy and what I could rent. I ended up purchasing a Uniqlo Heat-Tech (this is not a sponsored post) undershirt and tights, waterproof gloves, thick knee-high socks, and a cheap pair of pink goggles with UV protection. I was able to rent a set of skis and ski boots and outerwear for less than $100, which I thought was pretty good for a full day of winter sports. We were out there from about 10:30 to 4:30!
As anyone who has gone skiing or snowboarding already knows, the first time is not the most graceful. I went in knowing this, and I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to get on and off the lift without faceplanting. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the entire first hour and a half.
We started, as most first-timers do, on the bunny slope. Despite my ski instructor (aka my friend and coworker, Austin — thanks for being so patient, buddy) making me “learn how to fall” immediately after clipping into the skis, I did not have to make use of the skill for the entire 10-ish times down beginner’s alley.
This is where the hubris settled in.
My ski group consisted of 4 people. Austin, who coached me through the first couple hours and is quite experienced; Wendy, who has been doing winter sports since she came to Japan about 4 years ago; Yui, who tricked me by saying “it’s only my second time snowboarding” but has in fact been skiing since she was a child; and me.
After the first hour, I was thinking that skiing isn’t, in fact, as hard as it’s cracked up to be. I was maneuvering on the lift better than half of my companions (I found out later that it’s much easier for skiers than for snowboarders…and I was the only skier in our group), and I was staying upright better than Yui.
So naturally, when the others suggested that we take the gondola up to the top of the mountain, I thought it was fine.
Somewhere along the way, I dropped a glove. Having not fallen for the first hour and a half, I thought this was also fine.
In fact, neither of those things was fine.
I noticed from the first drop that things were different up there at the top. The first descent was steep, and I picked up a lot of speed immediately. But the slope was facing in toward the mountain, so even if I couldn’t stop myself, I could see where my body would end up planted in the snow. I handled it, if I do say so myself, very well.
That was the last bit I handled well.
Never underestimate the power of the mind. Even though I was actually capable of making turns (it was still a green trail, so nothing too steep), there’s something truly terrifying about seeing the cliff edge that you will be sailing off of if you happen to fail. With that primal fear creeping in, I ended up rolling and sliding down the mountain like I was riding the tallest and coldest slip ‘n’ slide.
I tried to take it standing up, I really did, but whenever I got within 20 feet of the weak plastic fencing, my brain said dive! so I dove, straight down into powder snow. It didn’t hurt (much), but my ungloved hand was not having the best time as I dug all 10 fingers into the ice in an attempt to keep myself from snowballing.
I lost a ski (or both skis) approximately 17 times. Luckily, one of my crew was always there to help me set it right. Once, I lost a ski stick a few meters behind me and had to climb back for it. It wasn’t even on a steep incline, but I still imagined I was an ice climber for a minute or two as I stabbed my remaining pole into the ice and dragged my body across the ice, inch by inch. Very exciting. Very good for the upper arms.
The worst bit was where Austin remarked calmly, “looks like we missed the turn to stay on the green trail.”
It was only a blue, which apparently is the most popular type of trail, but it felt impossible. Looking down from the top of that next slope, I truly considered giving up and becoming a mountain woman. I could work the gondola. It would be fine.
But I pizza’d my way across, tumbling when I picked up too much speed, and crawling when I lost my will to rise again. I’m glad we went on a Monday, because there were so few people out and about. I can’t imagine how much of a disturbance I would’ve been if it had been crowded. As it was, there was plenty of space for the other riders to navigate around me as I lay single-gloved, catching my breath, ski gear sprawled across the snow.
I have a new appreciation for and understanding of the switchbacks on mountain roads. I lost count of how many times I went back and forth on that last hill, trying to avoid another wipeout.
Needless to say, when we finally made it back down to the bunny slope 45 minutes later, the relief was palpable. Even the slight annoyance of the two who had been waiting for almost half an hour —
“I called you twice…”
“I was a little busy!”
–was not enough to bring down my mood. The simple joy of being on flat terrain. The peace and safety of unfrozen ground. I lay still on the floor there for a solid ten minutes.
And then…I went up and did it again!
Yeah, despite everything, it was a lot of fun. 10/10, would recommend.
The second time around was not better. At all. It might’ve been worse, since I new it was scary from the get-go instead of waiting until I saw the first steep drop-off to be frightened for my life. Also, I missed the turn for the green trail again. It was good practice, I guess??
Anyway, now for the moment you’ve been waiting for; here are the pictures! None of me wiping out, unfortunately.
Yes, that’s a beer vending machine. No, you don’t need to scan your ID.
This was a late post, since I was too exhausted to make it after we got home on Monday evening, and I didn’t get around to it until today. I’ll still post this weekend, though, since I want to keep up my once week goal.
In addition to writing that post, I’m looking forward to a delicious dinner on Saturday night, another book club meeting on Sunday morning, and a few hours of playing Nintendo Switch (really enjoying Pokemon Legends: Arceus).
P.S. I did end up finding my glove! It was at the information desk.
P.S.S. Out of all of you who read my last blog post, only a single one of you commented your guess for the English translation of taimu izu manē (Thanks for playing, Tita Baby!). The answer is time is money. It’s, uh, already in English, just spelled differently.