Far away from home, in a small town with mountains around, I spent a whole Saturday with a move, lugging a refrigerator, hauling a washing machine and so on. Sunday morning is trip-time. Newly glued skins need to be tested and a top-secret hill of 634 vertical meters just outside town (a###åa) is to be skinned up through a small forest and some bushes, before you can dance your way down again.
With a new-to-freeskiing group member, you’ve explained some elephant-ears the evening before and you suggest a small avalanche-drill. The two locals in the group have hidden their transceivers somewhere in the fresh snow and I start my signal-search as enthusiastic as possible, having told the rest to switch their transceivers off or to search mode. 2 Minutes later I find a transceiver below 10 centimeters of fresh snow and suddenly I’m scared to the bone: a small ford flows 50 centimeters below the transceiver and my shoes are filled to the brim with ice-cold water.
A borrowed pair of directly wet reserve-socks and a slightly too low blood glucose-level later, the new groupmembers have found the transceivers and we can really get going. Walking up, we meet a couple of enthusiastic locals (big smiles, positive greetings and jumps up to 2 meter) and we’re amazed about the quality of the snow: There are no signs of the wind-transported snow mentioned in the 2/5 avalanche forecast, but we find a nice 15-20 centimetres on an already nice pack of snow.
After an hour and a half, we reach the top and get our down-jackets on and eat some lunch in the wind. I pack my skins and am surprised that the glue works perfectly while one of the tail-clips must have broken during the walk up. Well… …Alright… My feet are still wet and cold, but the ride down looked festive: Powder in playful terrain and here and there some bushes that help visibility during this whiteout-day that keeps delivering fresh snow as if it’s a February dump-day.
The last local fixes her headlight and then the game is on! The newest group member mentions lactic acid, but I follow the group, dancing. First careful and slowly, as in a 1950’s black-and-white film, making the first turns of the season in an open field with all white-out shades of white. But once we pass some more bushes and bumps it’s party-time: From a slightly too-high bump you roll around and –over, to a couple of extra decimetres fresh powder next to the forest track where the threes are still nicely grown apart. Hang back and have your legs move around below you. The dancing is ON in February-dump-conditions.
Waiting at the beginning of the forest track for one of the beginners to finish her heavy baptism, I see the locals headlight a couple of hundred meters ahead in the forest and take a deep breath. Three degrees below zero. Still snowing. The experienced group members just walked back up a bit for an extra run, but I bet on a pair of dry shoes in the car. And I look back. To the best half hour I’ve had all year. On a hill with 500 metres vertical and material on the limit of its lifespan. But for once, I choose. And for half an hour I stood, danced, played and flew in-, through- and over fresh powder snow.