Nosediving

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My skier friends are very familiar with a trail at Stowe, VT’s Mt Mansfield called Nosedive. It’s not the biggest baddest trail on the hill but it does present a challenge. The top section has the reputation of being icy and generally more difficult than the rest of the trail. It is rated a Black Diamond (expert) trail just because of the top section. The 95% that follows is pure Blue (intermediate) skiing. I generally ski it when I’m at Stowe and most of the time do so without incident. But last Sunday was noteworthy.

I had already been on Ridgeview, Sunrise, North Slope, Lord, T-Line and felt hat the conditions were pretty good on every trail I sampled today. Some ice but more snow (or groomed machine made snow anyway). I spoke to another skier who offered that Nosedive was pretty good today. So I headed there immediately because it could get skied off and may not be so good later in the day.

The approach to Nosedive was as good as everything else I had been on so I made the right turn with sufficient confidence and began the steep descent of the first pitch, the hardest part.

Whooooooooaaaaaaa!!!!! PLOP!!! I don’t know what happened but I was instantly aware of a few things. I had fallen, I was sliding, and I was picking up speed heading down this completely icy slope head first on my stomach. This was NOT the plan!

The view of Nosedive from the top of the Gondola.
The view of Nosedive from the top of the Gondola.

We aren’t talking about a great distance but flying downhill on your belly towards an even steeper drop can perhaps distort ones senses a bit. It seemed like I had gone far and I knew what was ahead and I wanted no part of it.

I lost one ski up top and one pole but managed to use the remaining pole as an ice pick and jammed it into the icy trail. This caused me to pivot around the pole and now slide feet first as snow accumulated inside my jacket acting as a plow as I moved along. It also slowed me down and I eventually stopped sliding. Phew!!!

The first thing I did was inform those watching this epic fail that I was indeed OK. Nothing seemed to be damaged. One kind dude picked up my lost ski and delivered it to me. I reached up to get the ski from his hand and then…

As soon as I released the pole that had stopped my slide to grab the ski he was handing me, I once again resumed the downward journey! As luck would have it the route that gravity chose was across the tips of the skis of my delivery friend. My added weight essentially flattened out his skis and he lost the grip and now we were both sliding toward the “end” of this slope. Because we were now aided by finely waxed skis we were moving towards the edge even faster!

Luckily not for long because he fell on top of me and once off his skis we managed to stop laughing long enough to terminate the skid.

By this time we had attracted a fair number of spectators, mostly because the yard sale had more or less blocked the trail. Several rescuers surrounded us this time and assembled all the pieces much like Humpty Dumpty but with a much happier ending. Besides noting that snow and ice had worked its way into my underwear, I was fine and resumed my ski day with wetness but without further incident.