Ullr decided to make up for his poor showing last winter, and the skies opened up in Late February. The snow didn’t stop pilling up daily until mid March. With little regard to our sore bodies and soggy clothing we got in line early every morning, heading towards zones we had only envisioned skiing on drier years to finally find them coated and ready. Pillows, huge drops, technical billy goating through what is normally sheer rock faces. Dream lines that we all have looked at for years, that our tips were now creeping over the edge, and revealing what we had only dared to believe would see one day. Another amazing development was receiving a new pair of the redesigned QST 106s in the mail right at the beginning of the cycle. Mounted up with a pair of Shift bindings I was salivating to get out. With a little more rocker and slightly stiffer than the older version, stepping up to these big lines just got a little easier.
To stand on lines like this is both exhilarating and terrifying. I found myself atop what is usually a rock buttress that separates two main runs on Aspen Mountain. Today it was more snow than rock, inexplicably holding snow where it seems like it shouldn’t. I have skied that line thousands of times in my mind, hundreds already that morning. Standing on top was different though. I couldn’t see any of it. Just the runout, too far away from me to feel comfortable. I knew it was like this. I’ve stood there before, but never with the actual intention of dropping in. I knew what was below me, knew that I would roll off the top, drop a few feet onto a steep slopping patch of snow. Two turns and then straight off. The right amount off speed would drop me perfectly onto a steep landing with enough time to shut it down before rocketing into a bump run. Two deep breaths and I rolled off. An instant face shot blinded me, but the thousand of times I’d skied it in my mind lead me on. Two quick turns, more like speed checks, and I was in the air, and could see again. I saw my ideal landing pass below me and I readjusted from stomping mode, to hip check mode. Landing mostly on my side I bounced back up to my feet somehow and skied away, way too fast, into the bumps. It wasn’t clean, or very pretty, but damn did it feel good.
Scenes like this repeated themselves for days and days during those weeks. As an historic avalanche cycle changed the landscape of our favorite backcountry zones, I skied the resort more than I have in years. With the all new QST 106 I felt as though anything was possible. Skiing the lines that I remember looking at in high school, talking about the legends who had skied them before, and hoping one day I would have the chance to as well. And finally I did.