Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Kasey Baker’s Trip Report for Cataloochee on February 3rd, 200702.13.07 10:00 PMOn

Saturday, February 3rd,

I went to Cataloochee for a quite interesting session of skiing! First, we arrived late (about 11:30 am) and we had to park in the overflow parking and be bussed in. As soon as we reached the lodge I looked out at the slopes and to my amazement, I saw hundreds of people! There had to be over a thousand people at Cataloochee that day. Even the food line inside the lodge was 45 min long with at least 150+ people wrapping from the door though almost every open isle way in the lodge! Furthermore, the lift lines took about 10 to 15 minutes and slopes were almost as crowded as inside. Now, if you have ever been to Cataloochee you know all the runs eventually feed into one main run making it a very interesting experience with all these people! I personally found myself playing “Avoid the beginners” or as some may know it “Avoid the ski mice” (the little ones at the bottom of the run). And although I did not hit anyone, I came very close a couple of time because I got boxed in by so many people.

So was there anything beneficial about skiing that day aside from all the runs being open? YES! Cataloochee opened the Upper and Lower Snowbird runs which, as I have been told unofficially, have not been open since 1967! Either way I have never seen them open in my years of skiing there, so it was a nice treat. At the beginning of the Upper Snowbird, there is a jump to the left of the run, which sends you about 12ft above the slope on a 3ft wide patch of snow. Once you are up there, the only way down is to jump off! You then have to cut-off everyone by skiing strait across the ski run, jumping off the side of it and “hopefully” landing on the lower side of the trail around the bend, which is about 7ft down! I personally though it was great fun, but fellow skiers (who were going down the regular run) were a little less pleased about me cutting them off and then almost hitting them when I was flying though the air! Cataloochee also built a mini-half pipe. Unfortunately, it was only 3ft high and icy on the edges so it did not really work well. The rest of the train park was decent, but weathered from so much use though-out the day.

Moreover, the snow quality was decent at first, but as soon as people started falling, all the powder off it scraped off, leaving an ice sheet so slick that I lost my edge twice and almost went down. There were also many other people taking injuries from this icy patch. For example, on one of my runs, I saw the ski parole pass me going down Lower Omigosh and my eye caught a pair of skies in an X formation meaning “In need of help.” The problem was that ski patrol passed the skis and kept on going to a major injury at the bottom of the hill. As I slowed down to a stop, I saw a man trying to pull a woman up from the side of the cliff. I rushed over, as he called for my help, slid down the 6ft side of the slope to push the women up. As I later realized, just two feet behind me was a flimsy part of fence that was supposed to protect skiers from falling down a 60ft+ drop! However, it was now above the snow level, leaving a hole wide enough for someone to slip through. Fortunately, the man and I finally managed to drag and push the women up from the ledge and get her back on the slope; she was not injured in this ordeal. So all in all, although it was an icy and crowded day, it was action packed and I got to save someone!

This day, in my opinion, just what the doctor ordered! Until next time, Kasey Baker

Friday, February 2, 2007

Report says world to keep getting warmer - World Environment - MSNBC.com

Well, more bad news for skiers/boarders, we will be experiencing even less snow thanks to global warming...Except for people in Denver, with their little golden halo protecting them (Grumble* Grumble*)! Well folks, the good news is, soon after a global warming finishes, it will launch us into the next ice age in just a matter of years (meaning, LOTS OF SNOW! YhiPEE). Now please click on and read this article, so you can be more informed about what this man made issues, Global Warming, really is.

Report says world to keep getting warmer - World Environment - MSNBC.com

Be well folks, Kasey...
(P.s. We had some snow where I live, so I hope to go skiing soon)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Notes from editor & Snowshoe ski report

It has been an unusually hot month and snow has been scarce, fortunately snow has come and I will be skiing with one of my good friends at Sugar mountain on Friday. Until then enjoy some lovely picture of Snowshoe's slops taken a couple of weeks ago and this brief report (*it was not posted on the internet because I did not submit it)...enjoy Kasey B!

Skiers Beware!

I was skiing at Snowshoe during New Year’s holiday and the weather was mixed. The first 2 days of my 7, were hot and it even rained. The weekend was a drag to ski in. Fortunately, as you can probably see from the pictures above, on Sunday it snowed and from then on it was great condition to ski with until I left on Thursday. That is not say it was not a dangerous time.

I relish skiing in terrain parks; it is what I am good at! Moreover, Snowshoe has plenty of professional terrain park jumps. These jumps are at least 7 ft gaps and had 50 ft lead-ins. It is extremely dangerous out there, Snowshoe has at least 7 full time medics and ski parole on the terrain parks at all time. There is a reason for all this staff out there and I found out first hand. I was standing at the top of the lead-in waiting for my turn to drop in; when I saw a boy (about 13-14 years old) ski down with his father and go over a 10 ft jump. As I watched, I saw this boy lose control in the air and badly hit the ground. The people at the top next to me gave the appropriate “Ooohhh, that must of hurt that little dude” expressions. After about 2 min, it was my turn and I leapt off towards the jumps! As I approached the jump where the boy wiped out on, I slowed down. As I came over the jump, I saw the boy on the ground 40 ft away from me with a medic and his fatter. The boys skies were right in front of me so I then picked up the skies and circled behind the father, boy and the medic. As I took off my red tinted goggles I realized what was on the snow, it was Blood. The boys head was bleeding and the medic was screaming at the father not to move or touch him because his back could be broken. As I stood in shock staring at them, the medic yelled into his walkie-talkie saying, “Get me an Air-E-Vac! I have kid with a serous head injury with some possible head trauma; he may also have a broken spine.” At that moment, I realized something, if the boy indeed had a spine injury it would probably be higher up on the spine since he had a head injury. If this were correct that would mean he might never be able to walk again.

During my time at Snowshoe, I saw many broken bone in the terrain park (and even helped one person). I would even admit it was rather weird walking though the town square of Snowshoe looking at the numerous people with arm slings and leg casts.

So folks, here is what you should learn, DON’T do things that are out of your skiing range. I have managed to stay injury free in my skiing life (knock-on-wood) by doing a few simple practices. Those practices are, judging jumps before I hit them, carefully assessing terrain, skiing with-in my limits and most important thing of all...Quit when I start felling tired. If you do those four things, you will dramatically decrease your chances of injury.

Be well folks,
Sincerely your skiing pal,
Kasey B

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sugar review Nov 17th

Kasey Baker offers a Trail Report from Sugar, Sunday Morning11.27.06 07:34 AMThis Sunday morning, November 26, 2006, I was rather excited to ski at Sugar. I have been a long time fan of Sugar and Cataloochee and have been skiing there for several years. Early this morning I checked the conditions on the internet and decent snow with some bare spots was reported. But they were making snow last night (as seen on their webcam). Little did I know it would turn out FAR worse than I could imagine. The first sign of trouble was when I was driving up to the slope. There was no sign of people on the slopes and very little snow anyway. As I walked up to the ticket office, they informed me they were open and that there were people on the slopes. I asked the nice ticket lady how the conditions were on the slopes and she said something like, from the road it looks bad and I hear it is not great up there. I’ll tell you what, if you walk up there and you don’t like what you see, bring the ticket back and we’ll give you a refund. I am a true diehard skier, I have seen some of the worse slope conditions imaginable, I have skied in 75° weather; I’ve skied on April 1st and I’ve skied on a complete ice sheets. Unfortunately, just by eyeballing the slope at 9:30 am, I knew that this day was going to be one those bad days. As I stood in line for the ski lift, I began to talk to a friendly man who worked there. I asked him about the conditions? He said that they were making snow most of last night, but by the time he had arrived that morning it had almost completely melted. He went on to say that since they were slammed over the holiday weekend the snow was already suffering. But they groomed the little they had. I would agree with him, they did some of the best grooming I have seen in a LONG while considering the lack of snow they had. The snow conditions where spotty at best. It was difficult to navigate many spots from the top to the bottom. Grass was abundant and seriously hindered skiing even in the morning. Some parts where even dangerous, such as the blind corner connecting Switchback and Northridge. As a mater of fact, later in the day, I witnessed 2 children collide and almost hit the tree line flying off the trail in the attempt to avoid the grass. Also in the entrance to Upper Flying Mile, there was only about 1 ft wide patch of snow to be able to enter the run. (Between the two patches of grass, center of the picture) By 1pm the slopes were becoming really dangerous: Rocks started cutting peoples skies (including mine), melting snow in the 65° heat became a factor leaving runs cut off by grass patches, snow was slushy at best and a “Snow Tan” was in full effect. Therefore, I decided to cut my losses and get out with minor scratches on my skies. On a more positive note, construction/cleaning within the terrain park today were in full effect for the coming (hopefully colder) weeks ahead. In addition, jumps were easy to spot in the slope and giving many opportunities for great air. It was skiing--not great skiing--but skiing all the same. Sugar did their very best to keep the runs in working order for as long as they could. So no one can blame them for that. A wonderful busy skiing holiday weekend combined with the unseasonable heat leaves the best resorts in trouble. A Sugar employee said they expect the coming weekend to be colder and will be making snow, weather permitting! However, if I would say, in the coming work week, unless it gets much colder, conditions will be about the same as today. Have a great, hopefully colder, day and be well. Kasey BakerEditor's Note: Sugar DID close after Sunday's session and will reopen as soon as snowmaking weather returns later in the week.

My Snow Reports On Skisoutheast.com

Kasey Baker offers a Trail Report from Cataloochee December 16th12.21.06 11:57 AMMy Exciting But Dangerous Day at Cataloochee Having finished my last final exam on Thursday, I was able to go skiing Friday at Cataloochee Ski Resort. And I am glad I did. Although all the snow was manmade, with these unseasonably warm temperatures, any snow is good snow. One small problem that I encountered was that the snow was extra compact at the beginning of the day, which made it hard to move on, as weird as that sounds. Fortunately, this problem abated after a few skiers/boarders ripped up the heavily compacted snow. The temperature was brisk, but not so cold you couldn’t wear a couple of layers of long sleeve tee shirts. The wind was generally mild, but could and did, rip an unsuspecting rider’s lift ticket out of his hand sending him scurrying halfway across the parking lot trying to catch it! For the more “extreme” riders, the lower terrain park (not Alley Cat, but by the snack bar) was well built. The half circle box was set at least 3 feet off the ground and personally, I thought it was a fun ride. In addition, many hills/bumps in the runs made 5ft+ jumps possible (if you are one who likes such air, like me!), all but one of the six spots were safe to jump. Now, about that one spot that gave me some trouble. It was at the end of the “Rock Island Run”, right under the ski left. Later in the day, this part of the run was icy, with thin coverage, lumpy snow and a medium sized jump! I had remembered to avoid that spot on two previous jumps, but I was so busy impressing giggling girls on my third run that I threw caution to the wind! Coming around the corner, I was doing at least 20mph or more when I aimed myself up for the jump. On the approach, I hit an unexpected patch of ice, sending me at a skewed angle toward the jump. Now, every rider knows this feeling: You hit a jump badly, with to much speed and you are in the air thinking...“Uh-oh that is not good, I sure hope this does not hurt too muc...BAM!” As I hit the ground (on another icy patch), my right ski flew off. As I was trying not to do a front flip, I hit the ground on my side, heard a quick *Snap* and spun around to a stop 25 feet from the jump. As I opened my eyes, I heard the faint sound of many Owwwwhhhs from the passengers on the chair lift above me. Then it hit me how far I had traveled. Fortunately, as I stood up, I concluded that I had not injured ANYTHING, but I did create a “Yard Sale.” My backpack, hat, goggles, poles, ski, glove, and water bottle were strewn across the run. The only things I did not lose were my pants...well; they were still on my body but only held up by my knees. As I collected my belongings, I checked my backpack and found that my camera was the cause of the *Snap* sound. The front-slide cover snapped off, which will warrant a trip to the camera shop. This fall was unusual for me because I hardly ever fall, but I got lucky this time and managed not hit the snow blower 6ft to my left. So all in all, it was a good day, a little scary at times. But that was made up by the fact that almost no one was there. As shown in this picture at about 1:30 pm. There where a few more skiers later on; at their busiest, they probably had only a few hundred at max. So I hope to see you all out there in the next week or two (or maybe not with the Christmas crowd that will be there). I would like to thank Cataloochee and their staff for another wonderful ski session, and the ski patrol for helping me collect my belongings across the run, (hehe). Have a happy holiday everyone, Kasey Baker