Thursday, January 3, 2008

Little Ski Hill

Just north of McCall, there is a small hill with a T-bar, run by the McCall ski club. The area has very limited hours, operating mostly in the evenings - today it was from about 3:30 to 8:30, but they open earlier on the weekend. Opening so late preserves territory not under lights, which apparently sees very light traffic.

My only complaint would be the lack of a discernible boundary (maybe I just missed it?) on the far side of the T-bar - on my second off-piste run, I ended up boarding all the way to the road below the ski area, and hiked back along a snowmobile track (it looked as if others had done the same). That said, it was nice to have a backcountry style experience on a small hill, and I cruised powder until the rope went up, announcing "night ski".

The grooming was very well done, and there was a race training course set up in the early afternoon, with lines of little skiers waiting turns and racing back to the base of the T-bar. I enjoyed the wide-open slopes, and found the quality grooming and gentle slope made for the perfect opportunity to practice riding switch, so I spent a few runs just riding switch and spinning, throwing in a few little jumps. I even landed my first 180 - yeah, not much, but it's a start.

Presaging another epic day to come, snow began to fall around 6pm. I decided to save some strength for the powder in the morning, and packed up around 7 o'clock. Three and half hours is usually a good time for a rest break anyway, and I needed to get into town to situate myself for the evening - the snow was still great, and I was having a good time up to the last moment.

After my last run, I spent another twenty minutes reviewing the historical photos in the lodge, with classic skiing newspapers and pictures of the founders of Idaho's ski hills. This Little Ski Hill has been around for seventy years, and shows no signs of slowing down. Apparently it has produced a few Olympians and National Champions over the years - and from what I saw, there are at least a few runs that could get you to near-Olympic speeds - some snowboarders had made a very nice jump at the bottom of one, but I wasn't feeling so adventurous, given the hike out.

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