How to get down the mountain when you lose your skis

Have you ever saved up for a big purchase? Maybe a new bike, surfboard, or, I don’t know, pair of skis? 2013 was a big equipment upgrade year for me. I had been rockin’ the same pair of Dynastar shape skis for over a decade, and every time I was lucky enough to hit a powder day I got a little frustration along with my excitement—I just could not seem to get to the level I wanted, always feeling like a bumbling newbie when the powder got too deep. On the first day I tried out my new Volkl Kenjas, I could not have been more excited. I could turn. In powder! I seemed to float on top of snow I used to sink in. I didn’t feel out of shape after every run and was having a blast! Now, most people thought that California had a horrible season last year. “There is no snow!” they said. Well, when you wait a decade for a new pair of skis, you find the snow. Just about every stormy weekend this girl made it to the Sierra and ended up having a great, powdery season. 

The last weekend of the season was absolutely gorgeous. On day one at Mammoth we had fresh powder on a beautiful bluebird day and were expecting a big storm that night. At noon we decided to take a beer and bratwurst break on the backside. I was beaming from the perfect morning (and maybe the altitude made that beer just a little more potent) and left the outpost ready to rock the rest of the day. Well, I got to my skis and noticed someone had taken my poles and left rentals in their place. I was confused as to why someone would want my 15 year old poles, and admittedly sad they were gone. You better believe I searched every pair of skis/poles to see if I was mistaken, or if they were accidentally moved. Nothing. Then, I realized that someone not only took my poles, they took my brand spankin’ new skis as well! It appeared they mistook my skis for theirs, and swapped them by mistake. I was upset, yet hopeful that whoever made this mistake would quickly notice the different poles and bindings, not to mention the differing length of ski. 

In search of freshies on our way to the scene of the crime

For the next hour I sat at at Chair 14, waiting for this person to come back, sheepishly in search of their skis. This hour was torture. Tracks were still being made and I was just sitting there, watching people load the chairlift with huge smiles, stoked on their run. Finally, I decided to make my way to Main Lodge and report the mix up to lost and found. At this point, the only thing I could do was adjust the bindings to skis now on my feet and enjoy the rest of the day. 

I checked back in with Lost and Found multiple times and looked through the racks outside every lodge I passed. All. Damn. Day. At the end of the day I had to start making my way to Canyon Lodge. I decided to stop at Main one last time to check the racks and could not believe my luck—the skis were sitting right outside! My skis. My poles. My bindings. YES!!! I swapped back, left too nice a note to the oblivious thief (did they even realize this had happened?!), and happily went on my way. The Kenjas are now emblazoned with my name and phone number along with a Mammoth sticker, in hopes this will make them more difficult to mistake for another’s.

Oh, right, you want to know how to get down the mountain if you lose your skis and don’t have a near perfect replacement? First, you start digging. The photos below give you a little glimpse into a very painful morning for my good friend Danie and I. She lost one of her skis after a fall in some deep powder one perfect morning. We were digging for three hours. Yup, three hours. I became her best friend that day. When she finally hit gold, she looked down, looked at me with a shear confusion on her face and said "I don't think its mine..." It had snowed 8 feet in the last day. It could only be hers. We had a good laugh of relief and exhaustion, then popped on our skis and headed down the mountain. Luckily, our timing rocked and were the last on the lift before they closed it due to an avalanche warning. (We were on the Griz at Bear Valley. If you miss the lift, you hike out.) If you don't find your ski? You hike, of course.  

This is Danie, tearing up some morning powder on the Griz at Bear Valley...

...and sitting down in some soft pow...

...and starting to look for the ski that popped off...

...and finally, getting exhausted after hours of the search. Don't worry, she found it!

...and finally, getting exhausted after hours of the search. Don't worry, she found it!