Ronan and I rode up Mammoth’s Chair 1 together at the end of Memorial Day. It was sunny and I could see skiers and snowboarders making their way down the mountain. Ronan had been shredding the lower half all day.
“Lets go up to the top,” I said, watching Chair 23 carry skiers and boarders to the peak.
“No Mom, I’m not ready,” Ronan said.
That’s mature, I thought. He knows his limits, that’s a good thing, right? Smart. “Awe, come on, it’s the last run of the day. You’ll be so psyched.”
“No Mom, I’m not ready, sorry.”
We swayed on the chair as it carried us along, our snowboards swinging beneath. “I’ve been up there all day and it’s really nice. It’s easy. You can do it.”
“No Mom, I don’t want to.”
That’s good, the kid can speak his mind. Caution is an asset. He had a great day, why ruin it? “You’ll be stoked man. You’ve never done Cornice.”
“I’ve skied it.”
“I know, but you’re a snowboarder now. This is the day, man.”
“No, it’s nice up there. It’s all soft now. It won’t be like this for another year.”
“So I’ll do it next year.”
We unloaded. Where there had been ice the day before, there was slush. It was soft and easy and kind. We sat down to strap in. I looked at Chair 23, the legs of its last few customers dangling over the bowl.
“This is the final run of the season, dude. Let’s hop on 23 and come down Cornice. You can do it.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to. I’m sure.”
“Ok.” I tightened my bindings and shifted my weight towards the bottom of the hill.
“I’ll do it,” he called out from behind me.
“Awesome. Let’s go,” I said, flipping around onto my toe edge and taking the lead.
Of course, I chose the worst possible route to the lift. We had to skid over a patch of rocks. “It’s just bad right here,” I said thinking: What kind of mother forces her kid up onto an 11,000’ peak? What if he gets hurt? But it’s the last run of the season. And he’ll be so thrilled. It’s one run, but if he conquers it, that powerful feeling with stay with him for months.
“The lift is the scariest part,” Ronan said when we loaded onto the 3 person chair, which is completely above the tree line and climbs up a sheer wall of snow and rocks.
“That means the hardest part is almost over,” I said. “We can come down Scotty’s if you want,” I said, considering our options. “Looks nice and flat in there.”
“No, I want to do Cornice.”
“Bigger bragging rights?”
Then the clouds rolled in. And the wind picked up. Shit! I told him it would be warm.
“Looks like we got lucky,” I said, a few more minutes and it won’t be as nice. We hit it at the right time.” I said, with my my fingers crossed.
We dismounted without incident, which is not always the case on a snowboard, and headed out to the left. “It’s easy,” I said.
The wind blasted us towards the edge.
“It’s ice!” he screamed. I can’t believe I let you talk me into this. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.”
“It’s all good. Just skate towards me.” I am a terrible mother. And also, a terrible reader of snow! One day of sun does not corn snow make!
“Wait!” he screamed because I had skated too far ahead. See, sucky mom!
“Ok, strap in,” I said. A strong gust sprayed him with icy snow.
“This was the worst idea,” he screamed over the roar of the wind.
“No, it’s fine. We just need to drop in.” The entrance to the run was about 200 feet of solid ice away. “Just stay on your toe edge.”
I went and he followed, but he took a higher traverse, which meant he was farther from the skiable snow.
“This is the worst ever,” he yelled at me.
“I’m sorry. You’re right. I was wrong. But listen, all you have to do is go as far as you can on your toe edge. Go all the way into the bowl. Look, it’s soft down there.”
“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”
“You want me to go ahead or wait?”
So he got up on his toe edge screeched across the ice.
“Stop there!” I yelled, following behind. I hope those moguls aren’t ice, too. If they are, we’re fucked. He will hate me forever and I will deserve it. “See, it’s fluffy.”
“It’s all moguls!”
“Yeah, I know.” It was. All bumped up. Snow on top, ice in between. But we were in the lee now, so at least I could hear Ronan telling me off.
“How could you bring me here?”
“Cause it’s fun,” I said, with a cheerful grin. This is my fault – no way I can fall apart too. “I’ll go ahead so I can videotape it.” (Btw – super trick) I took a few turns down hoping to find an easy route. No such luck. “You can do it, buddy,” I screamed up to him with my iphone raised. “Rolling!”
He skidded out on his first turn and slid on his tush maybe ten feet. Bless his heart for not cursing at me. I would have cursed at me. He screamed, but he didn’t curse. “This is horrible.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll delete that take,” I said, trying to make light of the situation. We were looking at several more such turns before we were out of the expert terrain and he’s too big to carry. He sat on a mogul and stewed while I sped ahead to get my camera ready for another shot. “We can put it on YouTube,” I yelled to him as I swished down. “Rolling!”
Then that little bugger got up and rode down that hill. He passed me, then turned and turned and only fell once. I shot it and watched and cheered.
“Mommy,” he said when I caught up to him, “That was so fun. You were right. You were so right.”
re: video: excuse my voice (go ahead and lower your volume) and my camera work. I’m on a snowboard on that hill, too, and it’s a lot steeper than it looks. 😉