USSA athlete spotlight: Slopestyle skier Olenick gets taste of heli-powder
Ryan Summerlin March 14, 2013
BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada – When you are given the opportunity to go on a cat-skiing trip at Baldface Lodge in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, you say yes, no matter what.
With more than 32,000 acres of skiable terrain and 500-plus inches of snow a year, who in their right mind would even consider missing the trip?
Dave Morin, the creator of Path (a social media outlet) whom I met in San Francisco in the fall during a U.S. Ski Team fundraiser, invited me on the trip.
Kristi Leskinen, Chris Davenport and Charlotte Moats and I would be accompanying 35 of the most tech savvy guys in the country as guest athletes.
Not only was I fairly new to backcountry skiing, but my tech knowledge was fairly minimal.
I know how to log on to Facebook, download apps onto my phone and post a photo on Instagram.
I was with guys who helped build Facebook from the ground up and guys who created apps for everything. Though we all had different careers, the one thing we had in common was our love for skiing.
Energies were high as we waited at the local Nelson airport for the helicopter to arrive to take us into the lodge.
Weather permitting, we could only fly part way into the lodge and snowcats took us the rest of the way. The amount of snow that clung to the trees was like nothing I’d seen before. The lodge looked like a five-star hotel that should be at the base of Aspen Mountain.
Dinner reminded me of a meal that you would have in Italy looking over the Mediterranean. Words cannot begin to describe how amazing it was.
The snow was coming down in sheets, and people were drifting off one by one. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve going to bed that night.
We piled into four snowcats and headed off for what I thought was going to be the best powder day of my life.
Well, it turns out that 60 centimeters of fresh snow and rain don’t mix too well; they create a cement-like substance.
We ripped through heavy snow and blasted music in the snowcats; fun was had despite our unlucky conditions.
Dinner was nothing but the best once again, and we went to bed crossing our fingers and toes that Day 2 would bless us with better snow.
Let’s just put it this way: The highlights from Day 2 consisted of extreme sledding, raging bonfires, throwing axes, hitting a jump, lighting fireworks and drinking beers.
Day 3, we awoke with not the highest of expectations, and we were shocked when we headed out to fairly good conditions.
My adrenaline was high as this was my first trip of the season, and I was skiing powder in the middle of nowhere with the best company.
Every run was filled with fresh snow and different terrain to keep us guessing all day long. I felt like I was laughing throughout every run. At the bottom, I just wanted to be back at the top instantly.
At that point, life couldn’t get much better. I had made 35 new friends in the last four days, skied powder, taken my first helicopter ride, thrown axes into logs, watched grown men dance on the bar and laughed more than I had in the last year.
Baldface you have been good to me. Thank you.