Summer 2002   
Sci ed amore

late spring ski touring in the San Juans

After all these years
what can I give you?
powder snow in winter?
corn snow in spring?

Gray dawn over the San Juan mountains
Gray clouds fill the sky
blow through narrow gray passes
Gray rock: gray walls, gray cliffs
crumbling ridges, sagging summits
Even the snow is gray
No day for skiing
but here we are: day two
of our home-made Haute Route
across southwestern Colorado
Packing up the tent, traversing
for miles to the likeliest looking col
trying to cross into the next drainage
ski down into Waterfall canyon
It doesn't look good:
too steep, too narrow, the snow
too variable, almost rotten
nasty cliffs & black rocks
down below the hard part
Pretending I'm not worried
I take photos
while Linde sideslips into the top of the funnel
Her first turn is too quick, too nervous
but she gets them around
I can't even focus the camera
She makes another, another
leap and land, skid and scramble
to something like an edgeset
She's OK
She's going to make it
She's going to make it
She must be smiling
but all I can see are red pack, red parka
against gray snow
skis hopping & swivelling underneath
Somehow she's doing it
She must be smiling
It's not as bad as it looked--
My turn now
& I discover it's worse
even harder than it looked
Snow surface frozen in ridges & lumps
Steeper too than it looked!
What's wrong with me?
How could I have encouraged her to ski down here?
Christsakes she could have killed herself!
No way to stop if you fell
No rope to rappel with, but still
we could have climbed down broken ledges
of rock beside this snow funnel. . . .
you didn't fall
you're all right
you made it!
I ski out of the funnel
almost dancing with happiness
on this steep shitty snow
ski down to Linde waiting
kiss her
(she thinks)
for no reason

How can love be written in rock, ice, snow?
Absurd, I know
Love on windy passes, windy peaks?
Love in deep powder, in sinuous
skiers' tracks?

I ski better with you, less well alone

Of course,
it's true snow's lighter, sky bluer
when we ski together

I ski a braver line, more dashing, bolder
in front of you & always
more gracefully, smoother, lighter on my feet, following
just behind you.

Love written in snowcrystals, spindrift?
Love on slopes & summits
Love in couloirs & cornices?
Absurd I know
But it's so

Each track tells a story--
This skier panicked, nervous, desperate
This one a racer born, mad, impatient, hates to turn
This curve so subtle, finely drawn
carressing mountain's curve
This skier floating, skimming
just barely, the surface of the snow
dancing on a curved steel edge
This skier happy, this one sad

& our tracks?
Everywhere we go, figure-eights
always this obsession to cross & weave,
two tracks braided into one
eights of love
eights of love

What can I give you
after all these years?
Powder snow in winter?
Corn snow in spring?

 Summer 2002  
photo above:
thirteen-thousand foot ridges above Ophir, San Juan mountains. © Linde Waidhofer
All contents of this web site
© Lito Tejada-Flores unless otherwise credited.