Bear Creek

the last turns of spring....

ups & downs & long way rounds of another delirious day of big-time, late-spring, high-Alpine super touring. Yes, really. No foot-weary, slowed-down uphill slog this. Flying — or as close as you can come in such mountains, at such altitudes, to the all-American, all-time, all-downhill Alpine ski tour (& once upon a time there was a Jet Ranger helicopter & it was all downhill, but today, close enough)

and so we stumble out of the canyon on our seven-league skis in one grand and flashy finale to the perfect day, a long, sweet schuss into town & cold Mexican beer & limes at the Floradora Saloon, drunk on perfect corn, the slow swooosh & sudden crunch of skis slicing out of the fall line into that old kabambo edge-set &

sudden silence as skis & feet & mind lift off in slow-motion suspended time warp, floating endlessly into the next turn, & the next, & the next, & it’s been like this all day long, at least since we dropped in from the crest of San Juaquin ridge, 12,000-foot corniced ridge, into the never-never land of upper Bear Creek: arctic wasteland tilted at 20 degrees into a long series of half-open bowls & half-closed gullies &

— look out, man, there’s cliffs down there! —

down there, so far from anywhere: way out of sight (& mind) of wind-blown Ophir cabin tract behind us & magic Telluride thousands (count them!) feet below

working left in long GS swoopers to avoid the first canyon closeout & skiing like maniacs beneath the too huge cliffs of Little Wasatch, Eiger-like & scary. One avo-chute after another (& hey, good thing we weren’t here a month ago!) toward the final choice above Bear Creek Falls: steep couloir on right or long ledges on left, but today we’re up, up this high! & down we go, thru, into & over the brink

falling between turn, down this narrow, rock-ribbed, bowling alley of a snow chute at war with gravity: hit, bite, rebound, aahhhhh.

& of course we all make it, today of all days, because Bear Creek is enchanted & we are too, except it’s over too soon &, of course, it’s never really over.

Lito T-F

above: skiing in upper Bear Creek basin, also called Delta Basin, Telluride.
photo © Linde Waidhofer


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