Sunday, February 27, 2011

What is this white stuff?

The last time I touched snow was December of 2009. It was two weeks before my departure to Honduras and Holland was pounded with a blanket of snow a few days after Christmas. With all the snow, my family and I decided to really enjoy it. Pictures from that December 2009 snowstorm:

After living in Honduras until June 2010, and then experiencing summer in Michigan until August when I left for Spain, I have avoided snow since December of 2009. However, I do miss it and was eager to experience it once again.

In eighth grade I was “going steady” with a girl who had grown up downhill skiing. For Christmas, she decided that my present was going to be the two of us downhill skiing at the mountainous of a hill (read that sarcastically), Bittersweet, which is halfway between Holland and Kalamazoo in Otsego. From that day on I really enjoyed downhill skiing. I had grown up cross-country skiing with my mom and brother, and had always enjoyed going downhill on cross-country skis. But now I was on skis with the purpose of going downhill, and it was fantastic. I ended up doing ski club through high school and made it to both Caberfae and Boyne while in college (two of the better skiing hills in the lower peninsula of Michigan).

When people think of Southern Spain most people think Mediterranean Sea and warm weather. Which is true. Along the Costa del Sol you rarely go longer than a few days without seeing the sun (since Costa del Sol literally translates to “Sun Coast”) or experiencing warmer weather. However, many don’t know that there are also 9,000 – 11,000 foot snow capped mountains in Southern Spain as well. One of the things I have always wanted to do was mountain ski—the hill(s) of Bittersweet, Caberfae, and Boyne, and their 7-minute lift rides for only a minute of downhill skiing, were getting old. Well, this is what I was looking at last weekend here in Spain:

That was the view we had as we were climbing higher and higher into the real Sierra Nevada towards our full day of skiing. Me and my roomies, along with our friend Javier, had decided that we were going to spend the day skiing, and left early last Friday morning to get in a full day.

We arrived at the base of the ski resort shortly after 9 and by 11 we were outfitted in rented equipment, had bought our day pass, and were on the gondola heading up the mountain. Out of the four of us I had the most skiing experience, although Emily had mountain skied in Utah and Michael Lynn skied at a young age while living in Colorado. Javier, who is from Los Angeles, had only snowboarded a couple of times (he also rented a snowboard, while the rest of us rented skis). We first took the bunny hill and then the greens to test our skills, and Emily and I quickly found the process coming back, while Javier and Michael Lynn were re-learning the process. Feeling confident, Emily and I embarked on 5 hours of skiing that would bring us up and down the entire mountain two times (about 40 minutes to go all the way down) and familiarizing ourselves with different lifts and runs. Pictures? I got those:

Michael Lynn and Javier both ended up taking some nasty falls and hung out getting a tan at one of the many slope-side restaurants much of the afternoon. But we all really enjoyed the day. We could have not asked for a better one—it had been snowing for the previous 48 hours and there was not a cloud in the sky much of the afternoon. In fact, my face got a little sun burnt and peeled.

If you want a more detailed look at the mountain check out Emily’s entry about the day. She went as far as to take a map of the mountain and outline our descent the two times we skied all the way down.

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