A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Winter School

January 24, 2012
Emilie Phillips

There was a whole lot of suspense leading to winter school on whether or not we would have snow. A lot of the skiing students dropped out and we reduced our ski instructors by two. Tyson was one of the ones who bowed out. His work schedule at the new job is pretty busy.

After all the reshuffling, I ended up teaching the down mountain section. Previously, I have taught the beginner and intermediate touring sections. In fact I have mostly taught  the beginner section. So this was something new. Additionally, we recently revamped the goal of the down mountain section, and no one had come up with a new  syllabus.

For my prep work, I looked over all the students and recategorized people who were not in the appropriate section. I researched alternative locations in case we did not have any snow. And I wrote up a new syllabus.

The weekend arrived. Instead of meeting and greeting the participants as they arrived, I took a nap. Saturday, I ended up taking a nap and skipping out early to go to bed too. Trying to cram all the planning in the week before might have been too much.

The class itself went well. I had not taught with my co-instructor before, but our skills worked out to be quite complementary. I knew more about telemark and touring. She knows more about AT and ski mountaineering.

Our mission in the class was to transition people from the front country to the back country. Unlike the touring sections, we were not focusing on skiing technique, but rather broad back country skills. We definitely covered a lot of aspects of back country skiing. Yet, I did not feel that high intensity knowledge transfer I experience in the touring classes. I don't know how much of that is that with more experienced people, you have to discover what skills they are specifically missing and then target them. Or how much is that we need a better syllabus.

And of course, the class actually went very well. People learned more about their gear. The two with the lightest decided theirs were really too light. One of the light gear folks started the day not knowing a kick turn. By the time we got to the bottom, she had it down pat. Plenty of polling tips. How to get up steep hills. A little bit of compass work. First time putting skins on. Advice on how to trim them correctly. Side slips. A stream crossing demo. We had no actual streams. Trail clearing. Tips on getting into skis on steeps. And lots of more small tips.