Skiing in the Swiss Alps is terrific fun and challenging. I was nineteen years old when my parents took our family to Davos, Switzerland to ski for a week. The Alps loomed large around us, the sky an intense blue against the sparkling white snow. My Dad hired an Alpine ski guide, Jacob Prader, to ski with us for the week. The guide made it possible for us to ski off-trail. We spent six days skiing on virgin snow. Stopping and looking back, we saw only our own tracks. That became a teaching moment for Jacob. “You see where you made that move? Your skies were too close together. Farther apart will make you more stable in deep powder snow.” We learned quickly how to ski deep snow without falling.
One afternoon after skiing off hay barn roofs and steep terrain, I decided to make a path of my own. Bad decision! I skied off a cliff, thankfully landing on a ledge just below. Dilemma, how do I get off the ledge without starting an avalanche? Looking up I saw the cornice of snow hanging above. Now I was scared. Jacob skied down just below me and threw me a rope. “Very carefully follow the ledge and I will help you back to safety.” Slowly, ever so slowly, I did as he advised. Thankfully he was able to rescue me from a very risky situation.
Back on safe ground we reviewed the rules of skiing off- trail. I had been impulsive and put Jacob and myself in danger. We all learned the importance of following the guide while skiing off-trail.
The freedom of skiing in deep powder snow is a memory that stays with me forever.