Over the years, Deer Valley skiers have moved away from the Mayflower area of Bald Mountain to Empire Mountain. Perhaps this trend is due to the greater visibility Empire enjoys, while Mayflower is largely hidden from skiers’ view. This is also what makes it a heaven for powder hounds and skiers in the know.
At any rate, this is where I found myself on December 28, as I missed the season’s opening of this section of the mountain the day before. As I was leaving Stein’s Way ski run into the entrance of Mayflower Bowl, I noticed a skier ahead of me that was skiing extremely well on account of the day’s conditions.
It was a cold, flatly-lit day and most of the powder had been largely tracked-out from the day before. In spite of that, the skier in question negotiated the Mayflower Chutes quite expertly. A couple of lift rides later, as I was resting and observing the world around me from the comfort of my chair, I noticed a man to the left of the Paradise ski run, poking the snow all around him with his ski poles. I recognized the skier as the one I noticed earlier on the steep portion of the bowl. I immediately realized that he had lost a ski and was doing what he could to recover it.
Since I have lost skis in powder many times before, I knew the feeling and the sense of distress that comes with this type of predicament. Which is why I decided to ski towards him and offer a helping hand. I found him at the top of Fortune Teller, a steep slope that parallels Morning Star under the Mayflower Bowl. The skier, standing almost hip-deep in powder, was probing the snow underneath in the hopes of finding his missing ski.
My first question to him was to inquire if his missing ski might have shot straight downhill and resting somewhere further below. He didn’t think so as he recalled the ski burying itself deep into the powder just as it came off.
Hopelessly, we gave up the search and I offered to call Ski Patrol so he could be helped out of the deep snow with only one ski. He declined, said he would manage a slow but safe return and I reluctantly began to ski down, in the path the stray ski might have taken.
My hunch eventually paid off when I reached the bottom of the bowl. I came in sight of the lost ski. I then gestured and screamed at the top of my lungs to get the attention of the skier who was still getting organized before starting his challenging, one-ski descent. He saw me brandishing the missing ski and I somehow communicated to him to stay just where he was. With one ski on one shoulder and two poles in my free hand, I managed to trek my way all the way to the base of the Mayflower chairlift. A few minutes later I finally rejoined the skier and reunited him with his ski.
He thanked me profusely, introduced himself – his name was Gerry – stepped back into the recovered ski. We said goodbye and I was on my way to the lift, appreciating the fact that I had finally one pole in each hand, and having a much better time skiing the cut-out powder field. As I was skiing down, I thought to myself “it would be a good idea to always carry a pair of powder straps in my jacket pocket…” and a few turns later I had this other and final thought, “when you lose a ski, never, ever give up searching!”