I looked down the gut. There was one sloppy track down it. It looked chalky at the top, wide enough to make turns but there was a questionable choke in the middle. I had skied it numerous times in the past, straight lined it, jumped turned it, side slid it, but today it looked different. For me, the straight line was out of the question. The run-out was rocky and had a wind lip at the base. I had opted to not bring my helmet as it was "just" a shooting day. The Line of the Week !! – The Photographer’s Route | Unofficial Networks

The Line of the Week !! - The Photographer's Route

The Line of the Week !! - The Photographer's Route

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The Line of the Week !! - The Photographer's Route

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The Line of the Week

Squaw Valley USA

The Photographer’s Route -He’s gotta get down too

After milking early ups turns, airs and terrain at Squaw Valley the other morning, I figured my day would come to a close once the masses arrived. The snow was good but had a slight wind layer on top. That, mixed with blowing snow and variable skies, made shooting pics a bit difficult.

We had already hiked the Peak, Broken Arrow and Palisades when I ran into Joshua Plack at midday. After some discussion we decided to head out to Broken Arrow and look for the last of the untracked.

I love Broken Arrow. I love the rocks, the baking sun and the questionable snow quality late in the day. The one thing that always lurks in the back of my mind is that one chute you need to ski to get deep out there. You just never know what its condition will be.

The plan…I would descend said chute (“Deadman’s“, I believe), get to high ground and photograph Josh skiing the billy-goat line to the looker’s right.

(Left) The line "skied" by photographer. (Right) The Line skied by Josh Plack.

I looked down the gut. There was one sloppy track down it. It looked chalky at the top, wide enough to make turns but there was a questionable choke in the middle. I had skied it numerous times in the past, straight lined it, jumped turned it, side slid it, but today it looked different. For me, the straight line was out of the question. The run-out was rocky and had a wind lip at the base. I had opted to not bring my helmet as it was “just” a shooting day.

I started to side slide. I got down to the choke with relative ease. At the choke the chute was slightly steeper and the walls were not quite wide enough for my skis. There was a thick wind buff layer on the sides that was rock hard. I kicked my ski at it to try and break it down. As I moved further down, the wind buff layer rose higher off the surface of the chute. It got to a point where my skis were only attached to the ground at the tip and tail of my Volkl’s. I was a foot or so off the surface layer. My skis started to bow in the middle as I struggled to hold an edge.

I slid a little further and came to a crunchy halt. My lower ski was now wedged between ice and rock on both sides and I was actually not touching snow. I felt like a dip shit. I had a loaded pack filled with camera gear, no helmet and was skiing in full gaper form. Thank god Josh couldn’t see me from his vantage point.

Looking back up the chute I saw another skier waiting at the top. “Shit”. “I’m gonna be a minute”, I hollered back.  I felt like a tool. About 3 seconds later my right ski which was bent like a U popped off and tumbled down, hit some rocks and was out of sight. I began to sweat. I took off my other ski, as that seemed like the best move. When I tried to kick my heel in the snow it didn’t stick well and in a flash I ass slid to the bottom of the chute.

Despite my saturating perspiration, my tangled nerves and the shot to my ego, I was in one piece. My camera gear was secure, my head was in tact and my other ski was right behind a rock. I shrugged it off, gave a wave to the patroller that was standing above me (never saw him) and gave Josh the wave to ski his line.

While I waited for Josh to get his head in the game, I peaked back to see how the others were faring in the chute. The guy above me looked good at first, got to the choke, lost a ski and fell down it. The next couple didn’t tumble but sure as hell didn’t look good sliding it. My ego rose a few points.

Joshua Plack skiing out the bottom of the line

Josh skied his line with ease. “I love it out there.  It’s the most adventurous feeling you can get in bounds at Squaw.  My favorite memory after skiing that thing was while hiking up after the wind lip, looking back at people struggling down Salm’s route.  Then came Conway blasting in, tossing them sideways, scraping rock and ice and pointing out, just flashing it.” Josh Plack

To view more of Ryan’s Photography, check out:


http://ryansalmphotography.photoshelter.com/gallery-list

The Line of the Week is a weekly photo piece by Ryan Salm featuring some of Tahoe’s finest athletes doing whatever we deem rad. We will be using the term “Line” loosely to describe anything resembling chutes, big airs, pointers or any general madness. All images are the property and copyright of Ryan Salm Photography. All images are only to be used in conjunction with the Line of the Week. Any other usage must be cleared in writing by Ryan Salm.

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