Altitude Sickness, Column

45+ days of skiing, powder turns early season

This week has been a blur of skiing, lifting weights, and selling solar. Having skied a blissful 45 days so far (every operating day of the resort), and having had a couple of genuine powder days, I can honestly say that this year is off to a great start, and I am living my joy.
Rock climbing has fallen by the wayside for now, and my mornings are full of pushing iron, riding my bike trainer, and skiing my tail off. My legs are in great shape this year, though occasionally tired, and I am turning better, more stably, and more effectively than I ever have.
Today, in fact, under the Slowdown Quad, I experienced one of the moments that every telemark skier who pushes themselves experiences. This is the moment when your skis slow down unaccountably and your momentum carries you forward… I call it the Full Frontal Flop. Many of you know it as the faceplate, but it looks a little different for telemarkers.
With standard downhill skis, your heel is hooked down, and the momentum of the body translates that back into momentum for the skis, so often the moment of inertia is not enough to topple an alpine skier. But someone with a free heel experiencing this will often pitch forward suddenly if they are not perfectly positioned low in a turn.
A few days ago I was absolutely tearing up skiers right of “Chute” below “Frolic” approaching  “Great Bear,” when I gullied my skis while I was slightly out of position and pitched forward in a Full Frontal Flop. The beauty of it was that this FFF was executed (with distinctive flair) directly into a driftpile that was about two feet deep. Usually unpleasant and often painful, the FFF is rarely fun, but when luck has you fly headfirst into a pillowy pile of snow, you roll with it and you laugh. This FFF was great fun! I got up, knocked the snow off my helmet and goggles, and proceeded to tear it up down the slope.
This season has been great, but that day was so much fun that I can’t even begin to describe it without using words like ecstatic, enthralled, awesome, and totally.
That same day I met a person on the lift named John who inquired about the health and well being of my guinea pig Pip (“The Impaler”), and I realized that I had not offered an update on my hetero life partner Pip in some time.
Living with Pip has been a fascinating study in things not going the way I want them to, with a side serving of “my pet hates me.”
I am being flip, I know that Pip doesn’t hate me, but I am certain that he will never recover from the rather horrific beginning of his life (a year of neglect and abuse, for those of you new to the story), and so I am now contemplating drastic measures. I am considering, when I have the spare cash, neutering Pip, and getting him a few baby female companions.
The reasons for this are several, the first being that I want to get some guinea pigs that will actually like me and be affectionate with me (I really miss the daily snuggle time with Stinky Pete, my former guinea pig who died in my lap at the age of eight and a half years), and females are the most likely to be friendly, as are guinea pigs that you purchase young and socialize thoroughly. Neutering is obviously necessary so that you don’t wind up with 50 guinea pigs.  Furthermore, I wonder if perhaps Pip’s attitude would be better if he were not producing much testosterone.
The reason that I do not do this immediately, is that not only is neutering very expensive for guinea pigs (about $300), but it is also catastrophic. For those uninitiated, apparently guinea pigs have the highest ratio of testicle weight to body weight of any mammal, and so the removal of that much tissue is a big deal for a little animal.
Pip has had other travails, a case of worsening soft stool/diarrhea that lasted for months, which I finally had to treat with 10 days of antibiotic drops in his water. I was unable to really handle him for a month or so because he was a complete mess, so he has backslid in terms of his ability to socialize.
All told though, Pip is rocking it. He is in a safe place, he eats good food, he gets little treats all day, and he still lets me scratch his chin a couple of times a day. He is like a little tank, and lives the way he wants to live, serving no man. Pip is no mans snuggle bug.

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