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Comrade Martin sings the Internationale

6 May, 2006

Our operatives have finally managed to relay a selection of the fabled writings of Comrade Martin to the desks of Telemarxist.  Original text and translation are below.

-Hugh


Hello Fellow Free Heel Comrades!
Если картина стоит тысячу слов, то наиболее превосходный запуск Товарища Хью в капиталистическую Голливудскую лыжу видео бизнес развлечения стоит тысячу историй. Неделя, посещая и ходя на лыжах с Хью и Paige в Австрии была действительно невероятна. Я предлагаю моим поддерживающим товарищам несколько слов, чтобы добавить структуру к снегу, температура к выстрелам лица. Дешевый наблюдатель мог бы предположить, что наша поездка вышла к плохому началу, что с нашим 03:30 прибытием в маленькую деревню горы только к югу от Инсбрука. Правда вопроса - противоположность – в то время как мой самолет был 2 часами, поздно прибывающими в Мюнхен, корень задержки лежат с порошковыми Богами, которые только что сваливали измеренную прибыль капиталиста в снег в Альпах. Наше скромное приспособление было прекрасной основой, чтобы получить доступ к Инсбруку и многим ближайшим областям лыжи. В первый день, нетипично, мы поднялись после 09:00, выпили чай, и наблюдали Порно Трассы по телевидению. Эта рутина, очень противоположность ужасного “добирается-outta

(editor's note: our world-renowned translation department assures us that the following is a direct translation)

Greetings fellow free-heel Comrades!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Comrade Hugh's most excellent launch into the capitalist Hollywood ski video entertainment business is worth a thousand stories. The week visiting and skiing with Hugh and Paige in Austria was truly fabulous. I offer my fellow comrades a few words to add texture to the snow, temperature to the face shots.

A cheap observer might guess that our trip got off to a bad start, what with our 03:30 arrival at a small mountain village just south of Innsbruck. The truth of the matter is the opposite - while my plane was 2 hours late arriving in Munich, the root of the delay lay with the powder Gods who had just dumped capitalist sized profits of snow in the Alps.

Our modest accommodation was a perfect base to access Innsbruck and the many surrounding ski areas. On the first day, atypically, we rose after 09:00, drank tea, and watched Piste Porn on the TV. This routine, very much the opposite of the frantic "get-outta-my-way" morning-after-the-storm in Whistler, became habit over the course of the week for several reasons. Firstly, the ski hills do not open till 09:00. Very civilized. Secondly, no one shows up until at least 10:00. Even better. Thirdly, you can drive upwards of 180km/hr to the nearest ski hill; therefore nothing is ever more than 5 minutes away. Lastly, Piste Porn was essential to watch as it advised the Telemarxists of where to ski. You see comrades; Piste Porn is a channel that shows remote live video pans of every ski area in Austria, all to the tune of cheesy traditional Bavarian omh pah pah music. At each ski area, Piste Porn reports of weather conditions whilst doing a 15 second pan of the most perfectly polished piste (groomed) ski runs imaginable. Unlike anywhere in North America, there is no mention of the amount of snow received over night, rather, a mention of the number of km's of finally honed piste. Your Comrades would howl with gluttonous laughter at statements like "250km of piste!" and promptly strike that area off the potential ski list.

Morning from the apartment

Being tired (myself, I cannot report for others, especially Hugh), the first day saw us visit the local area, Schlick 2000, which, like Comrade Hugh said, is not another bad Gillett commercial. Perhaps because of the late night your scribe felt a bit uncoordinated and pulled major face plants off numerous small jumps. Paige showed us that she still has the tele magic and put in a fine day on the tele boards, only the second or third time that season.

Despite our (ok, my) tiredness we were able to revel in the fact that 70-80% of Austrian skiers stay on the piste - hence the Piste Porn's reporting of km's of piste vs. cm's of pow. Sadly the visibility was not great and the elevation a touch low to truly rip up the storm pow, but after exploring around we found excellent quality but modest quantity freshies hiding in the larch trees, themselves a new hidden gem. You see Comrades, and maybe Comrade Tom in Calgary can relate or elaborate, we discovered that larch forests are wonderful to ski as they lack winter needles or leaves hence provide excellent visibility with no tree wells to plunge into. An added advantage is that the branches are rather flexible so when you don't quite pull off a turn they won't rip your nifty Gore-Tex jacket, nor leave you skewered and staining the snow. All vanity aside, Hugh skiing larches made it into his video, and your scribe tossed his tiredness and head plants aside to amp it up in order to poach a suspected excellent line from some banditos rarely seen in the Alps - off piste fixed heelers. The suspected line proved itself as near comparable to Blanket Hut's Orgasmatron  (those who were there will know what I mean), and as for the banditos, well, they were left locked in place.  

Day 2 saw us desiring higher elevation above tree line for the superior drier snow. Piste Porn reported dubious vis at such elevations, but based upon Hugh and Paige's past experience we took a gamble on The Kuhtai. And yes did it ever deliver. Despite initial very cold temps and high winds and times of flat light, the weather improved as the day wore on.

On this day scoring fresh lines was like me being let loose in a donut store - only better as I was inhaling snow instead of transfats. Many clips from this day made it into Hugh's video, and if I may be permitted to say so, perhaps the clip of the video - me nearly taking cameraman Hugh out whilst looking to feast on freshies tucked under a cliff and close to the trees. On this particular clip I missed a turn ID'd by Hugh above the camera - I was supposed to get above the small single tree and drop down and around to the camera left. But the snow was so deep I didn't have enough speed /momentum to get to the starting point of the said turn and consequently came down lower and went past Hugh, ummm, very closely as it turns out, heading camera right destination the edge of the trees to score deep wind deposited bonuses of supreme capitalistic nature. Oh did I ever score a nice deep line, and I wasn't relegated to the salt mines for missing the turn. Too bad communism doesn't allow for advertising on the bottom of the skis.

At The Kuhtai, riding the chair at 15:00 we giggled like school children as we could no longer resist untracked slopes we'd been eyeing up all day, untracked lines a mere 50m from the top of the chair and just off the groomed runs. In Whistler lines like that would be knee bashing moguls by15:00. Why did we wait so late to get the lines?  Simply because we were bagging freshies everywhere else. Even on the last run of the day it was easy to get face shots right above the parking lot. Clearly remarkable..……yes 70-80% of Austrians ski piste only. I guess that why they win so many medals in downhill ski racing. On the ride back home we were still amped - we knew we had experienced a great day, but how Poland has the best lift accessed pow I'll never know. Comrades: Go ski The Kuhtai.

Freshies at 15:05

On Day 3 we went for a b/c tour. The day started off bluebird but slowly clouded over. The effects of a yesterday's hard day and an over active intestine on your scribe's part (left over from some questionable Portuguese food ingested a week earlier) held me back as Hugh and Paige climbed up. To be honest, I trumpeted fortissimo like a Tchaikovsky suite up the mountains. We met a local couple and their dog who were on they're way down. The snow looked wonderful and we asked them if this was a typical winter. The couple looked to be in their late 60's, themselves an inspiration for a lifetime of powder skiing, and said it was the best snowfall winter in 30 years. They added that another storm was coming in tonight - we gleefully rubbed our hands together.

On this backcountry day the skies slowly clouded over and we made only one long run down. Some clips from this day made in into the video, including Hugh and Paige skiing small meadows and more of the magical larch trees. Paige scored perhaps the best and longest line and sang gleefully all the way down. Also my tribute to Lee Lau clip at the end of the video. Sorry Lee, in the spirit of great snow conditions and backcountry skiing, I just had to gloat over something!

That night we drove a couple of hours west towards St. Anton to ski some different areas in the coming days. It started snowing hard after about an hour's drive on the Autobahn, and then driving up the narrow mountain road to a village that we would be staying at, the Volkswagen Passat almost ran out of forward momentum on a slippery uphill. I'll politely report that Hugh was heard to call out for his Subaru………

Eventually we made it to our destination, a small village tucked up somewhere in the mountains…and it was still snowing hard! Beautiful dry snow too. We eagerly prepped for next day. Called Comrade Bill Gordon who was nearby in Ftan Switzerland and confirmed that as the day was going to be a supreme powder day there would be no comrades - we'd ski our respective nearby ski hills and meet up back in Canada and trade legends. And St. Anton would have to wait too!

When we woke the next morning none of us anticipated what we found out our door. The storm had delivered 50 of the most excellent cm's of snow - dry, light, and not wind affected. Getting to the ski area became our first priority, as we had to dig the car out. But then our host came down and anxiously told us that we could not leave the village. The road to the ski area was closed due to avalanches. And we couldn't go to either of the villages 300m on both sides of our village because doing so meant crossing the avalanche run out zones and it was all just too dangerous.

We went outside and looked up and couldn't really see much. We determined we were located in a small village of maybe 12 or 15 buildings carefully placed in a steeply walled valley. It quickly became apparent why there was no capitalistic style suburban sprawl - our host pointed out across to the next village where we saw that avalanche debris, including some sizeable trees, had made it onto the highway. "It came down at 09:05," he told us. Very sobering. Too bad we'd been watching Piste Porn and missed the slide.

We foolishly thought that they'd get the road opened by noon, because A) we were in Austria and something about efficiency came to mind, and B) IT WAS AN EPIC POWDER DAY! So we started digging out the car to be ready. We shoveled snow. We walked the main street of the village and inspected the road-closed signs. We got the feeling that if we disobeyed the signs we would make the villagers very very unhappy with us. We shoveled snow. Noon came and went. We shoveled more snow. Then we were told that none of the ski areas had opened that day - too much snow to make piste.

About 2pm it stopped snowing. The sun came out, the temperature shot up, and the villagers all came out, binoculars in hand, to watch the avalanche show. I sang:

"Avalanches to the left of me,
Avalanches to the right!
Here I am
Stuck in the middle with you,
And I'm,
Trying to figure out what to do…"

The clips just don't do the avalanches justice, not by far. Some chutes delivered multiple avalanches over the next hour. But I think the clip in the video gets the idea across. What it doesn't tell you about is the powder cloud that rides on the wind of the avalanche that envelopes you such that you can't really see what is happening too well for several minutes after the avalanche. Humbling. Scary. Comrades: don't take unnecessary avalanche risks.

Despite not skiing what must have been epic snow conditions that day, spending the day in the village and watching avalanches remains one of the memorable highlights of the week. We took advantage of the forced day off and snoozed, stretched, and Hugh salvaged his career via borrowed Internet service. We eagerly awaited the next day, our last day of skiing.

The day dawned and we headed off to ski the local hill at Fiss. This place was amazing - it was like some rich owner had decided to put in a gondola lift anywhere he pleased. There were Gondolas and other lifts all over the place. Sadly the temperature remained warm impacting snow conditions with a leg busting crust. We went higher and found the crust to be not as solid but still dangerous. I attacked the snow with my best on-the-fall-line crust-busting technique and failed miserably - fell on turn two. Got up. Fell on turn three and tweaked the knee and effectively retired for the morning. Hugh and Paige continued on trying to ski the ungroomed. Hugh made some turns and took a truly spectacular crash. I captured it on video but it was too far away to be of any value to the video. Banditos tried their hand at the crust. They failed as well. Moral was low.

Fiss

After lunch my knee was feeling better so we tried some piste, and had a bit of fun going Straight Ahead Comrade Ted fast, then noticed that the highest gondola had just opened - maybe the snow was better way up there. By the time we arrived at the top we were in serious fog and couldn't tell which way was up. But yes the snow was better and we did manage to score some ok turns. Then the wind came up, unbelievably the vis deteriorated, and lo and behold it was time to commute back to the car multiple lift rides away. Hugh and I sort of raced each other back, rippin' out edgy turns on the piste, launching off of rolls, dodging other skiers, and generally having a grand old time until our thighs would catch fire. This was somewhat reminiscent of the Chinese downhill my brother Lest introduced to me at Keystone Colorado in December. But that's another story.

On the last pitch I had the lead going into the last left-hander dropping turn. I knew Hugh was coming up wide to my right with considerable speed so I faked him out and forced him wider onto a flatter slope while I scored the steep line and roared ahead. At the bottom we were totally stoked and laughing hard and realized that maybe skiing piste wasn't so bad after all. Then we gave our heads a shake and said, "Well, only if you can't ski pow."

Just say no to piste

Enough! That's too many words. I won't mention the fine food, no lift lines, a lack of other tele comrades, the lift loading contraptions of the places we skied, the wonderful hospitality of our hosts, and my hosts Hugh and Paige! In the meantime save your kopeks, go visit our fine Comrades in Europe, ski your brains out and promote the revolution!

Comrades Martin and Suzanne

And why did it take me so long to write this and get it to Hugh? Cause I went to Cuba to study the revolution by bike. Castro sends his regards to us revolutionaries. Che is like Elvis - he's everywhere. Comrades, save your kopeks and go there too. Anyone up for a visit to old Sondre?

Che in Cuba



Last updated by Hugh Thompson 11 May 2006 all rights reserved