Three things again: Avalanche terrain,
unstable snow, and a trigger.

Twenty years ago, these elements
combined while I slept. The war

came back and the mountain
came down. Twenty years,

a day at a time, time flashing,
practicing travel techniques--

blind in one eye, paralyzed.
Reading red flags, understanding

when snow starts to move.
Dashing lines of ancient debris.

Jim Bodeen
7 January 2011


Don't worry about parallel skis. People don't ski that way anymore. Let yourself slide, don't worry so much about carving. It sounded different. I didn't like it. It sounded like criticism. I knew I had a 1950's European skier in my head. Ski on both skis, he would say. Stand on both skis and move into the fall line. Don't worry about the downhill ski. All these things. My relationship with the mountain. He wanted to take that away. He was a bit frustrated, too. He wanted to give me something larger. My North Dakota relationship with snow shows up, too. Mittens. Buckle overshoes. Plugging the car in at night. Snow banks. Igloos carved with coal shovels. Snow tunnels. Ice skating at Shit Creek on the edge of town. Sleds as transportation. Chapped lips and cracked skin. Wind. Snow sweeping the highway to Flaxton. Wind and whiteout. We left that world when I was 10. At 13, in Washington State, I put on skis for the first time. This could save me. A sacrifice of my parents. If I was called to a God of my own understanding smoking Indian Tobacco on stones concealing Indian graves in a willow grove of  my own imagination to stop the ears of the Lutheran pastor so that I might better understand my own calling to God, I was redeemed by the Cascade Mountains in Washington State.

There's nothing better than sliding on snow and flying through the air. Shane McConkey

Shane McConkey is a hero in the extreme world. He died flying on skis March 26, 2009. He was 39 years old. The same age as Martin Luther King Jr. when he was murdered. McConkey recreated skis and skiing. He moved out of professional skiing to create free skiing. He re-created  extreme skiing movies.He was a BASE jumper. He made over 700 base jumps. He did a double front flip off the Eiger. BASE stands for Bridge, Antenna, Span, Earth, objects from which its practitioners leap, enjoying the rush, deploying parachutes. McConkey died in the Dolomite Mountains struggling in a free-fall for 12 seconds before he was able to release his skis. His parachute never deployed. He left a wife and child behind. McConkey drinks Black Jack from the bottle. He drives Kesey's bus Further. The adventurer is any parent's nightmare.This is not the Saturday Ski School Bus. It is the ski school the kids will find. Does one have to know McConkey to say the kids are all right? Maybe. Grandparents can't talk about McConkey. Read what the kids say. But know this. I ski on Rossignal S-7's, painted with an artist's vision of skis leaving Earth, approaching the moon. Skis made possible by Shane McConkey.

The same Shane McConkey who invented a revolutionary powder ski, the Volant Spatula with reverse camber and reverse sidecut in 2002. His father, Jim, is the father of extreme skiing.

Listen to Shane McConkey in the 5-page guide to his revolutionary Spatula skis. He writes: Beginners have the advantage over experts on the new skis. The expert has to retrain the brain. Ski on both feet. Keep them there throughout your turn. Slide instead of carve. Float and slide. It is a simple matter of flotation. Snowboarders are always on top of the snow. Skiers are mostly down in it. The Spatulas will give you all the benefits of snowboarding's flotation.

High school seniors write senior projects on Shane McConkey. They're looking for quotations. "Clean them up so I can use them in school," they write. They find things like, "Just ski down there and jump off something for crying out loud." This is the shock of the new, as we once said so bravely about the art world. Hard skiers defend Shane McConkey and what he gave them. What he gives them. He helped re-create them.

In several hours I'll begin a 4-day outback ski course with avalanche training and survival skills with my son and a dozen others. My son is my son, but he's also a bit Shane McConkey. I, too, owe a debt to Shane McConkey. Two days of class work will give me a practical basis for new normal and survival skills. Not for adventure. Not for search and rescue.

Things we do to be where angels fly.

The new normal. Skiing maladjusted in Martin Luther King's words, from his essay on Nonviolence. The kids are all right. They must be. They're not, either, kids anymore. Or only kids. And they talk about many things. Their parents' world got greedy. Theirs, the generation that took all the money. Mountain and snow has given their children something extreme worth knowing about. A code of honor and an alternate way down the mountain. Of living on the mountain. Mountain's not going anywhere. Nobody's getting off. Not in this life.

Martin Luther King, Jr. His birthday's around the corner. He wrote The Power of Nonviolence in 1958. He was murdered when I was in Viet Nam. 1968. I returned to the States in August. King wrote, I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic effects of the methods of physical violence and to tragic militarism. I call upon you to be maladjusted to such things. I've been skiing longer than I've done just about any learned thing. 52 years. Call me the maladjusted skier. Say the kids are all right. Listen to what's possible for a man in the mountains at 65. In the outback. Maladjusted, with gratitude. Given so much. Let that be explored.

Jim Bodeen
6 January 2011


for Tim Bodeen

K2 Xplorer
Atomic Sugar Daddy
Carvers, S-7 Pride

A quiver of skis

Convert Xplorers
with skins--and heel bindings--
Lock, release, and go

A quiver of skis

Floating through what's fresh
Sugar Daddy carves through crud
Detached listening

A quiver of skis

Carvers on corners
Old school edge holding to ice
Fast kinds of danger

A quiver of skis

Pride looks at the moon
floating planet, surfing snow
changing ways one thinks

Jim Bodeen
2 January 2011


That's not snow it's light
Soul shining in clear cycles
God-iced river boats

4 January 2011

1 comment:

  1. big post today, fine poem, snow serves you well, the avalanche makes good in this way. kjm