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The femur splint, blood clotting packets and dressings in my pack were heavy but in my view essential. As were detailed plans for the nearest helicopter LZ — and the pilot we’d put on retainer. That’s the way daddy-angst works when you take your 9-year-old daughter on her first ski tour.
Our daughter Erin is a mountain girl, having grown up in this mountain town in Washington state, and having gone into the hills with her parents for all of her life. She has backpacked with us since age five. At age eight, we put a backpack on her to slow her down so that her parents could keep up. That did not work, even with a twelve pound load she would take off running up the trail to show us just what she was made of. Last year, Erin broke free of the Ski Hill rope tow in town and went with us to Mission Ridge ski area, where she skied nearly all of the groomers on her first lift day. With all of this, it was obvious (at least to me) that it was time to take her randonee ski touring!
Luckily Erin agreed that a ski tour sounded cool, so a few days ago we climbed and skied a short gentle meadow line that I’d found for her five years ago — I call it Erin’s Run.
At the base of the climb was a short part that’s a bit steep, and it had an old icy track from our powder skiing a few days before. Erin slipped a bit here, and walked out of her Silvretta Kidz bindings a few times. Up above on the more mellow part of the climb she did fine. I showed her the basic V-A uphill turn, she renamed it the “Sno Cone/ pizza turn” and had a good time with it. In places I made a new track that was flatter than our old powder-day track, thus better for the little Rando Girl. At the top of the meadow we basked in sunshine and enjoyed lunch with plenty of hot cocoa for Erin.
Erin’s Silvretta Kidz bindings are mounted on her older and shorter 112 cm K2 Luv Bug ski. For skins we used my BD kicker skins, which are 75 cm by 70 mm wide. The skins work well for her skis. I plan to use the kicker skins on her various kid skis until she is full-grown, to save refitting or cutting new skins each year as she grows into new skis.
On the downhill Erin just cranked turns with ease, and threaded the trees like navigating a playground, with more ease than us larger folks. Because of the length of the Erin’s randonnee binding it was mounted an inch forward on the ski, thus giving her a quick and easy-turning ride. I wasn’t sure about the thin glassy ice crust on the old wet powder, but she just turned it, no big deal, no falls.
My backpack is lighter now and the helicopter pilot I had on retainer has been asked to stand down. No more daddy-angst. We’re now looking forward to the next tour with our Randonnee Girl.
(Guest blogger Rob Mullins lives in the Washington Cascades with Randonnee Girl and Mrs. Randonnee.)
Rob Mullins lives in the Washington Cascades with his wife, daughter, and a black lab avalanche dog in training named Blackie.