Young, Dumb, & Stupid

Rid­ing the rat­tail to free­dom

Powder - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Matt Hansen

THE WHO: Wig­gles, un­like bumps, don’t just ap­pear. They are not the hap­haz­ard re­sult of a bunch of go­ril­las oof­ing and grunt­ing and throw­ing their own fe­ces down the moun­tain. No, wig­gles take time. They re­quire fo­cus, ded­i­ca­tion, and team­work, for one per­son can­not fash­ion a wig­gle on his or her own.

Of­ten, the vi­sion for a wig­gle re­sides among those who spend an in­or­di­nate amount of time in one par­tic­u­lar lo­cale on the moun­tain. They are the cu­ra­tors, the pro­tec­tors—the ones who know how to draw a well-banked line around rocks, trees, and lift ter­mi­nals. They are, of course, the lifties.

“We started talk­ing briefly about wig­gles, and we thought we should make one on the whole lift line,” says Dan Mon­cur, 27, who worked the Te­ton lift last win­ter at the Jack­son Hole Moun­tain Re­sort.

“Two me­chan­ics and a su­per­vi­sor, we just started fol­low­ing each other in a line. Then more and more lifties came over and that re­ally set it in.”

THE WHAT: Wig­gles, like Gaper Day, come to life in the spring when deep snow en­ables ruts in the pack and skiers cel­e­brate by shed­ding lay­ers and strife. A wig­gle emerged last year at Squaw Val­ley in a mel­low bowl of KT-22. Another was built at neigh­bor­ing Alpine Mead­ows of the Round­house Chair. Snow­bird has one in Lit­tle Cloud Bowl, another area that gets ham­mered by sun­shine and tourists. Since the mid-1990s, Jack­son Hole has boasted of its “worker wig­gle” down Ren­dezvous Bowl. This snake, at 10,000 feet, gets so pronounced you can some­times see it from the val­ley floor.

But the Te­ton Lift wig­gle was difer­ent. It didn’t de­scend a wide-open bowl, but rather an of-kil­ter fall line right be­neath the high-speed quad. Like a dirty rat­tail, it wound around trees, boul­ders, lift tow­ers, and crossed a cat track. To­tal ver­ti­cal drop: 1,722 feet.

THE WHY: By the end of March, the lifties work­ing the Te­ton Lift had rid­den the chair hun­dreds of times. They’d pretty much been there, done that. With Jack­son sit­ting on a base depth of 10 feet, the cre­ative juices started flow­ing. “Ev­ery­thing was look­ing good,” says Josh Bashaw, the chair’s 31-year-old su­per­vi­sor. “It hadn’t snowed in a while and we thought, ‘Damn, we should put a wig­gle in top-to-bot­tom on this thing and blow the doors of the smaller ones around the moun­tain.”

“It ended up be­ing a bit of a mon­ster,” he adds.

THE WTF: Like a gentle river cruise where all you needed was a tube, jorts, and a cold bevvie, the Te­ton wig­gle started out mel­low. But it jumped to Class V pretty quickly, mak­ing you wish you had a free hand to grab the oh-shit han­dle.

The trick was to start slow and in con­trol. Speed, like heart­burn af­ter a big plate of na­chos, came nat­u­rally. As the hill steep­ened, the wig­gle dug down so deep that Elvis was spot­ted a time or two slap­ping high fives as you rock­eted past.

Crouched in a gotta-poop tuck, the key was to roll your edges up high on the wall to dump speed. Suck down some air and then sling­shot back into the trough. About half­way through, gran­ite boul­ders emerged like sharks. If you could make th­ese five or six har­row­ing turns, you had a chance. Most bailed at the cat track, about 300 feet from the lift sta­tion, ex­hausted and ter­ri­fied.

“For me, it’s al­most like rid­ing a half­pipe,” says Bashaw. “Get­ting up on the banks, put your stom­ach up close to your throat, and see how fast you can do it with­out get­ting spit out.”

As the sea­son ended and the wig­gle melted into the soil, there wasn’t much car­nage to re­port. A child or two may have been lost, but noth­ing ma­jor.

Life is so much more in­ter­est­ing thanks to bored lifties.Photo: Jay Goodrich

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.