I was home for 4 days again, in a state of transitioning from an epic 3 week "Skiers Journey" film trip to Iran, when I realized that I had a moment to breath! A moment to enjoy the simple pleasures of being at home sleeping in my own bed or sitting on the porch to drink a tea while reflecting on the past adventures and lessons learned. It had been one wild experience to the next, how was I going to pack and be ready for this one? A completely different ski experience was in the making if the Chinese Visa stamp found a clean page in my passport.
Visa approved, gear packed, last minute phone calls and errands ticked off the list, bus to the airport... it was time to fly.
Arriving in China was a huge eye opener. There is non-stop action going on around you, and you are always being watched by camera`s everywhere. This sense of being totally lost and out of place can overwhelm you. Unable to communicate with anyone or even read the signs, getting around was anything but efficient. Without our trusty guide "captain Jeffery" from Boston, we would have been helpless!
After 7 internal flights to all corners of the country, countless security check points, multiple cases of food poisoning, sleepless nights in random hotels, a few thousand km's jammed in the back of mini vans and trucks trying chasing powder.... the ski trip to China was definitely becoming an epic! But the Journey had to continue, each one of us had our own investments and drive for the trip... so we persevered and were glad we did.
One highlight from the trip was our trip into the Altay range. We found ourselves trapped in a canyon in the middle of the night trying to dig our way into the remote village of Hemu, to ski uncharted mountains and document the making of traditional skis hand crafted by the Kazikstan locals.
As for the skiing itself, that was a rain crust disaster after a warm storm destroyed the snowpack. But overall it was a beautiful experience and certainly a test of patience and acceptance. In a classic Skier's Journey scenario we didn't record a single ski action shot!
We didn't get completed skunked though. The powder was plentiful farther to the east in Changbishan and we made the most of it. Plan A was to ski into the crater of a massive volcano bordering North Korea, without getting rocked by another avalanche or arrested and thrown in a Korean prison. But after a couple days of looking down the entrance of this 1200ft loaded slope, we chose to be more conservative by skiing the thigh high blower pow down low in the perfectly spaced deciduous trees. We wanted to get home stoked and alive with another Skiers Journey episode in the bag.
Time and time again the beauty and the power of nature continues to humbles me. All these experiences and lessons I learn along the way shape me to be a stronger skier and a more mindful traveler. Often we have to let go of ideas or objectives we're chasing so that we can stay safe and healthy. It's an opportunity to return home with stories and new inspiration for the next trip. My trip to China didn't really allow me to fine tune my ski gear or better my travel kit but it gave me a deeper appreciation for the mountains and the world we live in! I'm glad we stepped outside of the ordinary to see what we could find.
CHAD'S TIPS – SKIING IN CHINA
- Tight and Light – Travel with only the essentials. It's a BIG country with lots of internal travel opportunities.
- Tune Your Gear – It's hard finding good ski shops on the road.
- Double Up On Essentials – I pack an extra pole, sometimes a second set of skis if it might make or brake such a big trip.
- Buddy Up - Make sure to have good solid travel partners you trust and can have a good time with. Skiing is just a fraction of the experience.
- Shovel at the Ready – My G3 shovel was always packed accessibly – and came in handy for life or death dig outs (on the road!)
- Translator – We wouldn't have gotten far without a translation book and/or person to help translate.
- A-List Travel Items – I don't leave home without these easy to forget items: Camera, headlamp, chocolate and snacks, candle, sunscreen, music, Ibuprofen, fresh underwear and comfortable shoes.