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The Truth: Dolores LaChapelle

On Powder, Nature, and Avalanches.
posted: 08/20/2003
Courtesy of Special Collections J. Willard Marriot, Univ. of utah

IN 1956, DOLORES LACHAPELLE became the first person (alongside Utah ski legend Jim Shane) to ski Alta's famed Baldy Chute. Her 1993 book, Deep Powder: 40 Years of Ecstatic Skiing, Avalanches and Earth Wisdom, is something of a cult classic among powder-skiing devotees in the Rockies. LaChapelle, now 80, leads "full-moon chat sessions" and writes books on the "flow of nature" from her home in Silverton, Colorado.

IF YOU'RE SKIING TO SHOW OFF, you're still proving you're better than nature-you're imposing your will on nature. But if you're skiing powder, real powder, then nature is turning your skis.

YOU, THE PERSON, don't make any decisions, don't make any movements. You turn it over to your skis to react to the snow.

THE MOST AMAZING THING HAPPENS AT ALTA. There will be four feet of really good powder, and as you turn, it comes boiling up the back of your parka and flies up over your head.

I TOOK TWO TURNS and then the whole face slid. There were cliffs under me, so I was thrown in the air immediately. When I landed I broke a tree and the tree broke me. As I was being buried, I was concerned about getting my hand up so my friends wouldn't have to dig to locate me. I got one hand out, and the rest of my body was completely locked in. Then I passed out.

I WAS STARTING DOWN A RUN and the sun had just risen off the ridge so I was backlit. All the way down, every single turn, I could see all these flowing crystals shining.

 

OCTOBER 2005

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