Squaw Valley, CA Report: Launching a 35-Foot Air & Landing on Rock…

Miles Clark | | Conditions ReportConditions Report

Brought to you by Squaw Alpine

Report from March 11, 2021

Today was a crazy day at Squaw.

Well, it was crazy for me at least.

Silverado opened for only the 3rd day all season, I believe.

I should have gone straight to it but I was fully focused on hitting a line called Smooth Air off Granite Chief Peak.

Maybe a bit too focused…

Fox and I went straight there in the morning and started hiking up in a ferocious east wind.

Fox in deep on Granite Chief Peak. image: snowbrains

Right when I started hiking, I knew I’d made the wrong decision.

I should have gone to Silverado…

But I kept moving up.

Granite Chief Peak. image: snowbrains

The boot pack was tricky as the wind was refilling the post holes with snow in seconds.

We slogged on.

When we got to the top of Smooth Air the wind was relentless.

Headwall. image: snowbrains

It must have been blowing a steady 15-20mph directly from the east.

Directly against my chest.

Directly against my trajectory.

Rime on The Palisades. image: snowbrains

I lined up the air, realized I had a lot of rock to clear, and stepped out a takeoff.

My mind was telling me “This isn’t going to work, man, the wind is too strong, you won’t make it…”

For some reason, I didn’t listen.

Wind ripping off Granite Chief Peak. image: snowbrains

I’ve hit this air quite a few times before and it has always just worked out.

But I’d never hit it in an east wind…

It was mostly cloudy in the morning and suddenly, the sun came out.

Silverado. image: snowbrains

Something clicked in me, and I sent it.

As soon as I left the ground, I felt the wind hit my hold body with it’s full force and bend my tips up.

I fought to maintain control of my body position.

Instead of going out, I started going down.

Squaw Valley, CA. image: snowbrains

It’s difficult enough to clear the rocks on this air, but that east wind today made it impossible for me.

I watched with fascination as the wind thwarted my horizontal motion and steered me right into the rocks.

After all that air, I landed directly on a rock.

I went straight into a tumble and rolled hard twice.

Glory Rock. image: snowbrains

I lost my GoPro and a ski.

I got up, shook myself off, and realized that I was ok.


I found the GoPro right away, but it took me about 20 minutes to find my ski.

My ski was damaged but fully operational.

I thanked my lucky stars and skied incredible powder down to the chair.

I spent the rest of the day in a funk.

Silverado. image: snowbrains

I tried a backflip off Main Line Pocket but over-rotated and crashed.

I even collided with my buddy Duane on a groomer and crashed so hard my goggles lens popped off…

I skied the Tube off the Palisades and that went well thankfully.

All in all, it was a funky, humbling day that I won’t soon forget.

Moving forward, I need to listen to my mind when it tells me “No go, buddy.”

I need to listen and make the right call, the safe call, the smart call.

Snow Numbers:

image: squaw alpine, 3/11/21


image: noaa, 3/11/21

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10 thoughts on “Squaw Valley, CA Report: Launching a 35-Foot Air & Landing on Rock…

  1. Miles, you are going through those Scott Scrappers at an amazing rate. I’m glad both that you are okay (are you?) and that you heard your inner-knowing waving you off. Keep listening. Next time you might save someone’s life.

    1. Thanks, Mark. I’m ok. Was scary. Yeah, I keep breaking skis… But that’s part of the game, methinks. thx!

      1. haha, well said. I was in this mindset 20 years ago. selfish, skiing all the same lines around SV and not thinking about anyone else. Skiing, as much as we love it, is a selfish sport really. You make a life by what you give. think big picture

  2. It’s funny how you kept going against your gut. Been there, done that. Over and over. I am too old to do that stuff now without planning on screwing up a joint, but I will consider about a third of that sort of drop if the landing is soft(ish) snow and I know there are no buried rocks. Ideally, I will not do the drop at all but the adrenaline is addicting. My habit of ignoring my gut made me stop riding motorcycles (I was pretty stupid) after my last bike was stolen over 40 years ago.

    I was taught years ago that the frontal lobe controls our risk assessment and that the frontal lobe in males fully develops the risk assessment area about 10 years after females. I always figured that my frontal lobe did not ever fully develop ’cause I do some stuff that is not appropriate for my age (lower levels of HGH make for long recoveries). Still, I have some nice photos of injuries (only one ski injury).

    1. Thanks for all this, SC. Yes, It is so funny, especially in retrospection to realize what a bad decision this and many other decisions I’ve made were. It’s so clear now… The key for us is to keep learning and developing better analytical skills while we’re in the situation. thx again

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