A summiteer had arrived at the Barrels a day or two before our planned ascent. He looked swashbucklingly heroically sun-burnt, windswept and knackered. For a moment I had a teenage yearning to be just like him. Weather-beaten, craggy and above all heroically successful – rakishly paying off the skidoo pilot (driver/cowboy whatever you call him) with a flourish of rubles. The mid afternoon sunlight glinted in his reflective sunglasses . . . . and he looked like twelve feet tall.
Two days later after a bone shattering journey on a stinking piece of two-stroke machinery that keeps cutting out and that takes all my fading strength to keep seated as it hurls over seeming limitless precipices of piste I arrive at the Barrels; beanie askew and in a state of mind numbed exhaustion. As we near the Barrels compound the skidoo pilot yet again re-starts the stalled infernal petrol leaking machine to negotiate the dip down and back up to the Barrels camp.
|Photo courtesy of Moegammad Hendricks|
I stumble into our barrel and re-emerge with a fist full of rubles of the agreed amount which I proceed to politely (I thought) count out in front of my erstwhile and unsmiling skidoo driver (cowboy or pilot) - who snatches the notes from me with what I can only assume is an exclamation in Russian along the lines of “only a dick-head would accept payment without doing the counting himself”.
Late evening sun struggles through the gathering stormy night clouds and slides haltingly over my smudged snow goggles. . . . .
Under more relaxed conditions, clad in bravely coloured spandex, sporting pristine sun-washed raybans and draped with a long legged blond . . . . I am sure skidoos are fun.