Well, that's what my trips are like. I go big and put a lot into 'em.
The days were challenging and after our tours, we'd go back to the classroom and then there was homework. I often got humbled. AT our first guides meeting, I mentioned our snowfall was "Nil" to which one of the Instructors snapped at, saying that's not in the SWAG. Fortunately, Gary defended me saying that was OK as that was an old-school term. Gary also runs an intriguing club: Red Mountain Club
So, the next day was another warm sunny day. The high temps were astounding and nothing was really corning up - just slop and crust with some chalk and powder on certain higher N aspects. Gary the Brit led us, using local knowledge to bring us to the top of the Grandma Couloir. On the way, we did ski crampon, boot cramp & ice axe work among other mountaineering skills.
At the top, we did anchoring and lowering and rapelling skills. It really turned out to be more of a workshop as all of us had climbing experience or even had Rock and/or Alpine certifications. I have been drilled hard in the past up in Canada doing crevasse rescue work.....as in getting yelled at by multiple guides who wanted me to push it and get it dialed. It was very obvious in many ways that we had "been there, done that" and there was a pause in the class and Instructor Mike then blurted out "wow.....you guys really are The A Team".
We were finally lowered over the edge as part of an exercise - there was a mellow 40 degree entrance on skiers left that could have been used - onto a slope that was between 35 and 40 degrees. Leave it to Mia the Alpha Female to take over and question the whole scene as to why so many of us were lowered onto slope with that angle with a known persistent slab issue. She then demanded that Eric reach into the top of her pack for an inclinomter to which she got a 37 degree reading. When Instructor Mike got us us, he explained that the slope had already slid - the crown line blended into the vertical drop-off, hence we did not realize that. I just trusted the Instructor as he had scouted that area before the class.
So, we enjoyed some great turns down the couloir. Nate then used his local knowledge to bring us through some trees and a super-fun 40 degree shot through the trees - another slope that had slid......yeah, that was a strategy that we used and that was to seek out slopes that had ripped loose in the brutal avalanche cycle from late Feb/early March as there had been very little loding since then and the persistent slab had been cleaned out.
We just kept on playing hard as a team and with the lemons handed to us, we broke out the salt shaker, shot glasses and high end tequila......we went through multiple fifths on this trip!
I had the task of getting food for one of our group dinners after class. I went to the small supermarket in Ouray known as "The Place Where Old Vegetables Go To Die". Ummm, Ouray is a bit isolated which is part of the fun and the 2 nice microbreweries gave us the only vegetables we needed....like, hops is a vegetable, correct?
We then got some sad news: The A Team was to be broken up. Mia and Eric would not be with us......of course, Mia would still be heard from.