It’s All About the Friends, Isn’t It?
We at conSKIerge admit to enjoying some solo laps. No waiting at the top for someone to buckle boots; no interminable discussion about where to ski; no stopping midway down Rumble or Gunsight while that soon to be ex-ski buddy takes a phone call! And aren’t we cool just sliding off the chair and gliding past all those skiers looking at maps and showing our certainty and determination as we head to just where we alone want to go?
But with nobody to share the experience, something is lost in translation. Yeah you can mutter to yourself how great a run was, but talking to yourself is what old people do. And telling others about your solo runs is right up there with regaling folks about your internal debate on the 17th tee about which club to hit. With no shared memories the experience is relegated to those solo decaying cranium neurons.
And particularly in these pandemic years I am most thankful for the ski buddies that have been patient enough to put up with me. Many of my most cherished moments in the nooks and crannies of my past have been outdoors with others of similar ilk, and, yes, you guessed it, many of those have revolved around skiing. Sorry, I know that may seem trite, but there you have it. Sure, the single chair at Mad River Glen allows one some respite for solo reflection but you can’t ride that single chair through life. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
My brother, Greg, and I were forced into skiing young. I don’t remember taking any lessons, and I don’t remember our parents teaching us. It just happened. And we never looked in the rearview mirror. Led by our father, a GA boy who moved north and caught the ski bug, we cut our teeth on laughable tiny drumlins in upstate NY and slowly advanced to the Adirondack Mountains of NY and the Vermont Green Mountains. A family ski trip to Aspen in our early teens sealed the deal – we were in! Thanks to a ski writing gig Greg had, we skied all over the Rockies as youngish adults. Thanks to my addiction to heli trips, we have been lucky enough to leave many fresh tracks in British Columbia. As we have aged and supposedly matured we still get together every winter wherever the best snow takes us. With hopes, Greg, that we have many such years left to go…
And to Bill… We met freshmen year in college and quickly learned we had grown up skiing the same mogul-sized hills in upstate NY. Added bonus for me – he had a car to take us over to Mad River Glen. Fast friends ever since, we graduated to co-owning a condo in Alta, UT many years ago. We now each have our own place in Alta and the families are close buddies. The memories are waaaay too numerous to dive into specifically, and, a bit sadly, they blend together. But we have shared deep snow and giggles from British Columbia to New Mexico. Recently we got to the bottom of a non-stop long run at Snowbird and Bill asked me to guess how many turns he had taken on that run. (Yeah, he counted. Weird, eh?) I was off by only 4.
And then there are very specific memories with buddies that never fade. So… thank you Roger and Michael for sharing that moment on Mount Sutton (or was it Mont Orford?) on our Quebec road trip too many years ago. The skiing wasn’t great – somewhat “firm” as I recall. We stumbled upon a glade that rambled away from the main area. It was a classic northeastern glade strewn with moguls, the obligatory rocks, a few ice falls and trees. Lots and lots of trees. It had been an uninspiring day which would normally have been long forgotten. But as we rounded a bend headed south, the sun had softened the snow and lit up the silver birches. None of us stopped as we weaved our way into the sun. But I knew immediately that they were feeling the same sense of wonder and surprise as I was. Our silly fist bumps and chuckles at the bottom certainly didn’t pay the moment enough respect.
And to Eddie the Head, Stoner the stoner, and Lee…if I already hadn’t put people to sleep with this corny piece…too may boys trips to count. Thanks for that. Eddie’s epic tumble off the Alta High Traverse with boot attached to the ski that came off…well that is a story for another day.
Be Well; Ski Well