Gravity is one of the absolutes of nature. One of the things I like about snow skiing is the sense of adventure and the adrenaline rush associated to getting down the mountain. Seriously, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to garner speed and find yourself going faster than you can safely control if your skill set and understanding of how to remain in control is lacking. I should know, I’ve been there.
Several years ago a ski instructor put me on notice that if I went passed him one more time, I was out of his class. He said: “I’ve got things planned for the afternoon and I don’t have the time to fill-out an accident form for you.” Actually, the warning was more than a little embarrassing. He told me that in front of the rest of class.
Truthfully, one of the reasons I was taking skiing lessons was to learn how to slow down and stay in control. Like I said, I don’t like a sense of terror. I simply want a sense of adventure with just enough adrenaline to give me a buzz, not put me in a death defying posture.
I guess you could say I am growing up with my grandchildren. I think Jenna was four-years-old and William was three when they took their first skiing lessons at Lake Tahoe. Out of happenstance, the General and I were tag-alongs since we were visiting at the time. At the age of sixty-one I had never been skiing with the exception of skiing down Ranch Road 12 at the Divide in 1982. We had two inches of fresh powder and it covered the black top beautifully. I’m not sure the fresh powder would have provided much cushion had we fallen, but we didn’t fall and we had a lot of fun. The downside is that it was a pretty short run.
Wayman Curry, mastermind for the make-shift ski adventure, used his little red pickup and a ski rope for water skiing to pull us back up the incline and we took full advantage of having snow in Henly.
At any rate, when Jenna and William went for their first snow ski lessons, it occurred to me that I wasn’t getting any younger. If I was going to learn to ski, I needed to get started. Consequently, while Jenna and William were taking a class for children, I took one for adults. Thus began my annual pilgrimage to the slopes to make up for lost time.
Yesterday’s ski adventure marked the 9th year that I’ve been skiing. Some year’s I’ve had the good fortune of hitting the slopes twice during one skiing season. However, the past three or four years, it has simply been an annual pilgrimage. I don’t plan to stop. I’ve half-jokingly said, “When someone mentions assisted living to me, I will take up skiing black diamonds.”
The jeweler will tell you diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Perhaps black diamonds on the slopes are a man’s best friend? How else can a guy substantiate his prowess and expertise in defying gravity and elevating himself to at least honorable mention in the game of king of the mountain?
Under the auspices of transparency, that’s not why I ski. I ski because I enjoy it and I don’t enjoy being terrified. Consequently, for me it is recreational. I don’t care if the run is labeled green or blue as long as I can negotiate it without risking injury to self or others. I am not under any circumstances going to ski black. I am not in competition with the mountain. Like I said, “An adrenaline buzz is all I need.” I don’t need to be frightened out of my wits.
I guess you could say different strokes for different folks. A close friend that I’ve known for twenty years is an exceptional skier. He is the friend who has guardedly and protectively attempted to offer some level of oversight and a helping hand when I’ve fallen on the slopes in Colorado. For the first four or five years that I had the privilege to ski in Colorado, he insisted that I take at least a half day of lessons offered by the ski-resort in order for him to agree to accompany me. How could I argue with his logic?
I know folks who occasionally go skiing and they’ve never taken a lesson. That is beyond my comprehension. Seriously, it just takes getting a little too close to a tree in an out-of-control run down the mountain to result in imminent peril. In the state of Colorado, there have been thirteen ski related fatalities this year.
The friend who accompanies me when I go skiing never falls. At least he doesn’t fall on the kind of slopes I’m content to fall on. He also doesn’t make a big ado about his skill set or prowess. In addition to skiing, he has also taken up climbing mountains on skis. Apparently, the skis you use for mountain climbing have some kind of backing on the bottom of the ski that prevent them from sliding backwards. For the life of me, I can’t figure why anyone would want to climb mountains, but like I said: “I am not an addict for a sense of terror.”
Several weeks ago my friend decided to up-the-ante on his spirit of adventure. He signed on for the “Ultimate Alaskan Heli-Skiing Experience”. I’ve never been to Alaska and I’ve never heard of the Western Chugach Mountains, but reportedly skiing those powder bowls will: “Take away your breath and leave you begging for more”.
This experience has “death defying and terror’ written all over it. Forget the black diamonds, the inspiring steeps and colossal vertical incline that looks almost straight up isn’t even rated. It is beyond description.
Truthfully, from what I can ascertain, the only begging that will take place will be begging God to get you safely out of the mess you voluntarily got yourself into when you stepped out of the helicopter. By the way, my friend has not confirmed the accuracy of what I’m saying, but it has to be true, don’t you think?
So this is how it comes down (pardon the pun). My friend and three other men were transported by helicopter to the jagged peaks of the Talkeetnas. They were dropped off at the top of nowhere with a guide who lead them on what I envision had to be a horrifying trek down unmarked snow covered terrain. At the end of the run, the helicopter would pick the four death-defying skiers and their guide up and fly them back to the top of nowhere to repeat the process. The top of nowhere was not always the same area. Consequently, they were dealing with fresh snow and unmarked paths.
Recreational skiing and low stress is more than enough for me. I can’t imagine an uncharted plummet down a snow covered mountain.
All My Best!