My sister, who figured in my last post about skiing nostalgia, told me that it was very depressing and that I needed to work on being a “tad brighter.” This one’s for you, Pam.
Yesterday I spent a glorious day at Snowmass skiing with Whit and Betsy. It could have been a bit sunnier and warmer, but for someone who hasn’t skied much in the last two years and who hasn’t skied in the West for much longer, it was absolutely perfect.
Because Whit and Bets had recently been in the area they knew the easiest place to park and the easiest place to rent skis. It took about 15 minutes to get outfitted in equipment that was far superior to any I had ever skied in before. The boots! I could have slept in those Tecnica boots. I popped a couple of Advil strategically timed to kick in right before my first run.
As always in these western states, the views were awesome as we made our way up the chairlifts. That first run was a little tentative as I tried to negotiate the piles and piles of dry, western powder. But as the day wore on I felt a bit more confident in my efforts to keep up with the kids.
While I felt guilty about holding them back, I got so much pleasure watching my future daughter-in-law practically dance through the moguls and fly down the straightaways. And Whit, who might have been 14 or 15 the last time I skied with him -- his skiing has been transformed by Betsy’s mentorship. From an awkward, gangling intermediate, he has become a strong, competent skier who can comfortably navigate any terrain.
I was so grateful for their company and care. On the hardest runs they would insist I ski between them so there would always be someone in the rear to pick up the pieces if I fell. At one point I fell while standing in place. If I tried to stick my pole in the snow to give me some leverage to stand up, only about 8 inches would be left above ground which was not helpful. At one point in his efforts to get me up, Whit and I started sliding into deeper snow and I almost envisioned catastrophe in spite of the hilarity.
I told them that I'd like to ski the whole mountain and that I wanted to make it to the highest elevation, so long as I could do so safely. They navigated the day to achieve both of those goals. To get to the peak, you had to take a poma lift. That brought me back. We were above the tree line and the wind was fierce, the visibility minimal. The peak was more of a plateau that we had to traverse against the driving wind to find the trails down. Betsy said it felt like we were hiking on Pluto.
The highlight of the day was the last run that required what for me was a very strenuous hike to access. I made it about halfway up before Whit stopped to take my skis. At an elevation of 12.5k feet, and a bum hip, I was struggling; but I made it up to a view that I do not have the vocabulary or writing skills to describe. It felt like the very top of the world with a drop-off into nothingness and a never-ending panorama of majestic, rocky, snowy mountains. Tears came to my eyes as I considered the possibility that I might never again see such a sight. (Sorry, Pam)