Warren Miller 

A new year for skiing

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My neighbour Elmo and his wife Hilda are taking their annual one-week ski vacation. They are getting a little long in the tooth and have given up what they consider the dangerous side of skiing, which they call downhill. "It’s all of them young snowboarders that worry Hilda the most," he told me over his daily cup of Starbucks in the coffee shop on the end of the pier. So, they have made the transition to cross-country skiing.

Elmo says that cross-country touring is a lot easier and allows them to pack a lot lighter for their vacations. "I have to admit though, that Hilda looks like a sack of Jell-O, jiggling in that pink and black stretch Lyrca outfit the grandkids gave her for Christmas 12 years ago," Elmo told me sheepishly. "But, what the heck, I can remember when my skis were long and my pants were baggy. Now my skis are short and my face is baggy."

After filling me in on their upcoming vacation, Elmo asked if I was going away for the winter again, although I suspect he knew my answer.

"Yep, I have the world’s best job," I happily replied. All I have to do is show up at the ski lift every day from now until it shuts off an April 15. I’m kind of like a senior citizen Wal-Mart greeter on the ski slopes of the Yellowstone Club.

During the next four months, I get to ski about a hundred days or more, meet potential members of the only private ski resort in the world, teach some of them how to ski better and learn a lot from most of them. At the same time, I can get caught up on whatever stuff the members have been doing since last ski season.

In general terms, my job is a paid vacation. I certainly don’t consider any of this work, unless you consider making first tracks in powder snow all day work. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember ever working since I gave up framing houses as a carpenter almost 50 years ago.

The only problem I have (if you can really call it a problem) is packing enough stuff for a four-month ski vacation. Elmo couldn’t understand my packing dilemma. After abandoning downhill skiing, he has quickly forgotten the importance of gear. He asked me what was the most important thing that I take to Montana.

I told him that not counting my wife and my extra rolls of Duct tape, my most important luggage was my three pair of skis. Elmo looked at me in disbelief. That’s right, I take three pair of skis. When I play golf, I don’t carry just one club in my bag. It’s the same with skiing. I have a pair of skis for cruising on the groomed stuff, a pair of semi-wide skis for most of the skiing I do and a pair of five-year-old, fat skis for any powder snow over a foot deep. Mind you, we get a lot of one-foot dumps in Montana.

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