Wrote in the Denver Post today about skiing with my Dad for the last 40 or so years; what I didn’t mention was that I’ve seemingly spent the majority of those ski trips trying to kill him off.
Not really, but in a cursory glance it sure looks that way.
After taking me up to the mountains my first 20 years, I’ve been returning the favor the last 20. I’ve always thought of Dad as a peer when it comes to skiing–and skill wise he basically is. The difference between us lies in taste in terrain. Through the years I’ve hungered for increasing challenging/extreme/stupidly sketchy pitches–and I’ve taken Dad along for the ride.
It started with the phone call I’d get from Mom the morning after a day of skiing with Dad.
“What in the world have you done to your father? He can barely walk, and I think it’s going to be awhile before he can walk fully upright.”
“Uh, it was just a few moguls at the Jane–and he wanted to ski them.”
It’s true, Dad has always hung with me, sometimes to his own peril.
As my ski writing career progressed during and after college, our trips weren’t just to the Colorado mountains anymore.
One of our early trips was to Jackson Hole, Wyo., which boasts an elevation drop (4,139 feet—unmatched in the U.S.) that plunges skiers down a jagged section of the Rocky Mountains’ Teton Range.
On the first day I suggested he take a run off one of the lifts on the front of the mountain while I take the tram up. No, we were sticking together. Even the sign at the top didn’t phase him: “Our mountain is unlike any you’ve ever skied. .. You could make a mistake and suffer personal injury or death. Give this mountain the respect it deserves.” I know Dad wasn’t concerned because he skied off into the Rendez-Vous Bowl while I was still reading the sign. At least I thought that’s where he was skiing, I didn’t see him as I made my way toward some of the most challenge on-piste terrain to be found anywhere. I heard him first. He was yelling for help, sliding down the bowl on his back–headed straight for the cliff that’s home to the daunting Corbett’s Couloir. Often deemed the scariest run in the States, it starts off with a two-story drop onto a 55-degree slope.
The pinnacle of Dad and I’s skiing was a two-week trip to Canada ten years ago. We checked out nearly a a dozen edge of the wilderness, untamed resorts that trip; venturing into the backcountry and down some steeps that made our home slopes pretty tame. Although in the name of full disclosure, I’d have to say that the biggest risk to Dad’s health on that trip was insisting on eating mussels on numerous throughout our visit to the country’s land-locked resorts.
Dad (now 72) and I still get a respectable number of days in together every season. He’s paying the price for the powder lust he instilled in me–and I’m pretty sure loving every minute of it.