Friday, January 14, 2011

Early to bed, early to rise, and plenty of snow


By WARREN MILLER
Express Staff Writer

The Lake Tahoe ski areas have 25 feet of snow. Mammoth got 17 feet in one storm. The morning news said snow is covering most of America. So what happened to Al Gore and his Nobel Peace Prize for pre-dicting global warming?

Here in Montana, the pow-der snow is chest deep in some of the chutes at the Yellowstone Club. The wind is blowing 64 miles per hour at the top. For-tunately most of our ski slopes are east and north facing, so snow just piles up deeper and by the time you go back up for another run your tracks are full of new fallen snow.

Last winter we decided to build a garage on our slope side ski home. It is being built be-tween the house and the chair lift. The men manning the con-crete pumps and the construc-tion of the forms are working through the blizzards and I can report good progress on the project. I don't envy them hav-ing to work outside in tempera-tures such as this. I was play-ing in it instead of working in it when I was their age.

I lived in a small trailer so I could ski every day. As I look at people who are older and still skiing I know they wish they had spent a few years making turns and ski bumming! I made a lot of turns everyday, all win-ter for four years when I was younger. And I did it without any money instead of waiting until I could afford to buy a condo at a ski resort some-where. And I did it without waiting for someone to invent the computer so I could run a business from the condo in-stead of a high rise in a crowded city somewhere.

This winter, I've been lucky enough to have already spent three sunshine-packed powder days trying to reconnect my brain to activate the muscle memory I had before I broke my back last January.

I made a few runs on the beginners' lift the first day and on the second day was talked into trying the lift to the top. It was a major mistake as I am awesomely out of shape and have no muscle memory. I quit halfway down the mountain and phoned for the ski patrol. They responded with a snow-mobile and hauled me back to the top. I took a rather inglori-ous ride down in the chairlift and had lunch in the lodge. It wasn't the right day for me.

I finally had the third day of good skiing and figured out how to get my weight off of my inside ski so I no longer got locked into the fall line in a classic beginners' mistake.

When I finished skiing and got back to the house the con-crete pumping truck was wav-ing in the wind and pouring concrete into the forms which will eventually be the garage. I have always wondered why construction at ski resorts never gets underway until the ground is frozen and they have to put special chemicals in the concrete to keep it from freez-ing before it cures. I didn't real-ize it but they also have to mix it with hot water so it does not freeze on the way to the site.

I'm not complaining, though—I'm going to be really grateful for that garage and ski storage area next winter. The only problem is the machinery and the workmen start making noise just before 8:00 a.m. So it is early to bed and early to rise. That routine should make it easier to get first tracks once my legs are strong enough.

In the meantime I hope wherever you read this the ski resort near you is having the best year ever regardless of global warming and Al Gore.

For me, I have been watch-ing the winter snowfall since 1937 and thanks to the car I was driving at the time I have al-ways been able to drive some-where else and find enough snow to ski on. If you have too much snow, not enough snow or your chairlift has broken get in your car and drive some-where else. Because if you don't do it now it might not be as good next weekend...and it's really good right now!




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