My fiancee Steph has been skiing since she was 3-years old. Her family owns a ski house at Hunter Mountain in New York where she spent virtually all of her winters. The girl can rip up a ski slope. I, on the other hand, grew up in Cincinnati, where the only nearby ski slope is Perfect North, a slope that is neither perfect nor north, and is in Indiana, a state which is possibly best known for being flat. So when we started dating, I decided to impress her with the skiing skills I’d learned at Perfect North.
Jack Kerouac once said, “You can’t fall off a mountain.” Jack Kerouac was a moron. Because while you can’t fall off a mountain — much in the same way that you can’t fall off planet earth — you can certainly fall down a mountain. And skiing is basically a controlled fall down a mountain. The more control you have, the less it hurts. My fall hurt a lot. There are a ton of much less painful ways for me to emasculate myself in front of the girl I love, so since then, I’ve pumped the brakes on skiing. I still go with her and her family up to their lodge every winter, but I’m not hitting the slopes all that much anymore.
And I’ve realized something: Not skiing is the best. There’s a whole subculture of people like me — non-skiers who love skiers — who have a much better time in the lodge while skiers are out on the slopes. Here’s why:
Ski lodges are the pinnacle of human creation, and there is no reason to ever leave them.
When I was a kid and it was snowing, I used to go outside in just my swimsuit and roll through the snow before jumping into my hot tub. It felt great. I’m pretty sure that skiing was invented for the exact same reason: to make going back to the lodge that much better. Ski lodges are humankind’s best idea. They are oasis of warmth in the middle of barren arctic tundras. They are full of hearths and hot chocolate and booze. They have big comfy chairs where you can read your book and occasionally look outside at all the poor schmucks freezing themselves to death out on the mountain. It’s how I imagine rich people feel when they look at poor people: “Boy, what I’ve got going on is way better than that.”
We get to sleep in.
If you’re at the mountain to ski, you need to get up early. First, the afternoon crowds make skiing unbearable, and second, if you’re spending an insane amount of money on a lift ticket and rentals, you’re damn well going to be spending the maximum amount of time possible out on the slopes. Non-skiers have no such worries. We get to sleep in as late as we want, and we’re saving money while we’re doing it.
We get first crack at the booze.
Whenever I go skiing, I come back too exhausted to really get a good party going. The wind, cold, and constant fear for my life has just slurped all of the energy out my body. Non-skiers are a) on vacation, so they can start drinking whenever they want, and b) are well-rested and and non-hypothermic, so they are the ones who start the party and, since the skiers are too tired to stay awake, are also the ones who end it.
We aren’t spitting in Death’s face.
I get why people like to ski. It’s fun. But it is also a pretty dangerous sport. This in itself isn’t all that bad: plenty of fun things are dangerous. But all of those fun little hazards that go with skiing suddenly turns into obstacles between you and the hospital if you get injured. First off, you’re in the mountains. It’s impossible to get anywhere fast in the mountains. Even if the closest hospital is two miles away, it’s going to be a long two miles. Second, you’re probably still going to be halfway up a mountain that was picked as a slope because of how steep and treacherous it is to get from the bottom to the top. And third, it’s covered in ice. Sharp, slippery, too-cold-to-sustain-life ice.
I’ve heard people say, “But the risk and the adrenaline is what makes you feel more alive!”
I can feel alive with a book and a hot chocolate, thank you very much. Enjoy skiing. I’ll have a glass of beer waiting for you when you get back in.