Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Disaster and Joy and Weather Strikes the Family Ski Trip, Per-Usual. Mad River Glen vs Sun Valley. Ski Stories!

I grew up skiing.

At age 2, I was on wooden skis skidding around the slopes of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

My dad was a ski-bum (and, oh yeah, a doctor, too) and had a great knack for finding a doctor job just steps away from the ski slopes.

Skiing is in my blood.  And I like to say I could ski before I could walk.

As a kid, after we moved to from Colorado to Vermont, I remember driving to the slopes each weekend…. just 45 minutes away from the grand, maple-syrup metropolis of Burlington, VT. We would pile into our stylin’ Chevette or powder-blue Volkswagon Rabbit. Basically a cheap mouse-trap on 4 wheels. With snow tires, though…. And my parents would drive, DRIVE up those mountain roads like the expert Eskimos they weren’t. Slushy, icy turn after slushy icy turn. And then we’d end up sideways in a snowbank. With lots of adult swearing. And possible divorce procedures.

Good times!

Ski trips were a mixture of everything for our family. Those were the days before seat belts and helmet laws and parents really giving a s$%t. So our parents would let us roam the ski mountain as if we were (in today’s standards) well equipped Ski Patrol with GPS and avalanche peeps and cell phones and survival skills.

However, we weren’t. 

We were 11 year olds on single chairs going up Mad River Glen’s - Ski It If You Can’s single chair with 27 over-your-head wool blankets so-you-don’t-die-of-exposure piled on top of me AND my 6 year old brother between my legs so he could get to the top safely without falling hundreds of feet with one spastic move.

We creaked and whined and groaned up the molasses-in-January slow, now-famous, only remaining single chair-lift in the USA. (North America? The World???)

It’s one of the best, most distinct memories from my childhood.

Unbridled freedom at an innocent age. On two skinny sticks. At a ski resort that, literally, had tree stumps for snow.

Off we would ski, a pack of wild kids, unleashed to navigate the steep, treacherous, stumpy trails. This was, for us, just “normal old skiing”. Blizzardy. Rainy. Hail-y. Bone-chillingly awful conditions were the usual, and only when I went to live and work on the wide open, groomed, cleared-of-debris-in-the-summer, snowmaking-d, non-stumpy trails in sunny, bucolic Sun Valley, Idaho after college did I understand the depth of the rigors we’d skied as kids.

Mad River: Squished PB&J sandwiches out of dad’s backpack. Raisins.
Sun Valley: Hot Gourmet Chicken Chili. Silverware.

Mad River: LL Bean Jacket with Duct Tape over the rip(s) on the sleeve.
Sun Valley: Bogner. Patagonia. Anything other than LLBean. All brand new.

Mad River: Stumps
Sun Valley: Snow

Mad River: Ice
Sun Valley: Snow

Mad River: Sleet, hail, 30 below.
Sun Valley: Oh, lets just wait until tomorrow, the sun’ll be out!
Mad River: Sun?

(Ohhhhh. This is really so much fun! I could go on and on!)

And as much as we groaned about the backpack-mangled, sogged lunches and the sideways, brain-freeze sleet at the time, Mad River and Vermont really was the ultimate training ground not only for the best skiers but, also, for getting through the bumpy life ride we’re on today.

*Stumps everywhere. You just have to know how to jump over ‘em and keep on skiing…..*

Namaste & Three Cheers - OM

For full info on the fab: Mad River Glen, VT Ski Mountain

(ps. this post is long and free-flow-y, but i have 3 kids at home from school today w/The Crud and i am tired and a little goofy and not allowed to get sick myself, so there you have it!)


  1. Makes me excited for my first family ski weekend in a few days, Annie! Taking our kids for the first time, and it will actually be the first time me and the hubs are skiing together ever! Mt. Snow, here we come!

    1. Woo! Get out there in the New England elements!!! You'll kids'll thank you for it in 40 or so years ;)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. i am having one of those days -- deleting my own comment!

  3. Funny I am reading this now! Just home from the kiddos school ski program today ...In the winter they get out early on Tuesdays and we schlepp (sp?) up to Pats Peak (20 minutes from here) to ski for the day/evening! Not much snow around here but lots of great snow making equipment, thank goodness! We are die hard NE skiers here...Ice, rocks, you name it...Kids will appreciate "real" snow out there when they are lucky enough to go! Good luck with "The Crud" :-)

    1. right? when they ski out West for the first time it will be ski Nirvana!. ..... how lucky your kiddos get dedicated "ski-days" -- now that's MY kind of town. they'll remember getting out of school early to ski for the rest of their lives. enjoy the stumps, logs and cold (and, yes, we continue to enjoy The Crud)