“Next year I’m just going to stand in a cold shower and rip up $100 bills”. This is the best summation of my overall skiing experiences. Skiing with the family has been an up and down experience throughout the years, mostly down. When the kids were small I played the role of a pack mule carrying the gear and clothes to the lodge and back. We would generally go to Mammoth Mountain each year with the family and stay in a rented condo. I always wondered how such a serene landscape with the mountains and white snow could transform into an endurance test. After getting the whole family to the main lodge it was my job to get all the kids equipment from the car to the slopes. Each of my three kids had one set of skis (snowboards later), poles, and boots which I was responsible for plus my own equipment. Carol, my wife, handled all the ski clothing which we had invested hundreds of dollars in and used about half of. We would rent a locker and I would then put ski boots on three children and myself and make our way to the hill with the kids bundled up for the bitter cold. After getting them on the bunny hill I was spent, but it was just beginning. It rarely turned out to be bitter cold and the kids soon started to overheat from the abundance of down clothing. My oldest son, Bryan, came close to passing out from dehydration until we laid him down in the snow and pealed off 10-layers of clothing. We ended up taking off layers upon layers from each child and had to rent a second locker to store extra clothes. They each took one day of ski school so they could get up and down the easy slopes while I skied behind them. Carol is not a skier, nor a mountain lover, nor a snow lover, after shattering her elbow on ice earlier in our marriage. We were leaving Mammoth and someone suggested we take one last picture after Carol had already changed into her loafers. The second she stepped out of the car onto the ice her leather heals didn’t offer any traction and she was on her butt wincing in pain after breaking her fall with her elbow. We then drove the 5-hours home before getting her to an ER…great trip. As the kids grew they all changed to snowboarding and were able to walk much easier in the boots and carry their own boards. We also started renting a condo that allowed you to ski to the slopes, wished I had known that trick earlier. We had become fairly proficient in skiing and decided to spend New Year’s on the slopes…big mistake. Mammoth had terrible conditions with heavy snowfall, freezing temperatures and severe winds…the perfect storm. I almost lost my dad on that trip. He was helping to shovel out the car and began experiencing chest pains due to exertion and thin air. We got him to lay down inside and continued to dig for another 2-hours. Next tip I learned, park your car underneath cover overnight so you don’t wake up to one big hill of snow where your car used to be. The kids insisted on going up to the slopes where I learned what freezing to death would be like. Each trip up the chairlift was absolutely agonizing with winds freezing your face and any skin that was exposed. You would tell God that if you just made it down the hill uninjured and into the hut you would go to church every Sunday for the rest of your life…it was that cold. The kids soon joined their mom inside the lodge and I thought it would be a good time to get some runs in by myself. I felt like Survival Man enduring the elements and when the chair-lift would stop due to high wind or someone falling off at the top it became unbearable. I wanted to cry but the tears would form to ice before reaching my cheek. If I had a flare-gun I would have used it. I made my way down the easiest way possible and into the lodge where it took close to an hour to warm up. I had spent over $300 in ski tickets and the kids had a total of 2-runs each and I had three…great investment. So we stayed in the lodge and spent over $100 on food and beverages which would have cost about $35 in the city, another great day. As the years went by we stuck to spring skiing and with the kids getting older and more independent we actually had some fun years where I could go off on my own and get some good , long runs in.
The next faze came when my youngest son was about 14 and wanted to go to Mt. High for day trips and needed a driver. Mt. High is like Magic Mountain but with snow. 95% of the crowd are young snowboarders, high, careless, thoughtless, brainless, and raunchy. I tried to take my skis the first time we went but after hitting the ice they called man-made snow I could feel the pain all the way to my teeth. It was like hitting cement and as I laid there snowboarders just wizzed by the old man withering in pain…no chance of them stopping to help. I gave up on day skiing and just sat in the lodge while my son and friends snowboarded. One fateful trip after Christmas I was put in charge of watching my son’s new snowboard that cost close to $400 and his buddie’s while they went in to get something to eat. I was about 10-feet away from the snowboards I was in charge of…no problem, so I thought. I turned my back to see a kid tumbling down the hill in one big snowball and when I turned back the snowboard was gone. Anxiety rushed thru me. I was in charge off one thing, watching the snowboards, and I failed. I frantically tried to chase down the thief but they were gone in 60-seconds. I even went to security to see if we could see the thief on video but the guy on duty had witnessed so many thefts of snowboards that he really didn’t give a shit about mine. As my son returned I explained that the new snowboard he had just gotten for Christmas was gone. I really felt like a low-life, what could I say. Needless to say it was a long ride home and to this day I have never been back to Mt. High. Freezing temperatures, insane costs, special clothing, snow chains, broken elbows, and long lines finally broke me. I realized I am a beach person, not a mountain man. I would still love the chance to ski at some exotic location like the Alps but that is far down my bucket list after sticking a fish hook in my eye.