Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Breckenridge Fiasco

I'm trying to set a personal record to see just how many times I can listen to All I Want For Christmas Is You, Santa Baby and Baby It's Cold Outside this holiday season.

I love cold weather because I grew up and now live in Texas, where you have just as much of a chance at a 70-degree day in December as you do a 30-degree day.

It's just science.

I have always associated cold weather with Christmas, my birthday and vacation; presents, turning another year older, more presents, visiting New York and going on ski trips. Most of these trips have been with my family, going to Colorado, but one in particular I took with a few of my friends. One being the operative word here.

We went to Breckenridge. It was the end of 2003. There were six of us (all girls, all good friends), three experienced Skiers and three Non-Skiers. They had never been skiing before, period. The Non-Skiers spent the first half of our first day in ski school; learning the ropes with an instructor. We Skiers spent the morning all over the mountain, hopping on and off chair lifts. We all had comparable experience, which is always a bonus when skiing with a group (someone is too fast, you lose them; someone is too slow, they get left behind) and we made it through several runs.

We had agreed to meet up for lunch at the bottom of the mountain, and we listened as the Non-Skiers talked about their morning. All of them spoke with confidence regarding their abilities. As we had done the rest of the day, we gathered our things and hopped on the first chair lift we saw after lunch, this time with the Non-Skiers in tow. We would take it slow- no big deal. I was in the first chair as we arrived at the top with no issues, but the second one with the rest of the girls brought the lift to a halt.

I turned around and saw skis and poles going in all directions; sunglasses askew and bodies half-covered in snow. Not good. That's when we learned that they had not actually gone up a chair lift, but rather one of those T-bar lifts that you hold onto as it drags you up a bunny slope. Definitely not good.

While they dusted themselves off, the Skiers started looking at the map to see where we could take them... Where was a green run? Why wasn't there a green run? How did we not check this? There was no green anywhere... it was blue and black runs the whole way down.

We were trying to figure out what to do with the Non-Skiers when they approached us to ask us what was going on in the midst of our semi-formulated plan. When we told them there wasn't a green run, we could see their eyes get larger and larger. That's when they dropped the bomb that their instructor, who probably spent more time flirting with them than "instructing," actually only took them on half of a green run that morning. Once.

We told them it would be "fine" (what else do you do when you think your friends might plunge down a mountain, to their icy cold deaths?), and each of us Skiers paired up with one of them to help get them down the mountain. I was thankfully with my friend AG, who has always been athletic and who was determined not to let the mountain get the best of her. One painfully long hour later, we finally reached the bottom of the mountain. She collapsed onto the snow, exhausted as we tried to keep a lookout for the other girls but had lost them early on.

Making snow angels got old after a while, and it was getting dark, and we decided to head inside and find our bathing suits. The others dragged in, two by two, the Skiers looking weary from the hours of cheerleading and hopeless encouragement and the Non-Skiers looking defeated but alive. We compared stories while we all soaked in the hot tub and relived the day. Turns out that one pair made it down about 45 minutes after we did, and the other pair had some assistance from Ski Patrol, who rescued another.

The next day they compared battle wounds and all had massive bruises, which were appropriate shades of blue and black. The trip was memorable; we were there over New Year's and kept the skiing segregated into our two groups from that point on. Though our friendships were no worse for wear, I could finally see why skiing has never caught on as a favorite honeymoon activity among couples... there are too many opportunities to kill each other. The altitude, the fatigue, the sharp poles in your hands. I don't know if there is anything more frustrating than being right there, wanting to help someone, and being unable to physically do so.

Needless to say, the trip did not catch on as a tradition. Sunbathing on a beach is apparently more conducive to relaxation.

"Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face."
-Dave Berry


JND said...

ND here, speaking for the non-skiers. Our charming ski instructor was named Andy, from Wisconsin. Andy had two distinguishing features: Mario-Lopez-dimples and a giant booger in his nose. Both were distracting. You would think one would cancel out the other, but not really. I spent a good deal of time flirting in my snow-white furry earmuffs. In fact, when I left ski school to spend some time with my beautiful friends, I had not yet learned how to turn.

This is a crucial skill.

I will never forget the three hours I spent sliding down a mountain on one ski, as if sledding to safety. Ski patrol finished the job. I haven't been the same since.

I still love you girls. But let's vacation in Hawaii. I know a great surf instructor ...

Anonymous said...

So.. I think I love you... wait, is that creepy?? Ok, so I love your blog!

I stumbled across it today and can't seem to stop reading it!

As for this post, I am headed to Winterpark, CO in 6 days for a week long snowboarding trip with my (thankfully) snowboarding friends! The mountain may eat me alive, but your post sure did make me laugh/freak about not being all that advanced!