Sunday, February 28, 2010

Extreme Skiing - Extreme Skiers

Today's Sunday paper had an article about a person hooked on heli-skiing. Going by helicopter to untracked territory and skiing the extremes of cliffs, steeps and trees. An expensive proposition costing about $7000-10,000 per trip. As I reflect on the risks involved, I expect I should be happy that I never achieved the skill level to take off on such adventures and test of the limits of safety. He mentioned in his interview that he had broken ribs and cracked a leg bone in some of these adventures.

Through my son, I have vicariously experienced skiing the extremes and helicopter adventures. He has provided me videos and pictures of his journeys that provide breathtaking evidence of extraordinary terrain During my stay with him in Utah this past week he was often off to the highest point of the terrain in Alta, Snowbird and Snowbasin skiing narrow and steep openings in the mountain. Climbing to the highest points beyond the lifts was his routine. I also have to admire that 11 year old son and 15 year old daughter were tagging along. I must say that I do issue a prayer for their safety. They are truly advanced expert skiers - the product of starting young and having excellent instruction but there is always a possible mistake that can be truly disastrous.

In this blog today you will see a picture of two aspiring tough old geezer skiers to be who are expert extreme skiers. Bobby Dwore on the left and Colin on the right. May they have many more safe adventures continue their skiing adventures into their dotage.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Travel Woes

Wednesday I left the condo in Salt Lake City about 12:45 PM for my 3:25 PM to Detroit. Daughter-in-law Abby drove me to the airport for my departure with granddaughter Jenny making the trip to. With a fond farewell I was off to security and baggage check in to make my way to the gate. After nearly losing my pants after taking off my belt for security and making sure to gather all the stuff out of my pockets, I made it to the gate to find a delay until 4:45 PM departure.

After cooling my heels until 4:45 PM I was informed that the flight had to be cancelled because the crew time was beyond what was allowed by FAA regulations. Next flight at 7:20 PM meaning I would arrive in Detroit at 12:51 AM on Thursday and obviously miss my connection for a flight to Ithaca.

I did get the evening flight and arrived in Detroit about 1:00 AM. No bags and dead tired. More abuse followed. It took an hour standing in line at the Delta baggage office to get a voucher and allocation of a room at the Quality Inn. So at 2:00 AM I was off to the Quality Inn with a bunch of my fellow travelers. Upon arrival at the Quality in we were greeted by one night clerk to check in about 50 people. Needless to say it was another marathon of standing in line with the result of getting into bed at 3:00 AM. I could not arrange an Ithaca flight until very late in the day so I booked a 7:20 AM flight to Syracuse. Therefore I was up at 5:15 AM to grab the shuttle to the airport to get through security for the early flight. Well, guess what? The plane for this flight was announced to have a maintenance problem and would have an undetermined departure time. At this point, I was desperate to get somewhere into upstate New York and drive the rest of the way. Fortunately I was able to book a Rochester flight leaving about 8:20 AM. The Rochester flight did fly. Out of Rochester I was able to rent a car for a one way trip to Ithaca.

The other clinker in this travel plan became finding out the location of my skis and bag that I had checked through to Syracuse. The Delta baggage agent said that I could not have it arranged to be delivered to my home. So, off to Syracuse with the rental car to chase down my gear. By some strange miracle when I arrived at baggage claim in Syracuse my gear was there. Now off to home in Cortland and on to Ithaca. I arrived home about 1:30 PM. What a relief!! Nancy had been on pins and needles knowing that there was a serious snow storm expected for our area. After hugs, kisses and a brief rest we were off to Ithaca to get my car at the airport and return the rental car.

Lo and behold this onerous adventure still was not over. After returning the rental car I grabbed my shovel and we were off to clear my car of about two feet of snow. We had to shovel away the snow they plowed into the back. About 18 inches of snow was on top of the car too. Along with this, the surface underfoot was as slippery as it could get. Between shoveling, pushing and rocking we got the car out and carefully made our way back to Cortland.

Thus after about 24 hours of travel and two hours of sleep I was able to grab a nap. It also was great to get a full nights sleep in my own bed!!

I swear that going skiing is the easiest thing a tough old geezer can do. However, travelling with an airline like Delta surely can potentially wipe us out.

Meanwhile, today was a great day at Greek Peak even though I got there a bit late because I needed to blow snow out of my driveway this morning. It is pure irony that I got 3 to 7 inches of snow each day in Utah but come home to 18 inches of fresh snow at home.

I'll ski any day in any conditions, but I am not sure I will ever want to fly anywhere for a long time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Day at Snowbasin

Yesterday was a magnificent day at Snowbasin. After an hour's drive from Salt Lake City we arrived in beautiful sunlight with super snow conditions. The Earl Lodge is a magnificent structure with a classy interior including carpet, chandeliers and huge stone fire places. After of quick breakfast we were soon on our way up the slope in a gondola holding as much as eight people.
Colin and family started me off with a quick tour of the intermediate trails off the Needles Express Gondola.
We toured over to the Strawberry Peak area which has its own gondola lift serving some stellar intermediate terrain. Snowbasin in my opinion has a plethora of intermediate trails top to bottom that would appeal to the more senior geezer skier. If you are inclined to have more challenge there are reasonable black diamond drop offs from the intermediate trails. These short traverses then connect with the intermediate terrain.

The family took off for more challenging terrain and I continued to enjoy exploring as many of the intermediate trails I could find. Occasionally found myself in some more challenging terrain but with the great light and snow they also were fun.

Met several interesting people on the gondola rides including a couple from Dusseldorf Germany, Phil (vacationer who once lived in Rome, New York), Ilsa and Warren (80+s from back East). Also met some locals who have the pleasure of being there almost every day. My tough old geezer badge brought smiles from a lot of people and is a great conversation starter.

Apparently the 70+ club was having a day at Snowbasin so the average age of the skiers was significantly higher. We stayed for the last ride on the gondola and I still had some gas left for the final ride down the mountain.

I probably had my best day of skiing at Snowbasin. Looking forward to a smooth travel day.
A fabulous ski vacation but ready to go home.
Pictures will be posted after I get home.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hero Snow Day at Snowbird

Although we didn't have much of a fresh snowfall overnight, Snowbird had some great conditions today. Lots of groomers for the geezer to intermediate crowd including some steeps. The sun was bright and the visibility was superb. I truly enjoyed feeling comfortable on my skis all day. Somewhat late start but plenty of day for me and the family got into some great spots on the steeps, trees and bowls. We all had a great time and left the area after the the lifts closed.

I have learned the pacing the my body will stand at the altitude of over 10,000 feet. An hour of skiing followed by a half hour break works well for me. The breaks can consist of refreshment, lunch or phone calls home to break up the day.

Small crowds on a week day which may not be good for the business but was great for those of us that were there. Ran into a couple of geezers at coffee break who were just getting oriented to the area. After three days at Snowbird I was able to give them some good advice about geezer terrain. They had not heard about the 70+ Club so I filled them in. Also told them about the Tough Old Geezer Skier group of Greek Peak. We had a few laughs about the advantage of geezerhood for Snowbird tickets. Seventy and over at half price during mid week. We'll take all we can get.

Bought a souvenir T-Shirt with a trail map logo. I'll wear it to inform friends about the trails I skied. Allen, you will have to tolerate the graphics this time.

My time to treat the family to dinner. Looking forward to mellow evening and early to bed. We are off to Snowbaisin to ski tomorrow. I am told that it is a friendly area with significant intermediate terrain.. It is an hours drive away so we hope to have a early start.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another Day at Alta

Alta has a lot of terrain that is appropriate to geezer skiers. I recognize there are still geezer skiers that look for the black diamond challenges, but there a many of us who are still in the mold of lesser challenges. As I have adapted to the altitude I am comfortable on some of the more challenging slopes but still like the less challenging terrain runs. And there are plenty of them at Alta including open bowls and wide traverses.

My family took off to the more challenging slopes today and I had a chance to explore on my own. It was fun to explore a plethora of blues off a multitude of chair lifts. We had a late start and a late lunch and by 4:00 PM I was burned out. Chilled out at the Cafe at the bottom of the Collins lift until we all gathered for another ride down the Canyon Road arriving home at the condo by 6:00 PM. We had a long trek to the car since we were at the far end of the parking lot.

Had some interesting conversations with strangers on the lifts as well. Met a 67 year old of Korean origin from Atlanta. He was on his first day and adapting to the altitude. He had a son who graduated from Cornell and later received his MD. So we shared some of our appreciation for the Finger Lakes Area. For the most part I am convince there a relatively few 70+ people on the mountain.

Dinner is in progress now and granddaughter Jenny is cooking. A good day at the big hills but also it will be good to get home later this week. I enjoy being with the younger crowd, but it would be good to ski with some geezer companions who operate more at my pace.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alta Welcomes Geezer Gerry

With the late arrival of daughter-in-law and grandkids last night we had a late start to the day. It was an opportunity to get a little more rest before heading for the slopes. Alta was the ski area of choice for the day so we trundled up the Canyon Road about 10:30 AM. The five of us were soon off to the slopes up the Collins Lift. It was my first view of Alta and a most enjoyable surprise. A great mountain for all levels of skiers and especially friendly to the geezer skier of my ilk. No break on the ticket price until 80 plus so maybe the appropriate tough old geezer skier age needs to be raised.

There are wide groomers of intermediate level and with significant variety. Didn't have a chance to explore all of the possibilities but it was a most enjoyable experience. Lots of snow coming down in the later afternoon and surface conditions kept getting better even though the visibility was poor. Met a couple of Ottawa folks that had skied Mad River Glen and had a nice chat comparing experiences at different slopes. We all appreciated the ambiance of a skiers only area.

For the expert skiers there are plenty of challenging terrain. I was surprised to note the elevation at the peak is 10,500 feet. Just 500 feet less than the peak elevation at Snowbird. Even though I am somewhat adapted to the altitude, I was still burning out in the middle of the afternoon.

Return to Salt Lake was slow due to high traffic leaving both Snowbird and Alta. Out to dinner and now ready for a good rest. It was good to check in with wife Nancy and catch up on her day back in Central New York. Skiing is a great activity but it is always special to have the joy of an anchor at home.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Snowbird - Day Two - Geezer Adapts

Snowbird is humbling to this old geezer skier. More terrain and challenge than this old guy can consume. I notice that there are relatively few skiers of my decade of life so I guess I can be happy that I am on the hill. I scaled down my expectations today and went to an area within my range of abilities and concentrated on just enjoying being on the hill. Had a good laugh with the ticket lady this morning. I asked her if she had a ticket for a tough old geezer skier and this amused her. She then seemed to think I was in the 65 to 69 category and was appropriately amazed that I was 74. Even though I am comfortable with geezerhood, it is nice to be viewed as a somewhat younger person.

Had some good early morning runs on the intermediate terrain and some offshoots on more difficult terrain. More adapted to the altitude in the second day and the pacing made it a very enjoyable day. Had a great morning break with a quality heated cinnamon bun and great coffee. Not quite as good as my usual apple fritter that my wife buys by the dozen.

Colin, Bobby and I met up for lunch and solved most of the world's problems in our conversations before we went off for our afternoon runs. I went over to the teaching area and enjoyed some different terrain. Wrapped up the afternoon about 4:00 PM and got down the mountain by 5:00PM.

It's mellow time now at the condo. Family dynamics will change with arrival of daughter-in-law Abby and grandchildren Jenny and Cole. Looking forward to a new ski dynamic with an extended group on the hill. It is always interesting to observe family group dynamics on the ski slope. We certainly will be multi-generational.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Snowbird First Day

On the slopes abut 10 AM after getting in from a late flight the night before. A test of toughness to adapt to the high altitude. Colin and friend Bobby served as guides for the early runs. Took the tram to the top through fog and poor visibility. Visibility improved and had some nice runs on the some blues. My energy level wasn't sufficient to sustain a very high pace. Took a long morning coffee break and continued with a run over to Big Emma before lunch. Big Emma was in a dense fog and challenged my orientation. By lunch at 1:00 PM I was pretty well wasted. Post lunch I chilled by reading the New York Times and resting up for a go on the Wilber chair part way up the mountain.

Didn't see anybody that qualified as a geezer. Mostly youngsters. One college student rode up with us and was cutting class. I told him I was a professor and would give him an excuse or teach him on the lift. Unfortunately I couldn't give him an excuse that was valid.

A good first day and with rest I hope to last longer tomorrow. Colin's condo is a great place to stay and Bobby is cooking dinner now. He is being nominated to be an honorary geezer.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Utah Bound

I am on my way to Utah this afternoon to ski with son Colin and his family. He called me this morning on the way to the Snowbird to warn me about the chronic lost baggage for Delta Airlines. So I repacked to carry on the essentials of gear for the possibility of baggage delay. Flying these days seems to be an adventure that most of us like to avoid. I am sure I will really enjoy the big time slopes of Utah, so the travel time is the price one pays.

My wife will hold down the fort while I am gone and we will miss our companionship. She is the greatest gift I have ever had in my life and she clearly indulges my passion for skiing. So while it will be great to ski in Utah, it will be a joy to be back home.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Remember the First Time

How many of you remember your first day on skis? Today one of my step grandchildren had her first day on skis. I think it was a good experience and I hope Zandrea will grow to love the sport as much as her mother Priscilla and I do. We had a good family time with the three generations of a blended family and husband -to- be in the group.

As we went through the process of getting rentals and getting everybody set up for the day, I was reminded of my first time for skiing which was also at Greek Peak. I wasn't so fortunate to have a lesson with a pro and was fitted with boots that were too small and skis too long. All in all it was a day of survival. My first impression was, if this is the way it is each day, I am not sure I want to go through the torture. Fortunately things got better and I enrolled in a multi lesson program with some competent instructors. In the old days the progression to parallel skiing was a slow and deliberate process starting with snow plow, stem turns, moving into parallel turns and unweighting. I still recall the first rides on the intermediate slopes as terrifying rides of marginal control.

It is great that we now have improved instructional technique and much better equipment. At coffee today, I met Al and Glynda of Dryden who started skiing in the their fifties and sixties. It is great that seniors can take up the sport with ease and enjoy the winter. I hope the ski areas everywhere will pay attention to the potential first time senior skiers. It seems to me that the boomer generation ought to be a market to consider. They have the time and by now ought to have the resources to afford skiing.

Meanwhile readers, I would like to hear stories of your first time on skis.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Geezer skiers that I talk with on a daily basis have a history of many accomplishments beyond their skiing prowess. All have had satisfying careers, businesses or other successful endeavors in their lives. I suppose that all us also like to think that we have done some notable thing or things in our lives that we will be remembered for. Several of my colleagues have done some remarkable things. Allen B. for instance was an innovative designer with the Ford Motor Company. Frank B. and his associates created over a two year period a perfect model of a C-54 airplane with meticulous detail and in his later years has created a remarkably successful company. Roger P. continues to be a fixed wing pilot as well as able to fly helicopters.

Beyond the accomplishments, however, I think we all wish to be recognized as people who have been upright and contributing members of society and cared for our families. And now in our later years we get to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

By the way geezer skiers if you still need to keep accomplishing things, try your skills at the Geezer Games that are held in Wyoming each year. You can ski the slalom, downhill and GS courses against your peers. Who knows you may be a gold medal winner too. (Meanwhile you can watch the Olympics and fantasize your way down the skiing courses).

Friday, February 12, 2010


If you ski at an area for many days of the season you sense the rhythms of of the ski community. Each of the days of the week have a unique character. Monday through Wednesday things are low key with the geezer and other regulars the mainstay of the skiers. As the weekend approaches the skier population picks up and Friday brings out larger crowds. Weekends also have their own special character. An early start of the ski day changes the dynamics and the weekend crowd builds from early morning to a max in early afternoon. Many of my geezer buddies avoid the weekends. However, I enjoy the different character of the skier group and the conversations with the weekenders who have a different take on the ski area.

Holiday weeks bring in another type of crowd and the area bustles with the vacationers. Mostly this is a young crowd by my standards. There are young families that thoroughly enjoy their time off from school and other responsibilities. So with President's week coming on, we will be experiencing the excitement of those who have limited opportunity to ski. I am looking forward to skiing on Monday with daughter Yo and fiance Matt from Long Island. They only get to ski a few days a year so this will be a special time. They are percussionists so they are experts on rhythm.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Snow than Legs

A great day at GP with 6 to 8 inches of new snow. Super conditions starting with about 3 inches on groomed and then receiving 3 to 5 inches during the morning. The early runs were superb with smooth turns kicking up a trail of powder snow. The later snow was heavier and demanded a more aggressive attack of the hill.

I like the challenge of skiing the deeper snow even if it becomes a bit heavy. As Tony an instructor said at morning coffee put your skis together and tip into the turn and ride the wave. As the day progressed, I continued to enjoy the conditions but by early afternoon I was beginning to feel fatigue in the legs. There were still untracked areas to be explored but my legs were saying it was time to go home. Rather than pushing the envelope I decided to terminate the day while I was still ahead. Managed to ski the steeps of Zeus and Hercules with some level of grace too.

It was good to get home to blow snow out my driveway and one of my neighbors. On top of that it was a great day to get a Valentine gift for my bride.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Olympic Experience

The 2010 Winter Olympics are almost here. Saturday February 13 will bring the opening ceremonies in Vancouver. I have only attended one Winter Olympics in my life, the 1980 Lake Placid event. After a bus ride from Lake Placid parking to the mountain and a trek up to the slalom course, we was able to watch Phil Mahre win the silver medal(photo is Mahre on the course). Our observation post was on the fence about half way down the course and about 20 feet from the gates. We had to be aggressive to maintain our position on the fence. As I remember there were a number of Japanese press photographers attempting to elbow their way into our spots. Daughter Tange and son Colin along with their dad held sway. It was a memorable day for all of us. I still have the slides I took that day.

Late in the day we began the long ride back to Dryden, New York in a raging blizzard with the radio tuned to the USA - Russian hockey game. That too, was a memorable time. Thirty years later in the geezer years, it is good to recall the joy of the past. But it is also exciting to look forward to watching another Winter Olympics - be it only via television.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tuned Skis

I must confess that I am a lackadaisical caretaker of my skis. Tuning my skis on a regular basis has never been my strong point. So Saturday I took my skis in for a sharpen and wax job after about 70 days of skiing on them. When I picked them up this morning, Jim Pirko said they really needed tuning. He was right. What a difference on the hard and icy snow surface. Edges were holding great. However, this was a great snow day. Overnight about two to four inches of powder. Still could find untracked areas into the afternoon.

I guess I better get over my laziness for ski tuning. Thankfully we have a great ski technician in Jim P. who can restore things to almost new performance.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On Becoming

After skiing for over 42 year I am still working on becoming a better skier. I notice the same is true for many of my tough old geezer skier group. We all have a passion for learning more about skiing and improving our capabilities. We study new developments in skiing technique and the equipment changes that affect our style. It is an effort to move on to some level of perfection. Fortunately or unfortunately, reaching the nirvana of a perfect run each time down the slope is unattainable. However this aspiration is still valuable.

I think we all are in the process of becoming improved in all aspects of our life. Many of you who have read this blog have complimented me on my prose. However, I am still working on becoming a better writer. In the process of becoming better in whatever we do or improvement in attitude or behavior we need to pause and thank all that have been a part of our improvement. Accolades go to my wife Nancy for her editorial and grammatical input to my blogs. Her training as an English teacher benefits me daily.

Although many of us are in our senior years there is no reason why we should not continue becoming better in many things we are and do. Seeking new opportunities to improve keep us young at heart.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Keeping In Touch With Youth

Although I enjoy my associations with geezers, I also find renewal in being around younger people. Skiing with children and grandchildren is a joy. Daughter Yo and fiance Matt will be skiing at GP with me on President's weekend. And I am looking forward to a mid-February trip to Utah to ski with my son, daughter-in-law, grandson and granddaughter. Keeping up with their pace will be a challenge so they will have to run the steeps by themselves.

I hope that I always will have meaningful encounters with young people. Currently I am advising about a dozen engineering students that have entered my department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell. They are a great group of people from all parts of the U.S. as well from beyond our borders. It is a gift to meet a new crop of bright and talented 18-20 year olds and hopefully impart some wisdom to aid their journey to the engineering profession. It is good to get a fresh perspective on the opportunities life brings.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Adaptive Skiers

It was a great day today to be on the slopes. Sunshine, blue sky and a new fall of snow. It also was a pleasure to see the adaptive skiers on their mono ski seats and outrigger ski poles. Hats off to these guys and gals navigating the slopes with a great deal of skill. I am sure that this has to be a thrill for those who are otherwise mobility impaired. Also special recognition and thanks to those folks who volunteer to assist. All the best to all of you folks in this program. A couple of my colleagues have special needs offspring and I know that skiing in the adaptive program has been a great gift to their families.

Geezer skiers - no complaints about your aches and pains!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Geezers Give Back

I am amazed how much geezer skiers I know are giving back to their communities. Although they have a passion for skiing, they also have a commitment to service and volunteering. Pat Ryan helps out at the local hospital and he has recruited Bob O'Shea to this as well. Bob also tells me he helps with transport of veterans to the Syracuse VA Center. Ed Wrench helps to honor veterans at their funerals. Ed the Good (don't remember the last name) visits a nursing home to assist the residents by reading to them and listening to their concerns. Roger Pellerin rebuilds church organs and supervises construction at his church. Frank Bonamie is a patron of the American Indian Program at Cornell with significant monetary and advisory input. Allen Bushnell also tells me he is a ardent supporter of veterans causes. I am proud to be associated with such a group of active contributors to the well being of their communities.

In giving through volunteering, I have discovered that you get back far more than one can possibly give. I am a member of the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti. Our group participates in volunteer work on and off campus. Some of the activities are helping out in the grade schools, visiting people in nursing homes, and interviewing students for health services careers. One of the most satisfying things I have done is to help staff the welcome posts for new students arriving on campus in late August. It is a pleasure to put a welcoming face on Cornell for parents and students as they arrive. And the smiles and appreciation from these guests makes all this effort a pleasure.

Many times we lament how the world seems to have become less aware of the needs of others. However, I am encouraged that many of us that are retired still have the energy and enthusiasm to give something back. Keep up the good work guys!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Staying Fit

Frequent skiing means staying fit. Almost all of my geezer skier friends have a fitness regimen adapted to their life style. Each one has a unique routine of exercise developed to meet their special needs. Ideally we all should have a physical fitness program that includes strength exercises, aerobics, and flexibility work. Some go to the gym and work with a trainer; others have developed a series of at home exercises and some like myself take a more relaxed approach or engage in group games such as volleyball.

My fitness regimen is mostly one of staying active every day with some kind of physical activity. This varies from season to season. During the ski season on the slope work is the main thing I do for approximately six out of seven days. Usually I will throw in one and half hours of doubles tennis one day of the week. (This gives me aerobics that I don't get with skiing). I am not into strength or flexibility exercises so perhaps I better work on that. During the off season I enjoy tennis almost every day which forces both aerobics and mobility. And the fall back activity when all other venues fail is to walk briskly throughout the neighborhood for an hour. Fortunately the physicians seem to agree that the best thing you can do is to every day engage some kind of physical activity as simple as walking up the stairs, parking farther away from the store to increase your walking distance and even walking the dog.

Healthy geezer hood takes some effort but the quality of life payoff is great. Stay fit my friends.