Monday, February 28, 2011

The Lonely Skier

    A quiet day at the slopes.   I was the only public customer on the lift at the start at Greek Peak this morning.   The order of people on the lift to begin was Ski Patroller, Park Crew boarder, and me.  Eventually three others showed up so there were four of us sharing the area.   Fortunately the rain had stopped although the fog would occasionally roll in on the top.   The snow had a stick-slip behavior so one had to be alert at all times to the changing conditions.   I made it an official geezer day of six runs so I could check it off as another day of skiing.
Me and My Shadow
    I'm looking forward to improved conditions tomorrow of colder temperatures, sunshine and some grooming.   I guess I am a die hard skier.   Over the weekend Nancy and I did enjoy a wonderful visit to Long Island with daughter Victoria and husband Matt.  We managed to survive driving to the Island and back.    I will say that city driving tests all my reflexes.  It's a good thing I ski to keep sharp!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ski Trip Perspective

  I returned from my trip to Utah on Wednesday after five days of big mountain skiing.  The return trip was uneventful for a change, with all flights on time and luggage arriving with me.  After a refreshing sleep in my own bed and clearing the driveway as well as reorganizing my gear, I was able to get to Greek Peak for a brief day of skiing.   By geezer standards it was an official day with the minimum runs accomplished.   Although the mountains of Utah are awesome ski venues, it was fun and refreshing to be in familiar territory.
    At my arrival at Greek Peak on Thursday I encountered Pat Ryan who asked how was my trip.    To be honest I had to reply that it was less than satisfying.   Due to logistics of getting to the slopes and days of overwhelmingly poor visibility there was not the best return on my energy and dollars to get there.   Even Snowbasin on my last day in Utah had poor visibility for most of the day.  Snowbasin, Alta and Snowbird are great ski areas for the youngsters and expert skiers but I am finding that they can be less than ideal for the geezer skier when there are huge snowfalls, poor visibility and minimum grooming.   I think I could have tolerated the minimal grooming if there had been some semblance of good visibility.  To compensate for the visibility problems, I kept to the easier trails and did manage to enjoy some of the runs.  Perhaps I will have to admit that anyone post 75 years of age has limitations no matter how healthy and fit they might be.  My son, daughter in law and grand kids eat up the huge snowfalls and range over the entire mountain and even out of bounds.   More power to them.
    For those who have never visited Snowbasin I am including some pictures of Earl's Lodge at the base.   This is a first class facility.  Note the huge stone fireplaces, carpets on the floor, sculptures and the magnificent bathrooms.   Marble bathrooms throughout.   And the food service at the cafeteria is at least four star.    I guess the Utah experience is more than the snow!
   After a day at Greek Peak, I am enjoying a visit with daughter Victoria and husband on Long Island.   Yesterdays drive here was a hairy as it gets for the first two hours even on the interstate.   Snow covered and slippery roads limited our speed to 45 miles per hour much of the early part of our journey.   We arrived safely in a territory that has no snow on the ground and a warming sun.  Meanwhile back at Greek Peak I hear that there has been 12 inches of new snow.   Enjoy it everyone and I look forward to completing my ski season at Greek Peak from Monday on.   Also looking forward to the Geezer Skiers Luncheon on Thursday.

Classy Marble

No Brown Paper Towels Here

Fireplace and Sculptures

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snowbird After a 35 Inch Snowfall

   It is hard to comprehend 35 inches of new snow over about a 24 hour period.  Snowbird today offered some magnificent powder skiing.  We were on the slopes early today and there were many untracked areas available all over the mountain.   This old geezer was able to get some first tracks on intermediate terrain that had been groomed before about 10 more inches of snow fell.   In some areas I encountered close to two feet of powder.   For the big boys like my son Colin they were into areas where the snow was over chest deep.   Colin and his buddies had a splendid day exploring the far reaches of the area for the entire day from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.   By noon I was exhausted so I spent several hours recuperating before a final afternoon run.   More snow than these old legs could handle.
A View of Some Intermediate Terrain

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Alta - Another Geezer and Another Gerry

Loads of Snow at Alta
    After a huge snowfall over night and more snow today, Alta had over 20 inches of powder.   Transportation up the canyon was delayed for avalanche control and only four wheel drive vehicles with snow tires we permitted on the road.  Bob "Dangerous" was kind enough to come by and pick me up and give me a ride.  After waiting in line for about an hour we were allowed to drive up Little Conttonwood Canyon.   The road was truly slick and snow was coming down at a rapid pace.   One all wheel drive Audi didn't quite make it all the way and was buried in the snow.  Thankfully  he was off the road.
     During the day we were deluged with probably another six to twelve inches of snow.   The snow was welcome but the visibility was poor.   As a geezer, I made sure to pace myself for the day.  However, I expended a lot of energy on my first run when I missed a cutoff and had to climb a bit to get back on the intermediate trail.  After getting my bearings I enjoyed playing on the easier runs in a plethora of snow.  It is hard to photograph the conditions.  However, I have inserted on photo when the snow fall was heavy.
     During one of my breaks during the day I introduced myself to a couple of guys in the lodge to get their skiing stories.   I wanted to particularly get the story of  the one gentleman who appeared to qualify as a  geezer.    I had a delightful conversation with Wilton and his son-in-law Gerry.   Wilton was from California and had skied at Alta as early as 1959.   Son-in-law Gerry is from Long Island and is also a frequent Alta skier too.  They were having a great day.   Wilton at 82 is another example of Tough Old Geezer Skiers that keeps  up with a vigorous life style.   Thank you Wilton and Gerry for sharing your stories,.
Gerry and Wilton
    Finally, I am grateful for technology that allows us to keep in touch with our loved ones.   I left my dear wife in New York State to do my skiing in Utah.  Our cell phones help us to keep in touch along with our mutual blogs.  I am delighted to read and hear she had a great day filling the pulpit at Forest Home Chapel in Ithaca, NY.   I love her sermons and along with that she also is the love of my life.   I couldn't be a more fortunate geezer.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Day at Snowbasin -Challenges

    I ventured off to Snowbasin today hoping to have a routine drive to perhaps one of my favorite geezer ski areas.   Not to be.   A significant snow storm arrived during the day and made driving into the area with my rental car a challenge.   Fortunately I made it up all right and did get on the slopes for a short while.  The price of admission was right since geezers of 75 and over ski free at Snowbasin.  The conditions were challenging with high winds, snow and poor visibility.   It was difficult to exit the Needles Gondola because of a huge wind gust into our faces.   There were several crashes in front of me as we started out.   It was a time to be cautious.  
   My run down the mountain was successful with several stops along the way to recharge my batteries.  The combination of wind, snow and the need to be cautious sucked the energy out of me.   Rather than push myself beyond my limits I terminated my day early in hopes that I would be able to get down from the ski area on open roads.   My early departure paid off and I was able to get back to Salt Lake City to the condo in one piece.
   I had a couple of interesting people encounters at Snowbasin.   First the lady ticket agent looked at me with a smile and doubted my age of 75 as I showed her my license proof.   Secondly as I sat down in Earl's Lodge to put on my boots a guy walked up and asked if I was "fixin  to leave".  I immediately recognized he was from south of the Mason Dixon Line.  Sure enough, I was correct.   He now is an area resident enjoying a semi-retirement.    On my ride up in the gondola I encountered a native Tough Old Geezer Skier, David Banner who is a legendary character at the area.  He said he started skiing in 1939 and I believe he was about 89.   A real interesting committed skier with duct taped gloves, and well worn gear.   But still great enthusiasm for the sport.  The rest of the crew of eight passengers included a ski patroller, an engineer and two daughters, and a mother employed  by a granola company with her daughter.   I guess we represented a small piece of Americana.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Day at Snowbird-Finally

Note Bassackwards
   My Utah trip has had a rough start.  My flight in on Wednesday got me into the condo at the equivalent of 4:00 AM Eastern Time.   After sufficient rest I had hoped to be at Snowbird by noon or so.  Regrettably the infrequent bus service from the park and ride area left me in the lurch.  So it was a bust.   I guess I will have to admit that geezers do get into tough situations.  However,  it was good that I had time to stock up on food.
   Today, was a good day on the slopes.  The high winds and lack of sun early in the day was challenging but later in the day the sun made an appearance and the wind velocity declined.  Skied mostly the groomers with few shots at some soft snow.  Hoping for a fall of some new snow while I am here. 
Proof of Being There
    I was wearing my Tough Old Geezer Skier pin and got some smiles of appreciation from some of my lift riding partners.  I am beginning to think that I may have to remove the Tough from my pin since I wimped out by 1:00 PM today.   Maybe it is a matter of adapting to the altitude.   There are some advantages to being 70+ since there is a significant midweek discount for seniors at Snowbird.  Anyway, one guy walked by me as I was waiting to board the bus home  and said he hoped he would be on the slopes 30 or so years from now.   We geezers need all the encouragement we can get.

    The photo of the trail sign Bassackwards says it all.   Sometimes we all get it bassackwards.  Perhaps as geezers we have an excuse.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Too Busy to Blog

Viki and Matt

    Usually I wait for an inspiration to blog about geezers and geezer skiers.   Lately I have been so busy that I haven't had time to be inspired to write.   Since my last blog on last Thursday, family events have kept me significantly occupied.  Over the weekend we had the pleasure of a visit by daughter Victoria and husband Matt.   It was a special event for them to ski with me on Saturday at Greek Peak.  We all had a grand time.   Viki was the only crasher for the day which was a surprise since Matt is the least experienced skier.   Perhaps it was because it was the last run for the day.   Conditions were excellent with good snow and moderate temperatures.   We even managed to ride triple on Chair 6 although not without a bit of chaos getting on .   Matt got his skis crosswise on the first shot and I managed to do the same and lose a ski on the second ride.   After that we avoided riding triple.   A curse on that bloody lift!
Viki and Geezer Dad
   Over the weekend we also got to enjoy a grandchild's second birthday.    Lot's of fun with little Sadie with  balloons, ice cream, cake and lots of laughter.   Post weekend Nancy and I had a magnificent Valentine's Day sweethearts dinner out for the evening at one of our favorite restaurants, the Antlers.   The drive home, however, was treacherous with white outs on Route 13 on the way to Cortland.

   Larry Mondheim and I have been working on plans for the Geezer Skiers Luncheon at Hope Lake Lodge at Greek Peak on March 3, 2011.   All geezer skiers and their significant others are invited for a celebration of the success of geezers on the slopes.

   This afternoon I am departing for a ski vacation in Utah.   I hope to be on the slopes of Alta by noon Utah time tomorrow.   Son Colin and family will be arriving on Saturday so there will be family escorts for this tough old geezer skier later in the week.   I hate the agonies of flying these days, but perhaps I can get into a blanked out zone to make it tolerable.   My wife's netbook will accompany me to amuse me and to enable me to blog. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Triple Threat Geezer

Harold at Greek Peak
    About once a week I mange to play tennis in the morning and go skiing later in the day.  Usually my skiing is an abbreviated day depending on the vigor of the hour and a half of tennis.   Today during a lift ride I heard a story of a triple play by Tough Old Geezer Skier Harold.  He told me of a day in January some years ago that he was able to ski in the morning, golf nine holes later and then go fishing later in the day.   (Maybe I have the month wrong -It might have been one of those March thaw weeks.) That's a lot of activity for a geezer in one day.  Proof of his fishing success came from a photo in his wallet of the magnificent Northern Pike that he netted.   Many people carry  pictures of grandchildren in their wallets but Harold is equally proud of the the trophy fish he has caught.
Trophy Fish - The Real McCoy
     I asked him how long he had been skiing.   He says he started out on barrel staves for skis at 8 years old.  By that conjecture  I measure 68 years of skiing for this 76 year old.  Quite a record.  I'll have to check out the rest of my geezer associates to see if any of them can top that record.

   It was a great pleasure to converse with Harold and hear his stories.  He is an exemplary 76 year old geezer skier, fisherman and golfer.    Best wishes to him for continued success with the fishing gear, golf clubs, and skis.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Geezer Ski Boarders?

     Recently I have been speculating whether there are or will be geezer ski boarders.   I have yet to see what I think would be a 70+ ski boarder on the slopes.  Perhaps there are some on the many slopes of the world but I doubt that there are more than a few hundred if that much.   Since snow boarding is a relatively new sport by measures of long time geezer skiers, maybe it just will take another decade to age the boarders into geezerhood.   However, I doubt that  70+ people are equipped to take the falls to knees and butts that are common with the boarding activity.   Some of us geezers have talked about trying boarding but have concluded we would not survive the learning curve.   We are at the point of minimizing our falls!
     The other day I saw what might be a glimmer of the future of the senior boarders.   As I was waiting to get on the triple chair I saw a father and two young sons all on boards line up to take off.   Who knows?  Perhaps 30 years from know those grown up boys and their geezer father will all be hanging out on the slopes on their boards.   Meanwhile, I'll stick with the skis.  Thank you very much!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Slope Events

Heave Ho
   Ski areas frequently have special events to attract people to the area and sometimes to honor different groups or support a charity.    Today volunteer firemen were being hosted at Greek Peak for fun and games on the snow.   One of the contests was to tow one of the snow makers for a given distance in the shortest time possible.   Most of the guys and gals were pretty rugged individuals.   One group of heavyweights was able to move the snow maker with ease.  However, another lighter weight bunch had a struggle to get the snow maker moving.   Photos  give you an idea of what this was all about.   They all seemed to be having a good time and I suspect they would be popping a few beers before the day was over and enjoying the barbecue as well.  I think they got free ski passes and a free time at the tubing center.   It looked to me like skiing would be a challenge in their turnout gear for fire fighting.
There might have been some geezers in the group, but I didn't see any.   Firefighting has to be a young persons activity.    Best wishes to these great community volunteers.   Thanks for your dedication to our protection.

OK - Turn It Around

Is It The Best Time?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two Skiers - One Pair of Skis

Matt From Minnesota at Greek Peak
     Have you ever gone into a ski shop to buy just one ski?    That is exactly what Matt and Rob would like to do.   Both are amputee adaptive skiers on one ski with the outrigger poles.   With a tip from a fellow geezer Pat Ryan I heard about their story of meeting here at Greek Peak where they are skiing this week.   They are both from Minnesota and lo and behold they encounter each other at Greek Peak in New York state.   Matt  has lost his left leg and Rob has lost his right leg so they are a perfect set of skiers to go into a shop and buy a pair of skis.   I watched them navigate the great powder we had today with great skill and joy.   I expect Matt and Rob to buy and share a pair of skis in the future.

    Others of the adaptive group were riding mono ski chairs and having a ball.  One of the mono ski chair riders was even having a blast whooping it up in the moguls on the Elysian Fields.    What an inspiring bunch of people including their adaptive sports guides!

     We all had a great day in the powder and the sunshine.   For all of us it was a great day to be alive.   I took the opportunity to chat briefly with Matt and remind him to keep on skiing well into geezerhood.   All the best Matt for many years on the slope, and best wishes for skiing into geezer time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Geezer Skier Demographics

     Conversation on the lift today turned to comments about geezer skiers that are no longer appearing at our home ski area.   A number of them have passed away and others have health problems that restrict their activity.   It is sad to observe the passing of a generation of geezers that were frequent visitors to the local slopes.   This sparked my musing about where is the next generation of geezer skiers.   I guess we should expect the boomer generation to to become the geezer skiers of tomorrow.   I am beginning to meet some of them on the lift and in the lodge.   Some of them have retired due to the downturn in the economy and others have chosen to take advantage of their remaining years to enjoy the skiing passion.
     As ski areas plan for the future, I wonder if they shouldn't think about managing their ski areas to attract the boomer generation.   Maybe there is an untapped market they should be courting.   As Greek Peak expands their trails, it might be wise to concentrate on creating some cruising intermediate blues rather than going for the more challenging runs.   I'm guessing that ski areas need to concentrate on both ends of the age demographic.   Encourage the youth and nurture the geezers and geezers in training.