Thursday, February 13, 2020

Do We Ever Learn?

   One would think if you have lived into your 80's you would have learned to avoid perilous situations.  However, when it comes to skiing, I still have a lot to learn.   My avid pursuit of skiing sometimes overwhelms my common sense.  I wonder if that is true for other geezer skiers?  Probably many of them have more sense than I do.
    Case in point is my ski adventure today.  I have been wanting to go to a change of venue at Toggenburg Ski Area in lieu of my usual day at Greek Peak.   Over night we had a snowfall of several inches of fairly wet stuff.  In my stupidity I thought that it would be skiable.  Several of my companions decided to bow out of the excursion so the intrepid Tim was the youngster that joined me. 
   After donning boots and gearing up we headed up the slope.  Although the snow was wet the skis were not sticking.  However,  this geezer  immediately became tentative and  I  found I was having a tough time turning even though I really had the right skis for the conditions.   Unfortunately I really didn't have it and had an early but mild crash.   Tim helped me unlatch the boots and I was able to collect myself enough to get down the slope.  A one and done day.
      I hope I have learned enough of a lesson from today to know when fold them and avoid going beyond my capability.    I should be thankful, that I can still participate in the sport at my age.    But I still have some of that  20 year old invincibility that drives me to do foolish things.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Ski Lift Evacuation- The Unexpected Experience

    A few days ago I wrote a piece about taking things for granted after we had a water shut down in our home.  In that blog I mentioned how we take for granted that the ski lift is going to get us to the top again and again without a hitch.  Wow!  Would you believe a few days later I experienced my first lift failure in over 50 years on the slopes.  Today I was stranded with two companions in my chair on the lift for over an hour until we were safely and efficiently evacuated by the Greek Peak staff and Ski Patrol.  When the lift stopped and then began to freewheel backward, I did have a moment of gut wrenching panic.  Thankfully the safety brake kicked in and we were brought to a halt.  Friend Tim and wife Anne were near the top and noted it was apparent quick action by the lift attendant that brought things to a safe halt.
    The photos below give you a sense of what happened as during the evacuation.  Kudos to the staff and Ski Patrol at Greek Peak for rapid response and a calm and effective guidance for all of use as we were lowered to the slope.  For the younger riders it was fortunate there were companions that helped them with the evacuation procedure.  When I landed, I challenged the rescuers find anyone on the lift that was older than my 84 years.  I have yet to hear!
      I could not have had a better set of companions on our chair.  We swapped stories and generally developed a unique collegial relationship.   For three people who had never met before, it was delightful endorsement of the collegiality of skiers as a rule.  There is a unique bonding that takes place when you are mutually facing and crisis or emergency.  Dianne and Graham are pictured below.  Dianne who was the brave first one to be lowered, photographed both Graham and me. 
        We were provided with a shuttle for transport to the lodge. However, Graham has driven to the bottom of the lift, so he kindly transported Dianne and me back to headquarters.   We bid adieu and I enjoyed coffee and warm up with friends Tim and Anne.   Thanks to  texting Tim and I were in communication during our ordeal!
       Not problem for finding inspiration for writing this blog!
Youngster Lowered Ahead of Us

Dianne and Graham

Me Midair Shortly After Launch

Approaching Landing

Successful Landing

Monday, February 3, 2020

Taking Things for Granted

     We were shocked recently to have a failure of our municipal water system.  All of of a sudden there was no water flow and our neighbors were exchanging panic calls wondering what was going on.  Our outage was about the time we were preparing dinner so anything you handle in food prep would normally require some hand washing.   Oh how much we take for granted the delivery of water, gas and electricity.  It was a reminder how much we are blessed with the reliability of these systems.
     This got me to thinking about the things I take for granted in my skiing life.   For one thing, I expect to safely ski everyday without any minor or major catastrophe.  However, this past Friday I had the unexpected crash on a slope that I have skied a thousand times.   The crash was precipitated by glue like snow under a leaking snow maker!   This year we have had a plethora of snow makers operating on open slopes.    We know that these areas can be treacherous and  we have our antennas tuned to avoiding gotchas!  Perhaps we get too complacent thinking we have all under control.   Too much taking it for granted that we will always succeed.
    You can be sure that skiers take for granted that the lifts will operated safely and reliably.    This means not only delivering us to the top without a hitch, but also loading and unloading us without issues.  However taking this for granted has given some of use a rude awakening this season.    My companions have experienced or observed some disturbing incidents this season.   One was loaded on a chair where the seat was an open hole.   Another's granddaughter was launched on a chair without a companion.   And of course, two of my companions became tangled with a third person and crashed into the bushes.
      We often take for granted we are not too vulnerable in the sport of skiing.   For the geezer crowd we are at an age where we are not so adept at dealing with the unexpected.   We should be thankful that we continue to function and plan for the day when we will have to transition to another activity.   We must face the fact that one day we no longer will be taking it for granted we will be whisking down the slopes like the days of our youth.