Thursday, January 15, 2009


When I first bought alpine touring gear a couple of seasons ago, it was because I wanted to seek out fresh powder wherever it was to be found, inside or out of the ski area boundaries. At the time, however, I thought it would simply be a complement to my alpine skiing, and that I'd do it a handful of times a year only after the resort was all tracked out.

Little did I know.

So far this season, I have skied 11 days, 8 of them in the backcountry. The accessibility here in Salt Lake is so good that dawn patrols have replaced night skiing as my midweek recreation of choice.

Here's the thing, though. I am liking the backcountry so much that I don't really feel the need to do resort skiing. I kinda figured I'd do one or two backcountry days during the week and then hit the resorts on the weekends. But I'm feeling no compulsion to ride lifts and find myself fascinated and anxious to explore the multitude of peaks and ridges that aren't accessible by chairlift. So much so, in fact, that the constraints of having to go to work have me anxious for the weekend so I can get out on longer tours.

Of course it doesn't hurt that I'm married to the best wife in the world and she's fully supportive of my habits. Dug commented this morning that I'm never turning down an opportunity to get out to ski or ride bikes. (I think dug failed to realize, however, that he knows I've been there because he's been with me pretty much every time.) Part of it is my relatively low-key work environment, but a bigger piece is that my lovely wife is happy to let me spend from 5 to 9 a.m. doing as I please. Sometimes she even bakes cookies to take with me.

Before the family moved to Utah, getting out was less of an issue. I was by myself anyway, so the only impact of getting up at 4:30 to ski was the need to consume more diet coke to get me through the afternoon. Now that we're all together, there's a bit more to it, as the alarm wakes Rachel up too, and I'm not around to take our daughter to the bus stop.

My grandfather loved to golf and fish but was not at all religious. My grandmother was quite religious but didn't care much for fishing and golf. When they got married, they agreed that Saturdays were his and Sundays were hers. He went golfing or fishing on Saturday and they all went to church together on Sunday. Rachel and I don't have any explicit agreement, there's just an implicit understanding that a happy me 2/3 of the time is preferable to a grumpy me all the time. It's an arrangement that works for us. Your mileage may vary.