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2018-01-27 06:40 by Karl Denninger
in Outside Thoughts , 114 references
[Comments enabled]  

This last week I went to do something I haven't done in 20 years.

Skiing.  On snow.

Yeah, ok, it was only in Gatlinburg.  Conditions were, well, about what I remember a lot of from my time further north.  Icy, mostly, although one day was warm enough that there was a bit more slushiness on top, and the ice could be cut.

Rental gear too, which means no edges worth anything, or any wax on the bottoms, and boots that felt sort of like vises around your lower legs and yet poor-to-nonexistent capability to keep your heel locked into the boot.

I won't call Ober Gatlinburg great.  It isn't, but it's very comparable to pretty much anything in the Midwest, other than being smaller in run count.  Vertical is maybe 600' or so top-to-bottom, if you ride the big quad and right now, despite being cold, they had basically zero natural snow -- it's all machine-made, machine-groomed and rather icy.  But it is skiing, and the vertical is double that of some Northern Michigan places, like Crystal Mountain, and a bit more than places like Boyne Highlands.  That's not some brochure talking, it's my Garmin that actually measured the vertical on my runs.  Yeah, that was pretty cool, automatic and unexpected in that you just say "start" and then when you're done for the day, "stop" and does an automatic split/lap when you get back on the lift.  Nice.

Oh, and as for the deal on a money basis it's really good if you catch them when the town doesn't have some sort of convention in or on a weekend and/or holiday.  Much cheaper than most of the Midwest, like half, especially on the lodging side.  The hotels to be had within easy walking distance of the tram to the top are downright reasonable and for the money hard to argue with.  Don't try that in the summer there when prices have tripled!

I used to ski a lot.  There was little that got the fear button mashed much at all at the time; black diamonds, moguls, yeah, whatever.  Pick a line and go for it.  Then again, the last time was 20+ years ago.

It only took about a half-hour for it to materially come back, and a couple of hours before I was more-or-less comfortable, less the rental gear handicap.

Not bad for an old man.

No black diamonds for me this time around as the second day was really icy and there were enough visible places that the ground had come through that I just wasn't up for it, never mind seeing all the other fools who had dared on the way up the lift, some of whom yard-saled and then did a good part of the rest of the way down on their butts, even with one or both skis still attached.  It looked and, more-importantly, sounded, gnarly.  With nice, sharp edges, maybe.  On rentals that I couldn't cut myself with if I tried, quite icy and a very narrow vertical?  Uh, no thank you.

Oh, and skiiers?  There aren't many left, on balance, compared with all the snowboards.  That was interesting to see (including Sarah attempting it); I might have to try it.  She didn't do badly for never doing it before.  It looks deceptively easy although the frequency of wipe-outs looks to be, uh, spectacular.

In any event I was impressed on-balance; I expected to be much worse in terms of ability, especially after 20 years.

Now about those old skis with rusty edges and the boots in my closet, the latter of which look just fine and the former might be recoverable if I put a few hours into cleaning up the edges and checking the bindings....... 


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