why skiing is awful/the best thing ever
This weekend I went skiing in Killington with an awesome group of people. It was a blast, but also got many of us thinking: why do we like doing this? Skiing is cold, it’s expensive, and it’s rough on your body. So I decided to lay out all the reasons for why skiing sucks, but why it may very well be worth it in the end.
why skiing sucks
Before leaving for your #epictrip, you think it would be good to upgrade your skiing gear — until you realize gloves are 80 bucks and snow pants easily $300. (Apparently it costs a lot to stay warm and shop in New York City.) You get by with the bare minimum — a teal neck warmer found on the sales rack — while hoping your ski stuff circa 1995 still fits and there will be an epic heat wave.
Once you’ve made it to the mountain, it takes roughly seven hours to park and walk to the lodge. You get there (in your $50 smartwool socks and barely-fitting middle school snow pants) and have a silent panic attack while purchasing an $85 lift ticket. You stick the annoying ski pass onto your zipper and then head to the rental shop.
The only thing worse than waiting on the rental lines is putting on your rental boots. Putting on ski boots is literally on my Top 5 Worst Things To Do In Life list (tucked nicely between flying and paying taxes). It takes full-body strength to angle your foot correctly into the boot, and then you feel like your ankle is going to snap off while you shove your whole foot inside. Once tucked in, you have to deal with the awful buckles that never fail to make the boot too tight or too loose. (Mind you there is still an 80 percent chance you have the wrong size boots and will have to get back on the line.)
After you stash your stuff in the rental locker (that you obviously paid for) and head outside, you begin to actually freeze. First it’s a toe, then a thumb, and then your nose. You get on the chairlift — which can be a traumatic experience — (a moving chair) and then continue to freeze even more while the lift takes its precious time crawling up the mountain. The wind picks up. And juuust when you almost reach the top and you’ve lifted up the safety bar, the chair stops because someone probably lost a pole trying to get on the scary moving chair at the bottom of the mountain.
And you’re still cold and freezing and your boots are tight and your long underwear cost $70 because it is wicking and you really, really just want a beer. (But the views aren’t half bad.)
Finally, you actually start to ski. You’re on your way, while trying to avoid the asshole snowboarder who comes too close and loudly sprays ice in your face and the seven-year-old girl in pink snow pants who is most definitely a better skier than you. And then you accidentally make a wrong turn and end up at an intersection where you can either take Double Black Diamond Option I (moguls), Double Black Diamond Option II (trees), or Double Black Diamond Option III (straight drop) to get down the mountain.
You somehow make it down but have lost your pals. All of your friends look like everyone else (black snow pants, big goggles, green rental skis) and your phone has already died from being exposed to the cold. You see the lodge, but it isn’t time for lunch (an $8 burger and $4 bottle of water) so you go up the mountain again, this time overly obsessing about patches of ice since falling in skiing is the worst thing ever. (How do you get up without looking insanely awkward? Why does only one ski come off, and both poles go flying, always, into the woods?)
While wondering why you didn’t take up snowboarding as a kid, you realize you have to pee. And then you realize that’s literally impossible without stashing your skis and poles and trudging in your moon boots back inside for a tease of warmth and an undressing-episode of seven layers before you can relieve yourself of all that coffee you drank since you woke up at 6am to do all…this.
So after the accidental black diamonds and the ice-patch anxiety along with the snow-makers blowing in your face and the over-priced curly fries (health!) you finally get what you’ve been waiting for on your epic ski trip: to leave. You drive to your rental house, take off your gear, crack open a beer, and jump in the hot tub while soothing your sore muscles and bruised shins.
And then you wake up and do it all over again.
But something always happens on that second day. The temperature rises, your feet feel a little better in the boots, and the crowds lessen. While skiing can literally suck, if you get the right conditions, it all becomes worth it. On our second day at Killington, we literally had the mountain to ourselves with fresh powder and tolerable temperatures. I was flying down a trail all alone. I turned without worrying about ice or knocking out a fellow skier. I stopped and found myself on the middle of a mountain and all was quiet. Silent. I was warm, I was moving, I was at peace.
Sure, the beauty of skiing is often that sense of accomplishment: of battling the cold, working your body, and surviving seven hours outdoors to reach that amazing moment of taking off your boots and heading back inside. But other times the magic really is in the mountain: in the perfect run, the perfect conditions, and the effortless motion that pulls you down the slopes and back up them once more.