A Ski Bum in the Tropics

Bluebird Day in Blue Sky Basin Vail

 

This time last year, I was cruising around Vail’s legendary back bowls, thigh-deep in powder.

Today finds me halfway around the world, in a place where the very concept of snow is totally unknown. The language isn’t English, the people don’t party so hard, and the weather is much too hot for my liking. I’m a tourist in Asia, not a local.

It’s quite a big change from Vail, where I relished being someone set apart from the hordes of international tourists. It’s increasingly looking like I will miss ski season entirely. After skiing for solid months last year, it’s weird to be developing sandal tan lines in December.

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NOT THAT IT’S ALL BAD (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

 

The digital nomad scene is a different sort of running away, full of very different people than ski bums. In some ways I fit in better here, but there’s not much room for outdoors adventures when you spend most of your time hunched in front of a laptop screen. Joining a pre-arranged tour for a hike up a volcano is a very different experience than going backpacking in your backyard.

(And truthfully, Colorado is sunnier than the tropics!! It rains a lot here!)

Since I’m missing the outdoor adventure lifestyle so much, I’m bringing on another writer to keep me informed, keep you psyched, and keep everyone aspiring to more.

C is holding down the ski bum dream in Vail, Colorado. He’ll be providing a continuation to the ski town content I started last year. He’s 20 years old, a college dropout, adventure seeker, and all around smart guy. In fact, you can spot him in one of the rotating banners up top— looking at his cell phone in a Vail Mountain lean-to. Last year found us alone in the glades on the backside of Beaver Creek’s Grouse Mountain; slamming into walls while doing quasi-legal rock climbing at Wolcott, and on top of four 14,000 peaks in one day, predawn, in the middle of a meteor shower. He’s solid company.

You’ll enjoy him.

C will be introducing himself with a post in the coming week, and after that, you can expect to see his posts interspersed with mine.

That’s all for now. Merry Christmas from halfway across the world! Make some holiday turns for me, a ski bum stuck in the tropics!

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Moments in Time

Vail International Dance Festival 2015

Vail International Dance Festival 2015

A year is a long time, when looking to the future; in retrospect, a year is almost unbearably short.

My life, one year ago.

One year ago.

I have now lived in Vail for one full year of my life. My 22nd year on Earth, I spent in Vail. My 23rd, I will spend in Asia. I hope it will be better.

Although on August 1, I knew a year had passed, the length of time somehow didn’t hit me until I attended the 2015 Vail International Dance Festival.

Watching the 2014 VIDF was one of the very first things my girlfriend and I did after moving to Vail. To return to the same spot, for the same activity, with a year between, really forced me to reflect on my year in a ski town.

Inside Vail Gondola One

The Vail International Dance Festival is an annual, two-week long celebration of classical and modern dance. Programming showcases everything from traditional ballet to YouTube sensations to newer, more urban styles of dance. There’s dancing in the streets, in the air; during these two weeks you might even catch some better-than-usual dancing in Vail’s limited number of bars. Where else can you take shots with world-famous ballerinas and dancers and not even know it?

Only Vail.

That’s the thing— you might be able to brush elbows with those sorts of people in certain neighborhoods of New York City, or LA, or London, but you would know it. People who live in the hip neighborhoods know why they are there, and they know the pedigree that surrounds them.

Young people in Vail are almost completely ignorant of this pedigree.

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14 years later, “Powder Burn” Still an Accurate Depiction of Vail

Daniel Glick Powder Burn Review 2015

A longtime Vail Valley resident recently lent me a copy of Daniel Glick’s 2001 book “Powder Burn: Arson, Money and Mystery on Vail Mountain.” This eighty-year-old woman and I had just finished up a dinner at the Northside Kitchen, a local favorite in Avon, CO, just down the road from Vail.

This woman had built one of the very first houses in Avon. In the beginning, she stood alone on a plain, a modest house with a huge yard, next to the scenic Eagle River. A highway ran past, a few hundred yards away, but that was a small price to pay for the unique mix of solitude and accessibility.

Now her house is almost impossible to find, if you do not know where to look for it. It sits squashed between huge apartment complexes and hotels, shrouded by a wall of shrubbery. Beaver Creek ski resort looms above, a ski resort even more exclusive and boutique than Vail. People come and go all around. Most of them probably do not even notice her house— assume it is simply another luxury rental with an absent owner. Vail Resorts has built its empire around her, suffocating her views and her community in order to house as many impressionable young workers and incredibly rich tourists and as they can. The idea of a private plat existing in between all that artifice is laughable. I’m sure, if they could, Vail Resorts would buy her out for an exorbitant sum of money, and call it a win.

But she was there first; and she has no plans to leave.

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A Commencement Speech for Climbers

Climbing gear in a car

May is almost up, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the month watching high school and college graduations go by: either in-person, or on social media. Caps, gowns and sashes flashed by in a blur— and the requisite binge drinking which soothes the thought of the future from the fresh graduate’s mind sloshed a veneer of fun over the whole thing.

Under the jubilation: the common, slinking, cultural understanding that the degree is going to be more of a burden than a boon, at least for the first half-decade or so. Student loans, a lack of experience and an eminently poor job market all linger on the sides of the millennial consciousness.

I Just Graduated, Now What?” is the question du jour.

No one I know, except the engineers, is excited about graduation. Even they are subdued, but then again: they are engineers.

Life looks hard from the commencement stage.

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Ski Video Sunday— Candide Thovex “Few Words”

few words full film

With spring officially here, it’s undeniable: ski season is winding down. For the ski bum, this means less time spent on the mountain and more time dreaming about what has been done this year, and what can be done next winter.

This hour-long documentary about freeskiing pioneer Candide Thovex premiered in 2012, but it’s just recently been posted on Quiksilver’s Youtube channel in its entirety. “Few Words” is one of those films that will get you excited and dreaming about what you can do, despite the slush on your local ski mountain.

Bit of history: Candide Thovex was featured in our inaugural Ski Video Sunday post, which included his recent GoPro video “One of Those Days 2.” The Vail Film Festival, which just concluded here in town, also showed another Ski Video Sunday selection, “The Unrideables: Alaska Range.” They must be readers.

Have a great week everyone!