Staring down the lush green, summer mountains from the top of the tram at Alyeska Resort, I got that old, familiar feeling of excitement and anticipation. I had visions of strapping on a pair of skis and laying fresh tracks in the powder when ski season opens only 4 short months away. I have always dreamed of skiing in Alaska.
The only problem is, I haven’t skied in 7 years….It feels like a lifetime away from a passion that consumed much of my younger life. Memories like snowflakes came rushing back in a nostalgic storm.
A Love of Skiing
Skiing has been a part of me since I was 10 years old. I vividly remember my parents taking me to Park’s Sports in Orem, Utah on winter weekends to catch the bus up to Sundance for ski lessons. I loved it!
Utah was a great place to learn to ski! My favorite resort became Alta. I can still feel the adrenaline rush looking down High Rustler Ridge after a long traverse and wondering if I could get down the massively steep slope without a yard sale. I’ve had one or two of those in my lifetime.
I taught skiing at Sundance when I was in college at BYU. Trust me, I had visions of just dropping out of school and making a career as a ski instructor in the winter while guiding rivers in the summer! I wonder what my life would look like now if I had chosen that path?
I guess in a sense, I did choose it…just a reduced version of it. We lived for 15 years at the foot of the Tetons in Driggs, Idaho…less that 20 minutes from Grand Targhee Resort and about 45 minutes from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
I taught skiing at Grand Targhee for 10 of the years we were there. I always said it was for the free family pass, but really skiing was just a part of me. My three older kids grew up spending their winter weekends in ski club. Years ago, I’d met Jeff on those slopes. So much of our family history was written in ski tracks.
Memories of Skiing
Reflecting on it, I’m transported back to Targhee and a morning ride up Shoshone lift for a warm up run. The sun shone golden through the frost laden trees onto freshly groomed, corduroy slopes. The scene was etched in my mind and has never faded away. I stated out loud for myself and the forest to hear, “I will always do this.”
But, I didn’t always do it. I found a new passion that consumed me: scuba diving. My love of diving, and our family desire to try something new led to our move to Hawaii. Skiing was all but forgotten as I (and my family) immersed ourselves in exploring the underwater world in Hawaii and the Caribbean.
Diving turned into the same drug that skiing was…a way to fully find pure joy and peace with nature and myself. So, while logging 500+ dives, skiing fell by the wayside.
So there I sat, staring down the summer slopes at Alyeska, envisioning the coming winter of skiing in Alaska.
A New Ski Season
When we decided to move to Alaska, it’s the one adventure I was most looking forward too. A chance to reconnect with a love too long lost. Plus, a chance to ski the places where legends were made.
I’ve seen the Warren Miller movies of first descents on shower curtains in Valdez. I’ve watched documentaries of climbing or skinning to the mountain peaks of the Alaska Range just to get the ride of a lifetime for 10 minutes. And now, I’m stoked to dive back into skiing here.
It’s going to be different. I’m older, and not in skiing shape. I know a loonngg hot tub and Advil will follow that first day on the slopes. I worry that I won’t be able to ski at the level I’m used to, that my body at 49 years old won’t be able to give what I ask it too.
But at the core of it, I don’t know that I necessarily care how I do on the slopes, only that I return to skiing. The rush of winter is around the corner and my soul is burning to glide down the mountains once again. You see, I told myself, “I will always do this!”…and I will.
Skiing in Alaska? Let’s do this…