Skiing what’s not to love?,
The fresh pine scented air, trees kissed with soft, white icing sugar powder.
Breathtaking mountain vistas above the clouds, which literally make your heart stop.
The mystical silence as you glide effortlessly down a snow covered slope.
Just you and nature connecting in a way that is only possible on a pair of skis (well possibly on a snowboard too)
A magical experience……
or is it?!
Before you can actually hit those slopes there’s quite a bit of preparation involved; the ski clothes, the equipment, never mind knowing how to actually ski! Not to put any novice off, the initial experience is, well, interesting, challenging for sure, dare I say difficult and that’s before you even hit the slopes!?
Possibly some of you might recall those early skiing days ~ you’ve kitted yourself out in the sleek, specially designed outfit which cost, well quite a lot actually, and already the thermal undergarments are making you a tad hot but that’s a tiny detail, you’re by the car and it’s time to put on the boots. Yes, those lovely, shiny, new boots, ones you spend ages deciding upon, which also cost you, well, quite a lot, but ones, which according to the sales person, will be guaranteed to make you a skiing pro immediately….
Next, feeling slightly cumbersome in your ‘ski outfit ’and trying to keep your balance, you attempt to get your boots on. This requires a huge amount of effort and unlike in the shop they feel really awkward, heavy and not very comfortable! They immediately pinch your ankle and squash your toes and make you like look Frankenstein when you walk, well actually you find you can’t walk but only clomp! The clomping becomes unattractively exaggerated by the two plastic planks you then struggle to carry on your shoulder which have nasty poky things attached to them that prod you viciously unless you position them really carefully. In addition, you find yourself juggling 2 sharp, pointed sticks, not to mention gloves, a neck warmer, ear warmers, goggles, a helmet, sunscreen, your mobile phone, your wallet, a camera and maybe a packed lunch!
Soooooo, after you have plodded through the snow and ice, along with hoards of other similarly clad clompers, trying very hard not to slip and seriously injure yourselves, it gets worse, the pain that is.
You have to put all the clobber down, carefully, without poking someone in the eye as you do so and without getting anything wearable covered in snow because that nice, white, fluffy stuff will melt and make you wet and miserable when you put it on your body!
Now, brace yourself for you’re about to make those boots, which, by the way, you already hate, even more excruciating by tightening the clasps! Yes, it’s mandatory to crank down all four of them, guaranteed to cut off the blood supply to your feet! Then to make sure your agony is complete, you’re required to tug at the strap around the top of each boot so that it is really, really tight. Now you can try to stand up, retrieving the gloves, (hopefully not full of snow) BUT before putting them on you must check that all the other ‘stuff’ (the helmet, the goggles, the neck warmer, the ear muffs, the face mask, your mobile and your camera, your lip salve, your wallet on yes and heaven forbid your ski pass!) is in the right place on your person. THEN and only then, can you encase your almost frost bitten fingers into the gloves, pick up the sticks and try to stab your poor, booted feet into those plastic planks!
Sooooo, finally, you’re ready to start to move through the snow, on the plastic planks, using the sticks to propel you, to join a line of other ‘Michelin men’ looking people. Only you can’t see them that well as your goggles are all steamed up from all the exertion of getting this far and before you know it you find yourself being propelled forward to sit, with a thud, onto a moving chair! Yes, one that doesn’t stop, which if you don’t pay attention will smack you in the back and send you flying, to become a discombobulated mess on the ground AND the most hated person around as the chair will have to be stopped to disentangle you!!
Hopefully though, that doesn’t happen and your bottom somehow arrives on the freezing, snow covered plastic. Phew, but just as you start to feel some tiny sense of relief, you realize (OMG!) you are being lifted up into the sky to hang precariously on a metal rope hundreds of feet above the ground! The wind and snow start to sting your face and you close your eyes tightly praying that this whole ordeal will soon be over!
Fear not, for that particular terror (especially challenging if you don’t like heights) only lasts minutes (well maybe at least 5) by which time your feet, in those boots, are totally numb but the chair mercifully slows and the ground becomes within inches of your feet and you stand up and hey you’re actually skiing, well, sort of!
Sadly your triumph is only momentary because within seconds you find yourself at the top of a terrifyingly sheer, snow covered cliff which people are disappearing down like lemmings, one which you are going to have to get down too! You can’t run away, no your feet are completely trapped, as are you, balancing on those plastic planks, so brace yourself, it can’t be that hard, everyone else is flying passed, and this is meant to be fun! Be brave you’ve got this far, let yourself slide forward…………….
Wheeeee you’re off, frantically remembering what you’ve been told, ‘turn your body down the hill’, ‘dig the edges in’, ‘hug the tree’, ‘press the magic button’ and if you succeed in doing all that, guess what, YOU are finally skiing!!!
Oh, and in case you are wondering, I do actually enjoy skiing, despite all that pain and torture!
For who wouldn’t with the stunning views and corduroy slopes
at Northstar, Lake Tahoe, in the brilliant California sunshine, it really IS fun!!
Download the Lake Tahoe, California Travel Guide PDF here