Photo: Dan Bayer

Photo: Dan Bayer

By The Jaded Local1

Ok, forget everything that I said in the last installment about how awesome early season is and how killer it is to shred the groomers with friends, et cetera. Forget it all. I have. Because it dumped in Europe, which means it’s officially time to stop looking at the bright side and start the existential twitching.

My life currently has no purpose other than simple animal survival until I can walk out the front door, throw my skis down on a snowy driveway, and skin up the mountains across the street to ski powder. Which leaves me sitting here, in a rickety old apartment with fourteen pairs of skis, a taped-together laptop, a hundred-pound semi-feral husky, and you. Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you may be familiar with the feeling.

The neinshredkampf2 has struck. It ambushed me yesterday and now it won’t let go, the biggest, meanest monkey of the jabbering, shrieking, yellow-eyed pack already crowding my overloaded back. And it will never, ever be satisfied with manmade groomers, no matter how good.

Deep powder billowing into your face, hanging in the air like diamonds. The whopwhopwhop of a helicopter echoing off soaring alpine cliffs. Silent snowfall deep in the mystical old growth forest. Scary ski cuts on northy aspects, the pure release of nuking it out onto the apron. Giddy high-fives and exhausted grins…

Dreams consume my days, the nights drag on like an endless desert, and my soul burns with dark fire.

(Pause for pacing back and forth and mindless flexing of the old Super G skis leaning in the corner. Thwap-thwap of husky tail on beer-stained carpet.)

And with all the neinshredkampf there’s all too much time to think, to face down personal demons and flinch away, to wonder about the Meaning Of It All(2). Of course, ski magazine corespondents are supposed to be making plans for the winter. Exotic Trips-n-Sick Pow! Riding In Helicopters! Or perhaps On Donkeys! We’re supposed to be putting together cogent Story Ideas and Dream Trips for a jaded media audience: “Skiing the highest peak in Madagascar with Julia Mancuso and a Trained Ape,” 3 “Next Leveling North Carolina,” “Leftwing Conspiracy: The ten best left turns in North America.”

Or something. It all seems so far away, so impossible… and then all of a sudden you’re considering drastic measures like getting a job or buying telemark gear.

I’m not the only one in the midst of a wicked neinshredkampf . The townspeople are growing restless and surly. Casual violence is up, as are depressingly nihilistic hookups and awkward mornings. The husky has taken to stalking small children on bicycles. P-tex supplies are growing tenuous. Idled ski patrollers have been drafted onto the snowmaking team, trading days of red-coated glory for nights of frigid misery.

And so I lock myself in my room, lower the blinds and commence the hateful self-abuse of Internet Porn: oh look, it snowed in Chamonix—how much are those plane tickets to Geneva? Mmmmmmm, Courmayer. What if I just took a dirty weekend in Alagna or Andermatt…

(It’s worth noting at this point that any reports you may have heard about some kind of naked hyena-like beast loping through the trailer park in the moonlight and shrieking wordless anguish at the sky are probably just spurious rumors.)

What I need is a woman with a soul that burns with dark fire, an ex-racer with smoldering brown eyes and a delicate foot firmly planted on the throttle. I will buy exorbitant last-minute plane tickets to Austria and we will gorge ourselves on crisp powder in Krippenstein or Obergürgl, make out in the gondola, soak each other with champagne in the strobing throb of after-hours basement discos, fling defiance at Fate Itself from powder-choked couloirs…

Or at least that’s the best thing I’ve come up with. Unfortunately, she still hasn’t called me back. Maybe texting “Want 2 Obergürgl w/ you asap” at two in the morning was a little vague, but it’s easier to type with my thumb than “Baby, we only go around this crazy topsy-turvy merry-go-round once and I bought these tickets to Salzburg, so…” At any rate, it beats shrieking wordless anguish at the sky. Or telemarking.

————
1 Hans Ludwig is The Jaded Local.
2 From the Jaded Glossary in the February issue— Neinshredkampf : German-sounding word I made up to describe the dark chundery state of the soul when you can’t ski. See also: Angstschuss.
3 Avoid this at all costs.
4 According to my Primatology Specialist, the bonobo is the only primate with the requisite bipedal locomotion for ski-mountaineering, but “Skiing the highest peak in Madagascar with Julia Mancuso and a trained bonobo” just doesn’t have the same pop.