PHOTO: Oskar Enander
PHOTO: Oskar Enander

To Fall In Love On Skis

Essays that capture why we ski, part five

These six essays originally appeared as the intros to the six issues of our 45th volume. Our first issue of volume 46 prints soon. To receive future intros in their original print, sign up here.

PHOTO: Oskar Enander

V: Our Own Sense of Time

Midwinter, mid-mania, mid-bacchanal, at the top of my favorite run, I met someone. Time slowed and started to mean something else.

Not long after we were introduced, I went to visit her. On a Monday night after work, we skinned up a groomer by headlamp. We were the only ones for miles. The stars overhead and the city below added a glow to the dark sky.

We had started at the base of the ski area, at 8,000 feet. My lungs burned. I struggled to hold a conversation while she floated effortlessly up the mountain—all smiles and banter. I pretended to be cool.

A couple thousand vertical feet later, we reached the top. It was windy and somehow darker. We went into an empty, cold warming hut. It was covered in carvings and dust. I split kindling with a rusty hatchet. She nursed the fire. It lit and warmed the shack.

We sat on a wooden bench and leaned against the wall. For dinner we split a Snickers and a flask. At some point, we realized it was almost midnight. We figured we should ski back down. We bundled up, stepped outside into the eerie night, and looked down at our run. Headlamps on. It was a steep, rolling, untouched 2,000-vertical-foot groomer.

I went first. She skied close behind. We couldn't see ahead of us. We could only feel what was under our skis, bodies nimble, loose, and in the backseat, rolling with whatever the mountain gave us. I couldn't help but yell out—feeling the freedom of letting go, in blind trust. We were skiing way too fast. I heard her laughing uncontrollably, which made me laugh.

We weren't going to slow down. We laughed all the way to the bottom, and even after we came to a stop, standing in the middle of the dark forest near the empty parking lot, we just kept laughing.

Nothing else mattered. Everything was on the table—my weak-ass lungs, our personal histories, blind backseat turns. We packed up and drove out of the parking lot. We were both quiet on the slow drive down the curvy highway, the mountain rising behind us as we approached the city, another moment on skis indelibly etched into our lives.

Read Part I: Welcome Back
Read Part II: Here We Go
Read Part III: Just Go
Read Part IV: In Deep
Read Part V: Our Own Sense of Time
Read Part VI: The Good Life

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