This is the third essay in the ongoing series, Skiing as Craft. This story appeared in the November (42.3) issue of POWDER.
A pair of crisscrossed skis held a “Danger” sign at the top of the trail. I’d been skiing Hunter Mountain all afternoon with a friend and decided it was time to get after it. The sidehill-terrain of Upstate New York’s biggest resort had been “unique”—hundreds of Manhattanites bombing from right to left, then left to right across the mountain. On my the first ride up the Kaatskill Flyer six-pack chairlift, the guy sitting next to me pulled a bottle of rosé from his jacket and poured it into his girlfriend’s mouth. When I mentioned something about the amount of ice on the hill that day, he responded, “It ain’t the ice I’m afraid of; it’s the snow I can’t handle!”
At the top of the mountain my friend and I explored a concrete turret. It wasn’t a turret really, but a kind of summit lodge. Stairs reached down into the heart of it, where there was a cafeteria and little shop that sold classic ski-area kitsch. The night before we’d walked in awe through a maze of condos, restaurants, and bars scattered around the base that looked more like tract-housing than a ski resort.
My friend had been skiing blue runs all day, so when I saw the “Danger” sign I figured it must be a bit more sporty. I skated past the sign and dropped over the first rollover with speed. What lay on the other side I can only describe as an 800-vertical-foot frozen water park. It was all I could do to set an edge, and even then I didn’t stop my controlled fall until halfway down. From there, I had to sidestep 20 minutes to the cat track at the bottom. When I finally made it, I caught a glimpse of color flashing past. It was the man who’d been drinking wine on the lift, arms raised high, cackling with joy and headed back to the lift for another run.