[Article] Freedom of the Mountain

 

During a family holiday last week to the Three Valleys region of the French Alps for some skiing1, I came to see that I enjoy a privilege I call the freedom of the mountain.

In black skiwear, Dan looks into the camera from a bench in the snow, his skis upright behind him.
“Mornin’. Let’s go skiing.”

The Freedom

The freedom of the mountain is a privilege that comes from having the level of experience necessary to take on virtually any run a resort has to offer. It provides a handful of benefits denied to less-confident skiers:

  • I usually don’t feed to look at a map to plan my next route; whichever way I go will be fine!
  • When I reach one or more lifts, I can choose which to take based on the length of their queue, rather than considering their destinations.
  • When faced with a choice of pistes (or an off-piste route), my choice can be based on my mood, how crowded they are, etc., rather than their rated difficulty.
A snow-covered Alpine glacier sandwiched into a gully of exposed rocks.
Let’s tear this up, yo.

The downside is that I’m less well-equipped to consider the needs of others! Out skiing with Ruth one morning I suggested a route back into town that “felt easy” based on my previous runs, only to have her tell me that – according to the map – it probably wasn’t!

Approaching the Peak

The kids spent the week in lessons. It’s paying off: they’re both improving fast, and the eldest has got all the essentials down and it’s working on improving her parallel turns and on “reading the mountain”. It’s absolutely possible that the eldest, and perhaps both of them, will be a better skier than me someday2.

I’m not perfect, mind. While skiing backwards and filming, I misjudged the height of an arch and hit the back of the head with it… despite the child shouting to warn me! πŸ˜…

Maybe, as part of my effort to do what I’m bad at, I should have another go at learning to snowboard. I always found snowboarding frustrating because everything I needed to re-learn was something that I could already do much better and easier on skis. But perhaps if I can reframe that frustration through the lens of learning itself as the destination, I might be in a better place. One to consider for next time I hit the piste.

Footnotes

1 Also a little geocaching and some mountainside Where’s Wally?

2 Assuming snow is still a thing in ten years time.

Articles – Dan Q

19 Feb 2024 at 20:13



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