Who ARE those guys?
We were deep into Blue Sky Basin, his mother and Felice had skied down to Tea Cup, Wyatt said he was tired, but Don convinced him to take a ride on Pete’s Express to ski Grand Review.
Actually, that’s flat in Wyatt’s world. Although only nine, he was begging to ski Highline, Vail’s signature bump run, he raved about skiing Dragon’s Teeth, with its EX warning, the only slopes he said he had not been down were the Frontside Chutes, because they’re rarely open.
Not that Wyatt was always this good. His parents invested in lessons to bring him up to speed with his peers. Learning on your own is so tough, I learned to ski via classes, I’m still using the skills I learned in summer ski camp.
But I didn’t start until I was ten.
So we’re riding Pete’s and it’s cold. The safety bar is down, that’s something they teach youngsters that oldsters ignore. And when we got off the lift, Don told Wyatt to lead the way, to show me his turns, but Wyatt protested that Don wasn’t ready.
Don’s a snowboarder. I made Wyatt promise he would never become one. They’re famous for sitting in the snow and strapping into their gear. And rolling their eyes when they come to flats. And my biggest complaint is that they can’t see behind them, and get agitated when you tell them you’re on their blind side. Furthermore, snowboarders are mostly Gen-X’ers, as in old, and attitude is a bit long in the tooth for these guys.
But I was afraid Wyatt wouldn’t know which way to go. So I said I’d lead until we hit the fork.
And when we did, Wyatt complained he didn’t know which way to go. You see Grand Review is laden with trees, the path is not obvious.
Now I don’t have any kids, never had the inkling until back in 1990, when I was riding the lift with my nephew Andrew at Snow Summit. We were only about six feet off the ground, but he was excited. The same way when he got mini-air over mini-bumps. Seeing the sport through his eyes inspired me.
But I was not inspired to get out early today, because it was in the single digits. Believe me, I’ll get out there, in any temperature, but the colder it is, the longer I linger, waiting for it to warm up.
But Don texted and said it was tolerable. So I suited up and rode the gondola to find not only Don and Jenny, but Wyatt in his orange Spyder suit. With his Salomon skis and his Rossi boots. I’d asked him the night before the brand of the skis he had, but he didn’t know. Oldsters are into equipment, it appears youngsters are not.
And just as we were getting to the Back Bowls, Don informed me Wyatt had to eat.
This didn’t make sense to me, we’d only been out there for an hour, I’d given him most of my Balance Bar… But it appears young kids don’t suck it up, they need to be fed on time.
This is after Wyatt and I rode up Chair 14 with a young girl and her father. The father, a banker from San Diego, was voluble and thrilled we were both there with youngsters. But Wyatt couldn’t get over the fact that Claire was meek and short and was in the fifth grade when he was only in third! He kept mentioning it during the day. Kids have their own social hierarchy, actually, thinking back, it’s worse than that of adults.
So after we stopped at Two Elk to pee and feed Wyatt pizza and chips, we ventured to China Bowl, and then Siberia. And then we convinced Felice to go to Blue Sky, which is not easy.
Ultimately, the group broke up, Felice and Jenny back to Two Elk and us guys up Pete’s to Grand Review. But it turned out the women didn’t stop in Two Elk, when we got there at 2:45 they were nowhere to be found. Still, Wyatt needed the break, to warm his feet. I told him my dogs felt the same way too. This is when he also informed me, as we were drinking hot chocolate, that those slices of pizza earlier were just a snack, on a normal day he’d eat TWO pizzas! But this was not a normal day, we were skiing 20,000 vertical feet.
So with Wyatt flummoxed at the top of Grand Review, I decided to lead.
Now like I said, it’s inundated with trees, you make your own route. And it’s just long enough to be too long for most people, everybody stops. But not me. Then again, should I? To give “tired” Wyatt a break?
And what route should I take? Should I be worried about skiing between tight trees? Would I be responsible if he hit one, they’re very unforgiving, usually you die, would his parents ever forgive me, would I ever get over it?
Then again, I didn’t tell Wyatt to follow me.
And I threw in more turns than usual. And I crossed the slope a bit. Figuring if Wyatt was following me, I’d give him a fighting chance.
But when I didn’t stop and I was cruising quickly, I figured there was no way he’d be behind me. I didn’t look, because that’s a route to disaster, skiing demands total focus, or you fall.
But I’m zipping by everybody else on the slope. The snow is good, but there are some firm spots. And my feet are frozen but I’m digging it, I don’t want to sacrifice, that’s one of the reasons I didn’t have kids to begin with. I didn’t want to stop and wait, I was enjoying testing the limits.
And when I got to the catwalk, which Wyatt refers to as “Flat Jacks,” I stopped, exhaled and…
Wyatt was right there behind me.