33 degrees below zero at 8:00 this morning in Silverthorne, Colorado--don't know how low the mercury went in the depths of darkness overnight. I'm wearing a thermal undershirt, wool turtleneck, fleece turtleneck, heavy wool sweater, fleece vest, and softshell fleece jacket--beneath my insulated parka, feeling like the 7-Layer Burrito I surely resemble. But it's bright and sunny, and so far at least, the air is still with columns of frozen smoke and steam hanging vertical above every chimney.
Not a single person showed up for ski lessons this morning, so I went out for a few runs with Rachel from the rental shop, who had hoped to jump into a lesson. We may have been the only ones on the mountain, and it was incredible! She wanted to work on "carving," and there couldn't have been a better choice on the firm groomed cold corduroy that was all but abandoned for a change.
You've got to love weather if you really love skiing. If you dress right and prepare mentally for it, you will enjoy experiences that very, very few people on the planet will ever see. The crisp, bright cold today reminded me, ironically, of the pouring rain we had on the last afternoon of the EpicSki Academy in Stowe last December. Again, we were about the only people left on the mountain, and it took on a surreal tone. The snow was awesome, and as long as you didn't mind wringing out your gloves now and then, it was an incredible experience that most people missed.
Of course, I'd once forgotten how tough those New Englanders are. Seven or eight years ago, I led a clinic for Stowe instructors on a morning when it was something like 20 degrees below zero. At the top of the Mansfield Quad, the flag on the Octagon Lodge stood straight out and rigid in the wind. Being from Colorado, I was expecting half of the instructors there to suggest that we go inside for a hot chocolate, but no one said a word. The only inkling I had that anyone else even noticed that it was "chilly" was that when a particularly large gust of wind nearly blew the flag right off its mast, one of the instructors turned his back to it and zipped up his pit zips. Hard to believe, I thought, that I grew up in northern Maine and was once used to skiing and playing hockey outdoors in minus-40 degree temperatures, at night!
Dress warm. Cover exposed skin. Wear boot gloves. Duck inside by a fire when you need to. Enjoy!
As Weems says, "only two kinds of people get cold: poor people, and stupid people." (And my father points out that not all poor people get cold.)