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Why the Mountains? (Long)

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
So I was driving to work today looking at the mountains getting snow covered, thinking about the upcoming season. I got to thinking about what brought me here. What brought me to Salt Lake City, Utah, a town that is known for being extremely conservative, religious, and different? Why did I choose to leave my family 2000 miles behind after college and move here? I had no friends, no family, and had no idea what I was getting into. My parents wonder all the time what I'm doing out here, when I'm coming back, and why I chose to come in the first place.

It all started when I was 3 years old. My parents bought me my first pair of skis and took me to our new family condo. It was at Schuss Mountain, Michigan, a few hours north from where I am originally from. I took a few lessons and quickly learned that I hated them. I continued skiing up to high school every weekend in the winter. In high school I started racing for my HS team, and got my first taste of 100+ day seasons, even if they were on 300 feet of icy vert in Southeastern Michigan. I had never been "out west" and didn't know what “real” mountain skiing was about. Yet I had pictures all over my room of the big western ski areas. Pictures of Glen Plake, Scott Schmitt, AJ Kitt, and Alberto as well.

My parents never understood, but my sister did. She was the one that I learned my love of skiing from. She had skied the west many times. I loved hearing about her trips to Jackson Hole, Vail, Aspen, Winter Park and many of the western big players. When she tore her rotator cuff in Steamboat a few years later, I remember thinking that it was the end of her skiing. She explained that skiing is only half the reason why you go skiing, there is another part.

When I was a senior in High School I made my first ski trip "out west." I came to Utah. I skied Snowbird and Solitude, I still didn’t know what was up the road. I was in love with the big mountains. I remember saying to my parents when I got back, Utah wouldn't be a bad place to live. They just laughed.

In college I was a member of Michigan State's Spartan Ski Club, and made a 30+ hour bus trip "out west" ever year (except 2nd senior). I skied countless resorts those years, as well as weekend trips "up north" to sleep on my friends cabin's floor so I could ski the Michigan Resorts. I skied as many days as I could.

When I graduated college I didn't send my resume to any company east of Denver. I told my parents that I was not going to live anyplace that didn't have a mountain within a few hours drive. They didn't believe that I was going to move until the moving truck backed up to the house one day and picked up my stuff. Sure I would miss the water, the big lakes, my family, friends, current girlfriend (she was ditched for the mountains), house, job, and all kinds of stuff that I didn't even realize that I was leaving behind.

So I moved to Utah. Got a great job, got laid off, applied to be a cat operator, got another good job and stayed in Utah.

My sister was the first to visit. We skied all over the Wasatch in a few days. It was nice to see family again, for the first in a long time. When she got back, my parents asked her when they could expect me to move "home." My sister simply responded, "Mike is never moving back, Utah is his home now."

When I do go back, I get claustrophobia. Everything seems so close, the people, the houses and cars. Why can’t I see 100 miles I seem to ask myself.

So I ask you, after this long story of my life, what brought you to the mountains? I know that many on this site moved to the mountains from the East, and have never thought of moving back. And what about those of you, who grew up in the mountains, what kept you here? And those of you who live in the flat lands, why do you burn your 2 weeks every year in the mountains? Its easy to explain to skiers, so there should be no problem here, its the nonskiers that never seem to understand.
post #2 of 26
That's a great story, AltaSkier.

It's interesting how some people just *have* to rearrange their lives because of a love of skiing. And if you're seriously in love with skiing (as in passionately, head-over-heels, "turn-his-back-on-his-best-friend-if-he-put-her-down", everlasting kind of love), then at some point you find that big mountains are where you want to be.

My sister (younger by two years) from Iowa was just here over the weekend. On Saturday, we took her for the grand tour. Up LCC to Alta/Snowbird, up American Fork Canyon and over to Aspen Grove and Sundance, up the Uintas to Mirror Lake, over Guardsman Pass to Brighton/Slolitude, back home. The mountains were incredible, the aspens and maples were amazing.

It was her first-ever trip to Utah and she was just blown away. So were we, and we've seen it over and over. Her comment was the same as your sister's... "You're never moving back to Iowa, are you?"


post #3 of 26
I grew up in the flat lands of Missouri. As early as I can remember our family vacations were spent camping in the mountains of Colorado. My parents would pack up the Mustang with the 3 girls and one dog. The dog got a seat; I sat on the hump. For years they pulled around a little pop up trailer and went places it was never intended to go. I relished the 2 weeks of dirt, no showers, playing in freezing cold rivers and streams and beautiful vistas that even as a child I knew were special.

Fast forward some 30 years to my first ski trip to Aspen, I went kicking and screaming. It took just that one short trip to be hooked. A few years later there was an opening in my company in the Denver area. My then boyfriend, now husband, made the leap of faith, (in many ways), as he had never been to Colorado before. He is a born and bred Californian. Packed up the U-Haul and never looked back.

People often ask if we miss the beach. Not really. I cannot imagine what would cause us to live away from the mountains. Our goal is to be able to live in the Mtns full time. For now I am happy that I can see them from here and spend 2-3days a week in the mountains.
post #4 of 26
Nice story Mike, After I got out of The Army in late 1971 I moved to a what was once a small Beach Town north of San Diego. For years my parents back in NJ would ask when I was moving back. My passion then was Surfing. After 10 years or so they stopped asking when I was going to come back to N.J.
Life in a ski resort town really isn't all that diffrent from living in a small Beach Town. For the most part people live here by choice. They love it here becuse they get to play in the Mountains. I could go someplace else and make more money, no matter how much I made,I could never buy the life I have now.
post #5 of 26
I have been flirting with moving to Salt Lake, Reno, Denver to be closer to las montanas but can't seem to give up the nice paychecks of the east coast.

I'm a Microsoft Engineer/Administrator. Anybody have a job for me out there? :
post #6 of 26
I grew up in Sydney & spent a lot of time on beaches there & further north up to Queensland during our annual family holidays. But I got over that - it's mountains where my heart belongs.

When I think of beaches now my first thoughts are the sticky salt in my hair & tightening my skin, sandflies, bluebottles & jellyfish, sand in & seaweed in my swimmers, walking on hot burning sand barefoot & the afternoon wind blowing the sand so it stings & bites. But then I remember the magnificent views of rugged coastal cliffs with the blue waves crashing against them....

Now I realise it was first showing in my appreciation of those cliffs as to where I prefer to be.

Any of you who know any Australian skiers/boarders will know we are envious of the mountains that can be skied on in other countries. The majority of people in other countries aren't aware that we have snow in Oz, let alone a 3 month (used to be 4 month ) resort ski season. But we only have a small amount of mountains that look like "real" mountains. In our alpine areas the mountains viewed from the eastern side of New South Wales (for those in the know - from the Jindabyne side) are quite unimpressive (mountains - what mountains?. It's only from the western side & the alpine areas of Victoria that you get that stirring feeling that mountains excite. (I was in the Vistorian alps last autumn & admit to being rather tearful as I drove away.)

So yes, we Aussies are jealous of the expanse of big mountains that others enjoy. Personally, if I could live anywhere in the world it would be in the mountains of north America. There you have the magnificence of the mountains with amazing trees (to any aussie reading this - I still do love our snow gums ).

So to you guys in Nth America that don't live in the mountains but wish you did - what really is holding you back :

To be in amongst those huge mountains is just breathtaking - enveloping. You guys that live & work there are so fortunate - spare a thought for the rest of us that aren't there....yet.
post #7 of 26
Skimum, I too was bought up in Sydney and spent alot of time on the beach. But at a very early age I discovered skiing and then fell in love with the mountains.

Whilst I find the alpine mountains ranges of Europe and North America unbelieveably beautiful, I wouldn't want to leave our mountains. Majestic they are not but each season they offer a beauty of their own. They cope with the most amazing conditions in the winter including winds that are much stronger than anything I have seen anywhere else in the world,and then the blanket of wild flowers appear in late Spring. Our Snow Gums nust be amongst the toughest trees on this planet! In summer sore feet can be relieved by being soaked in the Snowy. Then Autumn provides the perfect climate for walking.

My love of the mountains drew me to Jindabyne where I lived for a number of years. However ironically I then realised that by moving away from the mountains I could spend more time actually in them! We are about to spend our 16th consecutive weekend there and we will contine to visit almost as often during the summer except of course when we are in the Northern Hemisphere getting our fix of real mountains!
post #8 of 26
Great story Mike.
I moved here to SLC 15 years from eastern Idaho. ( a great winter playgorund as well)
I swore as i grew up there i would never move to Utah, due to how conserve it was. But after a few years i decide, to hell with what the majorty here thinks. I do my own thing, and i have a great time.
My family agrees with me, do with what makes you happy. Granted being a ski bum five months a year, one doesn't get rich, but i'm enjoying life to it's fullest.

Snow at Alta [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ October 01, 2002, 05:06 PM: Message edited by: TR@DV ]
post #9 of 26
Hey, AltaSkier: pbase

In case pix doesn't work:

Remember the sign?
post #10 of 26

Great story and great topic.

"It's not the quantity but the quality." --Sherry Newstead, Ski Bums

(Did you see the movie? I forget from the last time we talked about it. You would love it!)
post #11 of 26
I live in a small beach town in florida with some of the most beautiful beaches in the state as a matter of fact Dr beach voted a beach about 20 miles down the coast # 1 in the world for 2001, I boat & scuba dive 10- 12 months a year spearfishing big grouper & other types of fish catch lobster that range from 8-13 pounds not like the babies they catch in the keys although I generaly make a keys trip in august for the opening of lobster season the best I have ever done was 34 legal lobsters in one dive, we also do a lot of night diving just like night skiing it can be great, unfortunately I love skiing more than my other hobbys but due to family, kids, ect I can't move to the mountains so the best I can do is check out anything to do with skiing thank goodness for epic ski, drool over new gear & squeese every minute of every trip I can make, what would be unreal is if the rockies were in driving distance then I could ski every weekend plus sneek in some weekdays, all that & live on the beach, funny thing is when I am on a ski trip depressed because its the last day & I have to fly back to florida a lot of people volunteer to go in my place.

post #12 of 26
Excellent Topic. Nice to hear the passion of others is so common.

I grew up in Southern California. My dad was born in Canmore, AB and my mom in Calgary. Every summer we would spend 3 weeks camping in interior BC, the Canadian Rockies, and every national park and mountain range in between.
I didn't to learn to ski until age 18 but I already had developed a love of the mountains. When it came time to choose a college my major, Geology, and skiing were the only two things I considered. I narrowed my choices to UC Boulder and University of Nevada Reno. I chose Reno because the skiing was closer and you're always going the opposite direction of the main traffic flow.

I just celebrated my 20th year of living at the base of the Sierra. Every morning I wake up to 10,000 foot peaks. Every season brings a change, you don't get that in Southern California. Almost every weekend is spent in the mountains, boating, biking, hiking, camping, enjoying. I have never regreted my decision and I plan to be here through my retirement. My parents knew from the minute I left that I'd never be back. They followed me 10 years later and they will soon be celebrating 10 years in Reno. The rest of my family is still in So. Cal and I visit every other Christmas. The majority of my parents grandkids are in So. Cal. My dad has had multple opportunities to leave, my mom won't let him.

There's something about cool mornings, blue skies, and snow that just won't let me leave.
post #13 of 26
I grew up in Ireland, where the closest thing we have to skiing is a single artificial slope. I've never seen it.
I decided to move to the US at the age of 24, and my family also asked when I was coming back(never) for at least the first five years.
Once I discovered skiing, I realized that as soon as I have the money to do so, I will spend many, many days a year skiing at various resorts around the world. Friends of mine ski New Zealand and South America when it's summer here, and that's my goal too.
Dave (in NJ, still 85 degrees today, dammit).
post #14 of 26
Hey Kneale,

What year was the Pic of the Schuss ski school taken, 1989? And which one are you in the picture? Not a shaped ski on anyones feet.
post #15 of 26
I too am drawn to the mountains, but would like to split it with time in Leelanau County. So ideally, a home in both places. In Michigan May 15-End of Oct, just after the color season. Election years, the First Wed in Nov. Then we would travel the first two weeks of Nov. ending up in the mountains Thanksgiving- until two or three weeks after Easter depending on whether it is early or late, and how good spring skiing is.

[ October 02, 2002, 02:51 PM: Message edited by: wink ]
post #16 of 26
That reminds me of Ott’s post on passion. Some have it while others just don’t seem to care. Some people love to camp while others wonder why you spend most of your life working to afford a clean home with hot and cold water [img]smile.gif[/img] while looking forward to living in a tent with no amenities. I don’t think I’m passionate about skiing but I can’t think of a better way to spend the day. Life is funny, eh?!
post #17 of 26
Nice post ALtaskier. I am accually in the situation you were in many years ago. I've been skiing for 6 years and have been out west several times...colorado, utah, going to JH in march. I'll graduate from college this coming spring and have basically decided to go to graduate school. After that my plan is to go out west and live for a year before I go to work for real. However, this post makes me think mabye i should just look for a job out west somewhere. I've lived in the east all my life and have an awosme group of frinds and a great family. When i tell them i want to move out there they laugh and say you're crazy. If i don't at least try it i think i will look back down the road and regreat it....i love the outdoors, skiing and just being in the mountains to much to not be fair to myself and give it a try. How is life in saltlake city?? I've heard with all the mormans (no offense to anyone on this board) the socail atmosphere and way of life can be a little wierd. What other ski towns/locatons close to great ski resorts would you guys consider living in

Sorry for the long post

post #18 of 26
Great thread.

I am a month away from finishing university here in Melbourne. I arrive in Park City on November 30. I can't wait. Now that I have finished uni I can see myself spending a long time chasing winter around the world. My Dad understands, he is the only other passionate skier in my family. My Mum thinks I should get a 'real' job. My brother and sister think that I am crazy.

Ever since I began skiing I have always loved being in the mountains. Now that I am free from school or uni and have the freedom to choose where I am going to be there is no doubt as to where I will be.

post #19 of 26
Originally posted by AltaSkier:
So What brought me to Salt Lake City, Utah, a town that is known for being extremely conservative, religious, and different?
Yes, it's fascinating. Big changes for the town by the Wasatch, I think. The really good research there will draw folks...oh yeah there's some skiing too [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] Real estate and cost of living is way better than the Bay Area, but the Bay Area has big culture + big ocean + big snow there, but big growth + big expense.
A few years ago there was an article in the New York Times about living and working in Salt Lake City. My take is that it is a city in transformation. We all like it a lot. And seriously, the work at U Utah (as I have said before) really ranks with the best in the world in computing. (Hey, not all of us can be ski instructors : ).
post #20 of 26
Seth, I think I might just have to disown my kids & adopt you!

My son got his level 3 PSIA during summer vacations from uni here, then went cold on a ski instructing career to sit in front of a computer all day in a very snowy part of Europe. Hasn't had skis on for over a year

Daughter almost has her level 3 but at this stage looks like finishing up at the end of the coming season as boyfriend doesn't have much to do with skiing. (Maybe she'll see the light & get a new one - are you available Seth? )

Well we can't force our dreams on others, can we : . But it's hard when you see an opportunity you would have liked to have yourself had go begging....
post #21 of 26
Do you want me to PM you my phone number? [img]smile.gif[/img]

I could never go out with anyone that doesn't ski (even a boarder would be ok). I have gone out with non-skiers and they just don't get it. The mountains are my church and snow is my religion.

[ October 03, 2002, 04:29 AM: Message edited by: Seth ]
post #22 of 26
Wink, that was the '73-74 Freddie Bissig Clown Suit Ski School at Schuss. I'm second from left with the whiskers AND long hair.
post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Kneale Brownson:
Remember the sign?
Oh, I do remember the sign, the school, wondering what was going to happen when they merged with Shanty Creek, the Ivanhof, the new pool, the new lifts on the backside, the old lifts, when Michigan used to get snow, or what looked like a lot of snow to somebody who was only 3 feet tall!

I'd actually like to get one of those old Schuss symbols in a sticker to put on my ski box if I ever come across one.

Glad to see that I'm not the only person who is drawn to the mountains, and has no reason other than I have my reasons to give to family/friends.
post #24 of 26
Originally posted by AltaSkier:
My parents wonder all the time what I'm doing out here, when I'm coming back, and why I chose to come in the first place.
Seriously, they live in Michigan and have visited you in Utah and still think you'd want to move back? I left my family behind in Michigan like you, and I think they all understand why I like to live in Seattle a lot more than Michigan. But I think some of my friends wonder why I left. If you've lived in Michigan your whole life you don't know what you're missing. Nothing wrong with Michigan, but I think it pales in comparison with what you can find in the west.

Actually my parents are now in the process of moving to San Diego!
I think I'll visit them more there than I did in Michigan.
post #25 of 26
I too, grew up in the midwest (Minnesota)and learned to downhill at the local golf course when I was about 12 years old. I'm sure it was a ploy by my mom to get me out of the house durring the winter.

By the time I was in high school, I dreamed of a ski trip "OUT WEST". People thought I was nuts. I remember going skiing on Super Bowl Sunday (the Vikings were playing!), it was 15 below zero and MORE people thought I was nuts. [img]tongue.gif[/img] I wanted to be a ski bum. Hell, for Minnesota, I WAS a ski bum.

Then came some college, a full time guitar gig and then, wife #1. She wasn't a skier. :

Many years later (no skiing), a job brought us to Denver.
Still no skiing.

Later, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was single. I received a job offer to move to the mountains, so I did. [img]smile.gif[/img]
Still no skiing (lots of fishing, though).

Then I met the future Mrs. Skicrazy. After convincing her that free guitar lessons were a fair trade for a date with me, she suggested "How about we go skiing at Sunlight?" She was an adult learner and I figured I might be able to keep up, even if it had been 20 years.

It took 2 runs, and I has hooked again, beyond my wildest imagation. Where had this gone for most of my adult life? Was it too late?

Hell no!

I now follow my passion. All 5 of our kids ski or board. We work 60 hour weeks durring the summer so we can work 4 "10's" durring the winter. We discuss a winter vacation in a warm climate every year, but end up skiing all over Western North America instead.

People still think I'm nuts.

They're right and I love it.
post #26 of 26
In the past when I have gone on ski holidays to the Northern Hemisphere, I have been amazed at the number of times non-skiers have said to me 'How can you go somewhere so cold during the best part of our summer, : you are missing out on so much?'. I suppose it is hard for them to understand.

To keep things balanced, last month I went on my first summer holiday to the Northern Hemisphere. I had an awesome time, cycling, canoeing and hiking in South West France. I almost did not go because I would miss spring skiing down under. My ski buddies were saying to me 'How can you go during the best part of the ski season?' - I must admit I had my own reservations until I got there.

I moved 4 months ago, so I now only live 90 minutes from the mountains instead of 3.5 hours - I did not move to be closer to the mountains, it was the added bonus as I moved to be further from my ex

I've learnt there is more to life than skiing but it is definitely still my number one passion. And the only other people who can understand are skiers.
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