High Attitude

ThE view :  top of Gunner’s View ski run on Snowmass Mountain. A long, sweeping, interactive ski run built for speed AND curves. It’s my favorite.

My body hates high altitude, hates it. This old temple tries to seek vengeance on me for subjecting it to the horrors of thin, dry air. Gastro issues, headaches, dizziness and not to mention the dried-up nostrils, broken fingernails and flaky skin.

Traveling to high altitude wrecks me every single time. And still, at every single opportunity ~ I put my body through the rigors of low oxygen.

Why? There is hardly a way to explain the peace and freedom that comes from standing on a mountain and being able to see little other than mountains all around. Standing that high, you may only hear the occasional soft shoosh of skis floating past you.

There might be an excited squeal from a youthful snowboarder or child-like old skier. I’ve yelped with delight on a ski slope before…and not at all ashamed to admit it.

Gladly, the most recent ‘wooooohooo’ was just a couple days ago on Gunner’s View at Snowmass , a mountain that stole my heart a little when I first skied there in 2016. I fell head over heels on my second trip there…and developed a good-sized crush on Buttermilk Mountain too.

Skiing is a process.

The gear, the clothes, the technical fabrics and comfort you must create with them. Then it’s a particular process of getting dressed. The socks, the base layer pants, heat pads stuck to tummies for the cold-natured. Then you add layers, gloves, goggles, maybe more warmers and the all-important helmet. At last, the boots. Oh, the boots. Heavy, awkward, lots of buckles, like plastic Iron Maidens. In high altitude, even getting dressed to ski is hard work.

Skiing has its own language.

  • POW, freshies, dump~ however you say it, new natural snow is coveted.
  • Fresh tracks, corduroy, groomers~ freshly manicured snow that skis so very smoothly, it’s like sliding over silk.
  • Bluebird day is a gorgeous, clear day by any standards. But the blue is bluer in high altitude and those are the days’ skiers crave.  With fresh POW, of course.

Skiing is a feeling.

With all that gear on, you finish the trek to the snow and that first boot clicks into the ski binding, you feel the anticipation of what your first run will mean to you. Then the second boot clicks in. That always elicits a long, deep breath ~ inhaling as much of the scenery as I can, followed by an exhalation of every care I had. Then, there’s only the feeling of freedom on that first downhill slide.

Skiing is a dance.

It’s a give and take with the mountain. The mountain may let you lead for a few minutes, but it will always win and never, ever gloats. It won my heart many years ago and we dance as often as possible.

I’m freshly home from Snowmass, Colorado, armed with a blog, and still will never be able to fully describe the ‘altitude adjustment’ I get.

Standing on a mountain reminds me how truly small I am. In that place of smallness, I find gratitude in enjoying His work, especially from right in the middle of His art. Psalms 76:4 laments: You are glorious and more majestic than the everlasting mountains.  He made them, and He outshines them still. Mountains are dear to my heart as they provide all the best beauty, grace… and peace.

Warning: Dancing with mountains can cause massive perspective changes. 

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