Ski bumoligy....stories from 42 years in the business of skiing as many days places and conditions as I could.
Photo credit: John Atkinson
#1 meeting mentors
If you have been lucky enough to have been paying attention when a mentor popped into your life, and you took the time to learn what was to be taught, you will like this story.
In the fall of 1977 my buddies and I had a nightly routine when our local area was making snow. We would climb up each night and move the snow guns to make snow where we wanted it. We knew their schedule and could hang out after our repositioning for several hours before the crew would return, scratch their heads and put the snow guns back where they wanted them. We could then reposition them one more time as we headed down the mountain and got rest for the next day.
When the opening day finally came we were at the top waiting to ski down long before anyone had started to wait in the growing lift line we could see below. It had snowed quite a bit but we knew where there was a good base of man made snow under the layer of powder from the night before. As the first riders were cresting the knoll near the top we pushed out from our perch in the woods and skied top to bottom non stop. At the bottom instead of getting in line we headed of to another section of the ski area that was not open yet and proceeded to climb to the top of that peak.
We waited patiently once again while the mountain crew got this lift shoveled out, tested and open to the public. When it finally opened and the first riders were approaching the top, we once again popped out onto the lift line and skied it to the bottom. Little did we know that there was a skier who had waited in both lines and was on both first chairs that morning. Nor did we know it would be his mission to seek us out and ski with us.
When Dennis came up and introduced himself to my group of diehard ski bums later that morning, my buddy Tim was just finishing up his “ trade for today’s lift ticket” which was shoveling of a big cement patio that would be filled with excited skiers celebrating after some great powder runs later that day.
He was a great fit and brought a ton of enthusiasm to our group so at the end of the year when he said “ it's spring and the snow is melting here in the east but there is still a bunch out west! Let’s got out west and ski there!”
I replied “I make $30/week and room and board there is no way I can go with you.”
Dennis replies "I own a farm and you can work off your debt when we get back, I know I will get my monies worth out of you.”
Off we went and boy did we see the west! From Jackson Hole and Snowbird to heli skiing, Dennis showed me a whole new world, a world that took (his) cash! I knew working this debt off was worth it.
When we returned from our trip Dennis tossed me a set of keys to a brand new tractor trailer truck and told me to go practice driving it! At 20 years old and ready to travel, driving a big rig to farms and produce outlets all over the east coast sounded just fine to me!
Over the next 5 years the mentorship in hard work and good values and friendship that Dennis and his family showed me, were etched into my being for a lifetime!
The experience of the open road and traveling to farms and produce centers along with navigating so many different ways of the people I met from drivers and dock workers and family farms, helped me navigate world travels down the road. These years also meant winters off and therefore quite conducive to skiing everyday and the means to figure out how to budget for the winter ahead.
Had I not taken risks and opened my friendship to this mentor of mine, I wonder how would life be different today.
Listen each day to all your surroundings, life has turns, make them your own, Eganbrutha