The Casual Blog

Tag: Telluride

Bluebird skiing in Telluride, a brief briefing, and reading The Second Machine Age

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Last week Sally and I joined Gabe and several friends in Telluride, Colorado, for a few days of skiing, eating, and talking. When I describe Telluride, I always mention how beautiful it is, but when I got there, I realized I’d forgotten how massive and magnificent the mountains are. The craggy alpine vistas surround you, regal and timeless. And the town itself has a friendly, unassuming charm. I tried to capture some of these feelings, but was uncomfortable taking my D7100 onto the slopes, and so used my little Canon point-and-shoot up there.
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Telluride has a lot of challenging terrain, and the question always is, can you handle it? Gabe Tiller has been living here five years, and he can answer that question with a yes. On our first day, he took me down a double black diamond mogul run called spiral stairs, which, once we were committed, he told me was “really steep.” He wasn’t kidding! He also led me into a tree run called Log Pile. These were pressing the outer edge of the envelope for me. Getting through in one piece was a great happiness!
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Moguls — aka bumps, or areas of irregular snow that form in steep areas — are terrifying for beginners, frustrating for intermediates, and challenging in varying degrees for those more advanced. If you want to ski the steep wild places, you just need to figure out moguls, and there’s no simple solution. It’s like three-dimensional chess – or make that speed chess. We complimented Gabe on how smooth and strong he looked in the tough mogul runs, and he noted, with admirably humility, that it only took him five years of work.

There is no way I’ll ever reach Gabe’s level, but I got a bit stronger and more stylish this week. I averaged three falls a day, which I take as an indicator that I’m still pushing my limits and improving. I also found new joy in the gladed runs – basically moguls with trees. These require creativity and intense concentration. We did on called Captain Jack’s, which Gabe told me would get “kind of loggy.” Indeed. I had only one scary crash, after I saw Gabe flash by doing hyperspeed turns, and was inspired to give chase. I made the first three turns, but missed the fourth and ran into a tree. I did some minor damage to my left shoulder, but I think it will heal up OK. My worst injury was sunburn on my lips. I got everything except the lips protected with sunblock – a rookie mistake.
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Our four ski days were all remarkably clear and sunny, with pleasant ski temperatures in the mid-30s. The snow was generally good – not too hard and not too soft – Goldilocks snow. Of course, it’s always a treat to get fresh light powder, but if it doesn’t happen, I’ll take bluebird days and Goldilocks. We were on the lifts almost as soon as they opened at nine and went at it hard until 3:30 or so. Then hot tub, relaxing, cocktails, and dinner. We particularly enjoyed eating at the Telluride Bistro, Siam, 221, and Hongas.
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I had one important work project: an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. The case involves a patent concerning financial intermediation, and presents the question of when software is patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. Section 101. I’ve thought about the paradox of software patents for a long time: how a system meant to foster innovation ends up hindering it. I was happy to take on the out-of-ordinary-course assignment of writing the brief myself, but the due date fell in the middle of the ski trip. With hard work, I got most of the writing done before the trip, and while my colleagues took care of cite checking and filing mechanics, I took responsibility for the needless worrying. In the end, I was reasonably happy with the brief, which I hope will help move the debate in the right direction. It can be downloaded here.
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For leisure reading, I made it most of the way through Brynjolfsson & McAfee’s new book , The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. Their subject is how robots and automation are dramatically changing the world. Technology tends to provide more and more extraordinary wealth for the lucky few and the risk of redundancy for the rest. It’s a good introduction to the subject. They explain with clarity and verve why technological change is accelerating, point up examples of the disruptive technologies just starting to take over human work, and play out some of the economic implications.

They seem determined to be optimistic about the future, with examples of how humans and machines can each complement the other. I didn’t think some of their policy prescriptions (e.g. improved education, improve infrastructure, immigration reform, IP reform ) matched up very well with the long-term risks they identified (that is, machines becoming better than humans at almost everything and destroying the labor market). They give some weight to the idea of a guaranteed basic income, which would serve the purpose of preventing mass starvation, but they worry that it might result in dysfunctional communities. The identify employment as a social good, and like the idea of a negative income tax, because it would subsidize and encourage employment. This seems worth thinking about.

Twenty-seven, headed down hill fast, and a note on healthy eating

Gabe Tiller at Telluride (February 9, 2011)

Gabe turned twenty-seven this week. I called to wish him a happy birthday, and felt more than usually happy myself. How wonderful to be twenty-seven! Particularly if you’re healthy, bright, athletic, good-looking, agreeable, upstanding, and employed, what could be more wonderful? Of course, that’s leaving aside all fears, insecurities, and uncertainties, of which there could be any number. But still, how marvelous to have traversed the perils of childhood and the agonies of adolescence, and stand no longer on the verge of adulthood, but actually there, strong, in your prime.

I told Gabe that it’s all down hill from here, but I was kidding. His first twenty-seven are, of course, my last twenty-seven, and I have to say that in many ways I feel healthier, more energetic, and happier than when he was born. How stressful it was to be a new parent. Also to be a grizzled veteran parent. And now, all that stress is gone! After all those years of parental anxiety and self-doubt, now he inspires me.

The picture above (which is Sally’s screen saver) reminds me of some of our skiing together the last couple of years. Even more vivid is his first POV ski video made at Telluride last March, which is exciting but I’m sure not nearly as hair-raising as the reality (such as that narrow chute). Seeing these images reminds me that I need to stay in really good shape so we can share more adventures next winter. As I mentioned to him this week, I’m thinking we should try heli-skiing (accessing backcountry powder by helicopter). He was definitely up for it.

The possibility of new adventures helps keep me focused with my continuing project to take good care of myself and eat healthy as much as reasonably possible. I’m trying to approach everyday eating in the spirit of doing a good, nourishing thing for my body — an act of kindness to my physical self. I’m steering clear of junk food, fast food, soda, and most processed food. It’s going pretty well.

Most days for breakfast I make a smoothie with dark green leafy plants (such as spinach, kale, collards, swiss chard, dandelion greens, etc.) and fruit (such as bananas and strawberries, or, this week, fresh pineapple and blueberries). In fact, I recently wore out our blender pitcher, which started leaking just outside the one-year warranty. Here’s a shout out to the good folks at Kitchen Aid, who did the right thing and agreed to replace it anyway! My smoothies are different every day and are mostly tasty (though sometimes less so — the mustard greens did not work for me) and always very green.

I’ve organized a system for addressing hunger pangs with healthy snacks such as unsalted cashews and almonds, apples, bananas, oranges, low-fat soy yogurt, and celery with peanut butter. For lunch, I typically have something like a microwave vegetarian Indian meal (Amy’s organic is good). And most nights Sally cooks a delicious vegetarian dinner, which just this week including Thai noodles with tofu (with whole wheat noodles) and Mom’s zucchini pie. She and I have gotten in the habit of having smaller portions. So my diet is mostly organic plant food of many types. I enjoy it very much.

Technology, new art forms, food, and ballet

I’m fortunate to have a ring side seat as information technology is transforming the world, but it doesn’t always look pretty. It makes me wonder, at times, whether, as machines get smarter, humans on average are becoming more and more like the race depicted in the wonderful animated picture Wall-E: fatter, lazier, and dumber. But I haven’t given up all hope, and there are some signs pointing the other direction.

A case in point: this week when my son Gabe (pictured here at Alta last week) sent along his first self-produced short video, which is here. He shot it with a tiny body cam over the course of 3 days skiing in Telluride, CO. The finished product reminded me strongly of some of the beautiful skiing we did together. It’s hard to describe the complex sensations and emotions of skiing far from away from the crowd when its steep and deep, but Gabe managed to convey some of it. The flamenco score heightens the sense of edginess — wild joy with stabs of fear.

Good skiing sometimes seems like art, almost like dance, but the work is seldom shared with other humans by the skier-creator. Until recently, filming the experience was a costly and difficult undertaking. In the past couple of years, though, video cameras have gotten much cheaper as well as tinier, and easier to use, and the software for recording and editing has become highly accessible. The tools for communicating the work instantly and almost cost-free over the internet now exist. The learning curve for use of all this technology is short. And so a new class of artist is being born — the skier-auteur. Technology advances are likewise enabling new types of musical expression, and undoubtedly many other artistic expressions. Perhaps the day will come when everyone will be an artist.

Is food art? I argued about this years ago with my friend Tom, a gourmand who took a strong position that great chefs were artists. Over the years, I’ve moved closer to his position. A great restaurant is a multi-media experience, with sets, lighting, sound, and actors, and also smells and tastes.

Last night Sally and I tried a new Thai restaurant off of Moore Square — Fai Thai. It has replaced the Duck & Dumpling, an Asian fusion spot that was one of our favorites, and that we were sad to see close. The emphasis is less on standard Thai fare than on local ingredients and variety. The decor changes involved colorful parasols and lanterns, which were engaging. The menu had fewer vegetarian options than we hoped, but enough to get started. We found the three dishes we tried each quite different and delicious. The spiciness hit the Goldilocks point — not too much, not too little. Our waiter was friendly and attentive, and the manager took some time to talk to us about the aspirations of the place. He appeared to take on board our suggestions for more attention to vegetarians. Thai food fans should try it.

After dinner, we saw the Carolina Ballet perform Carmen. This is the third time we’ve seen the company do Weiss’s ballet, which is one of our favorites in the repertory. Bizet’s music is unforgettable, and the story is sort of perfect for ballet — love, jealousy, death. For all my admiration of Peggy Severin-Hansen’s great talent, I had my doubts about her as Carmen, who is a sensual, cynical heartbreaker. Peggy’s long suit is purity and innocence — the perfect Firebird. Her Carmen was sweeter than normal, not completely cynical, but this turned out to give the tragedy a new bit of bite — more tragic in a way. Richard Krusch as the Toreador was highly serious, and convincing. He’s a fine dancer who keeps getting better. As always, the story ended with a violent shock, but the production was wonderful.

Ups and downs in Telluride

My life is full of technology and intense mental activity, and I’m glad of it, but from time to time I crave an interlude of pure natural beauty and physical activity. And so for a long President’s Day weekend, we skied Telluride, Colorado, where the San Juan mountains look something like the Alps — jagged and imposing, yet peaceful in a way.

Set a human body sliding down the snowy slopes, and interesting things happen. Exhilaration at the speed, microbursts of fear, quick happy recoveries, or minor disasters. I had my most dramatic fall on Bushwacker, reportedly the steepest groomed run in America, where I’d got off the groomed terrain and into the bumps. Tips crossed, I launched over the top of my skis, which came off the boots as designed, but rather than stopping I then found myself sliding fast downhill headfirst and accelerating. I eventually managed to flip over, spin around, and dig my boot heels into the snow to brake. By this time, one ski was 200 yards below me and one pole was 50 yards above (a classic yard sale). I am always happy to rely on the kindness of strangers, and gratefully accepted assistance of one who picked up my pole and another who helped me resituate on one ski. Then I lowered myself inelegantly down the slope to retrieve the other.

A couple of my colleagues at Red Hat have written about failing fast and often as a means to success, which in skiing translates as falling fast and often. It entails some moments of embarrassment. But by golly, I’ve really improved this year. I took on steep, deep powder runs, glades, and double black moguls, as well as carving on high-speed cruisers, all with great joy (and occasional terror).

We had fresh snow falling our first day and night, and a classic powder day the second day. I insisted that our group (Sally, Charles, Chuck, and later David and Kimberlie) move out early to try for first tracks. We found lots of beautiful light snow and varied terrain. Those first two days I stayed well within my comfort zone and had great fun. Each night we ate in good restaurants, (Excelsior, Rustico, Honga’s, and Siam), and one night had delicious pizza served by my sweet Jocelyn at the Brown Dog. The group included old familiar friends and lively new ones, and there was good conversation and laughter.

On day three the skies had cleared, and Gabe and Lindsey, who live in Telluride, had days off and came out to play. They knew the mountains well, and managed to locate pockets of non-skied-out powder. For the first time I felt reasonably comfortable on steep gladed runs. I was inspired by their beautiful skiing, and proud that I could more or less keep up with them. Riding up the long chair lifts, we caught up on things in general, considered the state of the world, and got to be better friends.

Watson, human games, and the twilight of the gods

Sally and I flew out to Telluride, CO yesterday for a late winter ski adventure. On the flight from Raleigh were our good friend Charles and Chuck, and we looked forward to meeting up with Gabe and Jocelyn. The flights took off on time and progressed in an orderly way. I made some progress getting through back issues of The New Yorker, Scientific American and Golf Digest, listened to Mozart and Debussy. And as often happens when I travel at 35,000 feet, I found myself in a contemplative mood. As Garrison Keillor says of his private eye character: one man’s still trying to find the answer to life’s eternal questions.

What is the meaning of play? When humans have taken care of the essentials — food, clothing, shelter, sex — it is a large part of what they do. I suspect the same is true of all animals, based on the birds, squirrels, fish, cats, dogs, and other creatures I’ve observed. They all love to play. Children love to play. Put a random group of four-year olds together and a game will almost always develop.

The games people play vary widely according to their age, traditions, fitness, intelligence, financial resources, and moxy. Some like skiing, some prefer bowing. Some go for chess, and others like checkers. The arts are unquestionably a form of play; we even refer to musical activity as playing music. A lot of our verbal activity has little to do with survival and qualifies as mostly play.

Smarter-than-normal people tend to like games requiring a good memory and a quick tongue, and to view success in those games as a badge of honor. Before this week, we mostly felt confident that, whatever our weaknesses and failings, we were superior to all other known beings at such activities. After Watson’s triumphant performance at Jeopardy this week, that’s over.

I didn’t see the entire three Jeopardy sessions, but I saw enough to get the idea. The gifted engineers at IBM have taken artificial intelligence to a whole new level. (By the way, congratulations, guys.) Watson has incredible facility with language and memory. The humans never had a chance. I was reminded of the song about John Henry, the great swinger of the hammer, who drove himself to death but couldn’t beat the machine. (Bruce Springstein does a great high-energy version of the song.). Admittedly, Watson’s abilities don’t extend to the entire range of human intelligence. For example, it isn’t good at creative reasoning — yet. But the day when it will be considered hopelessly romantic to think that humans could be more intelligent than machines is well within view.

So where does that leave us as a species? Consciously or subconsciously, we justify a lot of atrocities on the theory that we’re superior as a species to all others, Could Watson make us just a bit more humble? Could it inspire a bit of self-examination? If intelligence isn’t our greatest achievement, if compared to our computers we’re not really very bright, perhaps we’ll come to view our most important defining characteristics as other human qualities, like love and kindness. What if we consciously cultivated those qualities?

New Year’s skiing in Telluride

To ring out the old year, I flew to Telluride CO to see Gabe and Jocelyn and do some skiing. Sally could not be persuaded to go; she said it was too much travel for her after our Bonaire trip. It was in fact a tough journey, with multiple cancelled or delayed flights, and ended up taking 22 hours. I got my wish for heavy snow (so much so that I worried whether we’d make a landing in Colorado), and the mountains were well covered with a 49-inch base when I arrived. I slept for 3 hours, and then got up in hopes of getting first tracks with Gabe and his girlfriend Lindsey.

It was still snowing lightly that morning as I went out to find some rental skis. I found my way to Bob at the Boot Doctor, who seemed to know everything about skis and proposed several options. I wanted to try a hybrid rocker all mountain ski, and Bob set me up with K2 Aftershocks. I ended up liking them a lot. They turned easily and handled well in the heavy stuff.

Gabe and Lindsey made the considerable sacrifice of missing a couple of early runs while I completed my preparations, and were of good cheer when we met at the gondola in Mountain Village. I had not met Lindsey before, and had a little trouble spotting Gabe, because he and most everyone else had covered up their faces against the brutal cold. The reported high for the day was 9, but I’d wager it never reached 0 on the mountain. Lindsey, who’d experienced plenty of cold days skiing in her native New Hampshire, got the shivers after the first couple of runs. We took a hot chocolate break at Giuseppe’s, and she decided to head home.

Plenty of others made the same reasonable decision — which left the mountain largely unpopulated for us diehards. I reminded Gabe that it was my first day going from 300 feet above sea level to 12,000 or so, and my first day of the season on skis. He acknowledged these challenges and proceeded to take me down some of the toughest double-black terrain on the mountain. I suspect he wanted to show off his new skiing prowess, and I was impressed with his accomplishments, as a proud parent should be. I held my own for a few runs, but leg fatigue eventually caught up with me. We skied the last part of the day mostly on groomers.

That evening to celebrate New Year’s, I took Gabe, Lindsey, and Jocelyn to Excelsior’s, an Italian restaurant. It turned out that Lindsey had worked there as a server and knew everyone. We got the royal treatment.

The next morning I felt like I’d gone 16 rounds with the champ — sore from top to bottom. I took a megadose of Advil and headed to my ski lesson with some doubts as to my ability to make it through. Once again, the cold was harsh. But my soreness somehow abated once I got to the top of the mountain. My teacher, Jim Schwartz, was an affable guy of roughly my vintage with a lot of teaching experience. He had some interesting ideas that were new to me, such as focusing on the little toe. We spent the last part of the lesson working on mogul technique. I skied by myself in the afternoon with new confidence and joy.

During one lift ride, Jim opined that people skied for 3 main reasons. Some are excitement junkies that are only happy if they can scare themselves on steep rugged terrain. Others love the alpine beauty. Still others love the kinetic fun of dodging and swooping at speed in a kind of dance. I thought he was generally right. However, I’d add that it’s possible to cross categories. For me, the pleasure is some of all three — excitement, beauty, and grace.

Lost and found

It is such a bummer to find after you’ve checked out of a hotel that you’ve left something significant behind. Earlier this week when I was in New York I left my copy of Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart at the hotel. I liked his book Absurdistan, and I liked this one even better. It’s funny as well as sad. A fortyish hipster falls absurdly in love with a twentyish college grad in a not-far-in-the-future-world where corporations have pretty much taken over governmental functions, people are tightly tethered to their electronic devices, and reading literature is a sign of decrepitude.

I had about 60 pages of Shteyngart’s book left, which I’d planned to finish on the flight home. It doesn’t make sense to buy a new copy. I can live without the ending — I think. Still, after being deep in Shteyngart’s dystopia, I’ve got this sensation of interruptus.

I heard from Gabe that a lot of snow is falling in Telluride, which is vital news, since I’ll be skiing there in a couple of weeks. It will be my first chance to meet his girlfriend, who has gotten rave reviews. They recently decided to move in together, so things are moving along. It could be serious.

Relationships are always changing, though they do so at widely varying speeds. How they work is mostly invisible, which is one of the reasons we still need good fiction: it sometimes brings that hidden interpersonal world to light. I feel so lucky to have a really good marriage, but for a variety of reasons I am not inclined to delve into the details. I think the need for privacy is often exaggerated, but there are some things that lose their essential nature if they aren’t kept safely out of sight. And a strong, loving relationship is the most valuable thing in the world.

There was a really interesting essay last Sunday in the NY Times style section about what happens when one spouse cheats on another. http://tiny.cc/bquj8 The essay by Wendy Plump posits that misery will be created in a highly predictable way. The cheating spouse will be pulled back and forth between two worlds, of responsibility and pleasure, in a way that causes him or her extreme stress and discontentment in both worlds. The other spouse will eventually find out and feel traumatized. The cheating spouse will make true-but-hackneyed excuses (about needs not being met, losing the spark, and the like). The net is a destruction of trust and quite possibly the end of a relationship. The predictability of this course of events is hard to prove, but the essay gives personal examples that resonate.

The importance of honesty and commitment in relationships is something everybody knows, but the same may be said of the importance of eating healthy food. We all know a good deal about what’s healthy and not, but just knowing is not enough to affect our behavior. We need the ideas to become more concrete and vivid. I think I’d arrived at most of the ideas in Wendy Plump’s essay, but I’m glad she organized it in an interesting, touching way and made me keep thinking about them.

We won the lottery, ate, and were transformed by the ballet

I was terribly embarrassed to forget about lunch on Wednesday with my good friend Jay B.  After dealing with a series of absorbing if not gut wrenching legal puzzles through that morning, I paused around 12:15 to check the headlines in the NYT.  At that moment Jay called to ask where I was. I remembered instantly that I was supposed to be with him at noon at the Remedy Diner.  I also remembered I had put the meeting on my electronic calendar when we scheduled it, but somehow it was not on the calendar now.  After fifteen minutes of rushing and apologizing profusely, I was in my seat at the Remedy and catching up with Jay.

It’s always fun to hear about Jay’s doings, but he had a particularly fascinating story this time:  he had arrived in Haiti on January 12 five hours before it was hit by the mother of all earthquakes.  He and daughter Kate were there to do some charitable work in a village some distance from Port au Prince, and got close up view of the incredible devastation heaped on a country already unimaginably poor and broken.  The contrast between the Haitian experience and ours is indescribable.  As I said to Jay, everyone in this country has won a huge lottery prize just by being born here.

But we can’t either celebrate or feel guilty all the time, and we get on with the challenges of our daily lives.  My work Friday was a series of intense meetings with lawyers from all over the country interested in doing business with Red Hat, punctuated by numerous phone calls, emails, and pop-in office questions.  It was almost nonstop activity, but I did manage to take a call from sweet Jocelyn.  She was thrilled with her first powder skiing experience at Telluride, and feeling excited about her increasing skill as a skier.  She also told me about hanging out in a Telluride bar with Ed Helms, a successful actor in The Office.  As I told her, I’d knew from the Oberlin magazine he went to Oberlin, and she confirmed that fact.  Indeed, she told him I went there, too!  It sounded like he was very friendly and quite taken with her but did not attempt anything ungentlemanly.

That night Sally and I ate at Bu.ku, a new restaurant that replaced Fins.  We had liked the food at Fins, but found the place a bit formal and cold.  Bu.ku is warm and interesting, based on the theme of street food from around the world.  The service was very good (thanks, Turner!), and so was the masaman curry.  We’ll go back.

We saw the Carolina Ballet do a Weiss’s Cinderella and several short Balanchine works.  I didn’t love everything equally, but forget the nits.  I still found the experience transporting.  After many hours of computer interactions, talking, and thinking about business and legal problems, the dancers and the dance opened doors to another world — a human world.  They use a vocabulary of movement refined for a couple of centuries to get at a particular kind of truth — emotional truth.  There’s a remarkable purity about it.  The form involves beautiful young dancers, but somehow it isn’t particularly sexy.  Cinderella, in particular, movingly expressed the old chivalric vision of romantic love, and it seemed completely real.  For me, the ultimate test is teary eyes and goosebumps, and it passed.

Skiing at Telluride with love and fear

We went to Telluride, CO lasts week in part because of it jagged mountainous beauty,in part to be together with Gabe and Jocelyn, and in no small part to ski.  The town is a repurposed Western mining town with squared-off storefronts and Queen Ann style houses, and has part of the vibe of  a college town, with a wholesome, natural charm.

The ski resort is famous for its rocky alpine beauty and high level of challenge.  The stats are impressive:  4,425 of vertical (3,845 served by lifts), base elevation 8,725, lift served elevation 12,570, maximum elevation 13,150, longest run 4.6 miles, 2,000 skiable acres.  The significant percentage slopes are classified as double black diamond, and a few double black slopes have the further warning EX, which stands for extreme.   The place gets about 300 inches of snow a year, and we had about 17 inches arrive in the middle of our stay.  It was extremely light — snow champagne.

Gabe led us on some substantial journeys down the double blacks.  We did one “hike to” — Genevieve — and felt we earned our turns.  In the deep fresh snow of our  last two days there , we did, among other runs, Dynamo (“EX”), Electra (“EX”), Genevieve again, the Rose, Apex Glade (3 times), Northern Chute, and Locals, the last of which is a fairly tight glade run that does not appear on the official trail map.  Sal and I also had memorably challenging runs down Allai’s Alley, Kant-Make-M, Mammoth, and Lower Plunge.

As we followed Gabe, I hoped he had not overestimated our experience level.    Hiking up Genevieve, Sal was heard to say “Holy God,” which appeared to relate not only to the beauty of the sheer walls around us, and the rigors of the hike, but also to the question whether the very steep and  narrow way down was going to kill us.  Skiing with Gabe, I was reminded that I was not 25 years old, but I also noted that I was skiing fantastic deep powder with new authority, which made me cheerier.  Sally also raised her game to a new level, taking on more mountain at higher speeds.

One afternoon we met up with Jocelyn and her friend Britt for lunch yesterday in Mountain Village.  At 1:00 pm every eatery was jammed, and there was no possibility of a seat inside.  Although it was too cold to take off hats and gloves, we ended up eating deli sandwiches at a table outside while it was snowing.  At least we had food.

We skied one run with Jocelyn after lunch, after which she said she was calling it a day for reasons of tiredness.  At dinner that night, she acknowledged that fear was a significant issue for her skiing.  I said that this is true for most people.  Those that end up loving it are those who overcome some of their fears.  But as Gabe noted, good skiers are continually seeking a new level of challenge, which means a new confrontations with fear.

It is one of the satisfactions of skiing to confront and overcome personal fears, but there’s much more to it than that.  At times it’s hard —  cold fingers and toes, weary thighs, fogged goggles, wind blowing snow.  But at times the struggles fade, and there is something pure and clean remaining.  On demanding slopes, there is no faking.  It’s time for truth.  Everything is in sharp focus.  There is kinetic harmony, turns perfectly suited for a particular stretch of rock and the snow, the human body synchronized with the moment, the season, and geologic time.