The Art of Skiing: Dawn Patrol

The Art of Skiing: Dawn Patrol


The Art of Skiing: Dawn Patrol


“Always do sober, what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”- Ernest Hemingway

Awaking to the incessant offbeat of an Iphone alarm clock, I turn the phone around so I’m face to face with its blue glow. The illumination is hurting my eyes, which throb in their sockets.

Last night was a mistake but I said I’d do it, so now I’m doing it.

As fingers stumble along the cover of the phone, I turn and text “Be there in 30… need coffee and by the way… happy birthday bud”

Dave, the recipient simply texts back “I feel like I just turned 90.”

I stumble to put on ski pants. Grab skis, boots, and poles. Avalanche beacon. Backpack. Shit… what else? Almost forgot, goggles and gloves.

Placing keys in the ignition, the car rumbles and feels as though I’m not the one making the engine turn. It’s making me turn. Turn inside out.

I take a deep breath and roll down the window to a frigid breeze that takes my headache away for a short second. “Why do I do this to myself?”

10 minutes later, the old Tundra crawls up Dave’s driveway. The time is 4:55 am.

He’s standing on the front porch bent over and doubled on the snowy railing. His breath is what doctors would call “labored” and I can tell he’s doing worse than I am. Before he puts a foot into the the passenger side, he turns sideways and lets it go. A real gusher splashes onto the pearly snow and after a round of heaves and ho’es, it’s finally over and he drags his body into the car.

Dave rests his head hard against the headrest and closes his eyes. Today is his 24th birthday. Happy birthday Dave.

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After passing through the dimly lit town of Wilson, we head up Teton Pass against a stream of headlights that flood down the hill and towards work in Jackson. 15 minutes later, we arrive at the top of the pass. Dave is sleeping and I have to nudge him awake; “hey buddy, we’re here.”

Dave turns his head, opens his eyes and says, “Buzz’s girlfriend… Woof.”

We share a laugh and open the doors to an onslaught of 0 degree temperatures. It feels good, good timing. On the horizon, a sliver of sun is peaking over the Gros Ventre Mountains to the east and before we know it were standing on the south side of the pass, clicking our boots into heavy Marker AT bindings with a clunk.

As I look up at the dimly lit skin track, Dave squeaks out a fart, “I told you I’d be here last night didn’t I?”

“You’re welcome,” is my only reply

“Thanks pal,” he says, pushing skis onwards and upslope, silhouetted by the rising sun.

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