What a weird winter. The Sierras have seen a lot more sun than snow this season.
Even the livestock are parched.
Remind me again, what ski wax won’t wane with global warming?
After interminable hours of doing my naked snow dance out on the bare Sierra slopes, which produced nothing more than a frozen Schwanzstück, I hit the highway headed eastbound for the Wasatch range of Utah, where I hoped I would find some of the storied Greatest Snow on Earth®.
Getting there was even faster than the Garmin calculated, given the recent rise in speed limit to 80. This, of course, now means everyone is driving at 90+ (except me, naturally…that would be illegal).
While even Utah would like to see more of that addictive white powder that skiers crave (boarders, I’m told, are more into herbaceous pursuits) , they are reporting up to 88% of normal snowpack on the western slopes of the Rockies, where California is probably closer to 8% (and melting as you read this).
Climate Strange on steroids, where abnormal is the new normal®.
After a drive up north to Snow Basin (speaking of winter Olympic sites), I spent a couple of days at the laid-back, and local favorite, Brighton ski resort, where a visit to Molly Green’s is de rigueur, with their satiating selection of comfort food and local beers.
You will have to look for this beloved pub and grill, as it is located up a couple of flights of old wooden stairs in a rustic A-frame cabin, off to the side of the main resort.
Utah, historically (as in my lifetime of ski visits) has not always been the easiest place to get a beer—even at the 3.2% maximum alcohol—as you had to be a “member” of the pub, even to order a beer. Thankfully, nowadays anyone 21 and with a “few bucks” can quaff a cold brew.
semi-scared shitless super sensational skier that I am, the double black diamond runs down the near vertical slopes of razor-sharp rocky cliffs, that drop off the Milly Express high-speed quad, were not near enough of a challenge for me to poop my pants work up even the slightest beer quaffing sweat.
Thanks to one of my regular readers in Utah, who knew I was to be in the area…actually, my ONLY reader in Utah, which happens to be my sister (mom said she had to read my blog, because nobody else would) I heard about some extreme ski flying activity over at Park City.
So, it was off to find some serious ski action commensurate with my
mostly imagined highly honed level of ability.
People have been jumping out of perfectly good airplanes for years under the guise of skydiving while getting a tattoo, doing their ironing, sitting on a mountain bike, sitting in a kayak, behind the wheel of an automobile, and yes, of course, while having sex. (If you don’t believe me, you can Google all of these yourself…not that I watched the entire 6:04 minute video of that last item.)
For a winter sport and something a little closer to earth—and marginally saner (I think)—there is speed flying, which is perfect for people who cannot make up their mind,
“Shall I go skiing or skydiving today?”
This sport, also called, among other things, speed riding or ski gliding, involves strapping on a pair of skis, or a snowboard, and sliding off a very steep ski run—and by a very steep ski run, I mean a cliff—while wearing a paragliding-speed wing-parachute thingie.
Is it dangerous?
“Because of the fast flight speed and close proximity to the slope and obstacles, injury and death are considerable risks in this sport.”
Why else would I
never in my lifetime, not even while really drunk and for a million dollar bet be heading over to Park City to try it?
After the short drive from Salt Lake City, there I was, right in the middle of the action, flying above Mt. Superior in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The wind was brisk and the fresh snow flakes fell wet on my face, as my body rocked with the speedwing swinging me left and right, while the skis occasionally bounced over the snow-covered slopes.
It was not so much the death-defying scene that rolled out before my eyes, almost as if it was just a movie, that made me nervous.
Because, actually it was just a movie.
It was more the group of other museum visitors, including little kids and their parents, who waited for Kim to charge the whopping $5 credit card charge to ride this latest attraction at the Alf Engen Ski Museum.
There they were, all standing there to witness me “scream like a girl” as I squealed like the Geico pig,
(Yes, I know…I have two adventuresome, rough and tumble, outdoorsy daughters who never scream like a girl.)
A local television news story covered this new facility.
Sorry, no, they did not catch me on film there. And you won’t catch it on YouTube, either, after I chased that 10-year old kid for half-a-mile before I could bribe him to erase the video he took of me on his iPhone.
After such a harrowing experience there was only one thing to do: go find a nice campfire to gather around and let the smoke conceal my embarrassment of such an undignified display of pretend extreme ski flying.
Luckily, the nearby High West Distillery & Saloon offers a new line of whiskey that includes just the right amount of smoky Scotch whisky, and by the right amount, I mean it comes in a convenient 750 ml. bottle.