I think every
skier should have a bucket list, a list of
accomplishments and travels to tackle in their beloved sport. I am
not talking about
helicopter skiing for a week in Alaska, or making
first descents on all seven continents – that’s obvious (and
expensive). I am talking about trying new things. Every time I step away from my traditional ski trails, my
usual skiing habits, I learn something new, meet someone fascinating
and expand my appreciation for my favorite pastime.
Your bucket list may vary completely from mine; in fact I hope it does since that is what makes it your personal list of priorities. Check out this check list, give a few a try, or come up with your own ski bucket list. The point is to think outside your ski box, and broaden your horizons on the ski hill.
1. Ski single for an entire day. This is simple; just go solo to a ski area and make a point to meet new people. Shout out “single” in the lift line and see who you end up with for the chair ride. Engage in conversation with your fellow skier or rider (don’t discriminate - that defeats the point). I promise you will learn something about what your chair companion does for a career, where they prefer to ski, or what they sacrificed to be on the slopes that day. Share a chair with a ski patrol or an instructor and find out about their contributions to make the mountain run. Be prepared to be entertained with all the characters you will encounter during your solo ski day.
2. Ski off your beaten path, mix up your usual mountain rituals. If you typically head for Right Stuff, go left. If you always ski Tote Road right before lunch, head over to Broccoli Garden instead. Or try a new mountain, a ski area you have passed by before. Skiing new trails is exciting, who knows what you will find around the next corner, what scenery will unveil itself.
3. Make first chair and ski till last chair. If you want to take this to the next level, ski with a sandwich in your pocket so you don’t even stop for that. Last time I did this was admittedly at Killington Vermont where the base to summit gondola served as my transportation and my comfy lunch table.
4. Skip school or work on a powder day. Just do it and don’t over think the repercussions. Call in to your boss with a sudden case of powder flu or 14-inch fever. As Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did.”
5. Fill your car with friends for a day trip. Go to Mt Abram or Shawnee Peak for one of their car load days. Carpooling is cool, even cooler in winter with a group of like minded skiers. Save money, the environment, share the ride with fun stories, and enjoy the energy of your car clan.
6. Go night skiing. Pick a calm, clear night and carve turns under the stars (and the ski area lights). Shawnee Peak, Sunday River, Bolton Valley, and Wachusett (to name a few) all offer evening skiing under the lights. Night skiing requires some determination and stamina, since at the end of your day, it’s easier to slide into slippers and onto the couch, than to drive, don ski boots and ride on a cold dark chair. But night skiing brightens an otherwise ordinary evening at home. Extend your day, earn some serious calories and escape the prime time TV monotony.
7. Share your favorite fall line sport with a friend. Introduce a loved one to the sport you love. I don’t mean teach them to ski yourself, get them into a lesson. Ski areas all have great learn to ski packages often including a free lift ticket for you or considerable first time savings for the new skier or rider.
8. Take a lesson yourself. Ski and snowboard instruction continues to evolve, along with equipment, and you can learn new drills from the pros that will improve your technique and therefore your enjoyment long after your hour-long lesson.
9. Help a fallen stranger. Carry a ski down to a crashed skier, pick up a dropped pole, just do something nice for another even if it interrupts your run. This actually shouldn’t be on your bucket list – it should be courteous behavior practiced every day along with the seven point responsibility code. But if that’s not your usual modus operandi – give nice a try.
10. Ski five midweek midwinter days consecutively. Instead of planning a pricey weekend or going south to some boring beach, enjoy snow covered mountains for a local ski holiday. Un-crowded slopes and local vibe are your reward. These mountains are so different, so delightfully personal Monday through Friday, like a country club on snow.
I am sure you can think of countless other bucket list ski ideas. Volunteer for a ski event, gate keep at a race or offer to take a small child up the lift for a ski instructor laden with a pack of six tiny tots. Branch out, try a new ski area, make a difference and expand your skiing.
All Stories by Heather Burke
All Photography by Greg Burke.
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