“We have to get dressed. We’re going skiing.”
One of the last memories I have of my dad is of him saying this as he tried to get out of a hospital bed while under the haze of Alzheimers.
“Not today Pops,” I said and gently helped him back to bed.
I love skiing and always have.
Growing up, my Dad took me every weekend.
We drove up into the mountains of North Carolina—just the two of us. There was nothing better than being outside all day, skiing and then coming in tired and happy.
Once when I was seven-years-old, Dad and I somehow got separated. Dense fog had descended and pellets of graupel stung my face. Chilled to the bone, my tears instantly froze my eyelashes shut.
“Kit, Kit, where are you?” I heard Dad’s desperate voice through the mist.
The next thing I remember is being scooped up and set by a fireplace where the icicles melted off my eyelashes.
Much later I realized that most of my ski days were spent standing in lift lines, meanwhile, there were no lines to climb frozen waterfalls or peaks.
I bought a beacon, shovel and probe and learned about avalanche safety from a book. I fit my climbing boots into cable bindings and mounted them onto cross-country skis with metal edges.
Then, for many years, skiing became about getting into the backcountry to go climbing. The only problem was my skis were not made for the extra torque; more than once my bindings pulled off my skis while I was loaded down with a multi-day climbing pack. (But, that’s what duct tape’s for!)
The truth is my dad passed his skier’s heart on to me.
I often fantasize of skiing silently through forests and over hillsides blanketed with velvety, shimmering snow on a bluebird day.
Skiing untracked powder, then celebrating by a fire with family, friends or Chicks participants still brings back the giddy excitement I felt as a kid.
In this season of giving, it seems to me that one of the greatest gifts is that of experience. The memories of all the times Dad took me skiing are priceless and I relive them to this day.
Join Chicks in 2019 where the skiing legacy continues with Chicks Skiing clinics, backcountry hut trips and avalanche awareness skills.