3/28/13

Skiing bytes

Okay, I really didn't know what to name this blog, but I thought this was a cute play on words. I'll be posting the last of my skiing blogs today with a hodge-podge of 'stuff'.

Altitude: Yes, there is a very real thing called altitude sickness. You can get it when you drive or fly from a lower altitude to stay at a higher altitude. It can involve headaches, fatigue, sleeplessness, intestinal upset and a tough time breathing. One of the main factors going into this is the thin air. There simply is less oxygen higher up.

There are a couple of tricks to fighting this: drinks LOTS of water, take aspirin (preferably one with caffeine in it, like Excedrin), and TUMS with calcium. Many years ago, we chatted with a waitress who told us to start this process on the drive into the mountains . . . and it works. It doesn't mean you won't be short of breath, but it might shorten the duration of difficulty. And some places have an oxygen bar, but I've never tried one. If I did, the mountains would be the place to do it!

Dryness: Even with all the snow around you, you will suffer from the horrible dryness. If your condo or hotel room has a humidifier--USE IT. This will help you breath along with decreasing the nasal congestion and inflammation. Moisturizer is your best friend--use it.

Expansion: Have you ever exploded a chip bag when driving in the mountains? We have. We had an unopened bag of chips in the car and when we passed through Denver into the mountains--it exploded. Okay, it was a really big pop, but it surprised us. So the higher you go in altitude--stuff expands. You've seen this with your bathroom stuff when you've flown someplace. Open your moisturizer and it goes all over the place. The key here is to REMOVE all the air possible when you pack your stuff. But sometimes you can't do that, so be prepared.

On a side note: As you know, stuff expands in the mountains, well, my friends, so does the stuff in your intestinal tract. You might experience an uncomfortable abdominal  with an increase in flatulence. This is actually normal . . . disgusting, but normal. Disgusting when your kid is constantly farting in the car, and yet, denying all or blaming it on the stockyards in Kansas. Own up to it and let us roll down the window, please. Sometimes the stockyards smell better than the eau de kid in the car.

Cost: Skiing isn't cheap, but it doesn't have to be expensive either. Here are a few options to think about:
--the more popular ski areas = more expensive. Vail, Aspen, etc will be more expensive overall than the lesser known ski resorts.
--the closer to the mountain = more expensive. If you don't mind taking a shuttle or driving then you can save $$. But sometimes driving comes with a cost to park--Vail and Breckenridge, but in Keystone it's free.
--get a condo and make your own meals. It's cheaper than buying food on the mountain.
For example: three of us split two meals:
1 large chicken pot pie
1 order chicken tenders (3) with fries
3 drinks (soda, coffee, hot cocoa)
= $43

Deals: Look for deals. This year was kids ski free at Keystone. This saved us about $65/day of skiing. The day we skied Vail, the kidlet's ticket cost $86. Some places have combination deals with rentals and lift tickets, or rentals, tickets AND lessons. In the long run, this is the way to do it. Some people will rent their stuff in Denver, but you have to haul the ungainly equipment to your ski condo . . . what a pain in the tookus. We simply rent at the resort. Plus many years ago we bought our own boots. This was a huge expenditure at the time, but it was at the end of the season and they paid for themselves many times over. Besides . . . you don't have to put your feet where others have shoved their stinky ones before you, AND the boot is molded to your foot.

Lessons: If you have never skied before, budget a half-day lesson EVERY DAY you are skiing. In the long run this is worth every penny you spend. Don't listen to your buddy who says, "Don't worry, dude, I'll teach you" because said buddy will get bored with you falling down and abandon you on the ski slope to figure it out on your own. Plus you want to learn the correct way, right? Fork over the $$ and have fun.

We met one young lady on the slope --during night skiing at Keystone--who never skied before. Her 'friend' took her up to the top of Schoolmarm and abandoned her. She wasn't wearing goggles and wondered about the quickest and easiest way down . . . Well, my friends, Schoolmarm IS the easiest way down, but it's nearly 4 MILES of traversing the mountain to get to the bottom. Plus at night. Night skiing is more about skiing by 'feel' than visually skiing, and yes, it's more difficult. Friends do not do this to you. Jus' sayin'.

Preparation:  Unless you've skied before, your muscles won't be prepared to ski as you don't normally use these muscles quite in this manner. The only thing that I've found to work is to exercise/tighten all your muscles around your knees. The easiest way to do this is to flatten your back against a wall and slowly squat down--now hold this position. Yeah, not as easy as you thought, right. Repeat this numerous times a day for a couple of weeks and you might not die on the first day of skiing.

Terrain: I'm a fan of steep slopes, not moguls, just steeps. I like skiing blues and groomed black slopes. But the key word is GROOMED. There's nothing like the sound of your skies squeaking across fresh corduroy stripes the groomers leave behind. But you don't always have that luxury. Sometimes you have fresh snow--one to three inches is awesome . . . until a bunch of people get on it and then leave piles of fluff you have to traverse. REMEMBER to keep your weight in your heels, not forward on your toes! Too much snow makes hard work on your quads and knees. Ice is tough on the knees, but it's also a mental game when you hear the scraping as you slide--basically out of control--into a snowy section that will grab your skis. Spring skiing also brings a challenge when the slopes warm up enough the snow starts to granulate and it's like trying to ski across a sandy beach. Ugh! I hate that. Talk about sweating!

And here are my last little tidbits:

--When you're tired take a rest break. If you don't then this is where many people get hurt, by pushing themselves.
--wear sunscreen. Remember, you are closer to the sun and the air is thinner. The chance of getting a burn is increased.
--buy a pair of good goggles. Wear them when it's cloudy, for night skiing, and when it's really cold. I like the yellow tint on mine to help define the terrain, but you need to try different ones to see what works for you.
--sunglasses that wrap around your eyes for those beautiful, sunny days  . . . though we didn't have one of those this time around.
--wear layers of clothing. You can always take something off if you get hot.
--foot warmers are okay for some people. They help keep your toes warm, especially on snowy days, but they pressed on a nerve in my right foot nearly crippling me the rest of the day. I just dealt with the cold toes.
--curl your cold fingers into your palm to warm them up while on the lift. This helps. Trust me.
--get a lift map ASAP and learn the mountain, plan your next move before you and your party head down the mountain. That way if you get separated or someone falls, you know where to wait for them.
--if you see a special needs skier and their guides on the trail--give them a wide berth. This is just courtesy--and yes, so is staying away from the obvious beginners on the trails. They are the ones with their skis in a wedge shape and a death grip on their poles as they hunch over in expectation of falling.

That's all I have for now.

Later, peeps!

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