Some cliff notes |

Some cliff notes

Steve Benson

I was in high school and we were on a multifamily ski trip in Utah. It was a huge snow year in Little Cottonwood Canyon – even by their standards.The snow was so deep that the drop-offs between off-piste terrain and catwalks were veritable cliffs (picture Oly Bowl times 10). I learned this the hard way in a blizzard on the first day of the trip. Floating through a whiteout near the bottom of a lengthy pitch, I suddenly found myself airborne. The eventual impact into the catwalk was like a bird flying into a window – sudden, shocking and painful.A couple days later (it’s still snowing) I’m standing about 100 yards above the same surprise launch pad with my buddy Tyler, who was and still is borderline insane. I got about five words into my warning, “Make sure you don’t go …” when Tyler grunted and pushed off, never hearing the final, key word “right!”He made a few out-of-control, high-speed turns, gave a small pine a forearm shiver, veered right and disappeared with alarming suddenness.When I found him he was spread-eagle on his stomach and moaning. His skis were nowhere in sight, and his goggles were broken in half. His face had made an impressive indentation in the catwalk. But Tyler is tough, and really scared of his tougher, old-Mainer dad, who paid for his lift ticket. So quitting early was out of the question.Well, it’s dumping so hard that we can’t see the lift in front of us as we head back up, and Tyler’s squinting like a nomad in a dust storm. When we meet his dad at lunch, Tyler explains he needs new goggles. In his deep, raspy voice, his dad replies, “Bulls—t. There’s a pair of sunglasses in the car. Go get ’em. All you need is something to keep the snow from pelting your eyeballs.”Just then some other kid returns from the midmountain ski shop with a brand new pair of goggles. Tyler says, “What are you gonna do with your old ones?””Throw ’em away,” the kid says.Tyler immediately snags them off the table and exclaims, “Mine!”When we moved to Alta together six years later, Tyler was just as insane, and still using the same old hand-me-down goggles.

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