Unplugged and loving it
Sean Beckwith’s column on skiing with tunes (“When the hills come alive,” March 22, 2017, The Aspen Times) is bang-on right — I love skiing with my tunes going and for sure it takes me up a notch on two in terms of ability (or so I tell myself). But I don’t do it anymore, and I wish everyone else would to.
It’s just too dang dangerous. Cliffs, rocks, trees (especially tress), uneven terrain and my middling skills all create risks while skiing, but without a doubt the most dangerous thing out there is other skiers and boarders. They move in often unpredictable ways; trees don’t.
Think about all the feedback you get from hearing while you ski. Hearing provides excellent information about snow conditions. It alerts you as to where others are on the hill. It lets you know if there is an emergency or someone is in distress. All that is gone when the earbuds get buried in both ears, held in place by the buff, and nailed down under the helmet.
I can’t think of a single place where the in ear music doesn’t make the mountain more dangerous for the wearer as well as everyone else. If I am crushing corduroy, I want to hear the Texas ‘yeeee haaa’ coming from behind by the guy who has french fries nailed but hasn’t quite learned about pizza. When I am looping steep and deep glades and I stop to admire a fox, get safe or whatever, I want to hear oncoming skiers-riders and be able to communicate with them. And on that cat track out when I am passing snowboarders like Sean, I want to let ‘em know I am coming (a friend has tied bells to his poles to help alert others to his approach — great idea unless everyone is rocking NWA at 11 with their earbuds dug into their ears).
Even when way-the-hell-out-of-bounds or off piste, I want to hear that slab break loose above me or a friend’s shouted warning about the rock pile under the lip I am about to launch. The point is, hearing is a really useful sense when skiing, and getting rid of it creates dangers for everyone.
And then there is the social side — if someone laughs, screams, whoops, or even farts in the woods and everyone has in their earbuds does, it make a sound? Crank the tunes later with your friends, show us your dance moves at apres, but leave the buds out when rocking the slopes.
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