I am writing by the fire and gazing longingly at the snow on Mt. Werner in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. In a few minutes I’ll load my family’s bags into the rental and catch our flight home to Houston. If it all goes well I’ll have my family of five back in time to celebrate Christmas at home.
But for now I have my eye on the lifts conveying eager skiers and boarders atop the piles of powder that I’ve been running a board over the last six days straight. My muscles are sore but satiated from snowboarding down the shoulders of the she-mountain. She’s all woman, gently curving and porcelain white, and though cold to the touch, perfect and enticing.
But make no mistake, that’s my view from the valley. The peak is 10,568 feet above sea level and when you’ve made it to the top you realize you’ve mounted a mountain, not a woman. The wind whips cold and the snow accumulates on your body if you stand still for only a moment. The air is thinner than newspaper and deep breathing is a constant companion.
It’s on this mountainess (named after Buddy Werner, who was an Olympian from Steamboat that died in a Swiss avalanche in 1964) that I’ve learned to be a little better than competent on a snow board, something that I think, at age 36, is a pretty adventurous thing.
I was 17 when my wife-to-be first taught me to get down a mountain on two skis, and over the years I followed it up with a few lessons here and there. I was confident enough to ski all the blues and most of the blacks and though my form was never that great, I could get down the mountain and enjoyed it. Now I’m legitimately able to say “that was gnarly” in reference to anything that happens on a snow board and I plan never to go back to skis.
Look for some stories soon about the people I met this week, I’ll post them as I have time after Christmas.