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Davis, California

Monday, April 22, 2024

The Sterling Compass

There is no greater thrill than the rush of snow skiing; rifling down a freshly powdered mountain, the wind in your face and adrenaline pumping.

But no pleasant experience comes without its price. Here are some things you should expect to face the next time you hit the slopes.

The Lines

Most ski resorts are designed so that anyone can take a lift to the top of the mountain and make it down in one piece; there are paths of varying difficulty leading to back to the main lodge. Now, this is great if you’re the nuclear family from Walnut Creek, but for everyone else it means one thing; lines. I’m not talking about the cute little lines one occasionally endures while waiting for a Coho latte. I’m talking about waiting for 30 minutes while roasting in the sun only to get on a lift to complete a run in less than 8 minutes. And like Sisyphus and his rock, you will repeat this process constantly for the rest of the day.

Novice Snowboarders

I know all you snowboarders out there are going to despise me for saying I am amazed that more people don’t get seriously injured by out-of-control snowboarders. Granted, there are plenty of newbie skiers threatening the slopes, snowboarding’s overwhelming popularity has resulted in way too many people trying to snowboard who should not be allowed anywhere near a mountain. Inexperienced boarders often spend more time on their butts than actually moving, making going downhill become the same as navigating a minefield. When they actually do move, these rookies fly down the hill like madman with little regard for their own lives or the lives of any ski school children having the misfortune of getting in their way.

Getting Old

Long gone were the days when the “pizza” was all it took to conquer a mountain. Back when you were 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds, making it down the mountain was no problem. But now you are older; you actually have muscles that are more than willing to be injured. Even if you frequent that ARC and consider yourself to be in shape, it’s a safe bet that tomorrow you won’t be having a “Good Morning Beautiful” day. As you huff and puff up and down the hill, the 8-year old brutes seem to be skiing circles around you. This makes you wonder if you are indeed already passed your prime.

Lunchtime Darwinism

As if on cue, everyone at the ski resort will try to eat lunch at the same time. As the lodge cafeteria is the only place to go, pandemonium is inevitable. After waiting in yet more lines to spend even more money on overpriced food, you arrive at a quandary; where to sit? With too many people and not enough tables, you can almost hear Darwin laughing his head off from above. People are tired and irritable. Pissed-off mothers of three prowl the cafeteria like rabid velociraptors in search of a free table. If you were smart, then you came with a large group, allowing you to stake out tables over a wider area and increase your chances of success. Finally, you will find a table where the people appear to be done, but this is just a hopeless dream. As you awkwardly loiter with your bowl of clam chowder, they will take their sweet time, look up, make eye contact, but ignore you as if to spite you, and refuse to surrender the table.

Black Diamonds

Feeling adventurous, you ignore the signs saying “Easiest Way Down” and follow the bright orange signs warning “Experts Only.” You think you are a pro, so only a double-black diamond will do. Once at the top of the double-black, you look down and immediately regret your decision. As if the absence of gradual decline weren’t enough, several moguls dot the hillside like zits clinging to an unlucky teenager’s face. You might be lucky enough to make it down without falling, albeit as gracelessly as an elephant on ice skates; however, realistically, you will have tasted snow before you make it to the bottom.

The Beer

Let’s face it; this is what you really came for. Having survived the days’ perils you feel like you deserve it. At first you order a pint of your favorite beer, but reconsider and tell the bartender to wait: better make it a pitcher.


MIKE HOWER assures you that a pint of your favorite beer can’t solve all your problems, but a pitcher can. You can reach him at mahower@ucdavis.edu.


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