The tram is in charge around here. It’s like the subway to New Yorkers, a syllabus to a student, or your mom when you were in high school. Do what I say, it says. And we, humble children to the omnipotent Lone Peak, we abide. We jump in that tinted-window cabin and ski what it tells us. Today, it was the Big Couloir only, and I wasn’t sure I’d get in.
My lunch break was short, and from the triple chair, the Couloir seemed tiny and far away like dental floss dangling from the moon. Or so it seemed. Aloof in the chair, I listened to my buddy Colin’s suggestion. “Let’s see if someone doesn’t show.” It was a risk. I mean, if there were no slots, I’d have to down-load the tram, which I’ve never done.
“1:45’s the next slot,” Patrol said. It was 12:05. I was out. No way I could wait that long. “But,” the man in red said, “the 12:15 isn’t here yet.” So, in the quiet heat of the Summit Tram Shack, we waited, hoping we’d get our turn.
It was blustery outside with the snow spitting intermittently. The Big Couloir was the only run open from the tram while we waited for visibility to improve. At 12:16, Colin and I signed our names to the list and headed toward the door. Just before exiting into the cold, a local skier rushed in. “I’m the 12:15,” he said. “I only got one.” As only two could go, Colin seemed to nod toward me.
With one hand on the door knob and a one boot outside, I had to ask the big question. “Me or you?”
He paused for what seemed like a whole minute and cleared his throat. “All you.”
It was a sacrifice few skiers make, to abandon your moment of glory on this snowy day, to forego this one-of-a-kind descent that promised private powder on a lengthy, sustained pitch. On this particular day, only a few would enjoy this big mountain ski experience, and a fellow skier, my friend, gave it up for me.
While I was grateful for the tram taking me to the top of this immense mountain, grateful for the untouched fluff that whipped my face as I scribbled turns down the Big, I was especially grateful for friends. Powder is guaranteed. Friends are not.
But I’ll take both.
Take the risk.