This is a regular weekend routine.
From cities throughout the East top skiers head north each weekend. Many head to Stratton Mountain and Mount Snow. As an adventure travel writer I’ve seen many weekend warriors at many different places. Mount Snow and Stratton, of course, with ease of access, are havens for experts. Sit in the base lodges early and it’s clear these places draw lots of top guns each weekend.
It’s true: These are weekend warriors. Road warriors. They battle weather. They battle traffic. They’ll battle crowds. Week after week. To ski. Hard.
Scan the base lodge your next weekend. Look for the weekend warriors. Perhaps you are, yourself, a warrior. This is a large group. That afternoon the two fellows I spotted sounded as if they were from Connecticut. Similar to many warriors they drove up Friday night. I saw them again Sunday. And I saw them packing up to head home Sunday afternoon.
That’s the routine.
During the weekend many of these folks – guys and gals - ski like pros. In fact, watching some drop down under the lifts, one might easily imagine many could coach or teach. To many an onlooker they might even pass for a local.
“I made a decision once,” one fellow told me, “as to whether I wanted this as my livelihood. I decided I liked skiing so much that I wanted it to be my play time. To be my livelihood, it would become more work than play.”
Many have raced. Some have taught skiing. The stories vary.
In truth, many ski like people who have spent a great deal of time on the mountain.
“It’s surprising how many folks who used to be ski bums or instructors - who literally lived on the mountain – still crave to ski weekends,” noted one fellow. “There are a lot of fine skiers on a big mountain and it’s fun to guess where they came from, and how and where they developed their skills. Certainly you have to have donated a lot of time to hone your skills, but you certainly don’t have to be a local to be a top skier.”
Joining a group of warriors one weekend last season I saw a good many top skiers who now ski weekends. Some decided between a career in the ski industry and a career elsewhere, with weekends on the mountain. Some toyed with the idea of working in the ski industry. Some did not. Most balance employment outside of the mountains, in places like New York, Connecticut, or New Jersey, with weekend travel.
If you ski the diamonds you can’t help but notice that folks on the lifts turn, sometimes point, and very often just watch as one or another of these skiers carve up the mountain.
Stop. Scan the room. Balancing skiing, high energy skiing, and family and career can be challenging. For many folks weekends are a great escape.
“Skiing weekends, I do sometimes wish for the old days. But putting the skis on brings back the love and fun of the sport.”
Can you spot these warriors?
Early in the morning and late in the day they are most visible. Look at the folks skiing under the lifts. And in the trees. They may ski like locals but they may be weekend warriors.
We’ll stop. It’s time to hit the road. In the meantime, savor your day on the mountain, from that first run to that last run.