They say change is inevitable. I say poopy to that—at least to the idea that all things have to change. Now I’m sure that some change is good, like replacing Marlboro 100s with e-cigs, or making seatbelts required rather than optional. I get it. Things work this way on the mountain, too. New runs and lifts have to be added to keep folks interested and keep those season pass sales up. Cheap pitchers of Buckhorn get replaced with highfalutin microbrews from the hip and trendy breweries of the Northwest. And that’s okay. There are certain things, though, that should never change on the hill, because that change might erase a great part of the sport’s legacy. Or, if this is dramatic, I can at least argue it would be a damn shame if they did vanish. Here’s a handful of things I hope never change on the mountain.
- Poma Lifts. I’m willing to bet very few of you out there have even had the pleasure of riding a Poma, but once you have, you never forget it. Imagine straddling a wooden or plastic disc the size of a large dinner plate as it pulls you up the hill on a track that tends to wander left and right. God forbid if you fall. Many a skier has a nightmare story about riding one, including your humble narrator. Any mountain that has one should keep it as it really makes you appreciate chairlifts.
- Dudes who wear peaked Stein Eriksen hats. Yeah, sure, stuffing your grape into a brain bucket is the responsible thing to do, but every mountain has at least a few guys who stick with the classic ski hat; and, it usually has a collection of ski pins from around the globe on it to boot. Without these guys, the mountain will get a very sterile, corporate vibe as everyone will look the same. Keep rocking the hats gents.
- Monoskiers. I usually see at least one person every season who rides a monoski. For those of you not familiar with this classic piece of equipment, it is one wide ski with a set of bindings attached. Its use harks back to the days when folks kept their feet glued together to make pretty turns. When monoskiers are gone, so too goes some skiing uniqueness.
- Straight Ski Holdouts. Every mountain has a few folks who refuse to transition to shaped skis, and you gotta love them. Funny thing is, they will likely blast past you like you were standing still, thanks in large part to the 210cm length and the fact that they don’t turn worth a darn. Word of advice: Don’t try and convert them if you happen to share a chairlift—it never ends well.
- Overbearing Parents. Okay, so really this is about Dad. Or rather, Dad’s attempt to teach little Jimmy how to ski. Doing so consists of him yelling “Turn! Turn! Turn!” followed by asking why Jimmy did not listen to him and turn. In case you were wondering, Jimmy did not know how to turn. We have all witnessed something like this, and I bet you smiled when you saw it. You know why? Because we were all Jimmy when we started. When we no longer hear some Dad yelling instructions at his kid, then we have to wonder who is forcing the next generation to get their butts on the hill. //Brad Northrup is a former ski racer, coach, and ski bum. He owns several cool ski hats, but is not allowed to wear any of them.
Originally posted in the March 2017 print edition of Out There Outdoors under the title “Things I Hope Never Change.”
Feature photo: Overbearing parents on the mountain. // Shallan Knowles