Whether you have been on skis since you were in the womb or you just took up the sport as part of your midlife crisis, chances are good that getting to the mountain has occasionally involved sharing a ride. Could be your best friend, long-time ski buddy, or super-nice neighbor who helps pass the long drive to the hill with good conversation about football, winter ales, and the finer aspects of powder skiing. And carpooling sure beats the ski bus, right? Unfortunately, not every carpool goes this way. No, somewhere along the way you make a mistake and catch a ride with someone who will make you question your decision to spend the day on the mountain. If you find yourself in the seat next to any of the following characters, be prepared to check your sanity at the door for what will likely be the longest drive to the hill that you have ever experienced.
It’s Friday morning, there is over a foot of new snow in the mountains, and the last place you want to be is at work. Yet work is how you pay for a season pass and those new sticks, so it’s one more day in the salt mine for you. The dude who sits in the next cubicle overhears your grumbling about how tracked out the mountain will be come Saturday morning and asks if you want to ride up together. He seems well-meaning and has ski posters on the walls of his cell, so he can’t be all that bad, right? Wrong. From the moment you get in the car to the second you get to the parking lot, the conversation revolves around office politics, TPS reports, and how crappy the copier is. Work is bad enough when you are there. Talking about it on the weekend is equal to torture in most countries. You consider getting an Uber for the ride home and quitting first thing Monday morning.
The Farter Arounder
The key to making fresh tracks is being on the mountain early, but you chose poorly when it came to selecting your carpool partner this time. No sir, evidently 8 a.m. is the new 7 a.m., and when you ask what took so long to get to the previously agreed-upon pick-up location, this person claims they were “just running a bit behind.” Yeah, like an hour. Oh, they also need to get gas and hit the men’s room for a lengthy number two. Unbeknownst to you, there will also be additional stops for breakfast, gum, Red Bull, and Copenhagen, all before leaving the city limits. You resign yourself that the day, or what’s left of it, will be spent making loops on the groomed.
Driving Miss Daisy
With the resorts an hour or more away, it’s important to drive expeditiously when conditions allow. Failure to do so results in having to deal with the hordes in the lodge and the lift line. Sadly, you decided to catch a ride with perhaps the slowest driver in the lower 48 states. Sure, it’s OK to back off a little due to compact snow and ice, but driving 30 miles per hour on the highway with a line of cars behind you that stretches for at least 5 miles is a bit much. If you went any slower, you might actually go back in time. As if that weren’t bad enough, stops are made at every gas station to clean off the lights and windshield. The last straw comes when you stop to chain up with just over a mile to go. That funky ski bus doesn’t look so bad after all, does it? //
Brad Northrup is a former ski resort marketing director, ski racer, and coach.