WHY YOU SHOULD CONQUER A MOUNTAIN
The pure adrenaline rush of overcoming what the majority of the population could never entertain doing.
by Holden Phebus
According to the National Ski Areas association, over the past 10 years every 2.6 out of a thousand skiers get major injuries on the mountain, and about every .6 out of a million skiers have fatal injuries. With terrifying statistics like these it is hard to find a reason to put yourself at this avoidable risk. Well just like every other extreme sport, it's about the challenge. The innate human urge to overcome what you might think you are incapable of. The pure adrenaline rush of overcoming what the majority of the population could never even entertain doing.
The usual rhythm of a ski run is as follows: you approach the lift that takes you up the mountain. The lift itself is a non stop moving line of chairs strung on a pulley system continuously going up and down the mountain. The chairs themselves only have a small lap bar for fall protection as the lifts can easily go fifty plus feet above the ground. While on this lift you can get a view of the hill you are about to conquer. Whether it be planning the route you take down or mentally preparing yourself of the potential obstacles you need to overcome in the heat of the moment. What differentiates skiing from a lot of other outdoor sports is that all decisions need to be made quickly and even frantically. You do not always have the luxury of planning out your run methodically, there can and will be decisive actions needed to be taken for unforeseen obstacles which can not be slowed down for.
According to Fredericka Alleferdt, skiing for sport was not invented until the 1800s by the Norwegian army. Before then it was used as a navigation method for large difficult to navigate mountains. The first ever competition by the Norwegian foot soldiers consisted of navigating down a snowy tree infested mountain all while shooting man made targets with accuracy on the way down. In the spirit of this training based competition, the olympics still honors it through the biathlon. From there skiing became more and more of a sport or competition instead of a way of survival. (Alleferdt).
My personal favorite runs to overcome are ones deep in the woods, which are potentially the most dangerous. These runs cannot be planned or strategized in advance as there is no way to see what the run looks like prior. When on these woods runs I like to listen to very melodic slow relaxing music to really keep my mind at ease because all decisions on how to take turns and obstacles must be done immediately recognizing the situation.
My all time favorite tree run is called The Abyss, a double black diamond in Park City Utah. The gradient of the slope is extremely steep and visibility is almost nothing as it is a deep saturation of pine trees. As I was maneuvering my way from tree to tree dodging and pivoting side to side so as to not collide with anything. Redbone by Childish Gambino was blaring through my earbuds. There were caution signs littered amongst the trees warning of a potential upcoming cliff. Unfortunately for me I had complete tunnel vision for exactly what was in front of me, so these warnings had little impact to me. Almost out of nowhere there was a horizontal line of other skiers in the middle of the tree pact slope acting as an unintentional blockade. I managed to stop before crashing into them and then I realized why they were stopped. What stood before me was about a 40 foot rocky plummet into the pines below, a certain easy check out of life for unsuspecting skiers. These people had to have been providence as the cliff blended into the rest of the slope almost perfectly. From that point I had to unclip from my skis in order to hike to an easier spot to take. The best I could manage to find was a short ten foot drop into a nice clump of powder to dampen the fall.
While the previously mentioned story sounds utterly terrifying, it is also a striking example of how this activity can potentially mimic life. There are going to be cliffs, trees, and obstacles that you can’t slow down for. There are going to be moments where you are completely ill prepared for that you can’t slow down for. There can be moments where everything can drop by surprise that need to be hiked around to overcome. You can’t overcome everything no matter how competent you are. The mountain and life will throw everything at you and your approach will ultimately decide the outcome.