By Tom Boyd
From Hairbag Alley to Genghis and back again - today it was all good
February 1, 2008 — This morning I woke up, checked the RealVail snow report, and read that seven inches fell at Vail by 5 a.m. It was more like 11 by the time I got up there, and it's been snowing ever since. Reid, your Powder Predictor blog was right again!
When the snow is this good, I like to ski Hairbag Alley in the morning as a throwback to the ol' days. When I was a kid we would cut the ropes and ride the powder in Hairbag, but ski patrol got smart and turned it into an official run. I hit it around noon and there before me, to my surprise, I saw a picture of my past.
Peering over the lip of the rocks which lead to Hairbag was a group of little rippers from the Vail Mountain School. Aha, I thought, it must be Friday. The students from my alma mater invade the mountain each Friday afternoon, skiing in little power-packs of some of the best young skiers you'll ever see. From Highline to Hairbag, everywhere I looked there were little coveys of un-quailing kids in yellow bibs, tearing down the track as they do every Friday, just as we used to do every Friday.
Except, when I was a little VMSer, we'd ski Wednesdays AND Fridays. Of course, back then the school didn't have a gym, so skiing counted as PE class. People used to call me lucky to go to such a school (and I was), but I used to hate it. I lost my gloves, my gear, forgot my skis, accidentally and on purpose, constantly struggling to avoid the cold, tedious effort of skiing with a gang of my classmates.
Funny how things change, because most of my classmates live in the city or don't ski anymore - and I can't get enough of it.
I stopped to salute the little VMSers, then I went ahead to Chair 10, leaving my VMS past in the past and, taking the advice of a now-famous Democratic politician from Illinois, charging toward the future.
My future involved Genghis and Rasputin's, over and over again, over and over again, with a gang of Vail locals I ran into at the top of 21. And also one of those things that happens only when skiing happened - riding up the lift we met Dermot, a telemarker charging through his fifth day of the season. An East-Coaster, Dermot is in town for the annual orthopedic gathering, and when he began asking the best routes around the back bowls we said, "Dermot, follow us!"
A few runs later, we had a new friend. And that, along with the powder, the VMSers tearing around the mountain just as I did when I was young, all of that is why I love skiing.
And to top it all off, I skied the final run of the day with my dad, down Prima.
What a day.
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