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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Smart Choices in Back-Country Skiing and Other Things I Don't Know About

The weather being so crappy has made me seek out some new adventures. Actually, this is more of revisiting old adventures. Adventures of the mind. I've been reading a bunch, strengthening my vocab and mental prowess. I used to read all the time. I hope this doesn't make me sound like a loon, but I cut back on my reading because I came to the conclusion that it was making me think too much. As in, fueling neurosis and causing me to be so heady that I wasn't sociable. Mainly, I just got tired of people telling me that I think too much. Trust me, I'm not a genius and the thoughts were not leading to solving the environmental, political, or economical crisis of our time. The people were probably right. I was thinking too much. Actually, I might be thinking too much right now. I'm already doubting the reading.

I would prefer a nice cleansing hike right now, but it's snowing. Other people are out there being active. They are back-country skiing. Dang-it! I want to do that, but based on the first and only time I tried, I know back-country skiing can be scary. It's scary because it is legitimately dangerous.

This is where thought becomes unavoidable. Thought is key in risk assessment. In my reading today, I found some badass wisdom from Yvon Chouinard's book, Let My People Go Surfing. This man is the founder of Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear company. He was also one of the early innovators in rock climbing and seems to be someone who conquers all sorts of outdoor adventures while running an extremely successful and environmentally responsible corporation. Damn, this man is a badass.

Since trying some back country skiing and having it kick my tush, I've been contemplating limits and knowledge. Chouinard had some advice for me today. He says, "Never exceed your limits. You push the envelope, and you live for those moments when you're right on the edge, but you don't go over. You have to be true to yourself; you have to know your strengths and limitations and live within your means." Essentially, he is reinforcing the philosophy I've heard around the mountain: ski today at the level that allows you to ski tomorrow.

But how do we learn our limits? Mr. Chouinard shares later in the book about how he started being careful. He dove off a bridge and hit a sandbar that was a foot underwater. His neck was fractured by landing directly on his head. I don't know if I should be using this guy as a role model. I guess I won't know what to do until I do it.

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