Lost Youth’s Lament

This week’s announcement of the end of the  eighty year production run  of the VW Beetle caught me at a vulnerable moment, recovering from a humiliating fall on a mountain hike that starkly, and painfully drove home the point that I’m not as young as I think I am. Continue reading

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Keeping up with the Third World

via Keeping up with the Third World

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Three acres and a cow

via Three acres and a cow

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Rescue – and Penance

It’s already shaping up to be a record-breaking year for our overworked local search and rescue groups, as they pull scores of out of bound skiers, ill-equipped hikers and overly ambitious mountaineers out of danger. The local media have even developed a bit of a formula for reporting these events. Typically an opening shot of the rescue helicopter descending to search base, and disgorging a bevy of sheepish looking skiers or hikers, followed by a clip where the newly rescued blubber a few words of thanks, and ending with a spokesman for search and rescue gravely admonishing the public to be better prepared when they venture into the wilderness on our doorstep.

Inevitably there is a debate as to whether or not the feckless hikers ought to be charged something for their rescue or fined for their stupidity.  The authorities of course are reluctant to introduce financial consequences into the rescue equation for fear that those in need of help might then be reluctant to seek it for fear of those financial consequences, and in the end creating a much worse result. The occasional hiker apparently does repay the favor with a donation to Search and Rescue, but most I suspect simply shuffle off, their fifteen minutes of fame having expired.

Against that background I can’t help but think of the incredible rescue effort recently concluded that miraculously saved the entire Wild Boar soccer club from a Thai cave. it was a rescue effort that had us all glued to our screens and shaking our heads in disbelief.

What really struck me in the aftermath of the Thai  cave rescue was the announcement that upon discharge from hospital, and  after a brief reunion with their families, the team will, en-masse, enroll as novice monks and will spend a week as such in a nearby monastery, doing penance in quiet prayer and contemplation. That they would do this shows a deep respect for the enormity of the miracle which with they have been blessed, and towards those who made it happen. It is a fitting, and elegant gesture.

As my thoughts stray back to  our local North Shore mountains, the concept of penance following  rescue develops a certain resonance. Should rescued parties be subject to something a little more onerous than the loss of their lift pass privileges ? -such as a week of silent navel gazing  in austere surrounding?

We don’t have a lot of monasteries in BC , but it strikes me that we do have a number of boarded up correction camps- relics from an age where boot camp style training was considered the panacea  for youth corrections. So, imagine if the price of rescue was a week spent as a monk in a re-purposed correctional camp, contemplating the error of one’s ways ?

 

 

 

 

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Ski Economics

Even as a youth, long before I had a university degree in the subject, I was an economist.

Then, my task was simply to squeeze every last ounce of value for money from my daily ski pass: nagging parents to get me to the hill before the lifts opened,  skiing at breakneck speed to get to the bottom faster, then cutting the lift lines trying to beat the hordes to the top again. I skied long after my jeans had turned stiff with ice, my feet had gone numb and my legs had turned to jelly. The game was to pack as many runs as possible into a day, and winning was measured by an ever diminishing ‘cost per run’

A half-century later many things have changed. Very expensive but infinitely more comfortable gear has replaced frozen jeans and lace up leather boots, and ‘vertical feet skied ‘are now tracked with a smart phone app, but the boy inside me has not.

Skiing economics is still a shrewd calculus, and the game is still to squeeze the most vertical feet out of each lift pass dollar. So, each year at  this time there begins a grand game of chess between the boy inside me and the lift pass purveyors of Whistler Blackcomb. Which pass should I pre-order for next winter to ensure the ultimate bang for my bucks? It is a match which, sadly, I have lost for the past several years, ending the season with unused days on my multi- day pass. As they expire with the melting of the snow those days taunt me: Whistler won -I paid for more runs than I was able to ski!

Granted, there are reasons for my losses. I have been variously side-lined by accident and illness, and even by clients who unreasonably expected me to attend to their legal needs on perfect, bluebird, powder days. Truly, there is no justice!

With the sale of Whistler to Vail Resorts I face a new, and possibly craftier Chess Master this year, with Vail announcing an array of new options to tempt and bewilder.

At a quick glance, the best possible bargains are available to local students. I tried that one on for size, explaining to the sales rep that I was a Student of Life, so should be entitled to the best rate, but alas to no avail.

Next to catch my eye was the “Founder’s Pass”, a full season pass with extra perks, offering 50% tax deductibility as a charitable donation to the Whistler Foundation. Since skiing and dodging CRA are two of my favourite activities, the combo looked irresistible – until I clicked through to the price – a cool $6,000 ! One of the founder’s pass perks is lift tine priority for your first ride up the mountain each day, to avoid the plebeian scrum. Frankly, Mr. Vail, I would expect an honour guard of liveried lift attendants and my personal gondola for that price!

The new pass getting most of the press however is the “Epic Pass”. It’s lure is its portability, – you can ski practically anywhere on the planet with it. It fired my imagination immediately- perhaps I should buy one and create the ski bum winter  I never had as a youth, flitting from Whistler to  Kicking Horse to Vail, catching some Telluride powder, and exploring Park City and Arapahoe Basin before heading east to the famous glades of Stowe and  Mount St Anne, then on to Europe to sample Val D’Isere and  30 other famous resorts, and ending up with a week of spring skiing in Japan’s Habuba valley. An Epic ski pass indeed.

Thankfully my chiropractor brought me back to earth even before the family finance committee learned of my daydream, sagely pointing out that I practically lived in his office after just a regular day on the local slopes, so, the damage done by a ski bum holiday was sure to be epic, or worse. He, rather than I, was far more likely to enjoy a vacation as a result of my purchase of an Epic pass.

So, as I click the button to renew my boring, restricted, seniors 5 day pass I light a votive candle and mumble a prayer to the Ski Gods, asking for their indulgence next year.  Let it be the year I guessed right, and ended up ahead of the game. of ski economics.

 

 

Categories: Bucket list, humour, Reflections, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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