Semple: Living the Skiing Nightmare in Aspen | Opinion

Have you ever heard someone say they had their first “ski dream” of the season and think, “First ski dream of the season? Whore ! I don’t even remember having one. If you haven’t had a skiing dream, don’t worry. The dreams I have of skiing these days are stress-related nightmares that, frankly, I’d rather not have. I feel like I’m one repeat cycle away from a dream in which I’m naked in a “Magic for Beginners” ski school lesson, wearing nothing but rental boots and parabolic rental skis 140 centimeters.

Hearing someone brag about dreaming about skiing strikes me as a kind of bluster. It’s the same type of person who asks you if you skied today, then when you say, “No, I was working,” they’ll tell you how good it was — or that you totally missed it.

I heard someone in town say he dreamed of skiing all night. I’m not an amazing skier, but I saw this guy skiing, and it couldn’t be such a good dream, I thought to myself. Also, I don’t like – borderline harbors a disdain for – that silly expression to describe powder. Just saying that word makes me cringe. “Freshies” sounds like the product name of a panty liner or personal genital odor deterrent spray you’d see advertised on daytime TV while watching soap operas. Not a fan.

The Inuit apparently have hundreds of words for snow. I guess “freshies” is not one of them. “Powder” works well for me. The next time you catch yourself saying “fresh,” don’t. Be an Inuit instead. Say “murauneq,” which translates to soft, deep snow. (It’s pronounced the same as “moron”.)

Last month, I had a nightmare about skiing. I was in a NASTAR race. I had the victory well sewn up, when I randomly missed the last gate downstairs and was immediately disqualified. There was a crowd downstairs. They all laughed hysterically pointing at me. Then I woke up. The next morning, my older sister called. She’s a professional psychologist. I told her about my skiing dream and she responded with a dismissive comment about my state of mind. Free advice comes at a high cost.

As if that weren’t enough, I had another nightmare about skiing about a week later. It was early winter and there was a “powder troop” in the Aspen Highlands Bowl. By the way, I stopped doing those things after they made you wear a helmet and bring an avalanche beacon. I showed up to do one (awake, actually) with an old fashioned mountaineering helmet, and people laughed at me for it. Old tyrants never die.

In the dream I was hiking on the ridge, doing very well. When I reached where it was necessary for you to get down and ski I looked down and the terrain looked like something out of a Teton Gravity Research movie – nothing I had ever seen in the bowl, well at above my ability level. Just a series of barely negotiable avalanche paths, flanked by rocks and jagged cliffs. To make matters worse, everyone but me was booing and screaming in exultation, all the while skiing the lines perfectly without crashing. I put my skis back in my trusty bowl strap and made my way back down the ridge safely.

The older I get, the greater my fear of hurting myself, getting hit or hitting someone else. Last year in December, I almost got kicked out of the Big Burn six pack. Perhaps a dream analyst would play with the cogs of my fragile eggshell mind.

Someone asked me the other day if I was excited about skiing. Generally, I’m not enthusiastic about skiing — until I start skiing. I have too much work to do until then to be “happy” to be skiing, and miles to cover before sleeping. I usually treat the start of the ski season as ‘woe to me’, downtrodden, the kind of thing I have to do because I live here. I should be more stoic and shift my mindset towards gear where skiing is something I can do, sprinkle in gratitude and play sports that weirdly define me into something I’m capable of.

I have all the mechanisms in place: the full ski pass with a smoldering side of IKON, the new army green boots that smell good, the High Society skis perfectly adapted (for what I do) from the last year, because that money can’t buy class or skill. I also have one of those new trendy lightweight climb setups, with the adorable mountaineering “kit” to match. Even my outfit options have options.

Incidentally, I received an email regarding a class action lawsuit against IKON asking if I would be interested in suing them due to the COVID shutdowns years ago. I haven’t yet been able to go on a “ski vacation” and use the pass at other resorts, let alone sue them. Ho-hum, trapped in Aspen. See? Woe to me.

You don’t even necessarily have to have nightmares or stress-related dreams about skiing when you can experience these delusions in real life. Whether it’s forgetting your pass, getting stuck in traffic on a powder day when the mountain is trashed in minutes, or arriving at the mountain to realize your boots are in the locker room still plugged into a heater, there are plenty of ways to mutilate your ski day. There’s a fine line between a skiing nightmare and living the dream badly.

I was able to put my finger on a correlation between a certain type of cuisine and the dream: Indian cuisine. I think it must have something to do with the elaborate blend of spices and aromas conjuring up night visions. I need to eat more Indian food. Maybe I could reach for my copy of “The Aspen Cookbook” that came out during the pandemic, put on my Hedley & Bennett apron, and recreate the Public House Dreamweaving chicken tikka masala recipe in my Le Creuset Dutch oven. Anyway, my head just isn’t in the game yet. Maybe I’m an excitable boy, just a delicious meal and a ski dream far from excited to ski this year.

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