Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Starting to get Interesting . . .

When you go skiing, what kind of terrain are you looking for? By that, I mean, what kind of stuff do you like to ski?

It seems like a great majority of the skiing public prefers groomed terrain, which I find to be kind of weird. I mean, think of the groomers on your local mountain.  Is there any real difference from one to the next? I mean, sure, maybe the pitch changes, maybe the aspect is different, and maybe the snow quality has some slight variation from one to the next. But, really, is your skiing experience going to be THAT much different if “Groomer A” is closed for the day, so you have to default to “Groomer B”? 

When I ski, I spend a lot of time looking for “Interesting” terrain. Interesting terrain could be anything from icy bumps, to a glade with ridiculously thin cover, to a terrain park, and everything in between. I’d rather the conditions be horrible and difficult, than easy and boring.

I was thinking about this today when I was thinking about my life. When it came time to make decisions in life, I always tried to make the easy and boring decision: go to school, get a job, buy a house, get married, etc. It’s like I was following everybody else, straight down crowded Groomer A. As things fall apart, I’m starting to think that maybe there’s more interesting stuff out there. 

Who says I have to follow the same path that everyone else is following? What if I want to duck into the trees for a while? What if I want to throw myself into the air, knowing that there’s a distinct possibility of a spectacular crash? What if I just want to get away from the freaking people on Groomer A?

The people are the worst! With their boring talk about how this trail is so great, and Groomer B is probably great too, let’s do that next, and then we’ll all reconvene at the end of the day and talk about how great our day was and we go home happy knowing that we all took the safe route, never experienced any risk, and didn’t fall all day.  Sure, there were tough spots, like that patch of ice on Groomer J, but we were proud of the way we handled that, and we all got through it safe and sound, and we all came away better for the experience.

Ugh. No thanks. But what about those people over there? What about those guys poaching that line under the lift? What about those shadows moving through the woods?  What about that dude hurling himself down that mogul field?  Ahhh, now these are the people I can relate to.  People who take chances, people who take risks, people who put themselves out there, knowing that it’s possible that they could fail, but even if they do, at least they’ll have an epic story to tell about it.

This is the kind of person I’m attracted to in life, as well.  Tell me about your crazy schemes, let me know about your harebrained ideas, tell me the story of how you took that chance in your life, and what happened as a result.  Give me your wild, your sure, your untroubled badasses yearning to freeski! People who choose their own path, and have better stories as a result. 

Because I really don’t want to hear another diatribe about how that snowboarder cut you off. I want to hear about that time your buddy almost got caught in that tree well.  I want to reminisce about that crazy cliff huck with the sketchy landing.  I want to relive that face shot, or soft spring corn bump field, or boost out of the pipe.

I know what you’re thinking: “But Matt, not everyone has the ability to do all that stuff you’re saying”. I know. Similarly, I have a job, a mortgage, a car loan, and a house.  I just can’t sell all my crap, and just start biking across the country with the clothes on my back, either. But you can take a chance.

Next time you’re skiing, do one thing that scares you. One thing different. One thing that’s not in your daily routine. Slide a box. Sample some snow in the woods. Hit a kicker. You might find that it leads to a whole new appreciation for life outside of the same old groomer. 

I’m going to Alaska this spring. It might be horrible, it might end catastrophically, and it might send me running back to New York with my tail between my legs. But it’s possible that it’ll be the best trip I’ve ever done. I might have the time of my life. This trip could open me up to an entire life that I never even considered before.  And just knowing that makes it worth the risk.

It’s time to choose a new trail.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Burning Skis

Well, it was a pretty good weekend. On Saturday night, we burned skis:

And on Sunday night, I skied in the Torchlight parade.  After that, things started to get really hazy.  Strange.

Hopefully, the sacrifices to the snow gods are heard and we can get some snow soon.  I'm jonesin' for some pow.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Craigslist Score

When I made the decision to buy the Pentax k-x, I willingly sacrificed the wide range of lenses of Canon and Nikon for shutter speed, video capability, and price.  And, as an added bonus, the Pentax is backwards compatible with nearly all of the lenses ever produced for Pentax SLRs - digital and 35mm.  I didn't really give much thought to this added feature.  If I was going to buy a lens, it would probably be a nice new Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8.  Only problem: the lens is about $450.

So, whenever I went to a garage sale or flea market, I casually looked for any older Pentax lenses that might be around.  I never stumbled across one single lens.  I never even saw a camera.  Well, just the other day, a guy was selling an old Pentax camera (K1000) on craigslist with "extras".  Turns out the extras were a 70-200mm f/3.8-4.8, a 100-300mm f/5.6, and a 50mm prime f/2, a lens cleaning kit, some filters, and a camera bag.  Nice.

I haven't gotten to fool around with the longer range lenses, but here are a couple of shot comparisons with the 50mm prime (comparing to my 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens).





I don't need to be a professional photographer to realize that the pics with the new lens are a whole lot better.  The only problem is that with these new lenses (all of them), is that I lose the ability to autofocus.  I don't know if that is going to hinder their use in skiing, when I like to bang out a bunch of pictures in a row and I can't be bothered to focus on every one.  I guess time will tell.  Right now, though, I can't think of any other way I would have rather spent that cash.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Powder Skiing? This Year?!? Now!?!?!?!

Got a few pics from today that I played with on the computer a little.  The full report is over on Harvey Road.  Here's some choice shots:

Check The New York State Ski Blog for more!