Wednesday, 07 January 2009
Alright people....enough is enough. We've all been up in the mountains and seen those unforgettably sad or just plain annoying people attempting to ski or snowboard. After having grown up in the mountains, there are certain things that I wish people would learn before trying to tackle the slopes. Now, I accept that not everyone knows how to get down a mountain gracefully, but there are ways that newcomers can stay out of trouble and avoid being called a "gaper."
Gaper: A person who has generally no idea what the f they are doing on the mountain.
1) One bullseye for a gaper is the infamous "Gaper Gap." This is when you let your hat and your goggles form a gap between them that exposes your forehead. It is a surefire way to tell that you are a beginner and do not belong on the mountain. Locals will instantly count you out, and you will stand out like a sore thumb. A lot of helmet companies (Red, etc) offer "gaper gaskets" which cover the gap between your goggles and your forehead......seriously, invest in one. It will make you warmer and look significantly less like a douchebag.
2) The halfpipe is great! But it was made for riding up and down the walls.....skiing/riding down the middle is maybe one of the most annoying things on the planet. If you want to at least try to get to the top of the wall.....good job! People understand that everyone needs to start from somewhere, but making little turns down the middle of the pipe.....BIG no no.
2A) While we are on the pipe/park topic, here are a couple of things to help you and everyone else around you stay sane. 1) When you are "dropping in" (or starting your descent into the park or pipe), you will notice people with their poles up or yelling out "next drop." That means that they are going next, and you cutting in front of them is not going to bode well. When you notice a little break, yell next drop, look around to make sure nobody else is going, and then go. It's a better system for everyone! 2) When you fall....get up and move the f out of the way. You will get hit or landed on if you stay sprawled out on the landing, and your trip will be over. I know you butt may hurt, but move out of the way if you don't want to be knocked out!
3) Don't talk like you know how to ride if you don't......just accept that you are a beginner! People don't mind that you don't know what you are doing if you just admit it. The worst thing on the planet is a big talker. The good guys will never admit that they are good.....everyone just knows they are. The sign of a true idiot in a mountain town is someone who talks like they know everything about everything. Chill out!
4) Bula hats/any type of hat with huge fabric spikes, hat formed in the shape of an animal, etc.....don't ever under any circumstances purchase them. Go to a local snowboard shop and ask someone to help you find a hat. They are happy to help if you are cool about it.
5) Local cultures in mountain towns are laid back, and everyone likes to meet new people. But locals are used to tourists who are either way too intense about wanting to hang out with them, or being treated like a servent by the fur coat wearing idiots. Just be normal and you will have a great time!
6) ALWAYS tip local bartenders if you want any kind of drinks served to you ever. All of them know eachother and all of them remember the people who didn't tip them. If you want your trip to be any fun at all, be nice to your servers and bartenders, and they will most likely be nice back.....with a free drink maybe? Or a suggestion on a night spot to hit up. Just remember that mountain towns are very small.
7) Don't carry your ski equipment like a "suitcase." A lot of the ski shops tell people to carry their skis with their pole straps hooked at either end, making a suitcase. Don't.....just don't. It's referred to as the Texas suitcase....and on mountains in Colorado, anything Texas isn't an endearing term. Skis go over your shoulder with the tips pointing down. You can situate the bindings so that the brakes hold your skis in place as you walk, and your tips aren't apart and all over the place. Poles in the other hand.
8) Don't step all over people's equipment in the lift line. Skis/Snowbaords are expensive! People are never ever psyched to have their equipment ridden over or stepped on, etc etc.
9) I know this seems like a lot of don'ts, but this one is for your own safety! Don't sit/stop right below a knoll. There are a ton of rolly parts on mountains that people can't see below but like to jump over. If you are sitting below one, you are in the exact position to be run over. If you need to stop, go far away from the knoll and stop on the side of the run. It may seem commonplace, but people do it all the damn time.
10) Try to have fun! Skiing/Riding is amazing....don't be discouraged by some people's attitudes or by falling a couple of times. And don't get an attitude yourself. Riding is all about sitting back, relaxing, and chilling out. My dad always said that if your teeth aren't cold on the mountain (from smiling, if you didn't catch that), then you shouldn't be there!
Have you ever been skiing? Were you ever accused of acting like a gaper?
Or, any other ski town locals have advice to offer on non-gaperdom?