I’m not really sure if we are suffering from mid-life crisis, but looking back, I’m pretty certain strapping tiny pieces of wood to your legs and hurtling down a hill at break neck speeds without prior instruction was probably cause for concern.
At this point in time, we figured we’d been hanging out in cities/towns for way too long. And since Las Leñas, Argentina’s premier snow resort was “only” a six-hour bus ride away, we thought, what the heck, right? Let’s go check it out!
Who cares if we’ve seen snow less than ten times in our lives and have never ever tried any forms of snow sports before.
And it was with this attitude that we lumbered into one of the many extreme sports shops (Yeah… “Extreme”…and “Sports”… the signs are SO obvious now…) along Avenidad Las Heras to check out our gear. The ski rentals here have a collaboration with the travel agents along the same street – they offer a package with a 12am overnight bus to Las Leñas, a whole day at the snow resort and transport back to Mendoza by 1am the following day. We literally just needed to pick up our skis and go.
“Picking Up” sounds a lot easier than it really is, of course… for anyone here who are like us (meaning ski-ing sua kus), the skis + ski poles + snow boots are damn heavy, can?
Anyway, we went to Las Leñas with minimal expectations. We’d heard that snowfall this season was quite bad… bad enough that the two smaller (i.e. beginner’s) resorts in the area, Los Penitentes and Los Piquios can’t even be bothered to open.
But this was the sight that we awoke to at 6am in the morning, when the bus unceremoniously dumped our freezing asses at the entrance of Las Leñas.
Looking at the intimidating slopes, we unanimously decided that we would hold off buying the (USD$94) ski lift tickets until we… how do you call it… know a shit about what we are doing. The plan was for us to practice on the beginner’s slope first, and buy a half day pass later if we managed to get comfortable.
I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but that was a spot of damn good decision making.
You see, once we took to the slopes, we found out that we had ABSOLUTELY no problems skiing. In fact, we were pretty much natural born skiers! We were able to balance quite nicely on those flimsy pieces of wood. We were even able to dodge left and right when we wanted to.
There was just that little matter of stopping.
Newton had already established that once an object is moving at (more or less) the speed of light, it is very hard to stop its motion. To counter this problem, Jo and I came up (all by ourselves!) with a braking method that experts have called “sitting on our butts”.
The powdery snow would cushion our fall, and it was actually pretty fun rolling around in the snow after.
That’s when I ran into my other little problem.
You see, Jo, having insane core strength from years of pole training, was able to hop up immediately after a fall and go on skiing. While I, having years of training gulping down ungodly amounts of beer, would go into what I term “full-on Bender mode”. (Futurama pop culture reference!)
I just couldn’t get back on my feet!
I swear… There was once when there were four other skiers around me trying (rather unsuccessfully) to help me up.
This went on for pretty much the entire morning. Of course, any smart alec will tell you the most obvious solution to my problem… Don’t Fall (duh…). But it does get kinda demoralising… not to mention, I was starting to notice that there was an increasing circle of space around me when I ski. Other skiers were avoiding me so that they wouldn’t have to help me up when I fall!
I needed to get creative. The problem of me not being able to get up after a fall could be rather easily solved by simply going for a beer! If you don’t ski, you don’t fall, right?
Of course. The easiest thing to do is to not go back to skiing after our (pretty long) beer break. But what kind of man would that make me?
The kind that gets nagged incessantly by the wife, apparently.
So, we went back to the beginner’s slope. I’m not sure whether it’s placebo, but I sincerely felt better after downing the two (or was it three?) beers. I was giggling a lot harder when I fell for the 1000th time that day.