BUMMIN’

Skiing - - Editor’s Letterfocus - —SAM BASS

In late fall, I re­ceived an e-mail from a friend of a friend, a guy who was pack­ing up a ’93 Chevy Astro (he’d named it Sparkles) to head west with some bud­dies in search of snow. They’d been raft guides and kayak­ers in Maine all sum­mer, a bunch of river bums drink­ing cheap beer, play­ing out­side, and loving ev­ery sec­ond of it. They had only a vague sketch of what might hap­pen out West, but they knew it would in­volve drink­ing more cheap beer and play­ing out­side again— this time in the snow.

Whether you call it dirt-bag­ging or bum­ming, and whether your pre­ferred mode in­volves rivers and boats or snow and skis, it’s a life­style you know in­ti­mately. Maybe you’re liv­ing it now, in a moun­tain town, hold­ing down a few part­time gigs that pull in enough cab­bage to keep you deep in pow­der and flush with gear. Maybe you once lived it, and de­spite the pesky dis­trac­tions of adult­hood—job, fam­ily, mort­gage—it’s an ideal you still reach for. Be­cause once you’ve sipped that in­tox­i­cat­ing brew of friends, fun, snow, moun­tains, and grav­ity, you can’t ever let your can go empty.

You’ve got war sto­ries, like the snow­maker in Aspen who had to chase down his co­worker’s ghost-rid­ing snow­mo­bile after the guy got tossed when a deer jumped in front of him. Or like the Utah race-crew worker who, to the ex­treme jeal­ousy of the rest of the crew, got se­duced by the hot masters racer they’d been ogling all sea­son.

You’ve got ad­vice, like pro big-moun­tain snow­boarder Jeremy Jones, who learned dur­ing his first win­ter of bum­ming in Jack­son to be “small, clean, and pro­vide lots of beer” when shar­ing cramped ski-town quarters with like-minded in­di­vid­u­als.

I haven’t run into the guy yet, that friend of a friend, but I’m sure I’ll see him soon in the lift­line or skin track. Maybe I’ll hear him whoop when a rope drops some­where and he’s charg­ing to­ward fresh tracks.

I’m sure you’ll be there too, you bum.

Pho­tog­ra­pher » Brent Ben­son. Lo­ca­tion » Alta, Utah. Skier » Rob Greener.

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