Life: The Dark Side

Randon-yea!Happy New Year from “Down and Out.” I’m not huge on resolutions that relate to a specific time of the year. It’s possible, I think, to muster up the strength to make a necessary change when the time is right. And that could happen at any moment. The change could be as little as deciding to toss recyclable trash in the right bin. Or as big as switching from snowboarding back to skiing, which is what I recently decided to do. When I told a snowboarder of this decision, he chided me for “returning to the dark side.” Well, the “dark side” has never been so fun, I say, especially as I discovered the joys of skiing with an AT (alpine terrain), or randonnée (as the French call it), set-up on my recent trip to Chamonix, France. This ski system has a releasable binding so that it’s possible to skin up steep terrain with an unattached heel and then click back in (voilà!) to descend, as if on alpine skis. The benefits of this system are numerous, but the biggie is that this set-up makes it possible to access more off-the-beaten-path terrain. Or just to get a good burn going in the thighs skinning up groomers when the lifts are closed (as they were here, above Vallorcine):

Skinning Up

Since I’m basically skiing downhill these days with the ability of an out of control fifth-grader, I feel more nervous about skiing with a big backpack than I feel about climbing with one. Nonetheless, my scary-talented ice-climbing friend convinced me to ski into a climb, and all went surprisingly well (here I am whacking away after his stellar lead):

Axe Slinger

Maybe the one good thing about this time of the year is the forced celebration. It is as if a series of festivals have been woven into the fabric of American society, and instead of dwelling on the commercial absurdity of it all, I’d rather think of the holidays as a time to celebrate our families, our friends, our communities, a time to celebrate this life that we have. Thank you for the memories, friends in Chamonix (scary-talented ice-climbing friend pictured below):

scary-talented

And “Down and Out” readers, you are a part of my community, too, so thank you!

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