October rain means October snow in higher elevations


The rain is coming down hard, heavy, horizontal and very loud.

Every October, there’s a race to see who can offer the first skiing in America for yet another winter.

Since Arapahoe Basin is at the highest altitude and with a large man-made snow making machinery in place, it is nearly always the first each year. (It is also where anyone who skis there over the age of 60 needs to have an oxygen bottle in his or her rucksack in order to not die of oxygen deprivation.) Red Lodge in Montana received 30 inches of snow from out of the sky, instead of hoses, on Oct. 12.

Now that the higher altitude, northern resorts can blast man-made snow earlier and earlier in October, the people who live within driving range of them can get a couple of extra weeks of bragging rights. I have a grandson who is 17 years old and lives in Boulder.

When I talked with him on Monday, he said some of his friends are going up a few days early and camping out in the chairlift line so they can really have bragging rights for the first 100 riders. Youth. I’m not totally sure I miss it!

There was a time, in the 90s, when I would have been near the head of that line, and that fire in the belly for me is still there after all of these years because I know what I’m looking forward to.

Another reason was that I was financially a doofus and never worried that I was always out of money, but I was always able to cobble the money together that was necessary to buy transportation up the side of a ski hill, even though rope tows were only $2.50 a day.

All you hear or read about today are studies about snow-sport stuff. I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on how many hours are wasted by skiers sitting in front of their computers and phones texting back and forth with all of the new tools, overloading on useless information.

The only thing that really matters is that skiing has never changed. However, everything surrounding it has changed a lot.

I know that a lot of people get stoked on going skiing by watching a ski movie in the autumn, some of which still bear my name.

I am happy that there are still some of them around in various forms of computer stuff that are all about fun and games on the side of a hill.

It’s something hard for me to believe that I even earned a living doing such a thing as traveling all over the world with my skis and camera at the fall of a snowflake.

Unfortunately, for me, right now my skis, boots, and poles are in my garage in Montana and so I can’t get them out and at least do a few kick turns on the grass in front of my house to make sure I can still do one.

Why don’t you put your boots and skis on and do the same thing in your backyard? It sounds silly but a lot of the stuff we do on skis is really silly.

Neighbors already know you and your family are certifiably weird or else you would go to Florida and play golf with the other members of your bowling league.

In the meantime, that rain that is falling horizontal is falling in snowflakes at a higher altitude. This storm should be over Montana, Idaho, and Colorado by Halloween, if not sooner.

Warren Miller is an American ski and snowboarding filmmaker. He is the founder of Warren Miller Entertainment and produced, directed and narrated his films until 1988. His annual films on skiing and other outdoor sports are renowned for their stunning photography, witty narrative humor, and the impressive talents of athletes. He has received wide acclaim for his promotion of the sport of modern skiing through his films spanning over 50 years and is an iconic figure in ski movie filmmaking. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the Mammoth Times.