Words and photos by Tim Peck
Not too many years ago, skiing an envy-inducing number of days was easy—I lived near a small-but-entertaining ski hill, had an industry deal with most of the Northeast’s major resorts, was surrounded by people stoked to ski tour, and had a job that didn’t mind if I turned up with my ski boots on, so long as I was on time (or at least close to it). In fact, I could even find a few minutes to give my skis a quick tune at work if I hustled.
In recent years, though, life hasn’t allowed triple-digit ski days, ski boots don’t cut it as appropriate workwear, and dull edges and dry bases are more common than I’d like to admit. But one thing that’s remained true through the passage of time is that skiing is still as pleasurable and addictive as ever. And while I can’t commit to being in the mountains every day of ski season, I am devoted to getting as many days in as possible and squeezing every ounce of enjoyment from the moments I get to spend sliding on snow.
While I still chase bluebird skies and blower pow, strive to go bell-to-bell, and dream of days that don’t involve jockeying for position in lift lines or skin tracks, skiing has become a more social endeavor. Let’s face it: good ski partners are essential for keeping the stoke high, even on those grey bird New England days when you know conditions will be firm (a polite way we in the Northeast say there will be more ice than snow).
Meeting up with friends and skiing a few laps before the lifts turn at one of the local mountains is one way I keep the stoke high while also sneaking in a few mid-week runs. An added benefit to getting on the mountain super early is the chance to lay first tracks in any new snow or be the first person to carve fresh corduroy. Of course, the real thing that gets me out of bed before the sun rises on these mornings is breakfast.
In an effort to make these excursions more than simply about skiing, we’ve been packing along a couple of two-burner stoves, a French press, some camp chairs, and a cooler filled with all the fixings needed to make badass breakfast sandwiches and killer coffee in the parking lot. This small group of early risers—we affectionately refer to ourselves as “The Breakfast Club”—has been an incredible part of my ski season. As it comes to a conclusion, I remember the time we spent simply hanging out in the parking lot, catching up and eating breakfast just as fondly as the sunrises and first tracks.
Spending a little extra time to sit back, relax, and enjoy ski season (and friends) hasn’t been reserved just for weekdays, as the spirit of “The Breakfast Club” has also bled into weekends. Often filled with ambitious plans and objectives, slowing down at the end of the day to enjoy the successes, failures, companionship, and IPAs has become an integral part of any ski trip.
In fact, this winter I would consider camp chairs and a cooler essential pieces of my ski kit. They’re absolutely vital to enjoying trailhead après ski in style, as people are far more likely to hang out if they have a cold beverage and comfortable place to sit. Besides, what’s the rush?
As an added bonus, the cooler pays particularly high dividends when visiting Vermont’s ski country, which might be better known as beer country. Heady Topper anyone?