It was my first year of living in Utah, when I received a constant stream of visitors who all seemed physically beat after each ski day that I realized how conditioned we become to our ski day routines . They all seemed to really enjoy themselves with the terrain and all the snow, but ended each day early and seemed exhausted to the point of unhappiness each evening. And it’s not as if I’m at all fit, I love extended periods of sloth and inactivity more then most, but I realized how conditioned we each become to our own routine, and that things like the repetitious pounding one takes on Alta’s High T, were impossible to prepare for. Since then I’ve always been overly congniscent of where people were coming from, as it was a fair indication of the ski legs each would arrive with, and signal the type of skiing they’d be able to handle.

Ever since my cousins Jim and Mike planned this trip I’d been slightly apprehensive about how they’d take to the slightly strange style of skiing up here. I had no idea how they’d react to dragging themselves around on skins, our abrasive and unpredictable weather, bushwhacking through endless alders, and confused schedule, especially as I hadn’t skied with them outside of a few days in Michigan in about 4 years. After 10 days the two of them exceeded my most optimistic expectations.

Their first day in town I had to work, so we raced down the pass when I got off work, a little before 5, inhaled corn dogs at Tesoro and proceeded to ski until 9:45 hitting jumps and pillow lines. I realized that evening they’d be all set for a little hiking as Mike paced in front of me cutting the boot pack up the in run of a good sized gap we found before proceeding to throw a huge front flip.

After a day to adjust to non Midwestern terrain at Alyeska, the two of them stuck skins on for the first time and wandered up Silvertip in a shit storm with Jason, Wilson, Max and I. Mike quickly adopted my Volkil Explosives, and never complained about the old narrow skins that came with them. Jim started on Wilson’s Gotama’s and never fully settled on a pair of skis, using anything with Fritschis we could get our hands on. Neither seemed at all bothered adjusting too new skis, none of which were in decent shape. Despite the falling snow and inevitable soaking we’d receive wandering in the woods for a couple hours we silently let the two of them set out in oversized down jackets, a Norfolk State basketball jersey and late 80s Detroit Pistons sweatshirt. The two of them proceeded to get soaked from a combination of sweat, snow and splashing water crossing a creek. As we drove home, the three of us squeezed in to the front seat of my new truck, the storm began break and both were excited for the following day despite being miserably wet.

The next day they decided to borrow some proper attire and we headed back for the pass in glorious sunshine. Jim now had a massive blister on his heel, but made little fuss, wrapped his foot in duct tape and forgot about it. We met up with Wilson and Jason (who were trying to fly with Chugach Powder Guides) at the Tesoro, and drove along Turnagain and into the pass in glorious sunlight. We hit a northerly chute off Sunburst I hadn’t skied previously and found awesome snow. Both Jim and Mike skied the line without stopping, despite it being easily the longest sustained pitch either of them had previously skied, both, believing that I was filming, pushed on through burning legs all the way to the bottom, straight running the apron. I figured that after 4 days of hard skiing we’d be done for the day, but surprisingly neither seemed tired and were both insistent upon hitting a road side jump they’d spotted earlier.

Their vacation rolled along similarly throughout the week. The two of them took a day off before a day of strange powder skiing on Hillside where we poached the ski jumps, a day at Aleyska with Max, Charlie and the two Sean’s from Sunrise and a day of sled skiing on the snowmobile side of Turnagain Pass with Max.

Before they arrived I feared there vacation could coincide with an extended period of crap weather and we’d be as likely to fish as ski anything quality. But as we approached Turnagain the three of us realized this would be our 5th sunny day out of 10, a pretty decent ratio for such a notoriously cloudy area.

We found some great snow on the North facing aspects of Tin Can. The chute the 3 of us skied was long, steep and sloughing, but not heavy enough to cause any serious worries. Again Jim and Mike had no problem skiing whatever I threw at them. It’s really remarkable how well they handled the lines we took, especially in comparison to how hard I gapped every jump. They proved to be far more able to adapt to my style of skiing then vice versa. Before leaving the two of them proceeded to destroy a jump we found, each of them taking the biggest airs of the trip. And before leaving Mike even front flipped a cornice I’d been looking at since November.

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