Category Archives: Snowboarding

Ski Instructor Instruction

This coming weekend will be my fourth week as a ski instructor. I teach just outside of Seattle at a little place called Snoqualmie. If you around and need a lesson, ask for me and I would be happy to learn ya for a day or two. With just a few weeks under my belt, I can already say this is the best job I have ever had. I am moving up the ranks and have taught many solo lessons with clients that like and request what I bring to the table. By day I spend my time sharing my passion with receptive individuals. By night I learn from teachers that have been in the game for years. Here in this post, I will be going over a few things to know if you are looking to become a ski instructor. First, the physical and mental requirements of the job. Second, the learning path and a bit about the different types of lessons you will be going through. Third and last will be a bit about the culture of the mountain and how much of a good time there is to be had in the elevated chill.

First, to be a ski instructor you don’t need to be the greatest skier in the world. In fact, most professional coaches are not the best at what they coach. Generally speaking, the best coaches are people that had to struggle just to get decent at the sport. Through struggle, they were forced to pay close attention to how the learning process goes. For me, I learned how to ski at a young age and can’t actually remember learning the simple things like turning and stopping. When one of the most common questions is, “How do I turn?” it’s not the most helpful thing to say, “You just do it”. To be able to answer a question like this has forced me to rethink how I ski and by doing so has made me a better skier. So, while you don’t need to be the best skier in the world, you are going to need to know the basics that will allow you to properly demonstrate skills to your students.

The other thing that you need is that attitude of the teacher. Patients is the first thing that comes to mind as attributes that come in handy the most. Some student will understand the lesson on the first try and continue to grow exactly as instructed. Other students are going to struggle to a point where you may never be able to teach them how to ski. Patients with each person’s learning style is essential to delivering a message free of frustration. Other traits that help with the teaching style are an assertive character that can calmly articulate the theory behind each lesson so that people understand. The trick is to grab their attention so that they need not spend effort listening but can are pulled into each lesson to find understanding and in the end, performance.

Second, there are many things that you can do on skis, and many lessons to teach these many things. Generally speaking, I start each class out with an overlay on the basic of stance- Jump once and notice your posture when you land. Legs bent, torso leaning slightly forward, arms out at the ready. I might talk about ski technology and drop a bit of mountain slang on the quality of snow we are riding that day. (Sugapow is the best you can hope for up at Snoqualmie, which isn’t the greatest of rides for all you gapers that have stumbled on to this post) With skiers that have never been on skis before I first hike them up the bunny hill and tell each of them to send it. We then work it out from there. I find it best to push people into the deep end and catch them if they start to sink, but I am not working for myself and must constrain my lesions within the safety confines of corporate mountain culture. In my opinion, learning happens at the fringes where shit gets uncomfortable. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” so let’s learn the basics and then hit the most gnarly stuff we can find, but that’s just me.

Lastly, the people of the mountain are people that understand the nature of skiing. It’s a sport meant to push your limits and the people that get this are to most awesome of people. On one side of this ticket you get people that are passionate about the outdoors and often fall into the category of granola hippy. These are the people that wake up at four in the morning just so they are sure to get first tracks down the sickest line the mountain has to offer. On the other hand, you have the party people that stay up all night drinking but still manage to wake up by sunrise finding that fresh track through light pow is the best way to cure a hangover. All of these people come together and sit side by side on the lift to create something to be a part of.

This lifestyle is something that I would die for. It’s something that has brought so much good to my life and if you think you would find even a fraction of what I get from it then you might want to think about getting it. There are many other jobs that all play a role in shaping the mountain. From the humble lifty, the shredders in the ski shop, admin officials, ticket office girls, cafeteria party girls, to the elite ski patrol. There is a place for everyone that wants it and everyday people get it. Year by year fresh pow will fall, new limits will be pushed, and as the bullwheel turns, you know where I will be.

Until next,

-Chris

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A Story of Coming Up

This is a story of coming from darkness into the light, which has been theme on this blog. At one level I wish I could stay in the good life and keep on building from there, but life is full of surprises and everyone is tossed from the saddle from time to time. The value that I hope to give people who read my blog is the moment of climbing back into the saddle. In these moments can we make that triumphant cry but only with bloodshot eyes that know there is a long road ahead and that this is only the first step of a long journey. Here is an invitation to come along for the ride on yet another first step.

The past few weeks of my life it’s been hard work just to stay afloat. Mostly adrift I have been looking for something to give greater purpose and ground me in the life of my dreams. There have been two types of people that I am working with along the way and they are the people that I know I should be around, and the people that my parents know I should not be around. When it comes to a supportive environment free of the bad kind of drugs and full of the right type of attitude, my friends are split. In my mind I know that I should be hanging out with the people that fit the mold, but for sometimes I feel more comfortable with the dirty kids. Maybe it’s some sort of superiority complex where I need to feel and act like a boss. Whatever the case my life is wild and I have been teetering on a line filled with all the good and all the bad I could ever imagine.

As I continue to get into more and more crazy experiences (see “Going into the unknown”) I start to think about grounding and the events that build character. Part of me wants to run away and go headlong back into travel, but deep down I feel that I need to build something of a community and stay in one place long enough to face my demons. I was hoping that this type of grounding and greater significance in life could be found through work. A job that I love doing and one that would allow me to attain my greater aspirations in life. At first I thought that job would come by selling cars and so I tried my hand. It was an emptiness in my stomach and a yearning for more that told me it was time to find something new. In the three weeks I worked at Subaru I sold three cars and so feel that I can say that I left not because I was a bad salesman but because I am bad at working with a team. One of my demons to be faced for sure.

Living in a car with a job can feel like a bird without a nest. Living in a car without a job can be like falling into a pit without bottom. I spent the few weeks after Subaru doing some of the worst activities. Eating cheap and unhealthy, surfing junk online at whatever library I found suitable for the day. There are a few positive things the be said about my decident path. First, my meditation has stayed with me through thick and thin. 20 min a day on the usual. These practices have been expanding into a domain I can only hint at here, on this webpage, and in this current reality, into something truly profound with a path of clear challenges to be overcome. Second, I always find time to hit the gym and work my body, and it shows if I do say so for myself! My reading has also stayed on point and I will be picking up a book called The Art of Seduction as soon as I am finished with this. On the same page as reading I will say that my curiosity with life has never come close to turning off. Constantly am I looking for new things to learn and this studious attitude towards life is taking me far. I really do love learning and what may be more, I love knowing, as little as that may be. As sick and as lonely as I can feel at times, I can always look back and say at least there was this.

Ok, now it’s time to tell you the kicker. The thing that I found that provides me with so much meaning and direction and purpose that it’s changing my life. It’s a job, the job I picked up after my job at Subaru, and it’s a job that takes me in quite the opposite direction. That job is a ski instructor at a mountain about and hour from the city of Seattle. My first day was just a week ago and it’s taken over my life by (snow) storm. On my first day the hill was so crowded and the demand for instructors was so high that my second lesson I worked solo with 12 fresh new skiers. With no training it was my responsibility to get these folks (mostly around the age of 28) from gaper level skiers to something that might be able to hit a chairlift. Dare I say that I am training future rippers capable of dreaming up their next runs in the nights before they hit the slopes. Unfortunately this is not the case for everyone.

Some of the best moments of my life have been had on the side of a snow covered mountain. Conveying this to people is the best part of my job, but the reality is that most people suck and take a learning class just so they can think that they are getting unusually good at technique when in actuality it’s almost entirely about the attitude. The attitude of pushing your limits is the thing that is going to get you super good at skiing. What I get paid to do is to hold gapers hands and tell them things that make them feel like they are getting some type of understanding. I try and enlighten people to the truth as much as I can, and the truth is that if you want to get good at something you need to keep pushing your comfort zone.

The people that go pro will go for years without lessons because they have the “can do” attitude and don’t need lessons. What anyone can do to get good fast is hit the bunny hill until they can make a turn left and make a turn right. After that has been accomplished they need to take the chair (even against better judgement) and then get something like 400 right turns and 400 left turns in. After that has been accomplished its time to take it to the gnarliest terrain possible and send it as hard as you can.So long as it doesn’t kill you, you are going to come out stronger. This is the point where something akin to the title of ripper can been attained. Here is when people are capable of loving the sport for the sport itself. But hey, that’s a tall mountain for anyone to climb and I don’t expect it of everyone.

I worked with a young boy about the age of 6 for my last lesson today. We started with boot work and then gradually moved up to walking on flat ground with skis attached. After that we worked on hiking up the mountain without sliding backwards and then bombing a short distance without falling. By the end of hour one he was making turns and even stopping mid run. When I told him that I thought he had a natural gift for this sport he shrugged and said he figured as much. After a day of teaching people, most of which will never find their passion, it felt like a gulp a hot cider after a long and cold walk through the rain to work with this kid. He had the attitude and thus had a future in the sport of skiing. I can’t wait to see him next week to we how much further we can get.

I have been saving the best until last and must say that the feeling I get from working with people that really learn comes in a close second but first the feeling I get from the woman of the mountain. Everyday I teach up to 40 different people how to ski. I am doing public speaking about something that I love and all day I get to dick off and hit on women in a sly and politically not appropriate manner. It’s clear when a girl is into me and it’s something that happens slightly less than once a class, making it something like 3 girls a day. At first I was taken in by my co-workers. The girl at the shop, the girl at the ticket counter, a fellow instructor; but as of now its all about the girls I teach. I am kickin it with one the day after tomorrow. We are meeting up near the ferry, next to the bay of the Puget Sound, downtown Seattle. I can’t think of a better place for a first time.

Life always feels better with greater meaning. Meaning may be very thing that makes life feel good. A job can be a great source of meaning and a great job will do exactly that. Money will always be a problem but now, at the end of the day, I enjoy the food more because my body is exhausted from a solid day of work. Now, leave work and feel like a made a difference in someone’s life. Now I can say I made a difference in my life. I feel good about my life and where I am going. Hope you’ll stick around to see how it goes because I will be sure to let you know. I will be here, writing, learning, living and loving. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think. Best blessings and I hope that you too can find something that gives you meaning.

Tips and Tricks for living in your car

It’s been almost 5 months that I have been living in my car. There have been many upgrades that I have been able to make and have come a long ways from when I was sleeping in the back seat on nothing but the matting that is provided upon purchase. Now I live in a capable vehicle that can go from full size bedding to a 5 seater in less than ten minutes. The car community here in Seattle is off the chain as Seattle is home to more car campers than anywhere else in the country. My life is something that you would expect from anyone that lives in their car, although I must claim that I am faring better than most would be in my position. A few things that that I would like to talk about are; charging your phone, hanging out, and work.

First, as anyone can attest, we all carry around phones and much of our lives are devoted to the task of keeping the phone alive. For most people the day is started with a phone at full battery because it can be charged when asleep. For me it’s just the opposite and for a long time I would spend a good chunk of my day at starbucks for no other reason than that I would need to charge my phone, which could take something along the lines of an hour or more! Over the past few months I have realized the importance of batteries and the different ways to charge them. For starters I have a $20 batter that I picked up from Target that gets its power via USB which I keep plugged in to my car port and is good for a +30% after a day of driving. I also have a JobRocker Max which functions both as a battery charger as well as a boombox. It’s got a great battery life as and is good for maybe three or four charges when at max juice. I am not able to plug this in to my car as so simply look for opportunities to plug it into an outlet whenever I get the chance, but mostly I just carry it into starbucks maybe once every other week. I do not feel that it’s healthy to go in to a starbucks for the sole reason of charging the phone and I try to stay away from this with the help of these batteries. I also have a computer but don’t like to rely on it.

Hanging out in different parts of the city is the biggest advantage of living in your car. If I want to move to the north side it’s as simple as finding a parking spot where no one will bother me. This is a very simple to find but I will note that public parks are generally not open past dusk and even if the park does provide all the best places to wake up in the morning and pee, people will get annoyed and the cops will often be called. Shame really. On the real though, there is generally a solid place to park within one mile of anywhere in the city. I make it a point to schedule my life in a way where I can sleep in the most convenient of places and am able to drive far less than someone that needs to end up in the same place every night. I have made it a point to not park in the same spot twice though I do have a few favored spots.

A sub point that I would like to make that will look and feel a lot like bragging, but could provide some real use for anyone that is looking to use this as a model for building their own car type of living situation, is the point of the luxury type of living situation that I find myself in. In my center console I have all my grooming supplies along with various charging cables. In the compartment under the climate control I keep my weed, pipe, scissors and most other paraphernalia type equipment (pots legal in Washington, other stuff that I keep there, not so much). In the glove box I keep tissue and snacks, and behind the seats I use for storage by which I can fit all of my possessions. It helps coming into this lifestyle being a practicing minimalist. In the back I have laid a full size futon mattress that I got specifically because it is about half as thick as your regular mattress and so I am able to fold the seats up and down without too much effort. I keep the JobRocker Max in between the drivers and passenger seats at night and then move it to the back bed in during the day. It’s plenty warm with two sleeping bags and a blanket and I have more than enough room for two, which happens on occasion though not nearly enough! Another important point is that the back seat windows are tinted. This is something I did not think about when I bought the car but is something that has proved to be incredibly valuable as it protects the privacy of my room.

Last but not least I will speak on my job. Currently I am working as a ski and snowboard instructor up on the mountain. I am able to keep the board on top of the car and my boots in the front seat. The mountain that I work at is a good 40 miles away from anywhere that anyone would typically live and my shift are typically 3 or 4 days in a row. I am able to save on time and gas by camping in the region of my work which is not only efficient but also epic. It get lonely way up there in the woods but there are a few local bars that I can go into to make fun of the locals and to stave off the pain that comes with solitude. There is also all the greatness that comes with solitude as well. Books, meditation, writing, research, social media, building the consciousness of the future are all things that I have a passion for and all things that I find in abundance when living in my car.

How to be a ski bum

Step # 1: Choosing a location

The biggest factor that you should think about when choosing a mountain is the terrain. If you’re a park rat, then you should choose a place that is built for exactly that. There are mountains (Park City for example) where 90% of the mountain is one big park, but if you’re into steep cliffs, powder, easy rollers, or back country, then be assured that there is a mountain that has been built especially for you.

Another thing that divides the interests of the people is how corporate vs how laid back the mountain is. At the big wig places, such as Vail, you get the perks of having a huge community full of more people than you will ever have the time to meet. At these corporate places the lifts are almost always top notch fast tracks with covers the protect your balls from the wind as you traverse these sprawling mountain domains. On the other hand, corporations treat employees like dirt and even more so since you are a dispensable ski bum. Corporate owned places also don’t give out free beer, free rentals, free kitchen slop, or really free anything like the smaller family owned places will. At the smaller resorts you have a chance to meet and remeet people all the time. This is why I am a fan of the “fuck corporations” ideology and would highly recommend choosing something that is more off the beaten track.

Step # 2: Finding a place to live

Make sure you have a place to crash for when you get there. If you are truly rugged, then you can just bring a warm bag to sleep in and clear out a spot in the forest to sleep. I knew a guy that lived in an igloo for the winter and he turned out the be mostly sane after I got to know him. To do this you would need some tough winter gear and a bit of igloo construction skills which can all be found online. I would recommend finding a place to crash before you get there. You could go on couchsurfing.com or craigslist and finding a place to crash for just a bit while you get set up in the new city. Once you have had time to meet people on the mountain and you have made some solid friendships then you can start couch surfing through the social network. Trust me, this works. I wound up couch surfing at different people’s houses for almost two months before I found my own place to live. Depending on others for a place to sleep wasn’t always the most reliable thing and I did find myself without a place to sleep once or twice throughout the two months, but it was more fun than what you might expect.  It gave me access to a deeper part of the lives of the people that work on the mountain where by I was able to make great friends with kind and giving people. When there is a mountain party it is assumed that there will be at least 5 people crashing and you had better be sure that you are one of the 5. When I eventually did get my own place I was sure to have a party where I could give back to all my friends that had helped me throughout my time as a bum.

You will need to find a place to live and if you have been going without a home for a good amount of time then you should know the workings of the mountain and be able to pick for yourself the best of the best. I ended up getting a basement just below the entrance of the mountain and would hitch hike to work reliably every day. Keep an eye out for houses that are home to only people that live on the mountain. These houses are a focal point for social activity and often are some of the cheapest and most fun places to live. If your not forced into living anywhere you can generally find a good spot for cheap so long as your not living in a corporate owned town like the one in Vail.

Step # 3: Go Pro

Now that you have the first two steps down there isn’t much more to do than to enjoy the mountain. Be sure to explore every inch of the terrain including places you have to hike to. You are going to want to be the master of your domain and while there will always be that guy that has been riding the slopes since before you were born, you can still become worthy of the title of expert. Honestly, if you’re not worthy of the title of expert by the time you’re done with the season then your next journey should be to a cave in the woods where you can sit and rethink your life. Your time on the slopes will be one of the greatest time of your life. Be sure to get out to all the parties, make sure to talk to everyone, and be willing to stretch your comfort zones. Riding pow is an exhilarating experience that can push the most basic of instincts right to the limit. Get out there and get hurt. If you wind up without a scratch by the end of the season then you had better get to that cave and start thinking because getting hurt is part of the game.

A skibum in the purest sense of the word

Mover to the mountain 4 weeks ago, and have been able to get on the generosity of mountain people high and low. First it was finding the first couch to sleep on, then it was finding gear, now it’s about all the simple things that each person has to offer. You see, most people have gifts inside spring wrapped just waiting for someone to come along and unwrap them. Is it not the giver who owes thanks because the receiver revived? Today most people are too caught up in their own ways to understand people around them and figure out what kind of gifts can be shared. Most people find it to be a release to finally find a person who is will to accept their sincerity as a person. Really, it’s all about talking to other people to find out what their stories are and where they come from and maintaining that focus on that person even after your basic needs have been filled. It’s about the art of seduction.

Mountain rules are different from anywhere else. We have an entire team of pothead lifties and enough snow to make pot stations all over the mountain. It’s not as if we don’t care about the rules, its more that the rules don’t apply to us. Just the other day, during our start of the day meeting, it reeked of weed. The guy that’s in charge of the lifties made a special appearance and gave a speech where he did not tell us not to smoke, rather he told us not to get caught. One of the greatest speeches I have heard in my life.

The mountain is in Utah and with that comes many people who live a life by the book. No drugs, no sex, and no fun. Just kidding on that last part. On the contrary they can be lots of fun as well as easy to deal with. I have already gotten myself into many a religious conversation in which we try and persuade each other of something neither of us is going to believe in (this has been one of my favorite pastimes for a while now).

I have started to embrace my inner roguishness and have begun the seduction of someone who is already in a relationship. I figure that most people already expect me to pull something amoral like that and now that I am actively engaged in it makes everything seem smoother and fit nicer. Could cause a firestorm with me taking on all the old time lifties that have each other backs on the mountain. This would be a fight that I could not win, although I might be able to make off with the treasure before anyone is aware. I should say that I find it nice to have a challenge for a seduction. It’s exciting this way.

Friday night currently and I thought that I had a party lined up, but now I can’t find the address and I saved the contact under the wrong number and will have to wait until I see him on the mountain in order to get his info for a second time. I almost gave up on the night and resigned myself to studying something that could prove to be super valuable in terms of learning but not what I am looking for out of a Friday night. We will still see where the night will bring.

Every night for me is a challenge to find a place to sleep. Over the past week, I have been able to bounce from house to house. What has been really awesome has been learning everyone’s inner lives. They take me into their home and share with me their lifestyle. If I had a house to go to every night I would leave before things even got interesting. I would gladly pay for my currently lifestyle if only there were some way to make things dependable. Instead, when I have nowhere to go I wander the city, moving from coffee shop to coffee shop hoping that something might work itself out. I really do love my lifestyle and hope to be persuasive to anyone reading that has got the skill and the balls to pack up and move in somewhat of the same direction. I have told you it’s rough, in the future I will focus on the reward.

 

Towering above mountain, cast in shadow, eyes red

The demon named weakness calls you out of your bed

He says choose quickly, the fate of many rests in your small hands

To fight now and to forever or to lay down under my command

 

So soft and so sweet do his words lay into your mind

As if there is truth in relaxation. To sleep is divine

So tempting and sweet does deep darkness seem to be

Here we are shackled, in sleep we are free

 

Once we were stardust and to that we are bound

Any purpose beyond the wave is something I have not yet found

So easy it would be, to let go of the fight

Surrender to the pleasantness and become one with the light

 

But something inside you that will not let go

You try to control it but still it says no

This force it controls you and it says no time for rest

Bigger and better and you bang on your chest

 

Screaming at the demon we know only through fear

Screaming I will fight on and on hind legs you rear

You charge strain ahead ignoring the pain

You charge straight ahead with eyes set aflame

 

Now troubled our demon who cannot understand

He thinks that what drives you can be under his command

But you and I know better how this story will be told

The demon is you and the lesson: be bold

 

The Life of a Lifty

There isn’t much to being a lifty. You have to groom the loading and unloading zones where customers enter and exit the lift, which is done with a small snow rake that helps push the snow around in order to get things even and level for everybody. If someone falls off the lift or is having trouble getting on, then it’s the lefties job to stop or slow the lift for smooth operations. The one other thing that lifties are responsible for is closing and opening of the lift. So, what I am really trying to say is that it is one of the easiest jobs anyone other than a computer is responsible for. It’s the part that is not in the job description that really makes the kicker.

Today I got about 5 runs down the mountain while I was working. These runs take me deep into the powder country where I dodge trees as I make my way down some of the sickest stuff I have ever hit. Powder language new to me and I am working on learning how to speak in this strange dialect so that I can resend it to my readers through the interwebs. (stay tuned here for more!)

I have notices that there is a progression of moods that happen throughout the day. In the morning I am usually better than your average groggy mofo who just woke up and is ready to get bent by the slightest challenge that comes at him in the morning hours. I am more the guy that is rocking out to his ipod on the bus in the morning just trying to trick my brain into waking up. It’s the late morning/early afternoon part of the day that really grinds my gears. It feels like there is nothing worthwhile going, and no way to make things interesting. At this part of the day I am forcing myself to talk to people with manors that take true grit to get off the tongue. I am also taking runs down the groomed trails just wasting my time. It was when afternoon hit that things really started to get ramped up.

I had a desire to hit Lefties Canyon today which is a bit of a hike from the top of the lift I operate. After I got my boots strapped in and cut left of the groomed trails it becomes a time of weaving through trees in fresh powder deep enough make you lean back less you get caught up to your waste in white, sticky, wet, snow. There was a moment where I was sliding along, not going fast, just seeing how long my glide would last before I would have to start pushing by foot. I took a slow moment to realize how little effort I had to spend in order to move. I hardly even need to try and stay standing up. It was at this moment that I noticed all the trees rolling by and the wind blowing through the forest. It was so much peace that I had to laugh. Astonished with the bliss that I had found I took my time carving through the canyon and from that moment on my day/life got much better.

Now I write from a coffee shop. I have made far less money than I could have if I decided to work at a job that makes money. Instead I trade cash for the feeling that is had after hanging out on a mountain all day. We could try and put a price on this feeling and short term it wouldn’t be all that valuable. It’s after this feeling gets embedded into the soul and when the feeling is not something of a passing moment but a way of life. I am new to this lifty business but if I were to put a price on the embedding of that feeling I would then have to shoot myself for defiling such a serine moment with something as tragic and boring as economics. Instead I will remain hopelessly star struck and completely in awe of the little bit of heaven that I have found and will continue working on making it a permanent part of my life.