Reluctantly, I moved closer to the edge. From there, I could’ve sworn it was a straight down drop all the way to the bottom. “No way i’m doing this…” , I thought to myself.
About five hours earlier, the awful screeching of the broken hotel alarm clock woke us up. My dad, my brother Sam, and me, all still exhausted from the previous couple days, quickly ate breakfast and got bundled up. The third day on the slopes is when the altitude and soreness always kick in the worst. We grabbed our skis and headed outside. I put mine on eagerly and got on the ski lift before my dad and brother, alone. As I was on the way to the top, I looked at my surroundings. The sun was just barely peeking over the mountain to my left, and it illuminated the valley in a way that would stick with me. Not a single person was carving yet, so the snow was perfectly untouched, and calling to me.
At the top, I met up with my dad and Sam. We started off the day like usual, doing a few easy runs and then some more intermediates. Something about today felt off, because it seemed like almost nobody else was around. The only other person I had seen all day was a man wearing all red, and he was three chairs ahead of me on the lift, also alone. At one point on the way up I thought I noticed him looking back at me, but I wasn’t sure. After a few minutes of catching our breath from the first trails, my dad finally broke the silence and suggested that the three of us go ski Iron Foot, which was one of our favorite slopes from the previous days. Quickly agreeing, we went. On the way there I saw the man in red again, and I knew he was looking at me this time.
I was casually skiing behind Sam and my dad, and I decided I was going to try to get in front of them to beat them to Iron Foot. I saw a cut-through in a wooded area, and remembered looking at the trail map earlier this morning. The upper trail that we were currently on was connected to Iron Foot by a few of the cut-throughs. Without thinking twice about it, I took the turn and began going through the trees. Slopes in the forest have always been my favorite, because they take everything off your mind, and require full focus. Also, the cold air rushing over you is one of the best feelings in the world. After a few minutes on this trail, I began to wonder why it was taking so long to get to Iron Foot. At the same time, I was noticing the steepness was increasing drastically. Up ahead, I could see that the trail flattened out to a clearing, and I felt relieved. When I got there, however, I knew that I had taken a very wrong turn.
This “clearing” was actually the platform before a slope, and not just any slope. In front of me was a double-black diamond —the hardest rating on any mountain— and this one happened to be the second hardest in the entire mountain range. I can’t repeat what I was thinking to myself at this time. I didn’t even want to see what it looked like. Reluctantly, I moved closer to the edge. This hill was so steep that machines couldn’t even comb the snow, so it was rough and icy all the way down. At this point, I came to the realization that literally nobody even knew where I was, and that was a scary thought. My mind started to race. What do I do? Can I hike all the way back through the woods? Is there anyone around me? I was unsure of the answer to all these questions, so I decided to debate the most practical option I had, which happened to also be my worst option. I mean, if I went down this slope and died, at least it’s a worthy one to die on, right? Through all my thinking, I noticed that a lot of time had passed, so it was time to go. Slowly, I slid over the edge.
“You’re so dumb.” , said Sam, as I explained the whole story to him and my dad. They had been waiting on a bench by the ski lift for over thirty minutes, and were scared to death. When I had initially skied down towards them, they both ran to me, frantically checking if I was okay. Surprisingly, I actually was. On the entire slope, I had only fallen twice. I proved to myself that I was really a way better skier than I knew, and also that if you push away the fear of danger you can accomplish a lot more than you think.
The next day, which was the final day of our trip, everything was back to normal. The slopes were full of people again, and everyone was happy. Also, the man in red from the day before was nowhere to be found. Out of all things normal, only one thing was now different. My dad never let me ski behind him again.