Often in the first decade in which someone learns to ski, they want to do it all year around. As a result, a lot of summer skiing ideas have come and gone since I tried to do it in the ‘40s and ‘50s.
A lot of ski resorts and small hills close to a large population have tried a lot of different summer substitutes for skiing.
Mount Baldy was 10,000 feet high and less than 50 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The operators promoted weekend skiing on straw for several years. It also offered Austrian folk dancing lessons, bratwurst and ski jumping onto straw from a ramp. It is hard to enjoy making turns on straw when the thermometer is in the 90s.
Over the years, quite a few resorts have installed Alpine slides. This is a plastic trough that resembles a bobsled run but without the high speed and danger. Plus you are sitting down while you are doing it. These slides, of course, are removable for the winter season.
One year in my film, my son, Scott, filmed roller skis for me. Imagine roller blades with six-inch wide wheels that stay on top of the dirt. He chose the knee-high spring-green grass near San Francisco and the roller skiers looked just as though they were skiing in deep green snow. Unfortunately, the roller skis crush and kill the grass so landowners are not too keen on letting the roller skis wreck their hilly pastures.
In the last two decades, mountain biking has replaced the thrill of downhill skiing for a lot of younger people. The chairlift will haul you and your bicycle to the top of the mountain, but the costumes of some riders speaks of the danger of doing it.
You can ski all year around at Mount Hood just east of Portland, Ore. They have a chairlift suspended over a large glacier where a lot of ski racing camps rent part of the snow for the summer.
Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia offers all-summer skiing on its high glaciers and reports of the good skiing can be heard from anyone who can afford the time and money to fly there and ski in June and July.
I was very lucky because I lived near the ocean and discovered surfing in the summer. I built my first surfboard in the seventh grade and my summers were completely booked up for the rest of my life.
When I got back from the South Pacific in July of 1945, I put my redwood surfboard in the back of the old Buick and went surfing at Santa Cruz. Stashed alongside of my surfboard were my skis and boots. From Santa Cruz I drove east to Yosemite, picked up a friend and drove to the top of Tioga Pass where there was still some snow. We managed at least a half dozen runs each and enjoyed every one of them, including the climb to get them.
As the saying goes, “Been there and done that.” In between then and now I have managed to get enough skiing in during the winter and a lot more than most people. I’ve been pretty lucky.
I was also able to watch ski movies almost every day all summer while I was busy editing my annual ski movies. I understand the urge to keep on turning down the side of the hill, but without the frozen white stuff under your feet there is a key ingredient missing. So far no one has found a substitute for it. In Saudi Arabia they have built a giant indoor ski hill. But there is no substitute for a clear blue sky on a January morning when it is just above zero and there are eight inches of untracked powder and you are the first in the lift line waiting for it to start.
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