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By: Tom Fletcher, CFP®

A few weeks ago I joined my brother and a couple of friends for several days of skiing at Breckenridge Colorado.  This was my third time at “Breck” and the skiing with the nearly 200 inches of snow having fallen up to that point in the season, was the best I’d had there. Our three ski days included two pretty good “dumps” of snow. Enough had fallen over the prior couple of weeks that avalanche control was busy firing explosives the entire time we were there (they try to prevent avalanches by loosening up some of the dangerously large drifts that accumulate in trouble spots). Having not had a lot of experience with those things, I can tell you it’s a little startling to be minding your own business peacefully skiing down the trail when you suddenly hear and feel the concussion of a loud B-O-O-M nearby. I checked out Breckenridge’s website and was informed these bombs can be launched like a cannon from a pretty good distance away, detonated in a snow cornice or lowered by rope into a potential trouble spot; obviously not while skiers are in the area. My guess is when I come back in my next life as a twenty something year old, I’m going to give that job a try for at least a couple of weeks. It might not help my hearing though.

I’ve been quoted in this column in the past saying something to the effect of there’s little similarity between east coast and west coast skiing. It simply boils down to the type of winter precipitation and humidity. East coast = ice +humidity; west coast = snow + no humidity. I guess being from New England makes me more or less “comfortable” skiing on ice, whether it’s frozen or in granular form. And skiing on packed powder out west is pretty much the reason I try to visit there at least once a year. But a lot of fresh snow tends to present problems for me. That was evident on my third day. There’s something unnatural for me about not being able to see my ski tips from time to time and having to lean back to make turns. Even stopping, which can be occasionally important, can be a challenge. I’ve always been a big fan of those Warren Miller ski videos where some stud goes hurtling down impossibly steep terrain in fresh powder with wide sweeping turns and takes the occasional 15 foot drop over a cliff, landing perfectly. I think I’ll need a few more lessons before I reach out to Warren for a video shoot anytime soon.