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Reality Check

Reality Check

From the Top
By Kendall Hamilton
posted: 01/15/2002

Serious skiers talk a lot about "soul." This mountain has it, that one doesn't. And though soul is admittedly a nebulous concept-and highly subjective at best-other skiers usually understand what they mean. A mountain's generally accepted soul index tends to be the function of any number of factors, from attitude (typically serious) to terrain (typically challenging) to clientele (typically expert) to history (typically long) to amenities (typically minimal).

But, in every case, there are exceptions. There are glitzy mountains with soul-Sun Valley, Idaho, comes to mind-just as there are simpler, less developed ski areas without it. Trying to pin down soul is like climbing an icy slope in your ski boots-as soon as you think you've found purchase, you're sliding backward again. That's because, in the end, soul is not a discrete quality, something that can be measured like so many vertical feet, but a feeling. And feelings emanate from people, not ski resorts. All of which is to say that soul is where you find it-and you might find it anywhere.

For this issue, we've conducted our own search, unearthing a few places-and a few people-that remind us why we fell in love with skiing. Nathaniel Reade finds his muse on the old-school slopes of Mad River Glen, Vt., a mountain that has steadfastly refused to join the 21st century-and is thriving all the same ("True Believers," page 72). Jackson Hogen hooks up with Dave "the Guru" Powers, one of skidom's genuine characters and a man who knows all there is to know about Snowbird, Utah-as well as a little something about a whole lot of other things ("Guru Dave and the Tao of Snowbird," page 80). Jim Neff, our Senior Midwest Contributor, scales the modest heights of Mount Bohemia, Michigan's experts-only hill, and meets a plucky breed of skiers for whom size doesn't matter ("Small but Mighty," page 88). And finally, Alex Wells sets out on the trail of some of America's lost ski areas, tromping through snow and mud with Jeremy Davis, a 28-year-old meteorologist dedicated to documenting skiing's lively history, one weathered old lift shack at a time ("Lost in the Woods," page 94).

The truth is, we could easily have published six more stories in this issue. Or 60. There's no shortage of soul to be found in the mountains.So do yourself a favor-do the sport a favor-and get out there this weekend and find whatever it is that makes you feel great about skiing. We know we will.

Enjoy the issue.

CAPTION BELOW

Closer to God The mountains are inherently soulful.

FEBRUARY 2005

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