Dave Shively: It’s the adrenaline, stupid | SteamboatToday.com

Dave Shively: It’s the adrenaline, stupid

Before the end comes – when the closure sets in and the recreational umbilical cord is ripped from the gut of the sunburned diehards- before I burn my ski socks and check the kayak for spiders, I take a brief look back before throwing another season in the bag.

What is it about a certain day on the mountain that brings it back with instant recall?

I thought my best day this year had to do with novelty.

Driving from Silverton up Cement Creek, I didn’t see another car. Then it was stepping off the lift at 12,300 feet and not seeing a sign of civilization, a couple old mines, but otherwise walled in by a ring of craggy ridgelines and peaks.

Maybe it was the combination of the group and the weather that built the memory. A friend you haven’t seen in years, sunshine and thousands of feet of untracked spring powder turns. Then there’s the element of feeling like you’re on the authentic cusp of some greater momentum toward a shared vision with the handful of other skiers – an anti-development backlash in favor of a stripped-down, basic reprioritization of needs centered around something as simple as steep hills and deep snow – communicated in an understood smile and nod hiking up or packing into the old laundry van for a dusty shuttle back to the base after an epic run.

But that’s probably just a bunch of crap.

The question that co-owner Jen Brill left me with has much more to do with the brain’s real nostalgia factory: “When’s the last time that you were scared when you went skiing?”

The more I think about it, I realize it’s not the relaxing sun-kissed cruise that sticks out to as much as the runs that trigger the worm-brain fight or flight reflex.

Eric and I opted for a first run down, “Mandatory Air,” scoffing at whatever obligations awaited us. We cursed our egos upon having to lower ourselves down a frozen waterfall on a rope to sidestep down a rock-walled tube exactly 178 centimeters wide for a couple hundred feet, but I remember it most. I signed my name on the waiver that read in bold, “You could die here today,” and I felt that twinge.

It’s the same reason why I can’t recollect specifics from the stock of 05/06 snorkel days as much as a single run, distilled to a single moment – that first trip to the canyon, an unknown cliff in the woods, those two quick breaths before stepping over the edge.

Maybe that’s why Steamboat’s riders try to inject a hint of that twinge in place of fear-inducing terrain, why kids here push themselves to invert tricks and generate demand for the longest halfpipe on the continent, why skiers move here and switch over to make more challenging tele turns or why today, you’ll find plenty folks looking to up the ante by adding enough substances to their bodies to make this final day on our melting mountain a little more challenging, maybe even a little scary.

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