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  • Peggy Simonsen

Climate change affects skiing

Returning to skiing for the first time since sciatica weakened my right leg last spring, I had some trepidations. We drove up from San Francisco to the Tahoe area of the Sierra Mountains, to my son’s mountain house. There was some snow from awhile past, but the next day we awoke to 34 degrees and rain! We got our gear ready, put on rain jackets and headed to Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley, name changed to be politically correct), not knowing if it might be snow at higher elevations. I am lucky to ski free (over 80!) because daily lift tickets now cost $269!!! Leaving the skis in the car, we walked to the base area in driving rain and strong winds to find out that the lifts were on wind-hold. It would not have been a hard decision to make in any case, as it was just plain miserable! The president of Aspen said a few years ago that if you don’t think one degree of warming makes a difference, it is the difference between rain and snow and at a ski area that makes a difference between profit and loss!

The next day we did have sun and skied on snow that had followed the rain. I was a bit tentative, but my son pointed out that this is my 70th ski season, and those old habits die hard, so muscle memory helped and I skied. Out of shape because I stopped going to the gym during the pandemic, and weakened by sciatica, I could feel the effects of 8,000 feet altitude. Sun helps a lot, but the next day we had snow and fog, so visibility was poor and I skied defensively. Mike was ultimately patient and encouraging, but it was enough to motivate me to work on my leg strength before the next ski trip.

Driving back to San Francisco, we again had pouring rain, which was the leading edge of the atmospheric river of rain that the following week caused all the flooding in SF and northern California. My flight home was delayed and my luggage lost, but I did get home before the weather deteriorated more. Still, always great to be in the mountains and the first time in three years I have skied with Mike.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anaïs Nin

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