For me, Alyeska is a magical place where dreams come true and the laws of physics don’t apply. Much like Narnia, Never Never Land and the island from “Lost,” things that seem impossible in the outside world are often regular occurrences.
At least, this is generally the case.
Unfortunately, Alyeska this past weekend was a hellish ice apocalypse filled with swirling death and enough danger to frighten even the hairiest yeti. My most recent trip was not the most enjoyable I’ve ever had, and frankly I’ve never paid that much money to be beaten to a pulp before.
I had planned this one-man expedition for several weeks and my excitement had reached a fever pitch. I had new boots, indestructible bindings and a board that had yet to try and murder me. I woke up early for this. That’s just not something that I do, I won’t even wake up for fire alarms unless they’re after 10 a.m. This was a big deal.
After a harrowing lesson in road rage on the Seward Highway and a Slurpee-filled pit stop, I arrived to face a minor setback. The entire upper mountain, the only portion I gave a damn about, was closed due to howling winds worthy of Norse legend. Being an optimist and even more of an opportunist, I decided to use this two and a half hour gap as a chance to flirt with the Emma Stone lookalike behind the coffee counter — meaning that after getting shot down, I still had two hours and twenty-nine minutes to kill. It also brought my success rate of hitting on hipster baristas to just a hair above zero.
So after enduring nearly three hours of overpriced fries and dirty looks from the coffee stand, I finally decided to find a gentle sloping driveway somewhere in Girdwood to get some use out of my board. I’ll try to spare you most of the gory details of that little mishap, but let’s just say that I left a comical amount of blood, a few fingernails and half a glove in some poor soul’s icy driveway.
At this point there would have been no shame in going home, and a smarter man may have done just that. I am not a smart man. Noticing that the upper lifts were finally running, I fought my way through the suspiciously empty crowds to race to the top of the mountain. After sharing the lift with several clueless Canadians, a couple ex-cons, and what smelled like a yeti, I had finally made it.
Upon starting my descent, I quickly came to two realizations. First was that my patchy leprechaun beard was far less effective against the howling winds than I had expected. Second was that the entire mountain seemed to have been paved with an ice-concrete hybrid that didn’t seem to agree with my board. Or my bones.
Remember that scene in “Star Wars” where Han effortlessly navigates the asteroid field? Now imagine he hit every one of them with his head, and you have a fairly accurate picture of my experience. I truly doubt that I could have done more soft tissue damage had I decided to take a nap in a cement mixer. I was so convinced that I had broken my finger that I kept my left glove on until I returned to Anchorage, which made me look ridiculous while driving, since I was still wearing my goggles to compensate for my lack of sunglasses.
So after two hours of snowy self-abuse, my adventure culminated in two bruised knees, one slashed hand/elbow, a nearly broken ring finger and a handful of head injuries. I also ingested coffee that the faux Emma Stone barista may have spit in, but that’s anyone’s guess. Battered, bruised and holding back manly tears of awesomeness, I departed from my beloved mountain and began the long journey back to my home in the icy city. And though I’m not one to beg for favors, if any loyal reader wants to bring me a pitcher of Red Stripe and a massage chair, I’d be forever in your debt.