While The Well Fed Skier is mostly about food, no good ski story fails to include libation, usually the more the merrier, literally.
My ski buddy Rich and I and four other members of the Riverside Ski Club left on a December 26th for a three-week ski odyssey. A day of driving in the van to our first stop, Salt Lake City, central access point for numbers of ski areas.
Let us establish up front that Rich and I are more daring on skis than the rest of the crew, often to our detriment and astonishment. The 30th we skied Snowbird, having worked up to the day on lesser demanding terrain. Rich and I met a Salt Lake local who offered to show us the Snowbird hidden gems, the trails and glades the locals skied to avoid the tourists. Of course, we signed up … we had no idea who Doug was or to what kinds of chaos he could introduce us.
Following Doug through the trees we shot out over a rock and dropped about eight feet. When I came to a stop, standing thankfully, I noticed that I had three pine needles sticking out of my nose like acupuncture needles. I guess it was that last pine tree just before the world fell out from under my feet. Rich kindly pulled out each pine needle, leaving three blood drop puncture wounds; I had my Purple Heart for the day. Where was Doug taking us next?
Shadows lengthening and light failing Doug invited us to his house for steak and drinks, which we gladly accepted. We explained we were staying in a motel and the rest of the crew would be using the van. No problem, Doug said he would come pick us up. We hooked up with the rest of the crew and headed back to the motel and the shower.
As we arrive at Doug’s house and meet his wife and two dogs, Doug says I have a great drink you have to try … a Fudpucker, sometimes known as a Freddy Fudpucker. Of course, we would love to try a Fudpucker … just what is it exactly?
Equal parts: Orange juice
One-half part: Heavy cream
Into a blender with ice; blend.
Pour into a glass and float Galliano on top.
Goes down like an Orange Julius; kicks like a mule, especially if using Ronrico 151 instead of ordinary rum. How many Fudpuckers does it take for onset numbness, physical and perceptual? Not many.
Doug dropped us off at our motel about 2 am. How do I know? Because the only thing in focus in our room was the light on the alarm clock.
The rest of the crew pounded on our door at 7:30 am and gave us 15 minutes to get dressed to go to Park West (subsequently named Canyons and now part of Park City). They had eaten breakfast; none for us. Of course, we were all amongst the first in the lift line.
I came out of the trees at the top of a medium-sized open slope lined by trees that looked inviting. Releasing slightly downhill across the slope it avalanched behind my tails. The only option was to keep going straight and hopefully make it into the opposite tree line before being swept away. I am telling you about what happened so obviously I made it into the tree line. My heart, lungs and the rest of my body were less sanguine. Rich arrived to tell me I was lucky as hell; thank you for validating the obvious.
Now it was 2 pm and we decided we needed to eat something. Stopping was a huge mistake. In retrospect, I suspect when we started skiing that morning we were still getting drunk from the Fudpuckers and they did not start wearing off until early afternoon. I am sure getting scared stiff helped create a level of sobriety.
Rich and I fell asleep in the van back to the motel, and both crashed into bed sans showers. The crew had made reservations at a famous Salt Lake steak house for New Year’s Eve dinner. They annoyingly kept coming into our room to rouse us, to no avail. There was no way either of us was moving from the horizontal anytime soon. Thus endeth our skiing in Salt Lake; on to Jackson Hole.
You have not been cold until you have experienced Jackson Hole cold. The wind chill at the top of the tram was 80° below zero; the raw air temperature about -40°. There was no way we could ski the top of the mountain. Luckily there was an inversion layer in the center of the mountain where we could loop on the chair; only -20° there and little wind. Having made it to Jackson Hole there was no way we were not going to ski. Of course, about three chair rides and it was time to go inside and warm up. Dropping below the inversion layer to head for the lodge we faced a choice, go like hell and endure the stinging pain or go slower and endure the cold longer. Obviously, we went like hell. This was the only time in my skiing life I have ever worn a down facemask.
Mother Nature was kind and the weather warmed up to positive single digits. Skiing on Apres Vous I took a header at the top of a mogul field. It was icy; I snapped both safely straps on my skis and lost them (pre ski brakes). I also lost my hat, goggles, both poles and one glove. I was sliding downhill head first with no ability to stop, bouncing off the moguls and sliding in the troughs. Realizing my predicament I could only laugh. Somewhat over a hundred yards later I finally came to a stop at the bottom of the slope. As my heart decelerated I was suddenly aware of someone standing over me and looking down at me. The disembodied voice said, “are you alive?” As my eyes came into focus, I recognized the uniform of a member of the Ski Patrol. Laughingly I said “yes.” He then said, “that was the finest yard sale I have ever witnessed. I thought you were dead.” About then Rich and the rest of the crew arrived having graciously retrieved my litter; skis, goggles, hat, poles, glove. Nothing broken, laughter was the only palliative for the spectacle.
We were using Don’s van for our ski odyssey; he would provide the van, the other five of us would pay for Don’s travel expenses, gas, room and meals. Don was to make sure the van was ready; he had it serviced before we left. However, being a Southern California boy, he did not have the shop put in winter weight oil nor did they drain the window washer and put in deicer. One day in Jackson Hole and the motor was frozen solid. The van had to be towed to a heated indoor garage. The shopman estimated it would take three to four days for the oil in the motor to thaw sufficiently to be drained and replaced, even with externally applied heat. The estimated charges, including towing and the heated garage, were measured in hundreds. (Mostly not a problem with today’s synthetic oils.)
Don’s position was his frozen motor was a travel expense that he expected us to cover; Rich and I saw the matter differently. Further, the delay in departing from Jackson Hole would make us late for ski week in Sun Valley. Don and the rest of the crew elected to stay in Jackson Hole until the van was drivable; Rich and I rented a car and headed for Sun Valley. (It turned out when the van was drivable they returned to Riverside; they never made it to Sun Valley.)
Back then the United States Ski Association held an annual ski week at a major resort that typically attracted a thousand or more skiers. Festivities included club and individual competitions; some serious ski races, other fun obstacle races.
Rich and I introduced Fudpuckers to our friends who introduced them to their friends who introduced them … you get the idea. Soon we were teaching the local bartenders how to make Fudpuckers. By the middle of the week you could not find orange juice, pineapple juice, heavy cream or rum within a hundred miles of Sun Valley.
One night we were in the metropolitan-size hot tub outside the Sun Valley Lodge. People were bringing waste baskets full of Fudpuckers to the hot tub; they even brought plastic cups to share.
Friday noon of ski week was an awards luncheon. Rich and I were called to the podium for a special award, crossed broken skis with an orange peel, the top of a pineapple, and an empty rum bottle nailed to them. To quote, “never have two skiers effectively wrecked so many in such a short time.” Our odyssey at an inglorious end, and leaving behind our memento for the legions of skiers to follow, Rich and I flew back to Southern California safe in the knowledge that we had served well our fellow skiers.