Some Unforgettable Ski Experiences

Top of the Valluga in St. Anton, Austria

Following are seven memorable ski experiences on two continents that I won’t soon forget. I look back with wonder and awe at the joys skiing gave me as well as the risky predicaments I escaped from.


Picture wooden skis with one leather strap binding on each ski. It’s similar to putting your feet in flip flops and it’s an accident waiting to happen. These runs occurred often on the 4th hole of the Trenton Country Club golf course as a teenager.


I skied on wooden skis over 6-feet long with no metal edges and unreleasable bear trap bindings. One bad fall and your skiing days could easily be history. I called it survival skiing in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.


Progressively advanced technology towards metal ski-and-release bindings. The binding settings are determined by a person’s weight, skiing ability, age, and snow conditions. This was in Mount Snow, Vermont.


The advent of shorter skis allowed non-ski racers to ski advanced runs. I was in Kitzbühel, Austria, and skied the famous Hahnenkamm slalom race course before the gates were removed. I remember making two bottle-shaking turns before each and every gate to slow my speed to my comfort zone. I made it to the bottom. Don’t you know I have a deep and respectful appreciation of the steep pitch of the mountains that world class ski racers ski and the ungodly speed with which they go.


Now to a beautiful train ride from Kitzbühel to my favorite mountain town, St. Anton. The train drops you off at the ticket office amid a view of the snow-covered mountain.

I see from the valley a cross on the top of the Valluga—a mountain and a trail above and beyond St. Anton. That cross I see on top of the Valluga looks the size of a cross of a rosary bead. If that trail is open, I’ve got to give it a try.

As luck would have it, it is open. I’m on my way to the two lifts that it takes to get there. I wonder if I’m in over my head because there is only one way down. Remember that rosary bead cross? It’s two stories high, and I figure it must be the jump-off spot to meeting God. The pitch of the slope is so steep, I now know why it’s only occasionally open.

I haven’t skied 100 yards and I catch an edge and I go ass over tin cup. The ski clothes at that time were warm but slicker than a greased pig. I was traveling like I had a sled on my back. If I claw the snow with my hands and drag one ski like a brake, I might stop and not go over the cliff and down into the valley.

I guess you know I made it, but what do I do with a ski is 500 yards up the mountain? It will take me all night to hike up to it. Fortunately, some good Samaritan who must be as nuts as I was, skied it down to me. I’m a strong but not graceful skier, and that was my last and only run on the Valluga trail.


Some of the best skiing in the world is in the central and western mountains of the United States. I find myself getting off the highest lift at the Park City Mountain Resort in Utah.

If you desire a greater challenge, you climb an additional cliff that is 100 yards higher. You now are in the minority of persons who are up to the task. My buddies chickened out but will meet me at the bottom.

I jump off the cliff into four feet of light, fluffy, powdery snow. The depth of the snow slows my speed to a comfortable level where I can take long, graceful turns with rooster tails flying up behind me. I scream with joy all the way down the bowl.


Sometimes the grass seems greener on the other side. I’m free skiing at Mount Snow after 40 years of ski patrolling and being a Mount Snow Ambassador. No responsibilities but to enjoy a beautiful day and perfect well-groomed ski conditions.

It started off with a First Tracks warmup run down the meticulously groomed 3 ½-mile Little John/Long John trail. Going to be a good day.

Then to the Timbers trail on the expert North Face side of the mountain, which had the same grade/pitch, top to bottom. No plateaus, as they were filled in by the night groomers. You could dance on skis on that trail. Then to many other pool-table-smooth trails before moving on to the snowboarding park at Corinthia.

That’s a sight to behold. The hits, jumps, features, obstacles, whatever you choose to call them, are ever-changing, creative, and well sculpted. But an 81-year-old doesn’t take them on; he skis down the sides of Nitro, Mine Shaft, Inferno, and Gulch. Skiing on the sides of the features is a well-kept secret. It forces you to turn quick, or you are either in the woods or enjoying the wrath of a high-flying snowboarder. The snow is so good, it’s no problem.

Then to see my buddies at the summit. Can you believe they were all out sled training! On March 27? You’ve got to be kidding me! The season’s almost over.

Hell, I’ll go back to Corinthia for a few more runs. Low and behold, as I rode lift #2, I witness six Ambassadors strategically placed to direct boarders away from the scene of an accident.

I’m getting hungry, so nothing better than a warm-down run on the left side of Snowdance. I make my turns tight.

Off to one beer, a bowl of clam chowder, and three packages of oyster crackers, and an opportunity to observe the mountain, the Colorado-like blue sky, and gloat over a perfect day. I couldn’t help but think about how four main lifts can service the entire mountain on a slow weekday. I don’t know how you can do it more efficiently and economically than that.

I had to tell someone of my awesome day, so I copied Kelly Pawlak, President of Mount Snow, who manages from the field instead of an ivory tower. She’s fantastically consumer friendly.

Her answer: Marty—what a great retell of your day!!! I just wanted you to know that you made my day. When I’m 81, I hope I have the positive attitude you always have and I can see tight turns on the side of Nitro Thanks for your loyalty. Kel


So that’s some of the ski memories I cherish—for the experiences, for a look at the progression of skis over the years, and for the gutsy things I tried. I guess I was kind of a daredevil in my prime skiing days, but I loved every minute of it.


  1. Patricia M. McCarthy

    My husband, Gale Warren Moser, had FTD, frontal temporal dementia, which afflicts people in middle-age. He was 53 when diagnosed. Trying to keep his life filled with activities, I reached out to Marty. Without hesitation, Marty took my husband under his wing, helping him play tennis once a week! I will NEVER forget Marty’s upbeat, positive instruction. My husband enjoyed his time with Marty immensely. Gale passed away 14 years ago. I will always be thankful to Marty for being such a wonderful guy—a joy-filled, patient teacher! Stay well, Marty…Love and prayers, Patti (Moser) McCarthy

    1. Laura Warner

      What a wonderful story, and I’m not surprised. I’m sorry for your loss and so glad Marty was close by.

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