By Warren Miller
I was born and lived most of my young life in Southern California. In December of 1937, I started looking east to the San Bernardino Mountains and waiting anxiously for the tops of them to magically turn white with the first snowfall. Soon after World War II and the creation of the freeway, smog was invented and any chance of seeing the mountains became a thing of the past. Today, you can drive right up into the foothills and not even see the tops of the San Bernardino Mountains.
For the last 50 years of my life, the phone has started ringing at the first sign of snow anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. I would then pack my bags along with my skis, camera, and film and leave on yet another ski trip to somewhere in the world…a ski trip that usually lasted until the snow melted in the spring. Many of those trips were before the helicopter replaced the opportunity to burn about a thousand calories for each thousand vertical feet I had to climb.
Decembers are a lot different for me now. They are spent trying to shame my body into getting back in shape. And with each passing year that becomes harder and harder to do.
Two years ago, I even started trying to do push-ups to get in shape, and while trying to do the eleventh one, I tore the rotator cuff in my left shoulder, which required extensive surgery. This stupidity cost me 63 ski days, or until after the first of February. The next year, I broke my leg and missed skiing altogether. So, now I get to enjoy this season with all of my body parts still in tact, even though most of them have long ago outlived their warranty.
This year, there is no telling how far out of shape my almost-eight-decade-old legs will be. I can only hope the legs will respond for at least another decade.
The butterflies in my stomach are as large and as fluttering as they were when I went on my first ski trip with the Boy Scouts during Christmas vacation in 1937. How can you explain those stomach butterflies, except that they are in response to the anticipated freedom that the sport of skiing offers? Freedom to turn where I want to turn on whatever hill I visit and go as fast as my adrenaline will let me go.
Some people don’t understand this freedom. They think that skiing is just one more activity to cram into their already-packed lives. As I hear their cell phones ringing on the ski lifts, I think there is no punishment too extreme for infringing on the freedom of the sport.
Chances are that the phone-jockey is someone who has traveled thousands of miles at considerable expense, owns a condo in paradise and is getting his stock quotes from an online broker over his cell-phone. This same person probably spends his days at the office watching the latest snow reports on the computer in his cubicle.
Why do people need such instant information? Perhaps they need to make sure their portfolios are making as much money as they are spending to go skiing. After all, a $400-a-night condo means it costs $50 an hour to sleep. So, when you are spending that kind of money while sleeping, you better pay very close attention to your portfolio, if you have one.
My complete stock portfolio is the blue sky that surrounds me while standing on my skis.
I have a hundred million shares of Fun Funds, with a well-crafted diversification of futures in snow tires and ski equipment. Instant information to me is not hearing stock quotes over the cell phone, but the silence of turning a pair of skis in untracked powder snow. It is comparing stories with friends climbing to the top of a high line to an untracked bowl. It is the anticipation of spending yet another winter in a world of white.
I can check my portfolio simply by walking to the lifts on a powder day. I may spend the fall in a state of limbo, anxiously awaiting the first snowfall, but I always know it will come soon enough. No amount of instant information can compare to the feeling of that first run. I’ll leave the investments to the ski resorts who provide the lifts and grooming and the ski equipment companies who provide the latest technology in equipment to make sure that every ski run I take today is even more enjoyable than the ones I made yesterday.