18,250 Days of Stayin’ Alive

| February 24, 2011

18,250 divided by 365 is 50, which just so happens to be how old I am today!  Happy birthday to me – I’m going skiing to celebrate.  ;)

Ed Viesters described 50 as the new 30, but in any case, I’ll take it as it is better than the alternative, which is not turning 50 as far too many of my skiing buddies have done, may the shred in heaven. I’ve always assumed that at some point I might have to stop or curtail my skiing, so I’ve tried to enjoy it as much as I can, as often as I can, while I can.  But, I’ve somehow managed to avoid getting sidetracked and one good run has led to another, and then before you know it, it  adds up and turns into a lifetime of skiing. On a skiing trip to the Grand Teton, Doug Coombs mentioned that he never told his sponsors how old he was, which I got a laugh out of, as skiing had kept him eternally preserved at 18 and smiling, so it hardly mattered, at least to me.

Hiking Tuckerman's at age six.

I started skiing when I was four and some of my earliest memories are of  skiing at Alta, although at the time we were living in the East Coast and skiing at Mohawk Mountain. My mom taught skiing for years and was the main skiing instigator of the family.  We’d go every weekend, regardless of sheet ice, gushing rain or huge crowds. We later moved to Washington state where I spent many years skiing at Alpental, which I still consider my home mountain.  After a series of jobs I ended up moving back to Utah (where I was born) to work for Black Diamond Equipment, which is how I first got into backcountry skiing.  Since then, “skiing” for me has changed from racing and riding lifts to almost exclusively backcountry skiing.  I never would have predicted this years ago, but that is one of the great things about this sport – it has so many avenues to explore.

Still hiking 42 years later, this time in Antarctica. At least I've learned how to carry my skis on my pack by now. Photo by Adam Clark.

If I was to be hurt and not be able to ski,  I think the thing I would miss most would be all of the fantastic people and friends I have met along the way.  Sure, they would still be there and we’d still be friends, but there is something about sliding over snow-covered mountains with good friends that is far greater than the sum of its already great parts.  May it never end and a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been a part of it.

Happy turns!

Help support StraightChuter.com into the next 50 years and get the best prices on the best gear at Backcountry.com! Click the Golden Gear Goat below:

Touch me, for I am the Golden Goat of eternal discounts.


Category: Announcements

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (27)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. MM says:

    Happy Happy Birthday Andrew! I guess if we go by Als’ standard we’ve only got about 30 years of mountain adventure left.

  2. Joe says:

    Happy Birthday Andrew!

    One of the things I’ve enjoyed about your blog is that you project a lot of joy and authentic love for skiing, as well as technical know how.

    Sometimes I disagree with your techniques or whatever, but I always think you state clearly why you make the choices you do in way that’s humble but never pandering.

    The take away for me (that I take from the skiers I admire the most) is to go forth with a lot of joy, respecting those who’ve gone before and the lessons they offer but listening to one’s own experience more so than the trend of the day.

    50 more years!

    All the best,

  3. Jared says:

    Happy Birthday!

  4. ron says:

    @MM…Al is 78 & I figure he’s still got a good 20 left in him!


  5. d3 says:

    some of my best memories so far are skiing with you, andrew. or, actually, being left in the diamond dust … up and down!

    it’s a long way from the lollipop classic but you’re no sucker … ha ha ha!

    ski fast and take chances and happy birthday!

  6. MattN says:

    Happy Birthday and well wishes for many more years making turns.

  7. Sam says:

    “there is something about sliding over snow-covered mountains with good friends that is far greater than the sum of its already great parts”

    Hell yeah! Happy birthday and many more years of shredding!

  8. Eric says:

    Happy Birthday to you, enjoy the snow

  9. MM says:

    Ron, Of course you’re right. Andrew is almost as tough as AL so he probably has another 40-50 yrs. We’ll be using levitation packs by then.

  10. Tim says:

    Andrew – Thanks for an informative and always entertaining blog…Alpental was my home base for years as well and to now be skiing the Wasatch BC at over 50 yrs.too, well its simply heaven. Happy birthday!

  11. Charlie says:

    Don’t forget leap-days! Happy birthday!

  12. Andy says:

    Happy birthday Andrew!

  13. Derek says:

    That Tuckerman’s photo is CLASSIC!

  14. Ty Falk says:

    Haha nice I share a birthday with the godfather.

  15. Andy says:

    Happy Birthday! I saw you in the gulch on Monday, I would have came and said happy birthday to ya in person if i would have known.

  16. Scott says:

    Happy birthday! Once again your insight leaves me smiling.

  17. Akkobar says:

    Happy birthday bro! live long and win Candyland!

  18. AJ says:

    happy birthday!

    and many more happy turns

  19. Matt Kinney says:

    Stay healthy and happy Andrew. Skiing actually meant something once I passed 50. I ski more now than I did when I was 20, 30 or 40. Strange how that happens!

    Cheers and many more chutes…

  20. Mark says:

    Happy birthday! At least try to get in as many ski days as you are old. In my book I have to cover 1800 vertical feet for it to count as a ski day … long story. Keep up the good work.

  21. mc says:

    Did WPG give you a free day of heli-skiing?
    Happy Birthday Andrew

  22. Terry says:

    Happy Birthday, Andrew!

    Wishing you 50 years more of great skiing! (Like my ski hero Keizo Miura )

  23. Greg says:

    Happy Bday Andrew! Keep doin what your doin! You’re an inspiration to many! Stay safe and have fun.

    ps – I spent several years in elementary and high school skiing Mohawk and Sundown.

  24. rod georgiu says:

    Andrew, great to see you still ski at 50. I’ve got you beat by 12, and still ski and climb, when I don’t have to take care of my 2 year old boy.

    Saw a mention of your trip to Baffin Island. Since couloir skiing is my favorite, it sounds like heaven. My wife and I want to go there, if we can convince my in-laws to take care of the little boy for 4 weeks!!??

    Anyway, trying to find the good stuff on Google earth, without much luck. Do you happen to have the lat/long where you were? I am trying to research as much as possible.

    Thanks a lot.

  25. rod georgiu says:

    Andrew, just got the Baffin Island book, and I see the lat/long coordinates for every couloir.

  26. Garland says:

    Right on Andrew! Happy Birthday and GREAT title to your post! The most important item, especially as we have others relying on us.

    So, at some point you might write about race skins and how to use a strap if needed – and avoid having to do so in the first place. The US mountaineering home page has the rig set up. Just thinking it may be beneficial for us flunkies trying to figure out this a/t sport which seems to fit the mold of the mtb community pretty well. We’re learning slowly.

    Congrats again, and keep writing! Garland, Missoula

  27. Mitch says:

    Dont ferget them leap years gramps!

%d bloggers like this: