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Drinking it blue

Money never sleeps; especially in a ski resort. Indeed, it is usually partying harder than the people through whose hands it briefly passes. Your pay packet lingers in your bank account for such a blindingly short period that you can’t be certain it was ever really there. Why does your cash behave like a Higgs boson particle just when you need to make the rent? For some reason, landlords – especially in a ski town – just don’t want to hear about quantum physics when you’re in arrears.

No ski bum ever saves money, except for the drug dealers (who invariably explain their wealth as being “in crypto”). The rapid outflow of payday money into the bars and clubs of a ski town is known in Keynesian economics as a “vodka waterfall.”

Fortunately, alcohol makes you wittier, more attractive, and an elite operator behind the wheel. It also plugs any gaps in your social armour. Booze adds just enough self-confidence for most people to think that they are always right. No wonder alcohol is such an important part of the social fabric, culinary tradition, and cultural history of Western Civilization. It also allows you to control the weather. This is the process of “drinking it blue” by taming a rampart snowstorm and ensuring beautiful weather the morning after the drunken night before.

Nothing reveals your ambition for a big night like slamming shots. There is no clearer signal that you’re here for a good time, not a long time.

Any attempt to drink it blue requires significant commitment. To mixing drinks. The evening starts with a relaxed, almost civilized, vibe. Perhaps a low-alcohol beer, or a gin and sugar-free tonic with a slice of organic lemon. But a moment later, you’re wearing a toga, and drinking green refrigerant out of a ski boot. By this stage it always seems like a good idea to mix grain and grape, top-shelf and barrel bottom, shots and steins, but never decorum and moderation. Your stomach churns like an animated snowfall chart of the incoming storm; in technicolour blues, deep purples and putrid yellow.

Nothing reveals your ambition for a big night like slamming shots. There is no clearer signal that you’re here for a good time, not a long time. And definitely not a good, long time. The race to get messy will end soon enough, with the victor needing to hook their thumbs under the rim of the toilet bowl just to stop the damn thing orbiting the room. Second and third place just splatter the podium with what remains of their dinner.

As the evening progresses your plans for the morning become ever more elaborate. Backcountry tours are organized. Peaks summitted. Legendary lines tagged. Tricks nailed. Powder tracked. Elite athletes use a process of visualisation to achieve success. For drunken skiers, imagination trumps visualisation, so that by 3 a.m. everyone thinks they are Mikaela Shiffrin.

Drinking it blue is one of the few ways individual humans can change the immediate weather. In a process not fully understood by modern science, sufficient blood alcohol content has a mysterious way of drawing out the eye of the storm. Any low-pressure system is intensified, snowfall increased, and the calm and clear weather that follows is set in place just before dawn. By the time you stumble out into the approaching sunrise, you will be awed by the powerful forces unleashed by your bacchanalian revels. Just before you pass out next to the fridge clutching a jar of pickles.


Excerpted from Ski Bum by Sam Masters. Limited edition print run available to order now from Powder Press.


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