Being from biking circles I always thought the term 'randonèe' referred to a bunch of aging fat nutters who pretend a weekend ride from Paris to Brest and back (or, Boston-Montreal-Boston) constitutes some sort of race. Only when Andy took the term on as part of his web-Avatar did I become aware that randonèe refers also to a bunch of young super fit nutters who like to race up random Alps (almost always in France) on skinny short skis and whiz back down again.
I'd never seen it in action until one fateful day last winter.
While getting my aprè Grand Marnier on with the Nor'easter crew at some stank hole bar in Brighton, UT, we witnessed the phenomenon. Never mind the double.... no triple entendre, it was there that we met the infamous man of mystery Gui ("Hey, I'm Gui. Gui like Guy") and made meilleur amis with a bunch of locals. Mormon computer programers by day, they were in reality Francophile uphill racers by night. It was a pretty good night. Justin bought the Marnier, Brad won some cupcakes in a raffle, and I had stars in my eyes for a sport with a whole new wardrobe of spandex to covet.
Looking back, it's painfully obvious 1.) how deep our ski-bum roots go into darkest France, although oddly there's no French direct translation for the term; and 2.) I may have digressed a bit from my original intent, which was to not simply to inform the readership on the storred history of skiing as an uphill sport, but rather proudly share with you my recent expose on the legality of skinning-to-ski Vermont's resorts while others are paying for concierge service to the top.
But, like Edison and that other guy, usually someone else has your bright idea first. It seems Vermont Sports has already published on uphill policy in Vermont, and the US Ski Mountaineering Association has also put together a more global review.
While these will give you a good feel for the industry-wide randomness associated with dawn patrolling your favorite too-costly-to ski resort, neither offers us a comprehensive list of which ski areas will welcome us, turn a blind eye, or slash our tires while we lap their mid-mountain lifts unmolested by Chilean J1 visa ticket takers.
Uphill skiing is obviously the bane of every liability insurer, and surely makes even the most easy-going ski patroller grind their teeth and think about beating up hippies. But, as far as I'm concerned, it's not important what they think or say. It's important what they do.
So here's what I've put together for you. This is a list that demarcates the official legal policies of Vermont resorts on the subject of uphill skiing, and compares that to actual conversations I had with infamous resort lifties on the same subject. Some of you may know these lifties by name. I have made no effort to protect their identities, as their van-down-by-the-river-lifestyles make them almost entirely immune to corporate reprisal.
|Resort||Official Online Policy:||Lifty says:|
|Magic Mountain||yes||Milly: Dubious.|
|Mad River Glen||no||Rodd: Hey, it's better than waiting around in -20 degrees for the single chair.|
|Burke Mountain Resort||no||Zolie: I guess if it's cool with you, it's cool with me…|
|Stowe Mountain Resort||no||Armando: No hablo ingles?|
|Smugglers' Notch Resort||no||Resort Director: Yes, if we're closed. But don’t go up our trails or come down our trails, or park in our parking lot, or stick around and drink any Grand Marnier afterwards. Also I hate your dog.|
|Sugarbush Resort||no||Jim, my old building super: Do it. Stay at my ex-wife's house in Warren. Everyone else does. Whore.|
|Middlebury College Snow Bowl||none||Tad: Why skin? You already drove to the top.|
|Jay Peak Resort||yes||Emile: [Surly look]|
|Bolton Valley Resort||no||UVM Dropout: Nothing a J between friends can't make me forget..|
|Killington Resort||yes||Maria Von Trapp: Happy day!|
|Mount Snow||yes||Anthony the Masshole: Sounds like exercise.|
|Bromley Mountain Resort||no||[sorry, I've never actually met anyone who has skied here]|
|Pico Mountain||none||Everyone: Why pay for the hog when you can have the bacon for free?|
|Stratton Mountain Resort||yes||Pat: Sure, but nobody has time after the drive from NYC.|
|Suicide 6||yes||Hugh: Use the side of the trail and buy a bumper sticker on your way home. Have fun!|
|Okemo Mountain Resort||none||Kent: Why would you want to?|
So yeah... maybe I haven't had time to talk to most of these lifties. Or any. But I'm pretty sure Zolie would be totally on board with me paraphrasing our imaginary conversation. I think the best thing to do is take your input on where YOU'VE managed a great day heading uphill on one of Vermont's infamous in-bounds resorts. Doesn't really matter what you did once you got the top, only that you got there unmolested.
Also, since I seem to have had a lot of free time on my hands today, I made a second list that may be even more useful than the first - Pet friendly Vermont ski areas, as defined by official resort policy or the presence of pet friendly lodging within a 15 mile drive. As those of you with stunning basset hounds and beautiful wives know, the dawn patrol lifestyle isn't for everyone. Sometimes you gotta do it up fancy. Happy wife, happy life.
I was shocked, while browsing the Killington site, to find that this outstanding Vermont ski resort (yes, I know I recently referred to Kmart as a leper colony) has a 100% pet friendly lodge. Awesome. So Killington, expect me and my drinking hound next time we apre. But not with Gui. No ski area should ever be Gui friendly.