Sixteen Skis

It is snowing really big snowflakes outside and there is not a breath of wind. A perfect day to make sure your Goggles are shined and your entire body is all tuned up and ready to enjoy a perfect day like this one promises to be.

If you want the best equipment to handle each condition of snow, you can do what a money manager friend of mine does. In his ski closet in his ski in, ski out home he has: Pair 1 for hard-packed granular; Pair 2 for freshly groomed powder; Pair 3 he uses in 1 inch of new powder; Pair 4 is for skiing in 4 to 5 inches of powder; Pair 5 is for 6 inches of powder; Pair 6 is when there is a foot of new powder; Pair 7 is for skiing chutes when there is 6 inches or more of new powder; and Pair 8 is when the ski patrol starts opening runs after a foot of new snow. (He never skis on ice, so he has no skis for that one snow condition.)

“A day full of memories like those can never be relived but if experienced, will never be forgotten.”

Unfortunately, the resort where his home is located has built too many lifts to the top of their mountain so any time he skis after 10 in the morning, he will need his hard-packed granular skis. There is just too much traffic on the mountain right in the middle of his comfort zone.

There is a reason why some people spend their entire ski career on a mountain that to a stranger is boring by the time they make their fifth run. But my friend knows where to park his car, where to eat lunch, where the after ski drinks are both potent and cheap, where to get his edges sharpened and, just as important, where to take his current spousal equivalent for a quiet candlelight dinner.

I think my friend with all of the skis has missed the most important reason to go skiing: that is because when you are at the top of a hill you are all set for a journey of freedom. You can go as fast or as slow as your mood takes you during the time of your descent.

The self-imposed, “I’ve got to be somewhere else” is a self-fulfilling prophecy to a life of chaos. When talking to a nice family from Hong Kong one day, he said,” We have to start heading back tomorrow.” When I asked him “Why?” he had no answer.

When I used to take my children with me on a filming trip, I told their teachers that a day in the powder snow was a lot more important than a day in their seats in geometry. They can study their geometry when the ski lifts shut down. I don’t think I have any educationally challenged children because of that life style. Unfortunately, the family from Hong Kong arrived home as scheduled but all three children and his wife missed spectacular days of untracked powder snow. A day full of memories like those can never be relived but if experienced, will never be forgotten.

When was the last time you skied on a Monday or Tuesday or both? You really owe it to yourself because the work that is waiting for you can wait another couple of days. Why not?

I know that I led an irresponsible youth and it is easy to blame it on whatever I want to blame it on. Like having an alcoholic father and spending four years in the Navy during World War II and getting sunk in a typhoon a week before the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. I saved most of my Navy pay and all I needed was a place to cook meals and sleep out of the rain and snow and my health. I found them wherever Ward Baker and I parked our trailer and we could somehow get on a chairlift.

Since that first day in the powder snow at Alta, Utah, at the end of 1946, I have seldom missed a chance to forget everything except being the first at the top of the mountain on a powder day.

For a lot of those powder snow days, my skis were for my transportation to get to the best camera location to document skiers doing the thing I have been preaching to my audiences – finding their freedom. And bringing back those images for my annual tour to the thousands of people who have supported my lifestyle all of these years when they bought a ticket to one or more of my movies. Do any of them need half a dozen or more pairs of skis? I don’t think so. Just warm clothes and couple of ski lessons to handle whatever snow is waiting for you on your next ski trip.

Warren Miller is history’s most prolific and enduring ski filmmaker. Visit or his Facebook page at Read more of Warren’s stories at