Altitude illness isn't funny... Until it is.

By Rob Story

I bring you this hilarious discovery from Chair 6 in Telluride, Colorado.

Well, maybe it wasn’t so funny to Laird, my brother-in-law, since the illness erupted from him. Shortly after boarding the lift, Laird retched a little. Five seconds later, he coughed up another small wad of sputum. After those first two yaks, his brother, Ridge, and I emitted soft, sympathetic groans.

Laird’s third hurl, however, sent us into helpless paroxysms of chortling laughter. Like a python swallowing a nutria, Laird seemed to unhinge his jaw. He had to in order to allow for the sheer volume of regurgitation. Laird appeared to puke up food he ate in 1997. He chuffed every hue of the Technicolor yawn and painted the run below with shredded bits of Roy G. Biv.

When you think about it, vomit and skiing go well together. Historically, one of the most popular ways of describing a fat storm is “puking.” The lexicons of both acts include “chunder.” And “boot.” And “Whistler.” Curious.

Laird had skied at altitude before. In his 20s, he lived in Vail for several seasons. On his first night in Telluride, at 8,750 feet, he drank lots of water and got plenty of sleep. But this time, the normal precautions didn’t help, and on Chair 5 he began looking ashen and unwell. I convinced him to ski down to Chair 6 to exit the mountain quickest. The only exit achieved was the bilious intestine that bolted from Laird’s throat.

Below Chair 6, several runs funnel into Giant Steps. While Laird heaved approximately 20 percent of his body weight, Ridge and I immediately looked down to the busy slope to check for collateral damage. But it was a quiet weekday morning, and there were no civilian casualties. Too bad. Had a skier been drenched in Laird’s spew, it would have illustrated nicely the difference between “sick” and “sickening.”