Long Spring Lunch Or Not: Con

Fall Line

Lunch is to spring skiing what a doorbell is to sex. It interrupts a beautiful thing. I speak from experience, as a man whose friends feel most neighborly when the timing is least appreciated and whose ski buddies head inside for cafeteria lines when they should stay outside carving them. They chide me, saying I'm too cheap to buy lunch, but I disagree. It's more of a lifestyle choice.

The fact that mountain fare is often little more than overpriced airline food hardly colors my calculations. I just prefer to spend my dining time off the mountain after dark. It's easier to find a good meal where the diners aren't captive to a lift ticket, where the food doesn't have to be hauled in on a diesel tractor and where the chef needn't come from the 4 percent of the culinary population who know how to ski.

I guess I just don't want to spend part of my ski day crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers and bond over the aroma of their steaming parkas. That's what gondolas are for. And I don't find it relaxing to sit in an over-timbered mega-lodge while families swarm about like refugees looking for table space. Check, please.

I'll grant you that spring does bring relief from the lodge lunch. Crowds are thinner, sunny barbecue decks offer great views, and even the most winter-weary grille-dude can cook a passable burger. But while the surroundings are better, my internal clock still says mountain lunches are a mistake.

Do the math. Even the quickest lunch takes an hour if you factor in the time spent juggling chairs, wrestling clothes and wolfing food. Then it's a half-hour before your legs warm up and another 30 minutes before grille-boy's triumph settles low enough in your gut for your skiing to return to normal. All told, lunch costs the best two hours of a spring day, the magic hours when the sun has warmed the hill but hasn't turned it slushy. Spring skiing is too precious to make that sacrifice.

To me, the perfect ski lunch is a pint of juice, a glass of water and a cookie. Rehydrate, pack the gullet with some carbohydrate rocket fuel, and get moving again. And if I can eat it on the lift, that's even better. Three bucks, thank you. Any more than that is skius interuptus.