When two guys get on a chairlift, often as not you can smell the testosterone. I give my companion the once-over and jerk my stubble-covered chin toward his feet. "You like those Dyna-Smash XO Scream Double Whammy boards? Good in the crud?"
"They're OK," he'll say. "This is my second pair this season. Broke both sticks Saturday launching into Death Hole Gully." Then there's silence while we both pretend to enjoy the view.
If the other guy is a visitor, I'll modestly admit that, yes, I do live here. Oh, no, I don't get in more than 60 days a year-still have to work, don't we? Ha-ha-ha.
What guys don't talk about is as significant as what we do. Off-limits: relationships, how cold we are, how hot we are, what's that smell, how hungry we are, where to eat.
We do discuss gear, insofar as how it performs under stress-how's the wind in that helmet when you're ripping? We discuss snow, weather, liftlines, where the rocks are. We're happy to comment upon-and rate-wipeouts we observe.
Occasionally we'll marvel at the pain tolerance of some fashion-driven woman who, unwilling to crush her coif, is skiing in 10-degree weather without a hat.
Bottom line: On the lift guys talk about The Thing Itself-skiing. We might diverge into a discussion about the Broncos' prospects this weekend. But when we unload, we've learned something that is going to make our day-or season-more productive: where the bumps are soft, whether patrol is going to drop the rope on that backside, how those new Deathgrabber SuperComp Bindings pre-release during mogul runs.
Sure, I know women who can ski and ride twice as hard, twice as fast and twice as long as I can. And they can hold their own on a chairlift. They're the exception that proves the rule.
As for the rest of ski life-who makes the best pink Piña Colada in town, who's the cutest ski instructor and when can we go in for lunch-I'll leave that for my wife. I'm off to drop into Death Hole Gully. Just stick that first turn and you can clear the cliff band, man, no problem.