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Mountain Chronicle Early Season IQ Test

Mountain Life

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OK, kids. It’s that time of year again, when the skiing juices start to flow (no matter if the sky has yet to snow), the season waits around the corner and your thoughts turn—in dreams and moments less appropriate—to sliding down a frozen mountain. How ready are you for those first, gliding arcs? Take this simple test, and find out.

1. Snowstorms in October inevitably engender:
a) predictions by newcomers and ski area marketing types for a big winter to come;
b) vivid dreams, in which you share a T-bar with Pernilla Wiberg;
c) mud.

2. True or False:
a) Training really hard for the ski season has the opposite effect on the weather as washing your car.
b) You don’t need rock skis for the early season because you’re such a skilled skier.
c) The hot new carving shapes you bought on sale last spring will remain the ne plus ultra of skiing technology for years to come.

3. Telluride’s new 8-minute gondola ride to the ridge is:
a) the greatest thing since sliced bread;
b) an illusion created by clever photographers;
c) a real challenge for the romantically gymnastic.

4. React to the following statements with either: “Strongly agree,” “Strongly disagree,” or “I can’t allow myself to even begin to think about skiing right now or the rest of my day is toast.”
a) The ski bum in America is dead.
b) The ski bum in that movie Aspen Extreme was really cute, but for reasons of plot arc he had to die.
c) Spider Sabich, the inspiration for Robert Redford’s character in Downhill Racer, was really cute; it’s too bad his girlfriend, Claudine Longet, shot him and now he’s dead.

5. Ski bumming is:
a) a verb;
b) a noun;
c) something you do when you left your skis lying in the driveway at home;
d) dead.

TEST TIP No. 1: Wear ski boots around the house while doing the dishes, watching TV, taking this test, hanging out the wash. Do not wear them to bed, unless you sleep alone.

6. It will only snow in earnest up at the ski area when (check one):
__You have to make that business trip to Amarillo.
__The last leaf has fallen from the Ute Council Tree.
__The Weather Channel says it won’t.
7. A season pass is not more important than:a) your health;
b) taking the next step on your career path;c) life itself.

8. Essay Question:
Define life itself.

TEST TIP No. 2: Do not, repeat DO NOT, cut pictures out of SKI Magazine and hang them in your bathroom. This will only make time pass more slowly.

9. In 30 seconds, arrange the following word clusters into their natural groupings:
Skiing corporate mergers/adrenaline junkies/$60 lift tickets/El Niño winter/2002/stretch pants/Become An Expert In Three Days!/ski-snow interface/the Herminator/shorty skiboards/face plants/Back Bowls Panty Tree/Winter Games/face shots/shots of aquavit.

10. You know you’re in big early season trouble if:
a) the snow on freeway runaway truck ramps looks good to you;
b) you’ve tuned and waxed your skis twice already;
c) you have a daisy chain on your fridge counting down the hours to opening day;
d) you actually considered stopping and hiking back to one of those emergency truck ramps.

11. Complete the following by filling in the blank. Example: Carving is to skidding as Thanksgiving turkey is to happy-hour buffalo wings.
a) Man-made snow is to powder as Snoop Doggy Dog is to___________.
b) Seinfeld is to Jack Benny as high-speed quads are to___________.
c) Not skiing is to skiing as__________ is to Pernilla Wiberg.

TEST TIP No. 3: Have a friend or loved one shower you with soap flakes in order to simulate deep powder immersion. In the tub would be good.

12. Avalanches are not a worry in the mountains this time of year because:
a) the Westwide Avalanche Network is not yet on the air with itss morning snow report;
b) Republicans have managed to hold onto both houses of Congress;
c) housing in the mountains is so scarce, early arriving snow crystals have mostly entered into stable, long-term bonding arrangements.

13. (Optional) Describe at length your last run of last ski season. (Bonus) Count the number of days in the ensuing months when you have not entertained a single thought of sliding on snow. Be honest.

Quiz ends here. The person with the most correct answers (times the number of previously-mounted skis in his or her closet) wins a free ticket to Warren Miller’s Sublimation Schuss XXXVI!—reel after reel of crystalline, blue white snow, happy people leaning eagerly, not a care in the world, into gravity’s embrace . . .

Peter is an award-winning writer based in Ridgway, Colo. Contact him at or check out his previous columns at