There is a time when every mountain experiences a period of simultaneous terror and joy; dependant on whether you’re there to pay the bills of living in a ski town, or for some R & R from that 9- 5 that’s got your hair turning grey at 24. This interesting epoch always occurs during the last sixty minutes of any resort’s operating hours, when visitors see their last chance to squeeze all the value out of that $70 day pass dangling from their zipper. This is Hero Hour, when boys try to become men, but usually just end up standing on a takeoff or splattered across the knuckle of a jump. Meanwhile, resort employees must deal with the nightmare of controlling this chaos.
It’s no secret that the mountain worker is a rare breed on many fronts, but Hero Hour really exemplifies the sacrifice they make in order to live where others vacation. Statistics show that 99.7% of the entire workforce prefers the last hour of the work day to any other, so you can deduce that the remaining .3% must be the diggers and patrollers that make your ski trip possible. Why is the mountain man not a fan of the last hour? Simple. The day ticket holder sees this on-snow span as a holy grail equivalent to the way that locals revere a midweek, bluebird powder day. When these folks reach the closing hour, it is not uncommon to see them tangled in slow fences, stuck in tree wells, or participating in the occasional liftline brawl.
Elementary math and vacation-minded reasoning are what feed this phenomenon. At 9am, a ticket has its full face value–whatever dollar amount the chosen mountain has charged for a day on their slopes. As hours pass and daylight dwindles, less time is left on the ticket, therefore risk equals reward to the hero as less time missed due to injury is being gambled with each risky maneuver.
Most of every hour’s heroes can be divided into two subgroups; the families and the drunks. Father figures tend to be the impetus for family participation in Hero Hour. A morning of ripping corduroy has got Dad reliving his glory days from the ol’ college ski team and now he’s ready to show those hoodlums in the board park what used to be the meanest double daffy this side of the Rockies. However, Dad will soon find out that two kids and a desk job have not left him as limber as he was in the days of keg and one-night stands…
Check back on Friday for pt. II of Hero Hour!