Page 14 - WCM 2021 Winter
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 experience possible often can’t afford to live anywhere near where they work reminds me of my privilege. Appreciating the fact that Saddleback is going into this reopening of the mountain as a rethinking of how the ski business can operate in an environmen- tally and socially conscious way helps me leave those thoughts behind. Being whisked up to a rugged, high alpine environment with awe inspiring views takes
it a step further. On the mountain I begin to see and feel nature through a new perspective and leave daily concerns behind. And when gravity takes hold and I find myself in exhilarating decent, all thoughts disap- pear. I enter the “zone,” which can only be described as a moving meditation in concert with a specific place and time. It’s just plain hard to entertain extra- neous thoughts while gliding down a mountain at high speed, navigating an infinite number of variables, from snow conditions, to topography, to one’s own physical and mental limits. It’s an indulgence for sure, but one that can have the profound effect of keeping us grounded and sane in a crazy world. It’s a connec- tion with nature that can stoke the spirit, broaden our
perspective, and renew us to take on the world with new strength and clarity.
Wouldn’t it be great if this revelatory and formative experience (I’ve been skiing since I could walk) was readily available to those who might appreciate it most? As we see our kids (and adults), yes even those who live in rural settings, spend more and more time indoors on screens, the need for safe and accessible outdoor experience becomes essential. It is part of creating the kind of environmental ethos that will ultimately lead to a more harmonious relationship between humans and wild nature.
Saddleback’s commitment to building community, protecting this special place, and keeping this expe- rience affordable and accessible (even offering $50 season passes to all the students in the local school district), seems like a big step in the right direc- tion. Whether you’re into perfecting your carve on some wide open groomers, getting lost in some epic glades, or making your first turns on skis, I hope you, too, can find your way to this reawakening mountain paradise. Think Snow! ✶
Visionary ski area developer and Saddleback’s new General Manager Andy Shepard stands in front of newly installed towers for a high-speed quad lift that will triple the capacity of the previous chairlift, and whisk skiers up the mountain in 4 minutes.
 Scott Vlaun

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