|Alta, still for skiers only, in the old timeys
But of the 34 women in the ski clinic I attended last weekend at Alta Lodge in Utah's Wasatch, many were in their 50's like me and my friends. Five women were in their late 60's, three were in their seventies and the eldest, Francesca, was 83. Another woman who often skis here is 91 and she learned when she was 40. What keeps them going is a drive to improve their technique.
I was worried the clinic would be another reason for me to feel bad about myself, but I realised if I keep improving there could be another 30 years in these scrabbly legs.
My "style" has always been battling down the mountain using my knock knees and thighs. "It doesn't have to be that hard" said our instructor Connie "Just finesse it a little."
|Me with my knock knees and instructor Connie, right
One of the reasons we feel so comfortable is the family-owned Alta Lodge itself. This place is intriguing from the get-go. The entry is just a doorway on the side of the road much like The Shining. On either side the mountains are powdery, high (10,550ft) and steep (you wake up in the morning to the sound of avalanche blasting).
We walk down to the mahogany-clad lobby which has original mid-century furniture and a Will Barnet painting over the fireplace.
Mimi, one of the owners, is there to greet us. Her father was Nicolas Muray, the most celebrated portrait photographers of the last century (Babe Ruth, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Greta Garbo were just three of his famous subjects) and his iconic photos of Frida Kahlo are dotted around the lodge.
|Will Barnett painting over the fireplace
|End of my hallway
|Rosie, clinic organiser, in the lobby
|Because of Utah liquor laws, staff have to walk your drinks from the bar to the dining room
"So retro" says my friend Melinda when she is handed an actual room key and then she notices the old press-button phones.
Many of the staff have worked there for decades, skiers have been coming for generations and it's okay to wear your slippers to breakfast. The lack of TVs in the bedrooms encourages people to sit in the communal spaces and you can opt to eat at the communal table.(The only time I've heard grumbling from the clients was after the remodel seven years ago when they got rid of a beloved old red couch.)
A word to the wisest of Wasatch women: you won't lose any weight here. The day starts with a bacon and egg breakfast, steel-cut oats, handmade granola and fruit, rolls onto afternoon tea goodies like macaroons and carrot cake sweaty-fresh from the oven and ends with a three-course a la carte dinner.
|Buffet dinner on Sunday (sorry it's lopsided, I'd had a few drinks)
Speaking of kids, when I arrived home I announced my presence to my eldest boys: "I'm back! What about a hug?"
Without moving his gaze from the TV, one of them muttered: You've barely been gone a weekend.
Ah well, I'll always have Alta. Where everyone is happy to see you. And proud you're still out there trying to finesse it, baby.