Going downhill fast

This year’s work junket will see us skiing next week, near the Franco-Italian border. It’s hard to reconcile the sport as a whole with climate-friendly objectives. Most ski resorts are carbon-intensive in themselves, before you factor in the effect of each skier’s journey to such remote locations: comfort and harsh weather are necessarily kept in separated proximity, which involves a constant fight against the entropic processes working to both melt the snow and chill the chalets.

We’re at least making the journey from Paris on a cosily-packed couchette rather than an aeroplane: this has cost work a decent sum more than aviation—subsidized as it is by the world’s taxpayers—would have done. But the trip will nonetheless probably be the biggest single expenditure of carbon I undertake this year. At least it’s the only one of such magnitude, I tell myself. Still, I’d never plan such a vacation off my own bat. Still. And then still.

The above greenie dithering has occupied me for weeks now. It’s almost certainly somehow behind my apparently relentless attempts to render myself unfit for the planned activities (I’d certainly rather believe in the subconscious than in my innate malco-ordination.) Imagine, though, my body could be smart enough to avoid more serious damage in the future by using minor infirmities in advance, to relegate me to whole days of après-ski. After all, as I’ve never skied downhill before, “hitting” might well be what I do to those slopes. If I’m able to put skis on my feet then I will no doubt spend a good deal of time literally smacking myself into banks of hard, compacted snow.

Certainly some sort of preemptive illness would explain how I’ve not been whole and hale since the start of 2008. As my recent brush with helicobacter pylori seemed to be coming to a close, I began to come down with what appeared to be a cold but was actually a post-antibiotic fungal infection. That eventually began to fade under the pressure of orange-flavoured magic cream, at which point I promptly fell off my bike on a frosty road. Nothing was broken, despite a flowering bruise on my left palm; undaunted, though, my body has reacted to my hand’s rapid healing by twisting a subtly connected muscle in my foot, one of those you never notice until it traps itself in some bony crevice of your skeleton as you either bolt upstairs, cross your legs awkwardly, or land clumsily from a jump.

It’s all I can do now to nurture the aches and pains I currently have, to ensure they prevent me from physical exertion for the next week at least. If they heal before we depart next Saturday, goodness knows what potentially fatal accident might befall me to take their place. Like, for example, learning to ski.

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2 Responses to Going downhill fast

  1. Quinn says:

    What about trying Chill Factore as an alternative to flying abroad? Just got this uncomfortable feeling though that it must take an awful lot of energy to manufacture a permanently snowy environment by the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal, which must add to global warming, which must raise the temperature of the Earth, which must contribute to the melting of all those snowy peaks, which must mean that eventually the only place you will be able to ski is at Chill Factore.

    P.S. Is the title a Divine Comedy reference?

  2. sbalb says:

    Hum. The problem with trying that as an alternative is that the flight is at least measureable: you can reduce your car use to compensate for it; you can offset it, which is a bit of a cheat but at least is better than simply not doing so.

    On the other hand Signore Chillio Factore the Italian icemaker will probably not be revealing any details of his per-capita carboniferous combustion any time soon. If it’s not measurable, it’s a freebie for the conscience; if you don’t feel a twinge of guilt, you’re more likely to overindulge.

    Last year we went sailing to try to break our carbon habit; it worked well, but there were too many voices clamouring for skiing again this year. At least we’re taking the Eurostar and couchette. And maybe next year we’ll go back to the other extreme, and spend a week in the Iona community. Bagsy I learn to weave my own wicker laptop dock.

    P.S. it was entirely unintentional if so, but yes, probably.

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