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Skiing and snowfields, c. 1930s, by Sam Hood

Photo: “Skiing and snowfields, c. 1930s,” by Sam Hood / Flickr

This piece by Jesse Singal utilizes one of my favorite writing tools for breaking into a story in a different way: taking a known form (in this case, a step-by-step guide) and using it to tell a story. Singal executes it perfectly, and as a neurotic myself, whose brain is “a machine built primarily to weave disaster movies out of life,” it hits home particularly well. Though I learned to ski at a young age, before I was aware of all the terrible things that could possibly happen that I might want to be afraid of, Singal’s observations about the finer points of skiing still strike all the right chords:

The sign by the lodge promises Refreshments. But for the mountain’s owners to display photos of thick hot creamy broth laden with clam and potato to very hungry, very cold people who have already paid an eye-bulging amount for the privilege of skiing, and to then attempt to charge them $9 for a thimbleful of it, isn’t just a ripoff—it’s a betrayal.

“The Neurotic’s Guide to Skiing” by Jesse Singal

[A note about the photo – I found this great archival picture in the Flickr Commons, where a search for skiing brings up hundreds of funny, breathtaking and otherwise extraordinary shots, mostly of the vintage variety. Here are a few other shots from the collections – there are plenty on Flickr to check out if you’re interested.]

https://i1.wp.com/media.outsideonline.com/images/jeep-snow-drift_fe.jpg - OutsideOnline

Photo: Zastol`skiy Victor Leonidovich/Shutterstock (from OutsideOnline.com)

Today, for all my fellow New Englanders battling close-to-zero temperatures: a fascinating story from Outside Magazine about how freezing to death works.

It was a mistake, you realize, to come out on a night this cold. You should turn back. Fishing into the front pocket of your shell parka, you fumble out the map. You consulted it to get here; it should be able to guide you back to the warm car. It doesn’t occur to you in your increasingly clouded and panicky mental state that you could simply follow your tracks down the way you came.

“The Cold Hard Facts of Freezing to Death” by Peter Stark