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Warren Miller: P-Butter Sandwiches On The Slopes

Filmmaker Warren MillerHaving just finished my favorite lunch of a peanut butter and banana sandwich with an ice-cold root beer, it is time to talk about how many sick days at work you have saved up.

Days you can use this winter to find your own freedom on the side of a ski hill while you are getting a sunburned face at the same time.  

Unfortunately, you cannot buy such a wonderful sandwich at any ski resort, mountaintop restaurant. You usually have your choice of a cheeseburger or a hamburger starting at $12.95. 

I skied for a lot of years with a very successful investment banker who could easily have bought the entire resort if it had been for sale. One day he and his wife were eating an egg salad sandwich they had hauled to the top of the mountain in their fanny packs. They also had a couple of hard-boiled eggs and four Oreo cookies. 

They were staying in a deluxe, $399-a-night room in a slope side condominium. After spending the morning skiing with his wife and their private instructor, he said, “I have done a cost analysis on the food prices and they are way too high. Anyway, how do you think I have gotten where I am financially if I didn’t watch things such as a too-expensive lunch for us? 

“Besides my wife Agnes is really good at boiling eggs. Would you like a bite of her egg salad sandwich?”

This kind of apparent frugality is strange from a man and his wife who fly up here to ski in their private jet.  

There can be incredible economic disparity among the many different people who are eating lunch in a mountain restaurant on any given day. 

At the table next to us are a group of true road warriors. Eight of them have just driven 1200 miles nonstop except for gas so they can ski their brains out during this one-week-a-year ski vacation. No egg salad sandwiches for them. They want the energy and camaraderie that comes with sharing sandwiches at the mountain restaurant. 

I always figure that peanut butter and sliced bananas on eight-grain bread will make those afternoon turns on those demo skis a lot smoother and your legs a lot stronger.

I learned another thing from one of those marathon, 24-hour nonstop drivers: When it was his turn to drive at two in the morning, he would be 20 minutes into his driving shift when he would hit the brakes and swerve just enough while screaming, “Wow, what a nightmare I just had!” 

This will wake everyone up and someone would not trust him to drive and take over so he could fall asleep again. This ploy is definitely sneaky, but also more rest for the sneaky one.

Years ago, before the invention of release or safety bindings, as I still call them, it was estimated that a skier had one chance in ten of getting hurt on skis. That logic would lead you to believe that if you skied ten times during the winter you would get hurt. I averaged about 100 days of skiing each winter every year but one since 1946. 

That is a lot of skiing. I only got hurt once and that was when a binding released prematurely while I was traversing at only three miles an hour. Fortunately, I didn’t break my leg, but I did break my back. After missing my peanut butter and banana sandwiches for 17 days and having to live on hospital food, including a lot of different colored bowls of Jello, I finally got home to good old fashioned peanut butter and banana sandwiches my wife makes for me.

If you want to get more runs for the price of your lift ticket, all you need is a fanny pack that will hold a couple of those great sandwiches. Cut them in half and leisurely eat them while you are riding on the lift. 

The first time I took, Laurie, who became my future wife, to lunch, it was on the Limelight chairlift at Sun Valley. I had a pocket full of trail mix and by the time we got to the top, the peanuts in the trail mix had energized me to keep skiing nonstop. Or was it because I had just met my future wife and could not begin to keep up with her fast skiing? 

She always waits for me at the bottom and I still don’t know whether it was so we could ride up together or she just liked the trail mix from the pocket of my almost-flattened down vest. There were more feathers in the trail mix than she approved of, but she was a good sport about it…back then. You might not like what she’d say in this era if I offered her the same lunch today.

But you never know what turns people on.   

I figure a lot of them are peanut butter and banana sandwich fans like me.    

Photo: Filmmaker Warren Miller (Warren Miller Freedom Foundation


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