The runs that made us | Dan Egan

a skier jumps over rocks

The Fingers, Palisades, USA
Dan Egan, Hall of Fame skier, and Warren Miller veteran

I jumped my first cliff in Vermont, at Mad River Glen ski resort. But it was only in 1984, when my brother phoned me and told me to get out to Tahoe, that things really got going.

After buying a $75 one-way plane ticket, I thumbed my way to Palisades (or Squaw as it was called then) and went from his couch to crashing down the first proper big cliffs I’d seen.

I remember some random skier even stopped to show me a better landing technique, because I was on 207cm GS race skis, and while the likes of Schmidt and a few other pros could do it, the rest of us wannabes were just trying to fit in to the scene, and learn as much as we could.

Anyway, I was something like 20 or 21, skiing as much as I could, at first driving the shuttle bus because it gave me good tips, then selling coffee and croissants at the hill.

At the latter, I was getting ripped by a wise-ass Boston patroller, as I’d fallen under KT22, on a marked run called The Fingers, in one of the chutes, and somehow left a pole sticking in under the lift. He knew it was me because so few people were skiing this sort of thing in those days (even now, with the benefit of modern equipment, Fatmap cautions: ‘The Fingers should not be attempted by 99.9% of skiers; this one is for very, very strong skiers only who are not scared of air, rocks, ice etc’).

So to get him off my back I said: “Why don’t one of you go and get it then?”

No one did.

One week later I skied the chute again, mandatory air and all, managing to grab the pole as I jumped it, which wasn’t easy!

After that I was even more hooked on Palisades, and people (including legendary ski photographer Hank de Vre) began starting to notice my brother Johnny and me. We were now the Egan Brothers!

Dan Egan hosts ski adventures, clinics and steeps camps in France, Switzerland and the USA.

aerial shot of skier about to jump a rock
Skier Tyler Curle | Photo Ming Poon / Red Bull Content Pool