Simon Ashton on dam wall wipe-outs, getting old and pulling off an orange onesie

I am broken again, which is becoming an ever more common occurrence. Most of my aches and pains are old injuries flaring up, a physical reminder of all the fun I’ve had over the years and that I’m not young anymore, certainly

in body. However, stupidly, I keep adding to the injuries.

A recent trip resulted in me jumping off a dam wall (you may recall me mentioning that escapade in issue 123). To be honest, it sounds a lot more impressive than it was. It was a static jump over rocks. I thought I’d cleared them, only I hadn’t – there were
a few stray ones, thinly covered by snow. Catapulting forwards I somersaulted, jamming my right hand into the snow and onto the rocks.

I first thought I’d broken my hand, but the pain went away pretty quickly and I could gingerly plant my pole, so I thought it couldn’t be a break. A fortnight later I
wasn’t so sure – I still couldn’t grip properly, let alone shake hands or do any other dexterous activities. From the same trip
I had a swollen knee due to hyper-mobile kneecaps, overly developed glutes and an early onset of arthritis, or as a friend put it, “you’re an old man with weak knees and a big arse”. I thought that was rather unkind. Anyway, I keep a couple of physios in work so I’m contributing to the upkeep of the local community.

I have scaled back some of the less fun activities so that I don’t waste a debilitating injury on something that only goes up to 5 on the fun meter. I’ve stopped running, which means I have an excuse and mountain bike more – a solid 7 on the fun meter, which would probably be higher if it was in the Alps rather than Surrey.

Of course, skiing scores between 8 and 10 on the fun meter – a bit of Euro-carving on the piste kicks off at 8 with a powder day top of the scale at a 10. Now, I’ve not been to the Japow land of Niseko (yet), so
a bonzer day there might inspire a Spinal Tap moment and the meter might have to be turned up to 11, but I’ll deal with that if and when it happens. So, a bit more broken and older every day.

On a related issue I’ve also noted as I’ve got older that I can’t carry off ‘cool’ in the same way. My Salomon bright orange onesie would definitely look more hip on someone half my age, and I suspect that me skiing around in it is persuading plenty of you that onesies are not quite as rad as you thought – but hey, I think it’s cool.

I reckon I might be a ski fashionista, as I’m very picky about the brands I wear. I’ve fallen for that ego thing that means I don’t do cheap. For some reason, I’m fixated on Spy goggles. Now, granted they make decent goggles if a little on the expensive side. But they are suitably rare enough, that’s to say every second person isn’t wearing them and they have, to my eyes, a suitably cool logo on the side (well, probably until I wear them, then it no doubt looks like an older guy trying too hard).

There are, though, benefits to looking older. Going through Munich customs they pulled my bag. “Do you have a Leatherman in here, sir?”, queried a stern-looking official. “Aaah, *hite. I just came straight off the mountain and forgot to take it out of my pack. Just throw it away,” I said. The official ignored me, pulled out the offending tool and proceeded to flick out three very nasty looking blades. “Look, sorry, I forgot, it’s fine, just throw it away,” I repeated.

He then proceeded to pull out the rest of the contents in the bag, which included a screwdriver with a four-inch shaft into which could be placed various pointy bits. Oh god, they’re going to pull me to one side and put the gloves on, I thought.

Then, with a slight nod, the official looked me in the eye and said: “That’s OK, you can go now, they’re fine.” I hurried away before he changed his mind; he must have thought I posed no threat, which was on certain levels very upsetting.

Passing through Heathrow X-ray there were two skate-cool-looking guys surrounded by police, one of whom was holding their passports in one hand and a small Swiss army knife in the other. The kids looked cool, they looked like trouble and they looked like they were going to feel the hand of plod. Maybe it’s not so bad being a little older and wearing an orange onesie. FL