We first profiled Robert Neubecker a few years ago. He recently sent us this photo and we thought it would be good to check in and see what’s going on with him and why is he skiing in places like this.
AGEIST: This photo is crazy. Where are you?
Robert: This is East Baldy, an east-facing slope on Baldy Mountain adjacent to Snowbird that is rarely open. With this year’s amazing snow, however…
AGEIST: Did you have to hike to get there?
Robert: It’s a short hike up; going all the way to the top for the Baldy Chutes is much farther and more difficult, but it’s still a workout at 11,000 feet.
AGEIST: How steep is that slope?
Robert: I think about 40 degrees. I have a theory that the steeper the slope, if measured perpendicular to level, the deeper the powder.
AGEIST: How old are you, and is it common for people your age to be skiing like this? I think more of the Red Bull teenage crowd up there.
Robert: I’m 65. A couple years ago I hiked up further to Perla’s Chute with some pro kids — it’s got a big cornice and an hourglass pinch involving rocks and cliffs and stuff. I carefully dropped the cornice at an angle and made tight ski-school turns. The kids simply hucked it. The cliff too. It was awesome.
AGEIST: Skiing is anonymous because people are all covered up. Are people surprised at your age?
Robert: Not really. Alta’s special that way.
AGEIST: Are there women skiers in places like this?
Robert: Emily. She’s my ski buddy, and 64. Telechicks of Alta are a fearsome tribe.
AGEIST: How old were you when you learned to ski? It looks like you were born with skis on.
Robert: Oh, no. I was 34 — I was a New York City grind before I first visited Utah. Especially Alta. Put the zap on my head.
AGEIST: You used to say you were a sloppy expert. Do you still feel that way?
Robert: Yeah. I really need to hook up with my old coach, Laurie Norman at Alta Ski School. She can ski anything — steeps, bumps, ice, powder — and make it look like she’s on a smooth-as-silk blue groomer. We’ve got a standing date, but the powder days just kept getting in the way so perhaps next year.
AGEIST: You live in a ski town. How often do you get to ski?
Robert: Well, depending on the snow, I’ll get over to Alta once or twice a week. I live in Park City, four minutes from the lift, so I’ll ski here for an hour or two a few mornings a week.
AGEIST: How are you able to ski and manage your work?
Robert: It’s actually stressful. Partly, I’ll work a few hours at home on weekends, close to the family. Also, in my line of work, Mondays and Fridays are quiet. I take my phone. Did I mention that I get up at 5 am? That helps.
AGEIST: How do you recover from skiing? Does the hot tub work for you?
Robert: First week is tiring. This year I finally understood how my guests feel. After December, it’s just like after a workout. Hot tub’s great — I used it less this year because I got tired of shoveling the snow off naked.
AGEIST: I know it helps that you live at 8,000 feet or so, but how do you stay in shape so that you don’t die on a slope like that?
Robert: I have no idea. I live in the fittest town in the nation according to surveys, but I ski myself into shape every year. Do some elliptical & Bowflex off season. Hike a lot. The other thing is that skiing powder really ain’t that taxing, once you get the hang of it. We float down the mountain. If I do catch myself getting lazy, I’ll ski a nasty bump run to wake up.
AGEIST: How do your wife and kids feel about you skiing like this?
Robert: We ski the icy, steep dangerous stuff much less these days in favor of wide, open powder fields. The wife and kids are all good skiers, especially my wife, Ruth, who has perfect telemark form, but they’re more lunch-to-latte elegant types. Except for my son Izzy when he’s out of school. A most excellent wingman.
Read here for the original AGEIST profile on Robert
Read here for AGEIST’s feature on Alta
Read here for The Importance of Sun-Proofing Your Eyes