By Ernest Hemingway

(This is an excerpt from the short story which appeared in the collection In Our Time (1927). To read the complete story, click here.)

The funicular car bucked once more and then stopped.  It could not go farther, the snow drifted solidly across the track. The gale scouring the exposed surface of the mountain had swept the snow surface into a wind-board crust. Nick, waxing his skis in the baggage car, pushed his boots into the toe irons and shut the clamp tight. He jumped from the car sideways onto the hard wind-board, made a jump turn and crouching and trailing his sticks slipped in a rush down the slope.

On the white below George dipped and rose and dipped out of sight. The rush and sudden swoop as he dropped down a steep undulation in the mountain side plucked Nick’s mind out and lift him only with the wonderful flying, dropping sensation in his body. He rose to a slight up-run and then the down, faster and faster in a rush down the last, long steep slope.  Crouching so he was almost sitting back on his skis, trying to keep the center of gravity low, the snow driving like a sand-storm, he knew the pace was too much. But he held it. He would not let go and spill. Then a patch of soft snow, left in a hollow by the wind, spilled him and he went over and over in a clashing of skis, feeling like a shot rabbit, then stuck, his legs crossed, his skis sticking straight up and his nose and ears jammed with snow.

George stood a little farther down the slope, knocking the snow from his wind jacket with big slaps.

“You took a beauty, Mike,” he called to Nick. “That’s lousy soft snow. It bagged me the same way.”

“What’s it like over the khud?” Nick kicked his skis around as he lay on his back and stood up.

“You’ve got to keep to your left. It’s a good fast drop with a Christy at the bottom on account of a fence.”

“Wait a sec and we’ll take it together.”

“No, you come on and go first. I like to see you take the khuds.”

Nick Adams came up past George, big back and blond head still faintly snowy, then his skis started slipping at the end and he swooped down, hissing in the crystalline powder snow and seeming to float up and drop down as he went up and down the billowing khuds. He held to his left and at the end, as he rushed toward the fence, keeping his knees locked tight together and turning his body like tightening a screw brought his skis sharply around to the right in a smother of snow and slowed into a loss of speed parallel to the hillside and the wire fence.

[Editor Note: On April 5, PBS stations will be airing a new, three part series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick on Hemingway, who was an enthusiastic skier in Europe in the 20s. previously published an excerpt from The Snows of Kilimanjaro, describing skiing in the Voralberg.]  


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