4.19.2016

Skiing with the Brits - Step Two, Teach Them the Lingo


Once again, I was surrounded by Brits on my most recent ski tour. in the Alps. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the delights of traveling and ski touring abroad is the opportunity to pick up new words and lingo. My three European ski tours have taught me a lot of British lingo and as a member of guided trips, I am able to share American mountain town lingo with the group. Other than one American guide leading a trip, I've been the only American on all of the tours I have completed so it becomes my responsibility to serves as an ambassador for American mountain town culture.

This year's Gran Paradiso tour found me in a small group with only one other skier joining me, Bobby, a charming farmer/engineer from Scotland. Our guide Paul Farmer was English and he was assisted by Miles Perkin, an aspiring guide who will soon be taking his ski exam and if he passes (Which he should - he was great!) he'll be a fully qualified guide. They were great ski partners and company always ready for a laugh and good conversation.

As the lone American on the Gran Paradiso tour, I picked up a lot more lingo from Paul, Bobby and Miles than they picked up from me. (See the bottom of the original post for updates.) Paul and Miles spend a good bit of time each year in Chamonix and are regularly in contact with many America who are either fellow guides or clients. This has taught them some American mountain town lingo and I was able to fill in the gaps in their knowledge base. Interestingly, Paul doubted that I was an American because as he said "You haven't said 'awesome' or called us 'dude' even once." That's me, an American who defies the stereotype.

Here are the terms that resonated most with my group:
  • Bro-brah - An annoying, loud-mouthed ski bum. Your stereotypical dude. Paul and Miles run into lots of bro-brahs in Chamonix and through their work.
    Punta Galisia, Italy
    Me & My Bro-Brahs
  • Harsh my mellow - To bring someone down or to ruin a good time. A buzzkill. I'd say this is more of hippie/stoner term so I'm not sure how useful it might be in mountain circles. Of course, there is some overlap with the hippie/stoners and the bro-brahs so it could be handy.
  • Slide-for-life conditions - Slick and hard pack ski conditions where a fall can result in a slide straight to bottom of the run.
  • Cold smoke - They were familiar with the term as they learned it from an American guide living in Chamonix. Interestingly, their response to the mere utterance of my the words "cold smoke" was "You sound so smug when you say that."