Words by Arnie Wilson | Illustration by Tim Whitlock
I started working on my bucket list early. Skiing every day of the year seemed like an inspirational adventure to get things started. But it wasn’t really my idea. I have Vogue Magazine to thank for that. Back in 1990 they asked me to write a ski feature based on the idea that it was possible to ski somewhere on the planet every month. This got me thinking. If it were possible to ski every month, then why not every day?
Back then, although I had skied in some of the summer months in Australasia and in a rather limited way on a few Alpine glaciers, the all-important Andes had so far eluded me. What clinched the idea was the enthusiasm of my then French girlfriend, Lucy Dicker. We were living in London’s Olympia, and she was the general manager of a tour operation selling ski holidays to the French Alps.
In fact that’s how we’d first met. Lucy felt she’d always missed out on adventure – as a little girl she’d set her sights on becoming an astronaut or at the very least a circus acrobat. Skiing round the world would be the ideal substitute. And so she gave up her job and the two of us started contacting hundreds of ski resorts and potential sponsors to try to make our dream trip happen.
“We would ski 3,678 miles…the equivalent of skiing down Everest 140 times”
By Christmas 1993 we were “go” for what had now become The Financial Times Round The World Ski Expedition. I’d been the FT’s freelance ski correspondent for 12 years and told them I was going to embark on this mission whether they wanted to be involved or not. Luckily my boss, Max Wilkinson – editor of the paper’s Weekend section – was all for it, although he did specify that we’d have to ski at least 10 miles a day, and not just ski a run, have lunch and move on.
While they wouldn’t sponsor us direct, the paper agreed to give me a regular Saturday column right the way through 1994 (summer included of course) and payments for this would help defray the cost. Our main sponsors were the Colorado resorts of Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Keystone (then marketed together as “Ski The Summit”).
Other sponsors included Air New Zealand and American Airlines (for what turned out to be 33 flights), Avis (26 rental cars) and Snow+Rock (for all our equipment, including various ski suits and at least four pairs of skis each, most of which I still have in my garage!). During our adventure we would travel a total of 115,000 miles – including 3678 miles on skis (so only just clocking up the required 10 miles a day). This was the equivalent of skiing down Everest 140 times.