The Mystery - And Practicality - Of Beardage

A reader, inspired by this post, writes:

I'm lucky enough to take a week off work each February or March and take my family AP070220035730to Utah for some skiing.  For the last several years I've stopped shaving just after Christmas so that I have a beard by the time we get to the mountains.  I always used to tell myself (or anyone who asked about the extra facial hair) that it was good warmth and protection for my face while skiing, but that was mostly speculation on my part.  This year it was proven correct.

The week we were in Utah we got a little over four feet of new snow and had some pretty windy days.  Not being used to so much powder, I ate snow all week. But unlike my companions, I was quite comfortable after resurrecting myself from an epic wipeout.  When coupled with a pair of goggles, I probably didn't have more than a square inch of exposed skin on my cheeks.  (Plus, it looks freaky cool when you get a half inch layer of frozen snow and breath over the lower half of your face.)

And excess beardage is definitely on the upswing.  I had much more bearded company on the slopes this year and got compliments all week from my bearded brethren.  Almost inevitably, while passing a fellow viking, we'd exchange a slow nod accompanied by a wry smile, as though we both knew how good it was to have the extra facial protection but didn't want to let anyone else in on the secret. 

Balaclavas?  We don't need no stinking balaclavas!

Ah, yes. The beard nod. Been there.

(Photo: Shane Fox, 38, of Sunriver, Oregon, sits on the tailgate of his truck in the West Village parking lot at the Mount Bachelor ski area. Fox spent the morning telemark skiing in the fresh powder, collecting an icy second beard. By Andy Tullis/AP/The Bulletin)