It's 9:00AM on a Sunday morning in the dead of winter. It occurs to me that most people are still in bed in the warmth of their homes. Perhaps their plans include a trip to the mall with the family, fighting weekend traffic made even worse than usual by the snow and ice on the city streets. I'm glad not to be there as I stand at the top of a snow covered mountain sparkling
in the morning sunshine.
From my perch almost 9,000ft above sea level I can see for miles in every direction. In front of me I can see several spectacular snow covered mountain ranges. To the east and west I look down a breathtaking river valley stretching as far as I can see in either direction. The air is crisp
and clean, the sky a clear, cold blue.
I look down the mountain in front of me. I can see the approach to the powder filled avalanche chutes that seem to be open to skiers so infrequently (although for obvious reasons!) Which chute to take this run is my only thought, my only concern in the world. Then suddenly, leaving a small cloud of snow sparkling in the sun behind me, I push off.
On a summer hike, one would never even consider ascending or descending the chute which I am now skiing down. The pitch is so steep, and the
terrain so rugged, that in the summer one would need climbing equipment. Yet my skis allow me this privilege, feeling the snow tickle my face as it blows up from beneath me. It's almost sensory overload. The sensation of skiing itself, floating down a mountain rhythmically on a soft blanket of snow, the powder hitting my cheeks,
combined with a staggeringly breathtaking view and the rush of adrenalin.
There isn't any time to think about delivering projects on time, taking out the trash or any of those worries or annoyances. 100% concentration is required. Looking ahead, I carefully pick my path down the mountain two or three turns in advance. All of my senses are devoted to the task at hand.
I reach the bottom of the mountain and head for the lift line. I think I could have done a little better on that last run....maybe I'll try it again....or maybe a different one....trees, steeps, moguls, or maybe a nice cruiser to relax.
See, winter isn't so bad after all. At least not if you live somewhere with snow and skiing close by!
You may have heard some complaints about skiing, or may have some reservations. Let me try to put a few of them to rest:
- It's too expensive
Where I live, a full days lift ticket at full price is around $60 (Cdn) at any of the nearby mountains. I find it pretty hard to argue with that price considering what you get in return. Granted, you can spend a lot of money on gear, but that's what the rental shops are for. I also make a point of packing a lunch. Those burgers on the hill sure smell good, but they are usually over priced, and by the time you've had a big greasy burger and a coupla wobbly pops for lunch you have spent another $20 and your skiing day is finished!
- It's dang cold out there!
Unfortunately cold is required for snow. It's a matter of degree (no pun intended.) I will happilly spend a day skiing in -20C. Any colder and I'll at least think twice about it! Everyone has their threshold. If you dress properly, you'll be surprised how comfortable you can be.
- It's too crowded
Well that all depends on you. If you stick to all the most popular intermediate runs, then yes, it can be crowded and in my opinion, that's not much fun. But if you get to know the mountain, you can always find runs to suit your ability which are not so well known. The higher your skill level gets, the easier this gets. If you are really against skiing with the masses, there's always backcountry skiing, just make sure you go with a guide and get some training first.
- It's dangerous
So is crossing the street. Be sensible, know your limits, and wear a lid.
Well, that's it folks. I hope that I have given you an appreciation for skiing if you haven't done it before. If you haven't skied in a while, I hope I have re-kindled the fire!