The Johnny Cash classic “Sunday Morning Coming Down” seems fitting today as I nurse a trifecta of hangovers brought on by my addiction to los tres emes: montañas, mujeres, y mota. Ohhh yeah, and alcohol. On top of that, what little snow we have has been hammered by skiers and sun. It was good while it lasted despite being extremely shallow: if that doesn’t sum up the typical ski bum romance as well I don’t know what does. 🙂
As always these reports focus on snow *quality* and whatever the heck else I feel like writing about. These reports do not focus on snow *safety* or avalanche conditions. At this stage of the winter there is no safe snow, especially now that variable, breakable, zippery suncrusts cap a few inches of fluff on rocky, deadfall-strewn slopes at upper elevations. At lower elevations you’re better off walking.
There’s still some goodness hiding on shady slopes at mid and upper elevations but the low hanging fruit has been plucked. Fortunately the forecast looks good: a chance of snow starting tonight through the work week.
Yesterday Maestra and I lapped near Edelweiss with Royal T. We ran into Tom T and were graced by an invitation to ski with a true sensei. We also ran into Z, and it was great to see him out getting after it. Topping off the day we met up with The Manimal and The Pamimal. Quite the social ski if you ask me!
The Maestra and I got way too froggy on Friday the 13th and needed to rein ourselves in, so yesterday I pumped the brakes and did a little community service by beginning the process of teaching a talented snowboarder how to ski.
I am a reformed snowboarder who switched to skiing ten years ago and haven’t picked up a yay tray since.
Sliding through steep snow feels as fabulous now as it did two decades ago when I first dropped into borderline bottomless in O Chute at big*, bold*, beckoning* Coffee Mill Ski Area in Wabasha, Minnesota. The memories burn into my mind. I love snow sports, and I hope you do too.
I’m still grateful to Nerdia Kaliszewski for teaching me how to ski and the basics of being a decent ski bum. I am now returning the favor to my angelic climbing partner, Royal T. Watch out, boys: if you mess with her you mess with me.
I am pleasantly surprised to see many diehard snowboarders giving the sticks a try now that fat floppiness has taken over modern ski design. I’m not anti-snowboarding, but I don’t ride with boarders anymore due to the limitations of the platform. As the Wydaho backcountry becomes more crowded, getting further out, traversing between shots, and slapping the skins on multiple times is my new norm. Safety is a factor too: if I get buried, I want my partner to be sliding and sidestepping atop the debris in search of me, not slogging through it on foot.
I am also disturbed by the snowboard culture’s emerging sideways stance best summarized as “sustainable slednecking”: corporate climate kookiness combined with carbon spewing, noise polluting destruction disguised as recreation. Recreating what? The speeder bike scenes from Star Wars?!?
I see egos driven through deep drifts by dead dinosaurs. I see hypocrisy glorified: save the planet, slay the powder. I hear a coming cacophony of bratty braaaaps and will witness snow slaughtered in the steep and sacred solitude where earning turns makes them so much sweeter and more meaningful than the mere sensations of sliding on snow and that feeling of flying.
If sled shredding is marketed to the masses what will the backcountry look like a decade from now? What impact will this have on the wildlife, including free range humans?
Any gorilla can get good with the assistance of lifts, helis, and sleds. Many ride better than I ever will, but tricks are for kids — specifically, spoiled sports who can afford to get hurt. I respect people who earn their turns and their living. I respect people who respect the mountains regardless of how well they ride. I have no respect for rapists, especially when it’s our mountain mama they’re molesting.
Skis are tools. Snowboards are toys. Snowmobiles are obnoxious and destructive. Corporate-sponsored athletes are cogs in a machine that seeks to consume everything sacred. Competition is worth less than worthless. Sorry I’m not sorry for spraying a bit. It’s just one of those days. Rant over.
Have fun out there. I might lay low until we get more snow, but las montañas están llamandome. Vamos a veer.
*The words “big, bold, and beckoning” are a catchy radio slogan that cannot adequately convey the fabulousness of Coffee Mill Ski Area when seen through the eyes of a 14 year old boy from small town Minnesota.