Even though this ski season has far exceeded my expectations this year, I am still sad to see it leave. While it is exciting to begin thinking about climbing, running, and biking, it is with a certain sadness that I bid farewell to winter. (Lucky for me, Ashley and I are planning three days of skiing at A-Basin in May.) I am always somewhat torn when the resorts start to close, even more so when they close with an abundance of snow still on the ground. I am saddened that I lose easy access to the snow, not being able to rely on the lift to whisk me to the mountaintop and harvest turns on the remaining snow with ease. However, I enjoy the solitude of having the snow to myself (or shared with few others) as I earn my turns by skinning up the resorts closed ski trails, celebrating the fact we are still skiing as others have moved on to other activities.
While I love the ease of lift-assisted skiing, and certainly have taken full advantage of it this year, the resort takes on a very different character in the postseason. The camaraderie of skiing disappears as the lifts close; no longer are the skiers unified in a singular activity. Gone are the conversations in the lift lines and on the chairlift, replaced with head nods and thumbs up as you encounter the occasional other skier also trying to milk the last ounce out of ski season. Perhaps there is a quick discussion of how shocked you are that the resort is closed, or an exchange of which trails are holding the most snow with the other lone skier, but postseason skiing is a mostly solitary endeavor. Sweating for forty-five minutes or more uphill, in order to savor five minutes of downhill bliss. Filling the skiing bank for the long summer.
While the postseason at the resort is somewhat solitary, it can also be a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the flow of the resort. Gone is the jockeying for position in lift lines and the sometime awkward chair ride to the summit with a non-sociable partner. No lift tickets are needed when the resort is closed; my season pass is replaced by touring gear and hard work. Gone are the newbie skiers strewn across trails too difficult for them, and the park rats are no longer threatening to wipe you it with a failed reverse double cork off axis three-sixty. Gone is the pressure I sometimes feel to get in as many runs as possible before work, as I become simply grateful for every run I get.
Missing from the mountain postseason is the smell of cider donuts in the air as you take the lift toward the summit. The temptation of the Waffle Hut at the resort’s base will have most likely been closed for the last couple weeks, saving you the disappointment of having gotten a waffle (it is amazing that something that smells so good can taste so average). Most important, the bar has closed for the year saving you from the siren call of a beer, television, and well…beer. For on-mountain treats you are forced to rely on your backpack: GU, Clif Bars, and the occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich are the staples of my postseason on-mountain diet. The bar is replaced by a cooler, the radio, and the hatchback of my car. For some reason, the beer tastes a little better after earning your day of skiing.
Someday, I will check “ski twelve months out of the year” off of my bucket list. In the meantime, I will simply enjoy having the front row of the parking lot all to myself come mid-April.