Let Me Know When The “Real” Skiing Begins
Ski season has started out phenomenally–with cold temperatures at night being great for snow-making and mild days being great for getting on the mountain, I have already amassed a fair amount of days skiing. As the days pass, I’ve started to look for opportunities to sneak in other activities and make good on my promise to be less skiing obsessed this year, but so far the conditions have dictated more skiing. In the past month, there’s been a warm weather spell, some rain, and very little natural snow; because of this weather, people have not been visiting the local mountain. They have been missing out! Conditions have been great, with soft snow, good coverage, and new terrain opening every day. Additionally, I tend to visit the mountain in off-peak hours (weekday mornings, specifically) and at times share the mountain with only the lifties and ski patrol.
Many of the friends I ski with have taken up the mantra “call me when the real skiing begins,” a foolish saying from people who just don’t know what they are talking about. As my friends’ chatter about skis and skiing ramps up and skis start getting tuned in preparation for the impending season, I’ve already been on the mountain for a month. Also, most of the superlative qualities of backcountry skiing–solitude, fresh tracks, exercise, camaraderie, and pow–are currently being served by the resort.
Want solitude? At times, I’ve had more solitude at the resort than I’ve had at popular backcountry spots. It’s hard to believe, but true…plus all that time I waste trudging uphill is expedited by the lift, letting me get a seemingly endless amount of solitary runs. (I bet I’ve skied more vertical in the past month than most of my friends will ski all year.) Want even more solitude? Just hit the mountain up before it opens to skin, and you’re almost guaranteed to have the place to yourself. Then, as an added bonus, you can also check off the exercise box. Can’t get there before the mountain opens? Hike one of the abundant trails in the woods to the summit and ski down and, if the conditions are good, stick around for a few more runs with the lift’s assistance. Fresh tracks? No problem, the resort has a lot of terrain and no one competing for it. Sure it’s been mostly corduroy, but I’ve already hit the mountain three times after they received some natural snow. (Three inches of snow is far from a powder day, but who cares? It’s still great.)
Pow? Well…that hasn’t really happened yet, but when it does I’ll make sure to break out the skins and hit up the backcountry. While the mountain can’t produce anything close to the experience of skiing natural powder, it can provide reliable conditions and for that I am grateful. While the mountain can’t provide pow, it can serve up a big slice camaraderie as you and the small handful of people sharing the mountain can rejoice in good conditions, knowing that you are one step ahead of everyone else. To everyone else, we’ll see you when ski season “really” starts.