Five Stages of Winter
Being a skier on the east coast can be emotionally draining. First, the winters are reliably brutal and cold but unreliably snowy. Second, thanks to population density, the good snow gets skied fast—if you desire freshies you have to be either committed to skiing where others don’t want to, wake up before other skiers in hopes of beating them to the good stuff, or just be lucky. It’s fair to say I have skied a lot more packed powder (read: manicured ice), than I have snow over the years. Lastly, everyone on the east coast seems to have a friend in a ski town out west, and at whatever moment you’re talking to that friend, it’s almost guaranteed to be nuking in said ski town.
Maybe the hardest part about being an east coast skier, though, is the roller coaster ride that is our weather. The season is fleeting and three feet of snow one day can be a foot of slush the next. Early season storms can be the precursor to great seasons or bad seasons, you just never know. The only thing you can do is treat every storm as if it were the last storm of the season. It seems that at the end of every snow cycle I churn through the five stages of grief, as I bemoan the perceived loss of winter:
Step 1: Denial. “It’s still early in the season, the snow will come any day now.” – “It’s been cold and it’s rained, we just need the two to happen together.” – “It only December, it never really snows until January.” – “Its only January, February and March are actually our snowiest months.”
Step 2: Anger. “Fuck it, I’m learning to surf.” – “If I put my powder skis on eBay, maybe someone in Jackson Hole will buy them.” – “This is bullshit! Where is winter?” – “Next year I’m moving to Colorado.” – “I should have never written that blog about how great early season conditions were.”
Step 3: Bargaining. “How about just one storm?” – “If we get one storm I won’t even complain about shoveling, shitty drivers, and lack of parking, I promise” – “Just let it snow in the mountains, I will drive.” – “Just let it get cold enough for them to blow snow.” – “I will burn these skis as an offering to the gods of winter.”
Step 4: Depression. “I might as well just watch ski movies, since I’m obviously never going to ski.” – “Let’s not watch ski movies, they make me sad.” – “Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas without a little snow on the ground.” – “New Year’s doesn’t feel like New Year’s without a little snow on the ground.” – “Valentine’s Day doesn’t feel like Valentines Day without a little snow on the ground.” – “You know, I don’t think PBR’s are that tasty.”
Step 5: Acceptance. “Guess I’ll just go dig out the bike.” – “At least there isn’t much salt on the roads.” – “Time to start training for that race in May.” – “Maybe this is the year I make the jump climbing.” – “I have never climbed here so early in the season.”
Lucky for us, we are in the middle of an epic two-week storm cycle which has left much of New England feeling like Utah. When I scroll through Facebook and Instagram, I—for the first time ever—have wondered if my Utah and Colorado friends are secretly wishing they were in Vermont or New Hampshire. It’s been an amazing two weeks, and I have done my best to make the most of the snow because I know at some point (most likely sooner rather than later) I will be entering the emotional tailspin as I mourn the death of winter.