As much as I love hiking in 50lbs of ski gear for fresh powder lines, those ever-stationary chairlifts were looking more and more attractive every day. Just when I thought the peak of mountain was beginning to poke out from the clouds just to taunt me, opening day had arrived (2 weeks early, since the snow gods had decided to take unusually large dumps on Big White’s face for weeks on end)! Early that morning, I got my skis shined up and didn’t even need a stick of Juicy Fruit to get moving, I was busting down my back door and roaring towards the hill, waving my poles like a deranged snow-monkey. After an unbelievably short line up at the bottom of the chair, I was on my way up, bouncing in my seat (both from excitement and the ricketiness of the ride). I had expected to reach the top and be confronted with 360 panoramic views of jaws-dropping mountain awesomeness, but instead found even more of the thick clouds surrounding the base, along with a bunch of frozen snot in my nose.
Undeterred, I gallantly made my first descent, soaring epically for about 50m before realizing the cloud cover was so thick, I could barely see my skis, let alone the ground. Freaking out and taking to a non-epic snail speed, I made it about 1/3 of way down the mountain before conditions increased to a visibility of about 5% and I could resume “actual” skiing.
This was (again) something that was easier said than done. Learning to ski in Ontario, my experience was on slopes that were more ice than actual snow. Here in British Columbia, world famous champagne powder covered the piests and I quickly learned that things like stopping took about 100x more effort and things like falling were about 100x more likely to happen. Lucky for me, while falling on ice is basically like falling on frictionless concrete (read: is not any fun at all), falling into powder is like gently leaping into a painlessly plushy bed of soft winter marshmallows – that explode on contact, making your fall look really intense. Most of the time, my friends didn’t see my actual fall, only a flurry of snow, at which point I could say “yeah, I wasn’t avoiding that ramp, I tried a back 1080, but underestimated how thick the pow was” and pretend to not lose any dignity. Basically, if you’re going to be stuck learning how to deal with any type of condition, it might as well be powder snow – it may be a bit harder to get control in, but you can fall all you want without getting hurt, it’d be like learning to walk on a giant trampoline!