Most people greet the coming of spring with enthusiasm and joy. “OMG. Summer’s coming!” Shouts the floppy-hat girl in flip-flops. Soon masses of misguided warm-weather lovers will begin prancing around in their sundresses and hipster ball caps while gabbing about their upcoming jolly-jaunts to the beach, or wherever summer-loving slaves go during their favored season.
This week, I attempted a late-season skin in the Wasatch backcountry only to be stopped when massive amounts of industrial swamp-snow collected on the bottom of my skis. I tried boot-packing, but I’ve never been a strong swimmer. Then I ran into a moose grazing on a slope above 10,000ft. Alas, the facts are in: Unless the Gods bless us with a freak late late-season snow, it’s over. Each year, it’s harder and harder to face.
For us (the Ullr-loving, powder-hounding, snow-sporteers), the summer months are torture. How to cope?
Step 1: Prolong the Denial Stage.
When the lifts shut down, pretend they’re just—you know—resting. Keep up with those 4:30 AM dawn patrols or, if you don’t have skins: slap on some snowshoes; lash your skis to a pack; and, start walking uphill. On the way down, when you start rethinking this decision (after you’ve realized you’re in knee-deep, non-uniformly frozen glue), silence yourself! You’re still skiing! Feel grateful. Do this until slush gives way to mud. Then it’s time to deal.
Step 2: When there’s none of the white stuff left, do all the things that normal, non-ski bums do.
Enter into a committed relationship with that creative hipster you not-so-secretly have a thing for. (But set an expiration date of mid-December). Take up yoga on the premise of improving your carving balance. (But don’t go so often you start to resemble a guppy fish.) Join the Crossfit craze and drink red-meat Paleo shakes while building Godlike quads (But do not go too far down that rabbit hole. Those folks can get intense.) Do other not-as-fun extreme sports and commit to pretending they’re just as fun.
Step 3: Pick-up a second job whose earnings will be devoted entirely to the “Ski Fund.”
Then, start curating Mountain Porn. Watching ski videos may induce unwanted pangs of longing, but maps and pictures of untouched mountain ranges are just the nicotine patches you need. Get together with your crew of pole-wielding banditos; après like it’s February; and, scheme for next season.
The possibilities are endless: chase down unclimbed 6,000 meter peaks in Central Asia, do a link-up tour of the entire Purcell range, splurge on Middle Earth-based mechanized skiing in New Zealand. Don’t limit yourself. Remember, your primary goal is distraction.
Step 4: Consider whiskey and retail therapy.
Spring is the best time to snag those 190 underfoot, super-cambered, carbon fiber beauties that you’ve been seeing in your late-night reveries. After all, they’re on sale! It’s spring! See, now you’re happy it’s the off-season!
If you see another bitter misanthrope gorging PBRs and beer-battered chili fries wearing googles in July, come say hi. I could use the company. Just don’t expect a warm welcome. (Get it?)