Downhill skiing…


That Christmas present which is never shaken, never wondered about, and always opened before christmas day. Beneath the lid, orderly rows of chocolate lie, little monks in cubicles, meditating to achieve nonexistence. Christmas chocolates, oh, the delight. Like eager paupers in a bread line, children assemble to collect their ration. Excitement permeates the air, the chocolates tremble in their crinkly paper wrappers. What lies beneath the surface of each impassive chocolate? Fudge, berry filling, coconut? Who will chance upon his favorite filling? Each chocolate arouses curiosity because its exterior betrays no clues as to its interior flavor. That first bite is full of anticipation, just as the mouth will soon be full of chocolate.

Some adventures parallel Christmas chocolates. Chocolate, coconut or berry filling fail to arouse curiosity when served singly. But secret ingredients elicit curiosity. Some adventures are merely common ingredients hidden beneath other common ingredients, exciting mainly because what you see is not what you get.

My view of skiing changed when I thought of Big Mountain as a chocolate: a coconut filled chocolate perhaps. (Of course, the snow encrusted mountain actually resembles a coconut covered chocolate. But I digress. My point is not whether coconut resides within or without, but simply that adventures can be built from everyday components.) Earlier this winter, I found myself disappointed with downhill skiing. Despite good conditions and enjoyable outings, my ski days felt incomplete. You see, I have an intense craving for unusual adventure: adventure usually safer with a buddy and some specialized gear. Crowds banish the unique feel. Just as many purchases strip the shiny finish from a new credit card, so also multitudes of powder-hungry downhill skiers divest a mountain of its adventurous aura. I wished like crazy for unusual recreation, like backcountry skiing, cruising down untouched slopes far from people, buildings, and all infrastructure – except chair lifts of course.

But the Christmas chocolate theory put clear lenses in my goggles, allowing me to see and ski differently. Big mountain was a chocolate – I had to get out and find the surprise it held. I either ignored all the people trying to eat the coconut on the big chocolate, or found a spot where nobody else was eating.  The resort encompasses many acres – over three thousand, in fact – and even when the main runs are crawling with people, there are places to find solitude. And powder. The past three weeks have proven excellent, bringing consistent dumps of perfect, light powder. So I skied off to my places of solitude and drowned my sorrows in the soft snow. Considering that one night brought 22 inches of this powder, drowning even the tallest sorrows proved easy: I forgot about the crowds and any discontent I’d harbored earlier. I even forgot to turn, but the snow was deep enough to moderate my speed.

All was going swimmingly, especially crashes. After every crash a good deal of swimming proved necessary in order to right myself. It was only after a number of days had passed that I discovered an abysmal lack of media documenting my deep snow experiences. With all four limbs wielding ski gear, my photo capturing capabilities were severely limited. On one occasion, I took my large DSLR skiing with me, and while I captured fine scenic photos, my action shots turned out as follows:

Learning from my mistakes, I equipped Dane with a camera and brought him along on the following powder day. Even that plan didn’t succeed too brilliantly, and compromise was necessary. We traded the camera back and forth, each occasionally taking a photo or video clip, but mostly cutting powder. But the video clips accumulated much like snowflakes, and their combined number proved a sufficient base for this short video.


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