February 20, 2016
POWDrrrrrrrr! That was all I could think of. It snowed seven inches overnight on top of a few inches the other day. I had to calm down and consciously drive slowly to avoid anything happening on the way to Stratton. I did not want to miss it for it has been a really bad winter and we did not have any snow to speak of all season. We had been waiting for a long time for this.
The number of Vermont license plates that I saw on the access road, the limited availability of spaces in the covered garage parking and the lines of people at the gondola already gave me a good clue as to what to expect today. I got on my first gondola ride to the summit and everyone got very chatty immediately. Unable to contain our excitement, we talked about yesterday’s conditions, last week, last month and that incredible powder day we caught last year. We don’t catch powder very often in Southern Vermont and you should consider yourself very lucky if you found a couple of inches of untouched snow on the side of the slopes. Boot-deep powder happens only once or twice a season.
|As I turned back and looked down at the slope, I saw among millions of ski marks some unblemished white surface that no one had been on. “Wait, what time is it?”, I said not particularly looking for any answer. Someone said, “Just past 10 o’clock.” Wow, there were some virgin snow spots on the slope at 10 o’clock! This is amazing!|
When we moved to Manchester, I bought my first season pass at Stratton. As the season began, I wanted to try the steepest and hardest line I could find and ride it well. I would attack the hills every time I went there. If I did not do well, I went back and did it again and again until I could ride the way I wanted. I wanted to beat the mountain. But the condition on the slope changes every day and sometimes I ride perfectly well and, the very next day, on the same exact trail, I am all over. The mood of the mountain changes every day and you cannot always insist on what you want to do.
|In the second season at Stratton, I learned to respect the mountain. I wanted to get to know the mountain, all of it in different conditions, so that I could adjust my riding to get the best day possible under what was given to me. As it turned out, she was a lot more than I expected. That made me want to know the mountain even more. Good days, bad days, sunny days, windy days, and even impossible icy days. The more I learned about the different characters of the mountain, the more I appreciated the rich personality of the mountain. Appreciation then led me to respect the mountain in all her characters in the 20-week long season.|
In the third season, I developed a relationship with the mountain. Sometimes, when I am standing at the summit at 3,875 feet elevation and looking at the cascading mountain range in the north, she is so beautiful and I feel so lucky to be there. Other times, she is so difficult and I feel why I’m wasting my time with her when I can be somewhere else. But at the end of the 20-week season, it is not about how many powder days you caught, or clocking how many days you actually went out this season. It is the good and bad and all of it that comprise the season that means something to you. It is the relationship that you developed with the mountain that makes you come back to find another day with her.
In the fourth season at Stratton, I was curious as to what would happen to our relationship. Will we have a new exciting break-through development or will it turn into a vaguely dissatisfied relationship with no fault on either part. The season started out really, really bad. No snow. The day time temperature was too high in December and January to make any man-made snow. The season was almost all written off as one of those “bad years.”
12 weeks into the season, I had not had one day that was better than last year. That meant that I did not have enough runs to be better than last year as a snowboarder. We were already in February and the season would be over by the second weekend in April. What have I accomplished this season? What did this season mean to me, and to our relationship? Then, it came. 11 inches of snow jarred my memories and I was back in the moment. Don’t be negative Nancy and stay with Positive Paul. Go snow!
Come to Ormsby Hill and see your relationship develop into the future…..
In pursuit of the best season in the mountains…