« A Local’s Guide to the X Games | Main | Saturday at Jay »

January 25, 2008

The Urban Skier

It's hard sometimes being a city dweller.  You do your best to keep tabs on mountain weather and snow conditions, you read the high peaks forecast and take updates from friends at higher elevations, you try to determine when your hectic urban schedule will allow for a few hours on the hill and you do your best to time those hours with passing snow squalls.

Your entire week becomes a puzzle of appointments, office sessions, household commitments and blocks of free time you try to turn into ski time if everything would only fall into place just right.

Some days you pass on the 90-minute round-trip to the mountains even though you might have the time because the snow's too hard or it's single-digit cold or maybe the wind is ripping and the light is flat. Other days you're running around the greater metro area in a frenzy of obligations and the sun's out and there's new snow on the ground and you just can't shake that need to gather downhill speed, angle your body toward the ground and feel centrifugal force build and subside in rhythm.

It's timing, it's planning, it's the whims of Mother Nature that determine the quantity and quality of your ski experiences when you're tied to the urban landscape.

Vermont's mountains were in various streams of snow squall activity this week and inch totals varied widely from spot to spot. Jay Peak reported 16 inches since Wednesday; Burke reported 1. Mad River reported 3 to 6; Smuggler's reported 12.

And this snow went relatively unforecasted. There was talk of snow showers but nothing approaching a foot. It wasn't until I strolled into work Thursday and checked some snow reports that I realized what was going on. You certainly wouldn't know it from the half-inch on my front porch near Burlington.


Stowe's web page screamed "Powder Alert." On Jay's site they were exalting The Jay Cloud, posting pictures like the one to the right and asking "Why aren't you here?"

Thing is, the people checking web sites Thursday were most likely the ones with all sorts of work-related reasons why they weren't on the mountain. And do you know how hard it is to turn a work day into a ski day on such short notice? It's nearly impossible. The puzzle pieces just don't move that way.

The moral to the story of the way powder snuck up on us this week is probably that there are a lot of things you can't control. Or maybe it's that the whole idea of control is an illusion that stunts enlightenment and breeds frustration.

Then again, the moral might be simpler than that. Maybe it's better to have fewer things to control in your life — a lesson of simplification, which invariably leads one out of the city and into the hills, where there's currently more than a foot of fresh snow in some spots and the chance to feel that centrifugal force building and subsiding with each turn.

January 25, 2008 at 09:30 AM | Permalink


Even tougher when your an urban dweller in massachusetts! Jay's pics of the day are both my savior during a long work week, and my nemesis.


Posted by: Matt | Jan 27, 2008 8:27:32 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.