Lots of people ski, but the number of people who choose to pursue skiing as something more than just a hobby is fairly small. As a result, when you ski in one place for a while, you get to know people. You make a friend, who has friends, and some of those friends might know some of your friends. Pretty soon, it can get to the point where you see at least one person you know every day you go up to ski. That’s how you realize you’re no longer someone who skis, but someone who is a skier. Then there’s the online world, where things are a little different. There are people here that I talk to every day on the forums, or in passing. I’ve formed thoughts about their personalities and identities, but I may never meet them. There are times where I’m passing through their area, or they’re coming to Snowbird where I ski, and we say, let’s meet up! Through miscommunication, or just falling into the ski day itself, I’ve found it’s actually pretty rare that I meet someone and ski with them. That makes those encounters pretty special.
Snowbird trail map for reference: https://skimap.org/data/226/3535/1613104098jpg_render.jpg
Just recently, I had one of those experiences. It was a late season storm that hit Friday, April 22nd, to Saturday, April 23. About 2 and a half feet of snow came down during that storm, most of it on Friday night. Snowbird had shut down its tram for the season to replace the tram cars, and patrol was working like dogs to open the mountain. As a result, the only lift running from the beginning of the day was Gadzoom, with a massive line. I posted a story on the gram from part of the line at about 8:45 AM on Saturday, and got a reply from @tyler1719 who said he was also in the line and wearing a yellow mustard jacket. I’ve definitely been aware of him as an online presence before, since he used to work with Fatypus who made the first pair of skis I ever bought. We’ve definitely said we should take some laps during the year, and yet somehow, it didn’t happen. After a few laps on Little Cloud chair, I spent some time waiting for the cirque to open, hoping to get some sweet first tracks down something cool on a 2 foot pow day. The rope dropped, and madness ensued on the traverse. Having a slight advantage in weight, height, and speed, I navigated the traverse as best I could, and made it out to the front of the pack headed far out toward P tex point, where some of the best runs at Snowbird start. As I’m coming up to the end of the traverse, I look behind me and see a guy in a yellow mustard jacket riding Fatypus skis. We both have that collective moment of, “HEY! DUDE! YOU’RE THE DUDE!” Introductions are brief, as there’s skiing to be done. Being the person with some level of local knowledge at the bird, I told him to follow me. We get to the top of Dalton’s Draw, no tracks in sight. I sideslip, and ski cut the skinny chute which opens up into the apron before getting caught up in my own sluff and going tumbling head over heels like a total doofus. Tyler’s right behind me, and I collect myself, noticing I’m missing a pole. We’ve got about 1800 vert of untouched pow down to the base of Snowbird. This is no time to be searching for any nonessential missing equipment. We both have the run of our lives, just hooting and hollering, skiing untracked pow, enjoying our collective good fortune. When we get to the bottom, my legs are almost cooked, but dammit we gotta get back for more.
With a few more massive liftlines, we get to know each other a bit more. Turns out this internet friend Tyler’s a pretty cool dude who’s been working hard in the ski industry since getting out of college. We get back up to the top for 3 more laps of beautiful fresh snow, culminating in a final hike to the high baldy traverse. The snow is even deeper up there, since it’s been coming down hard all day. We get to our line, and make the deepest turns of the year, probably close to 30 inches of fresh untracked snow under us. It was definitely up there for the top lap of my life, and that day was the best I’ve had all year, even with the lines. As Tyler put it, ‘It’s one of those days where you just can’t stop giggling to yourself.’
I’ve never been great when it comes to coordinating, and more often than not, I just go up and ski alone until I spot someone I know. Experiences like that storm day make me realize that I need to change that. That day wouldn’t have been even 1/10th as good, had I been riding solo. The internet is a cool place, but its primary function, to me, is to connect with people that I might not have known otherwise. Instead of telling that internet buddy, ‘Let’s take some laps sometime,’ make time! Otherwise it might never happen, and you’ll never know what kind of awesome people you’re missing out on getting to know!
Side note: Pic up top is from an old bird photoshoot on High Baldy, but it's about as close as I could find to the conditions of last Saturday.