Everyone loves a good pow day. Whether it's that huge dumps at a big resort, or 10 inches at a smaller east coast hill. There's a sort of magic that comes with every flake of fresh snow. It's why we sit staring out the window at school or work as the flakes start to come down, why we spent time in the yard building snowmen or sledding as kids, and a big perk for us out on the ski slopes.
The vibes can be amazing on a pow day. Sometimes everyone is just stoked, sending cliffs or watching others from the lift. Maybe there are no friends on a powder day, but sometimes they bring a sense of camaraderie to the mountain.
On the other hand sometimes they don't. The hype that's created by a good pow day and sometimes bring negatives. The snow might be deep, but the crowds can be as well. People driving like assholes to make sure they get there first, cutting each other off, yelling at each other in lift or ticket lines before the first chair has even spun. Powder is great, there really is nothing like a good set of pow turns. At the same time we put it on such a pedestal. Powder is all skiing is, and if you aren't there on that pow day, skiing and maybe your whole life is meaningless. We see this perpetuated more and more by social media. When we see slow mo's of deep turns, somebody sending a crazy pillow line, or even the simple average pow day pic.
There is a lot more to skiing than powder, and we can have some great days after and between the storms. Today I got some of the goods. The last part of the storm was almost 3 days ago other than a couple of inches. I skipped the main start to it because of the crowds. Sometimes I'd rather ride yesterday's pow, or even groomers than deal with huge lines and people cracked out on powder fever.
The vibes and lack of long lines is a big part of why I get out there. Some friends couldn't believe that I didn't want to ride the first big day of this storm. It just wasn't worth it to me. I don't want to fight people. The vibes remind me less of skiing and more of rush hour traffic, or people frantically shoving items into shopping carts as they race around before a big weather event.
The hype of pow fever can be great, but it can cause people to be more aggressive. It can also cause people to make poor choices about where they ride in the rush or to try and escape the crowds. If I'm feeling like a little adrenaline maybe I'll hit something a little bigger, or go a little faster. I'm not trying to be worked up before I even get on first chair.
Today we got out, we hit almost no lines, and I made probably the best turns I've made at the mountain. Some stuff was untracked, some tracked out, some stuff wasn't bad, but the vibes were great. We could focus more on what zones and lines we wanted to hit, and less worry about having to get there first.
The snow was everything you love about a pow day without waiting in lines or seeing people yelling at each other. Even if it wasn't I still was ready to have a great day. There's something calming about the mellower days after a storm. The same way the weather yields, the vibes go back up. Even if it was tracked out, the coverage was good, I would have had a great time and I'm sure found some good turns.
I got into backcountry stuff more for that peace than for the untracked turns I generally find. You can hike to great terrain with touring gear, get amazing turns, but it's that peace that I seek sometimes more than that perfect pow turn. When I get out on the hill it's an outlet for me. A way to seek out adventure, conquer small challenges, and generally it keeps a massive smile on my face.
Now backcountry has seen a big influx, and on some of the crowded days I'll stay away if I can't find mellower zones. I save my touring the same as my riding for the mellower days. I really like going out in the spring sometimes because the weather is nice, a lot of people have quit skiing for the year, and even if the turns aren't as good as that deep day, I find that peace that I'm seeking.
Whether you're on a similar page and will skip a busy pow day for a quiet groom/park day, or you're out there trying to stay ahead of the lines charging the deep.
Take a step back once in a while, and remember the reason you do this. Remember that feeling the first time you clicked into a pair of skis. Powder fever can be cool, but don't let it control you.
Take advantages of opportunities when they come, but make sure that you're not in too much of a rush to enjoy them.
Keep your expectations reasonable and make the most of it. Remember that sometimes good park or groomer laps, or yesterdays pow can be just as fun if not more than the big day everyone is fighting over.
Stay stoked out there!