I have been enjoying getting on the snowy slopes of the Adirondacks and the surrounding NorthEast mountains since I was a young boy. Not only is it something to do during our long cold Winter months but it has developed into a core passion of mine. Make no mistake that if I relocated to a warmer climate I would be compelled to travel frequently to get on the snow I need.
It is funny how when you do something for so many years how it becomes ingrained into the fabric of who you are. I mean that so much in the what makes you tick kind of way. There is irony in the way that I was introduced to skiing was as an after school activity when I was in 7th grade. From those days filled with classmates and painfully poor technique I feel as though I’ve certainly come a long way. Both in the realm of athletic skills as well in managing the fears and emotions that come pouring through such a challenging activity that you can take all over the world to cultivate some of the best experiences and memories possible.
Snowboarding is such a large part of my life that I can easily equate my growth and experience on the mountains throughout my life to my personal growth. You may think that sounds like a stretch but I compare my mindset and all the emotions I was experiencing on those early days to where I am today as a person and what I bring to Mountain adventures today.
Think of it like this; the earliest skiing I did I was filled with apprehension and doubt about what each new mountain / trail / day would bring. Poking my head over the edge of a “Blue Square” rated trail to see if it was something I could handle. Then the elation and burgeoning confidence that would follow upon completion of that trail let alone the anticipation of the next slightly more challenging trail experience that I would undergo. My mindset shifted from one of ok I think I am ready for the next adventure to Oh My God get my ass out on the mountain ASAP. That transition took some time to develop but by the time I was a senior in high school skiing was one of my strongest passions.
This growth and depth of skill and understanding continued to accumulate throughout my college years. Once I began my professional career I took my passion for the mountains, which by this point had transitioned from snowboarding to skiing, and brought it with me. When I talk about bringing it with me I mean that I have taught over 30 people to snowboard throughout my life including many friends, coworkers and acquaintances. I have managed to snowboard on 4 continents and enjoy those kinda experiences with people from all walks of life.
Many would say you could equate what I am saying to any sport or activity, however, I feel that the fact that this is a winter sport that compels you to scoff at bad weather and travel to the most difficult of access routes and to head to them in the worst of climate conditions that we encounter. Therefore even skating, hockey, snowmobiling and other winter outdoor activities are not quite on the same plateau. Particularly when you consider that at some of the worst weather of the year you are pushing yourself to get to the top of the mountain and when possible climb higher than any lift service available so that you can poach 100s of vertical feet of fresh untracked powder. So where there are similarities there are also differences. The mountains can be challenging enough to embrace and conquer but don’t discount the flying into small airports in bad climates or taking a 4 hour drive and turning it into an 8 hour white knuckle experience.
Being one that believes in the basic tenets of Buddhism, at least form a psychological and philosophical perspective, I also find that snowboarding and skiing can lead to a grounding zen experience bonding a person to nature and their inner self. When you are on a mountain and through all of the BS of getting there, buying a ticket, queueing up to get on the lift etc… All the troubles, responsibilities and intrepidations of daily life melt away and you become ensconced into the present. Whether you practice attaining this state or just enjoy stumbling upon it the reward in general happiness cannot be dismissed.
As I ramble through this discourse my point is this I am personally one of the happiest people I know in the Winter time and that is shared by a number of the people that I know who feel the same as I about skiing and snowboarding. On the flip side of this I know many people that do nothing but incessantly complain about the long dark winter days and that they haven’t been out of the house in a week. There are cures for the negativity and general malaise that pours from these people but they have to act to alleviate it. Maybe they’ve made being miserable and grouchy during the Winter into the fabric of who they are. My point is this find a passion in the Winter that keeps you enthusiastic and happy while you make it through to the warmer months.