Dear Backcountry Skiing,

It’s too early to say if I’m in love, so rather, I think of this as a moment of lust. I can tell you the second when it hit me though, so much so that I fell over.

How I love thee, so light and sweet...

Sunday. April 17, 2011. About 3 p.m. First time ever out on backcountry gear. We’d just finished lunch at a high point near Blewett Pass. It was time to ski down. I was exhausted already from the climb up (2,200 feet and 4 hours of continuous skinning) and was a little nervous about heading down. When I get tired, I fall and when I fall, things hurt. And when things hurt, I fear injuries.

But I tried to keep a clear head. This is what it was all about. Sweet, sweet fresh spring snow. The sun had softened the surface just enough. My playmates skied ahead. I watched them carve, and then gave myself the whole field to enjoy.

During that first turn, I immediately fell in love. It was so easy, so swift, so smooth, so comforting, like bouncing around on a bed of pillows covered in 1,000-thread count pillow cases. I found myself talking out loud… “oh wow … oh my god …oh my god, this is so so so good…”

It was the most blissful run I’d ever had. And I was so caught up in the moment that as I turned the corner to meet with my group, I immediately fell over and yard sale’d.

Kevin and Jim came over to help me up and asked if I was OK. I looked at Jim and said, “Jim, that was amazing. That’s almost better than dating. I’m about ready to cry, that was so amazing.”

After that, I was done. I was bit. I had it in me. There was no looking back.

——-

I never really had any intentions of engaging with you. When I first learned about what you were all about, I was hesitant. The only people I knew who skied the mountains were boys – boys who I could barely keep up with hiking and who were far more advanced climbers than me.

But when I saw some of those boys sweep down that gentle hill spotted with little trees that one spring morning in 2008 near Mt. Rainier, while I was struggling on old school cross-country skis, I was immediately jealous. I wanted to do that. I wanted to be free, not traversing in a line of people.

However, it just wasn’t time yet. I continued to stick to the resorts and my way-too-small ski boots. I started to lose interest.

Then I came upon Second Ascent’s 20% sale in October 2010. Girlfriends had been making noise about starting to buy your gear. Naturally, as a former journalist who doesn’t know any better when I’m curious, I inquired about which skis would best for me.

An hour later, I’m the owner of a new pair G3 skins and Karhu’s Betty skis. Six months later, after some smart shopping, research, networking and demo’ing, I had Scarpa Gea boots, Dynafit Vertical ST bindings, an avy beacon, shovel and probe in my possession. The boys at Marmot Mountain Works, who sweetly installed my bindings and fitted my boots all in one morning, were impressed with my setup and happily offered advice on all of my gear’s neat tricks, switches, knobs and advantages.

I swear, I didnt plan on being matchy-matchy. It just happened that way. Really.

I was ready to go…. But were you ready for me?

After the recent Blewett Pass outing, my first day ever on backcountry gear, first day ever skiing continuously for seven hours and first day ever sking on unadulterated hills, I think we’re off to a good start.

Jim and Kevin showed me what you were all about – skinning on trails to skinning up steep slopes, using my heel climbers, learning what it’s like to traverse through trees without skins and that there is not only powder out there but also sheets of ice. I love skinning up steep hillsides possibly more than I love the skiing down. I love the quiet of the hills with just friends and hearing an occasional holler of joy. I love the never-ending possibilities of open hillsides, skiing through the woods and the occasional fast cruise down a logging road.

Our love maybe a bit premature, therefore, I’m only declaring our relationship to be lustful. However, like the drug of love, I’m addicted and need more.

xoxo,

Tiffany

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