Alta states 

The end of the season – then and now


"Every day is a bonus."

- Jim McConkey


It's not easy being on the sidelines. Especially when the days are clear and the late spring snow is "cornaliscious" (as local scribe Les Anthony described on his Facebook site last week). It's not fair. I should be up there too!

Cornaliscious. What a perfect word to describe that magical snow surface born of cold crisp nights and clear cool days. That ephemeral moment when the snow is grippy but still firm. When your edges throw off frozen diamonds into the air. When you can ski in your shirtsleeves and shorts and feel just right. Cornaliscious. It doesn't happen all the time. But when it does, man, what a blessing it bestows on those who get to ride it.

It's hero skiing at its very best. Where time stops. Where perfect turns are made. When you fall in love with sliding on snow all over again. And maybe with your partner too. It's in the air. You can't help it.

Were you up there recently? Did you take the time to feel the buzz of spring skiing? If not, you should have...

Indeed, looking up from the valley during that stretch of deliciously bluebird days we experienced last week, I couldn't help but wax nostalgic. Here I am, with a new knee and a questionable skiing future and all I can think about is sliding down Whistler Mountain making hero turns in perfect corn now and feeling like a twentysomething again. Of spending lazy afternoons under an alpine sun, hanging out with buddies and swapping stories about steep chutes skied and impossible lines attempted. Of just being in a snowy environment when everybody else is stuck in the valley shedding clothes and thinking of the beach.

Know what I mean? I love skiing in May. I love the mix of seasons at this time of the year. I don't know why. I guess I'm just hard-wired that way.

As I hobble around my house - making the transition from crutches to cane, from total helplessness to becoming self-propelled again (such a lesson in humility) - my mind can't help but return to my formative years at Whistler Mountain. To those magical winter seasons in the early 1970s when it was a point of pride among locals to ski from November until May without missing a day.

And I mean a point of pride. I remember skiing in blizzard conditions on Victoria Day, snow up to my knees and zero visibility; I also remember down-climbing from mid-station in lean years, discovering new ways for blisters to form under my squeaky boots. Sure, conditions weren't always great. But we still felt pretty smug about our situation.


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