Maxed Out 

Lesson one: it's early in a long season

By G.D. Maxwell

So, was it worth the wait?

Of course it was. It was worth all the drivin’ and doubt, the sketchy food and bummed beer, the couch surfin’ and cash haemorrhagin’ and that particularly uncomfortable moment when you announced to your folks you were droppin’ out of school, quittin’ your job, borrowing your pop’s aging Toyota and headin’ out to Whistler – "just for a year" – do be a dirtbag, ski-bummin’ skid.

Whatever second thoughts you might have had slipped away like a snowboard off its leash when Blackcomb opened Saturday to more snow and better coverage than most of us suffering budravaged memory loss can remember. The few tourists who went up the mountain must have thought they’d crashed a private party last weekend. However many there were – best guess is somewhere between two and a dozen – they were hopelessly outnumbered by, in order, freshfaced staff, returning staff, locals, weekend warriors, and that annoying guy from Washington who has a condo at Greystone and thinks Canadians drive on the left side of the road.

The hills were alive with the sound of delirium but often was heard a discouraging word, most frequently when someone with more bravado than brains slid too far off the straight and narrow and into a rock garden. It’s early season out there boys and girls and one of life’s cruel lessons is this: Mountains are made out of rock. That’s why God invented rock skis.

Now that you’ve all made it this far, maybe gotten in a few shifts, possibly even received a paycheque and had enough time to recover from its microscopic size, visited the food bank and phoned home once or twice to hit the folks up for money, it’s obviously time to put my Public Service hat back on and, like an elder ‘round the spirit circle, share the Wisdom of Early Season Survival with you. Fraught with more perils than Preseason Survival but sprinkled with way more opportunities, surviving the early season requires deft, grace and common sense, undoubtedly things you forgot to pack.

The most important thing to remember is this: regardless of hype and whatever lies your mama’s told you all your life, you are not Superboy/girl/whatever and having not come from Krypton, do not have X-ray vision. Snow is opaque. The visual difference between a jagged hunk of shale covered by two centimetres of snow and two metres of snow is diddly. The difference those two realities can visit on the base of your snowboard is the difference between carefree riding the rest of the season and calling home again to plead for the dough to buy a new-to-you snowboard. The difference they can visit on your punkin head is something you don’t even want to think about.

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