Roads are closed. The locals “lucky” enough to have the day off are beginning to lose their grasp of what actually matters. Tempers are rising as fleeting delusions of powder grandeur begin to fly away like the storm that delivered 2 feet of fresh overnight. Liftlines are long and only getter longer.
It’s also heavy. The snow, that is. And so is the attitude surrounding the Steamboat base area, some five miles away from my office in Steamboat Springs. Skiers aren’t happy. F-bombs circulate throughout the gondola line and at the base of the Storm Chair (closed for the day).
“The biggest storm of the winter,” reads the Steamboat Pilot and Today headline. The date is February 7, 2020.
The comfort that washes over my nervous system is like the antonym of powder panic. There are no hoots and hollers, no exuberant, extroverted yelps that scream, “look at me, look how deep it is, look how sick I’m getting underneath my favorite chair lift.” No. It’s the opposite of that. It’s the comfort in knowing that although it is a powder day and I’m not out there, it’s probably not one of those days that will be immortalized in my personal memory banks via excessive hyperbole. Also, I’m on the clock and there are deadlines to meet.
So with my deadlines met and others extended, I drive past the base area at the end of the day en route to my home in “condo-land.” Ambulances are wedging their way through cross-town ski traffic to pick up the next injured soul who still lies writhing in the snow. People got hurt today. Bad.
I take no joy in other’s pain. But I do know that, like a middle-aged battlefield, a powder day like this will have its fair share of wounded soldiers at the end of the melee. Knees, shoulders, you name it.
It’s powder days like these I don’t mind missing. In fact, I’ll make a point of heading into the office if my skier sense kicks in and tells me, “don’t go out there Barclay, you’re bound to get angry, hurt yourself, or worst of all, be let down by the conditions. Live to ski another powder day.”
That’s when I realize that today’s destiny is to work, not ski—and I smile. Also, there’s more snow in the forecast and I don’t have jack to do till Monday.
Related: The Language of Skiing