The arbitrary yet hallowed number 100 has been a benchmark goal for skiers for decades. Some push for 150, and some have even gone for the highly elusive 200 day season. And then there’s a guy like Rainer Hertirich that skied every day for 5+ years in a row.
Regardless of the exact figures, Americans like numbers. Most skiers like them too, and while skiing 100 days a season is an entirely credible venture, the thought of skiing every other day over the course of a calendar year ups the ante a bit. That’s why 183 is the new 100.
In reality, how much you ski is based on how easily you can access snowy mountains, and how motivated you are to ski. If you live a few hours away from snow, like heaps of skiers and riders do in the San Francisco Bay area, Tahoe’s three-hour jaunt makes it just difficult enough to warrant a concentration on weekend skiing.
If you start around say Thanksgiving, and ski every single weekend through April without fail with a few extended periods and perhaps even a few missed opportunities thrown in there as well 50 ski days is more than a reasonable goal to strive for. In fact, 50’s pretty good. Heck, 20’s even good.
But 183 takes more than that. In most ski towns, the snow sticks enough to think about skiing by October. It’s not so much the random day or two of skiing in August that makes 183 work. Sure, those days to keep it going all year are fun and good excuses for going on a hike with a heavier pack, but it’s the full engagement from the time the snow flies to start a “ski season” to the days when the resorts are closed and driving for turns is beyond a leisurely stroll across town that locks in why 183 ski days is a worthy goal to shoot for.
It may sound like a lot, but once you realize how to factor in the balancing recipe of big days to short ones it starts to get easier. Basically, you just need to ski almost every day from November through April, take a few days off when forced to, and add a few days in October or most certainly when snowpack’s are still at their deepest in May.
The thing is, you can’t really ascend and descend six thousand vertical feet everyday unless you’re Greg Hill, or ski forty grand at the resort every day for that long unless you’re still doing those Buns of Steel workouts from the 90s as your post-ski workout.
You have to switch it up with “MDR’s” or Minimum Daily Requirement days. MDR’s are days you went skiing, but maybe only took a lap or a couple of laps at the resort, or hiked a thousand or less vertical feet in the backcountry. The rules are arbitrary and only mean as much as you make them, but my take has always been if you click in and slide down some snow and make a few turns, you’re skiing.
Believe it or not these smaller days actually prevent you from burning out because if your day is focused on another task rather than what and how much you plan to ski the action of skiing takes on a different identity. And better still, and the end of your season in May you’ll make up for all those down days you get to have in June, July, August, September, October, and even November. Even though there are barriers to keep the streak going it’s entirely doable
This commitment illuminates how fast the snow changes across each day, week, and month. When balanced with down days that still involve a few turns here and there, it works out to skiing every other day throughout a calendar year. I simply can’t think of a better number, or a better way to stay in tune with a constantly changing phenomenon like a season’s snowpack. If you’ve already passed on too many days this season to lock in on the magic number of 183 there’s always next year. Not only will Ullur thank you, but you might just pick up a few unforeseen lessons along the way by skiing the extra-sloppy or too-firm surfaces you would have otherwise passed on.