There may be no thrill in skiing more soul-satisfying than seeing anentire mountain laid out before you, unsullied bya single slash. The beauty. The potential. The promise that every turn will be asimmaculate as the last, an epiphany that endures from top to bottom. These are moments that don't just make a day; they justify a lifetime on the slopes.
First tracks are all the sweeter because they'realways earned. The pre-dawn reveille, the foot-stomping cold waiting for the lifts to open, the extra hike to that particularly enticing chute. The crazed, jumbled bazaar that is a mountain at noon is preceded by a smaller, more focused crowd, pared to those whose work or addiction requires them to greet the opening bell. Knowing nods are shared by skiers who wait for the first chair. Patrollers who arrive to give the all-clear are met with a mix of anticipation and suspicion: Will they open the lift now? Did they already poach the stash I dreamed about last night?
But the rewards far outweigh any onus. We'renever more grateful to be skiers than when we'refinally in place, perched on the edge of a tantalizingly bare canvas upon which we're about to lay the first brush strokes of the day.