If you’ve ever put on a pair of skis, you’ve probably heard the saying “no friends on powder days”. If you haven’t, it refers to those epic days where lots of the light fluffy snow falls and social ski outings take a back seat so individuals can go find the goods on their own without worrying about what anyone else is doing. Rip hard, rip long, rip your own line. Antisocial and selfish, perhaps to the uninformed and naïve, but for those of us who live to ski in deep powder, it’s just an accepted part of the overall ski community’s close knit relationship.
This past weekend was one of the first quasi-powder day(s) we’ve had this season and the building anxiousness among my core group of friends was palpable. Emails and texts were being fired off like a Gatlin gun with chatter of predicted snowfall amounts, areas rumoured to be opening and of course the usual exchange of ski porn videos to make sure everyone’s stoke was raised to, and maintained at, the proper level.
When the day came, seven of us met in Vail Village and laid out our loose plans for the day. Basically we’d ski together for a couple of hours then everyone would split up and do their own thing — some of us heading off to other engagements, some going to drop in on their secret stashes and others going exploring around Vail Resort’s massif to pile up impressive late season-esque vertical feet totals. There were no hurt feelings when it came time to split up and go our separate ways because it’s an accepted part of the deal. It’s not that we all didn’t want to ski together, quite the contrary, we just have the understanding that we’re all out to feed our own soul on a powder day and it’s oftentimes more efficient to eat off our own plate rather than share a trough with others.
So I was telling someone in my office about this practice, someone who is generally physically inactive. Not surprisingly, they didn’t understand. They responded with, and I quote, “I love shopping with my friends and hate going by myself”. They went on to tell me that when they are forced to go shopping by themselves, they’ll call their friends or text them the whole time so that they’ll “have company”. When I heard this, my skin actually began to crawl right off my skeleton.
While it is certainly easy to see the glaringly obvious similarities between ripping telemark turns in the backcountry and trying on a fleet of insensible shoes at Nordstrom’s Rack, I felt that perhaps I might bring up something I’ve observed over time.
I asked this person if they liked going to parties, to which they said, “Of course, who doesn’t?” Then I asked them if they’d ever been to a party where there was a person or two who just seemed to ooze “interesting” and how other party goers seemed naturally drawn to them. Once again, my coworker agreed that that’s always the case. Then I posed the question as to why they thought certain people were like that. I braced myself for the response that it might be because those people always wear the nicest shoes, but fortunately they said, “I don’t know, I guess some people are just interesting that way“.
Instead of getting into some fruitless, philosophical discussion as to why certain people possess an intoxicating energy, I bit my tongue and just nodded in agreeent. What I wanted to say was that people like that are interesting because they likely make a regular habit of doing the things that truly make them happy and carry a confident aura about them, even if it meant going alone from time to time. They are the people who “have no friends on powder days” and aren’t afraid to strike out to explore the off-the-beaten path and freely drink the elixir of life. It’s a way of living and it shows. They don’t need insensible shoes to “feel” confident and be interesting, they ARE confident and interesting.
No friends on powder days? Well, that’s not always true. It doesn’t mean we don’t love each other — it’s actually the reason we do love each other as deeply as we do. Sometimes we just gotta do what we gotta do to feed our souls. I can say with all honesty that my closest and most soulful friends are the people who practice those “friendless” powder days on a regular basis.
Do what really makes you happy, even if it means going alone from time to time. It’ll actually make other people happy. It’ll make me happy! No hurt feelings. We’ll always be here, cold beer waiting for you, ready to see your smiling face and hear the stories.
Ski fast. Pedal hard. Climb high. Wear sensible shoes.