by Donny Roth.
Backcountry skiing is a sport without a formal competition to define its champion. In the absence of some ranking system, many people try to quantify the experience in an effort to compare the experience – to their previous experience, to other’s, to some sort of standard… How many vertical feet climbed and skied in a day? In a year? How many peaks? How tall was the peak? How steep?
Backcountry skiing is not a race. It is not a competition. It is an experience. Some of my favourite moments in the mountains have been quick laps from a mountain pass near sunset. Some of my hardest days have been epic slogs to rack up vertical in a set amount of time. I have never seen a photo of 6,000-vertical feet of climbing and skiing. Our tracks and snowflakes melt. We cannot preserve them.
Go out to explore. Look for the unseen. Start at sun up. Watch the morning’s surface hoar light up, the snow fall from the trees, the plumes from the peaks. Notice how the light bends around mountains and snowbanks. Be awed by how the peaks impose when covered in clouds. Feel like you have escaped the world as the sun falls behind the mountains, only lighting the ceiling of clouds overhead.
Don’t miss an incredible moment in the mountains while counting footsteps. Every day out there is perfect, whether big or small; a walk with the dog or a visit to a remote place. Go find an adventure and be okay with the fact that you will never be able to explain how great it was.