Ben White is a New England native who moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah. He loves skiing in the backcountry, climbing, mountain biking and generally messing about in the mountains.
Playing in the mountains is an incredible thing. Be it skiing, climbing, biking, hiking, paddling or any other fantastic activity, it’s all fun. However, when the trees change color from green to fire or from grey to green, the fun stops, or at the very least, changes. From when I was twelve until about fourteen or fifteen, the loss of snow in the mountains brought about foul moods and boredom. Once I started mountain biking, it was still a bummer to lose ski season, but riding a bike became just so darn fun. With the addition of climbing on the list of fun things to do, there’s a whole new dimension to be added in both the warm and cold seasons. While some people might get jittery at their favorite crag melting out or trails being dry enough to ride, I have always been captivated by the first snow of the year
It’s December now, so there has been snow on the ground and all the resorts are open, and while the feeling of returning to the familiar is slipping away, there is still more to be had. In November, feeling the snap of bindings and hearing the sound of skis sliding on snow went from being pleasurably nostalgic about the last season to the way things should be. Watching the mountains fill in and returning to areas that need more snow is just happening now.
As much fun as Utah is, New Hampshire still feels like home after skiing the 48, and watching Tuckerman Ravine fill in via webcam is almost as fulfilling as watching Snowbird fill in. Checking the snowpack for places like the La Sals, Idaho and the Pacific Northwest by word of mouth and looking at trip reports has me excited for what is to come.
Seeing clean tracks in an area for the first time that season is like a notice saying “hey everybody, it’s good in here again!” It’s like seeing people at a roadside crag or with smiles on their faces and mud on their backs from riding for the first time in the spring.
We all love playing outside, and often times it’s hard to choose a favorite activity. The feeling of the familiar returning after a few months of missing it is something exciting, comforting and all-together pleasurable. For me, the snap of carabiners and the whir of a hub are always enjoyable, but just don’t do it for me the same way that the zip-zop of skins followed by muffled sliding on snow does.