BreakthroughOnSkis.com    Spring Snow . . . . Spring 99
   

Spring Snow

   

from the Spring 1999 issue
of
BreakthroughOnSkis.com

   

Mt Hayden, Colorado © Burnham Arndt

1.
Spring snow. Neige de printemps. Firnschnee. Corn. Ice. Or mush. But mostly velvet. White velvet. You could argue that spring snow isn’t really snow at all, but a drug, powerful, addictive, psychotropic.

2.
If one were crazy enough to really search for the perfect turn, and lucky enough to find it, one would probably find it in spring.

3.
In winter we ski through snow, through clouds of snow, maybe, ultimately we “fall” through clouds of snow, “falling” toward the bottom of the run, skiing this powder snow from within, our turns seem more like subtle bends in an invisible stream than discrete actions with beginnings, middles, ends; these winter turns are more like happenings, accidents that befall us, happy linked accidents of faith and friction.
But on spring snow, on corn snow, each turn is a proposition to prove, a separate action, a separate creation, something you could sign…and do, an act that is its own signature on the blank white canvas of a March mountainside. Canvas? Actually it’s more like rice paper, blank white untracked spring snow, alpine rice paper ready for real-time calligraphy, steel edged brushes underfoot.

4.
Real spring skiing is…
(a) linked short turns on untracked corn? (b) long-radius turns over wild terrain? (c) very steep skiing? (d) not so steep skiing? (e) high-altitude skiing? (f) any skiing after March 1st? (h) impossible on telemark skis? (i) only possible on tele skis? (j) a good excuse for girl watching on the sun deck? (k) a good excuse for boy watching on the sun deck (l) for wimps who can’t ski powder? (m) for real tough guys? (n) for everyone (o) better above 10,000 feet? (p) better above 1,500 meters, but only in the Western Alps? (q) any time a skier springs off the snow? (r) a western skiers’ specialty (s) skiing between 10:30 AM and 2:00 PM? (t) cornice jumping in spring? (u) something you lean in ski school? (v) something you can’t learn in ski school? (w) an illusion? (x) a reality? (y) an option? (z) a must?…

5.
Time slows, slows, slows. Doesn’t quite stop. You don’t know why. Your outside ski is, literally, doing its own thing.... No, it’s a conspiracy between the ski and the snow, they’re in it together. The ski bending, trembling, slicing one, two centimeters into the grainy white slope; the snow giving, yielding one, two centimeters, then holding firm, the invisible banked track of a a sublime carved arc. Grains of snow-ice flying out one by two by three, the sound of steel and P-Tex scraping against spring snow growing louder, louder, a whispering roar only you can hear, as the turn builds, builds, builds until the skier in the control room - you, of course, recognizing yourself with surprise as a co-conspirator of this bent ski - until the skier in the control room says: okay, enough, all right already, and releases the pressure (where did it come from? where did it go?). Skis float upwards, body floats across and down the hill, the silence is deafening. You stretch your other leg out like a dancer, to find more snow, let your ski roll slowly, slowly, onto its new edge, sink into the soft/hard surface, start to bend, start to turn. Another turn. Another life. You can hear the snow moving, compressing, flying again. Louder. Louder. It will take all afternoon, you think to yourself, to reach the bottom of this bowl. Somewhere in the middle of this new arc you remember that you haven’t dropped acid since the late sixties; well...you haven’t needed to...still don’t.

6.
Diary of a perfect run in perfect corn snow:
Right.…
Left.…
Right.…
Left.…
Right.…
Left.…
Right.…
Left.…
Right.…
Left….
and so on, time without end, amen.…

   

© Lito Tejada-Flores

 BreakthroughOnSkis.com    Spring Snow . . . . Spring 99