more than two decades of ski writing, ski teaching, and ski publishing by Lito Tejada-Flores
White snow falls at night.
Black snow during the day, business hours, 8 to 5.
White snow heals summer scars, covers chain-sawed tree stumps, eroded hillsides, farmers’ fences. Drifts deeper day by day, scrubbing the dusty world, mountain flesh, mountain flanks, back to something like peace.
Black snow is an invitation to excess. It’s also - let’s tell the truth - shot through with glimmers of green, the colors of money, dollars, francs, marks, lire, an excess green weight pressing down on winter’s white and perfect skin.
White snow is that skin, the fairytale smooth skin of winter, the mirror in which skiers look for their fast-moving reflections, the fresh and magic carpet on which we move in a state of grace, or which moves us - through imaginary curved dimensions - into that same state of grace.
Black snow doesn’t know when to quit, keeps on falling, a blizzard of sharp flakes drumming on the keys of cash-register mountains, inflaming promoters’ dreams of more apartments, more boutiques, more T-shirt shops.
White snow falls at the last minute, just in time to save you from tennis or television, to open up a new sector of 4-dimensional space-time you thought was off limits (but you were wrong). White snow puts skis back on your feet and wings back on your skis.
Black snow falls on mountain people like heavy drumbeats before a tribal sacrifice: Say goodbye to Sundays lost in the backcountry, goodbye to the snowy silence sweeping its 360° radar around your high-altitude heart, goodbye to the simplified pure white shapes of winter, goobye to gnarled branches softened under snow, goodbye to to sharp rock ridges smoothed and gentled. Say hello to two jobs and no days off, hello to sharing apartments with 4 other guys, 3 other gals, hello to Sundays trying to do your laundry, go shopping, repair your car and still ski, in zero visibility of course, hello to high rents and low pay. Hello, hello . . .
White snow ransoms back winter, even one free hour, one powder morning a month, one perfect turn; cons you into believing that it’s all worth it. Which it is, as long as white snow keeps falling, once a week, once every two weeks, which never seem enough, but is, just barely enough, as long as the powder is deep enough, the slope steep enough, the pull of gravity strong enough and true enough - leaning into the wind, dreaming of a planet that’s all downhill, covered waist-deep in white snow.
Black snow is the counterfeit currency that swaps cholesterol for adrenalin, finance for flying, a steady job for a steady passion.
White snow is the real thing, luring us back year after year to line up in the cold long before the lifts are open, buying lottery tickets for the right to be the first human to ski this reinvented white planet.
Black snow is the commercial cloak of winter, wrestling with the magic, promising a deferred happiness, giving way to greed, sabotaging winter.
White snow is simply snow, H2O crystallized into sudden sixfold perfection, falling like a fresh start, a new hand of impartially dealt cards, another winter waitng for tracks, for motion, for love.
Black snow, white snow. An old conflict, a new conflict.