Opening Day Jitters

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Coffee, beer, cashews, gum, and gas - that’s all I need. That, and about 2.5 hours of sleep, and I’m set for opening day. The night before, all energies flow into one as I obsessively prepare for the sickest day of skiing ever.

Straight-lining Crystal Bowl at Kicking Horse, and making GS pow turns on the opener never gets old. Being the first person to ski lift line on Blackcomb’s Jersey Cream is fun, if you can handle the eyes on you. Getting white-walled at Baker on your first step into the slackcountry and having a buddy to help you up is the essence of skiing, and the reason you prepare.

Speeding down Baker HWY 542 toward Mt. Baker, all the memories of the past 900 times I have been down this road over the last nine years come flooding back. I end up being so early, few people are there besides the employees and a handful of hardcores. I walk over to Chair 1, I drop my skis next to a pair that I know all too well. Killing time, drinking coffee, and chatting to fellow shredders, the excitement builds. We wait another hour bouncing around, stretching, adjusting loose Dukes, and chewing gum. What’s another couple hours when it has been over 225 days since my last powder day? I’m ready to pop off.

Most people watch ski videos to get pumped to shred, but the night before, while waxing my skis, turning my DIN up to 14, and putting rain-x on my top sheets and poles, I pop on Dust to Glory and marvel at Johnny Campbell flooring it across the beach. Or I watch GoPros Monsters of Motocross edit along with some raw POV footage of my buddy’s Russian Yak plane doing acrobatics and I am stoked, it’s kind of weird. But hey, whatever gets you revved up. Don’t get me wrong, I still love ski vids, I just like taking it up a notch and throwing in an engine sometimes. I chirp myself into the night cleaning goggles, charging GoPros, and preparing my protein smoothie for the onslaught that I know will happen if only I can get there first.

I haven’t missed an opening day in the last 10 years except for a relative’s funeral, but that goes without saying. It can be the most important day of the year, or the most insignificant. It can be a baller, high-fiving pow day with renewed friends, or an icy downhill hockey event like Red Bull Crashed Ice. Luckily the latter rarely happens at the powder capital of North America, Mt. Baker.

With a 67-inch base that accumulated over a four- to five-day storm cycle, Mt. Baker opened its lifts to the public with limited trails, but loads of snow beyond the ropes. On opening day, all was good in the land of winter.

A few days later, on Friday November 23, Blackcomb Mountain received 10-inches of new snow and had a clearing trend for the rest of the weekend. It was a good start to the season, launching me right back into the ether. With another couple of successful opening days to add to my growing list of memories, I am happy settling back into the frantic pace we call skiing.

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