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Powder to the Night People: Reflections from Snowmass

Jamie Lynn Miller's picture

Morning people run the world. It’s true. The opening bell determines when things start, in any time zone; if you sleep in past nine, you miss the free continental breakfast; races start at the crack of dawn (unless you’re in the casual group, which might start at 8); even McDonald’s cuts you off from EggMcMuffins around 10:30AM. If you’re not a morning person, you know that 10:30AM is definitely too early to be cut off from anything.

Nature, it seems, is no different. To reap the benefits of last night’s snowfall, you need to suit up, and show up, before the world and the horde of die-hards tearing up the pristine powder pass you by.

Now, there are those in our midst who don’t ski or ride, who enjoy a powder morning blissfully ignorant of what’s going on outside; yes, they do walk amongst us. They are not always morning people, but they often reach out on powder mornings –the friend that texts you at 9:15 AM after a 15 inch storm to see if you want to go to brunch, and then again at 1 to let you know she’s headed to après at Liquid Sky, and where are you, by the way? Or they’re heading to Wal-Mart and wonder if you’d like to join them.

Like the mutants in X Men, they’re hard to pick out in a crowd, but they possess certain superpowers of the mind, including the ability to not care that it’s a powder day. They’re probably some of the more productive people in our community.

But chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re one of the rest of us who suffer from ski guilt, an incapacitating syndrome which strikes on sunny days, weekends and pretty much any block of time long enough to allow you to go skiing and hence prevent you from ever doing anything else. Especially on a powder day.

And most likely, you’ve suffered from PMS, aka Powder Morning Syndrome. You know the behavior: waiting for your friend on a powder morning at the bus stop, or idling in her driveway because you need four to park for free, but she forgot her helmet and her mom just called and…come on! Scrape the window, just enough to turn right with a glance out the rolled- down passenger window every time you change lanes…you rip down your first run and get to the line and your friend is right behind you, or he was, but now his pass isn’t going through the scanner and COME ON! And the line is getting longer and forty seconds have gone by and well, you know the rest. No friends on a powder day.[ pagebreak ]

Powder day correspondence becomes a scorecard of one-upmanship: who got out; who got more, where. “Jeremy got to the office and realized he left his ski pants at home” states one particularly discouraging Facebook status update. Text beeps volley off snow conditions: “Waist deep on Shoulder! Yee Haw!” from Bell Mountain at Ajax, at 10:32 AM. “Chin deep in the Wall!!! Still! But hey, I’m short  ” from Wall 2 in Snowmass, at 1:17PM.

Snowmass, bringing Powder to the Night People.

Ski Snowmass at 1:17PM on a powder day, you can still be snorkeling in a sea of soft, soft snow, well past the start of most family fun runs and Canine uphills and breakfast buffets. You can still get still get heaps and heaps of fresh, masses of it, as the name suggests. Because some of Snowmass’ most impressive, vast and endlessly powder-filled terrain may not even open up till mid-morning, mid-morning by anyone’s standards.

Powder day or no, Snowmass may be the only mountain that officially rewards you for sleeping in: because for those who missed the fresh corduroy in the morning, there’s the Noon Groomer. Some say it’s an urban myth, suburban lore; Snowmass drops the rope on fresh corduroy, one untouched-by-skis-but-stroked-by-machinery run, around high noon. As of press time, the author has never actually skied the noon groomer herself, but its sweet ridges and carvability are legendary and with relatively benign names like Coffee Pot and Naked Lady (OK, Coffee Pot) the Noon Groomer sounds like a great reason to sleep in.

So, as long as we’re handing out prizes for dawdling- how about the Noon Powder run? You’d have to prove you haven’t skied off any other powder stash all morning; jacket must be clear of ice crystals, beards devoid of lingering traces of face shots, maybe your boss calls in to say you just came from work, or you have to show the wristband from the club you went to last night before you missed the last bus and didn’t get to bed till 3 and…and then you get to ski the freshest line imaginable, which has been sitting, waiting, till you’ve had your coffee and taken your sweet time getting to the hill. And the run’s called something like Wine Bottle. Or LNM (late night munchies). Laz-y-az Lane.