Brent Boyer: Passing the powder test
November 29, 2010
Steamboat Springs — It was an ethical dilemma only a ski town professional could appreciate.
You're enjoying the first epic powder day of the ski season when you come across a boundary marking closed terrain. You know the closed terrain well. What do you do?
The exercise played out during a late fall Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs meeting. Our task was to apply Rotary's four-way test (Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?) to help guide us to the right decision.
Like the seven fellow Rotarians gathered around the table, I quickly found myself lost in a powder daydream. We were still four weeks from opening day of the 2010-11 season at Steamboat Ski Area, and it was the first time in months that I had thought about winter — let alone actually craved it.
What is it about a great powder day that frees us from all our worries? How do we find tranquility in subfreezing temperatures while immersed in waist-deep snow on a remote mountainside? Writers better than I can put into words the joy of such days. The rest of us can simply close our eyes and transport ourselves to the moment.
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So there I was, sitting at a table inside The Steamboat Grand and wondering about my next powder day. How soon would it come, and where would I ski first? Would it be a weekday? If so, how would I escape the office and for how long?
I'll be a first-time father come late April, so I know my access to powder days is quickly diminishing. My wife won't experience any this winter. That fact alone seems to violate Rule 2 of Rotary's four-way test. The demands of my job have left me to settle for 20-day passes the past couple of seasons. I've yet to use all of my allotted days. This year, it's a 15-day pass.
I'm not asking for sympathy; I don't deserve it. Like many of you, I live in Ski Town USA, and that makes me more fortunate than most. Whenever I forget, I take a look at this picture. That's me, riding my favorite aspen glade on a truly epic Steamboat powder day a couple of years ago. With one click of the shutter, it captured everything a great day of skiing or riding is supposed to be. Warm, natural light. Soft Champagne Powder. Evenly spaced aspens. Hardly a soul (or track) in sight.
An early winter is upon us here in the Yampa Valley. November offered tremendous snowfall and some earlier-than-usual powder days. With Mother Nature on our side, there will be little need for boundary ropes marking closed terrain. Then, the only ethical dilemma will be whether to wait for a buddy before hopping onto the next chairlift.
— Brent Boyer
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