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The Struggles of Skiing on the East Coast

A life as Hard as the Ice we ski on.

The Struggles of Skiing on the East Coast
Max Bretscher

it really is a tough existence having to accept that you can't fully actualize your passion without spending thousands of dollars on a trip to Colorado, where they don't need noisy, artificial snow makers lining every run. I grew up in Washington State's Cascade Mountains and had ski's on my feet before I turned four, but all that did was make me painfully aware of what I was missing when my family dragged me to South Carolina at the age of eleven. I love South Carolina, the people, the weather, the whole atmosphere. It's my home; but like a whale in seaworld I know there's something more. Every time winter rolls around I have glimpses of memories, or maybe they're memories of memories at this point, of powder up to my knees, crystal blue skies, and mountains whose craggy, snow capped peaks actually extend beyond the reach of the trees, creating a surreal, alien world.

I regret that only someone who lives on the east coast, and has a passion for skiing will understand. Skiing on the east coast just isn't the real thing. Imagine living in a world where food is replaced by nutrition pills. Think about the chefs. Sure they could get a job manufacturing these nutrition pills. They'd "technically" be doing the same thing as before, creating ingest-able objects that provide people with the necessary nutrients to keep on living, but the passion is gone. They wouldn't get to smell the aromas mingling, or reap satisfaction at the reaction of the customer as each, carefully constructed flavor note dances across the customers tongue. They'd be deprived of their art, which is exactly how I feel every time I optimistically hop on the slopes at sugar mountain in the Appalachians of North Carolina, expecting the creative free reign I tasted once before of surfing over fluffy clouds of powder, forced to examine the details of every single turn so my tips don't go under the snow and send me head over heels, or weaving between trees and around rocks in a new way on every run, or feeling the flood of adrenaline while staring down a line that might actually be above my skill level and not giving a shit as I drop into the unknown.

Instead, I'm greeted by ice, biting wind, and monotony.

Unless you check the weather forecast every day, live near a slope, and are willing to take a snow mobile up the mountain at five o'clock the morning after it snows, you're going to be skiing ice. I'm not sure what it is, maybe it's the higher humidity levels, but snow doesn't last long on the east coast. It gets packed into a rock hard layer of crud by ten in the morning because if we're lucky enough to get a storm, it's never more than six inches at a time and even those are so few and far between that none of it ever stays fresh. I will say, the hard, icy terrain means that most east coast skiers know how to use their edges, but we really wish we didn't have to. It's not fair. Those out West have probably never even heard of edges because they're too busy gliding, weightless over pure, crystalline dunes of fresh snow every morning.

There's also something about the cold here. It's not just cold, it's painful. It gets inside you're gloves and boots, and under your skin to where you swear you can feel it in you're bones. This one's probably the humidity. While on the west coast the winds are strong and biting, they don't carry moisture with them. Here, however, it's like taking an ice bath which is only exacerbated by skiing down a hill.

However, the worst part about skiing the east coast is the monotony. Not to sound like a dick, but east coast black diamonds aren't black diamonds. Every run is pretty much a green and a half because we don't have mountains, we have hills. No ski area has more than twenty runs, which really means around eight beacuse they like to split runs up into multiple sections and call them different. At the end of the day, no matter how many runs they say they have there's pretty much two or three ways down the mountain which I usually have covered before most beginner snowboarders find a way up off their ass. Sorry, good for you if you're trying to pick up snowboarding, really. I just don't belong here.

But there is one hope. His name is El Nino, but we don't like to say his name out loud for fear of jinxing ourselves. Every few years, the Ski gods shine their light on our downtrodden souls. El Nino comes and the tables turn. Strange winds blow in from the oceans and the world is turned upside down. Places that were once cold and snowy become warm and barren while those cursed with humidity and warmth dry up and cool down. It's inexplicable but it happens like clockwork. Only El Nino can save us from the ice, wind and boredom. But until he deems us worthy of his gift, I'll start saving up for a trip to snowier pastures.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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