(Editor’s note from Lou: I was feeling like an encore post today, as I’m working on some time consuming gear review projects. This one looked to be a good candidate for starting the backcountry skiing season. Attitude, it can make or break a day…)
During a weekend last summer, on Berthoud Pass, I encountered the rare, yet annoyingly arrogant, attitude that typifies the prick in any given extreme sport. In a state where sustaining access and longevity of backcountry skiing requires a united community, encounters like this one jeopardize the public image and dedication in our sport. I have tried to benefit this individual with the likely situation that he may have had a bad or rough day. It could very well be that this individual is really a nice guy. Upon reflection, however, the conversation plays back in my head with nought but concern (and spite that I’m uncomfortable with but will admit to).
My wife and I were on Berthoud so she could take some photos of mountains and flowers and the like. We met back in the parking lot where I spotted a man returning with skis and a pack. This is how it went:
Me: “Hey, did you manage to get some good laps in?”
Him: (pause, looks at me unpleasantly, looks away), “Excuse me?”
Me: “Um, I saw you had ski gear, I was just wondering how it went?”
Him: (another pause), “Do I know you?”
Could backcountry skiing end up with its own version of Bra Boys? Watch the video and comment.
That was the extent of his side of the conversation. This is where I erred and went off on him while walking away. The overriding message in my rant was that we were on Berthoud Pass, likely the #1 bastion of backcountry skiing.
As I reflected on this situation I began to assign blame to myself for being rude in presuming I had some misplaced right to start a random conversation with a person in a parking lot just because he had some skis. I could also have been more diplomatic, though I stand by my approach: Smiling, bubbly, and excited that someone was getting to ski in mid-July. Could it have been that he thought I was trying to poach some hidden gem? Perhaps his outing was truly disastrous and he just wanted to be left alone. Perhaps I was a bit too friendly? Whatever the case, in my opinion the response was less than becoming of one who skis the backcountry.
Our sport doesn’t need the ‘tude.
For someone who’s trying to ease into backcountry skiing, the threat which arrogant skiers pose deters none of my pursuit. It’s too good, I’ll do it no matter what. Instead, I feel the problem goes deeper than that and threatens the viability of our sport. As a Colorado native I’ve seen access to places close and beautiful areas disappear to private ownership. We need to be united in our love of this sport and ardent protectors, not self-righteous and arrogant. Being friendly to strangers is the first step in presenting a united front that’ll give us the power to influence land use decisions.
Wondering what you guys here on Lou’s website think. Can we avoid the ‘tude? Or will it always be an undercurrent that fouls our nest?
(WildSnow guest blogger “Jo” is not our production assistant Joe Risi, but rather another backcountry WildSnow contributor with a penchant for remaining positive.)