Mr. Manners guide to pow-day etiquette
The early season hasn’t been what anyone would call epic. The skies over Tahoe were unsettlingly clear for way too long. Enough to make some of us resort to riding those landing strips of rust colored, grainy and wholly blasphemous manmade snow. Just so we’re clear: Man doesn’t make snow. He makes tiny bits of ice that build up over time and form one giant piece of ice. We all know that the great Lord of Thunder makes snow. Real snow. Powder. As in, “Tahoe gets more powder than anywhere.” As in, “You can fold your underwear later, it’s time to shred.”
Few days hold the promise of the sacred “pow-day.” The sky could be clear, or it could be dumping, but one thing is certain–it’s deep. Now that the snow has finally come to the mountains of Tahoe, and the panicked riders who rely on it for, among other things, sanity, only one thing is left: Get out there and destroy it! All that is required of you is to lay waste to those untouched pastures as soon as the lifts start running. It’s not that hard, really, fun even. Yet, sadly enough, too many people don’t get it.
Damn it! I’m not even the one effing up, and it still pains me. I am embarrassed for others. So in the interests of public service, I have, through years of trial and error, silent observations and heroic conquest, come up with an all-encompassing list of activities and behavior that may compromise the best day of your life. Some may be excusable; none are forgivable.
How to blow it on a pow day
These offenses should go without saying.
1. Two words: Lift operator. What could be worse than a self-imposed exile where you are forced to load strangers onto a device that transports them to the land of enchantment? Sounds like purgatory to me.
2. Teach someone how to ride: That’s why the resorts recruit Aussies to work ski school. They think it’s fun.
3. Ride your jib board: If tunneling through the snow is your thing, ignore this one.
4. Sleep in: If you are still clinging to your Woobie at 9 a.m., you have obviously lost touch. Lack of sleep is an excuse, not a problem. Powder cures problems.
I learned my lesson, and it won’t happen again
1. Wait in line all morning: You may disagree with me on this one, but when I am riding powder, I subscribe to the “more is more” school of thought. More runs, more schwacks, more air, more smiles, comprende? I used to rush to the gondola as soon as I got out of the car, guarding my place in line like a bloodthirsty jackal marking his territory in hopes of getting the best line on the hill. The thing is, though, we shredders are not the only ones guilty of blowing it on a pow-day. The resorts themselves have been known to blow it on a scale far exceeding anything we are capable of. How about waiting in line for three hours before you are told that the lift won’t be opening? That’s neat. Avy control, low visibility, wind, not enough lifties … man, I’ve heard it all. It’s either one thing or the other, and I laugh at the prospect of waiting in line because Timmy the Lift Monkey says “10 more minutes.” I would rather ride the lifts that are running and gobble up all of the tracks, mocking those shivering in line because they think, “It’ll be worth the wait.”
2. Ride with a posse: There are more than a few reasons not to recruit more shredders than are absolutely necessary. The biggest problem with riding in gang formation is the coordination and timing factor. I hate waiting for people when there is fresh snow in front of me—or behind me for that matter. One guy wants to take his precious time and set up, one guy doesn’t know where he is, and one guy just plain sucks. Enough! I just like to glance at my one or two homies and nod. This signals that we will meet up at the predetermined rendezvous. Nothing is worse than waiting at the bottom of a chairlift for a phantom rider who never shows up.
3. Don’t wax/wrong wax: Here’s the deal: No wax is better than the wrong wax. All-temp wax is better than no wax. And the right wax is better than sex. You will know that you applied the right wax when you are fumbling around the lift line like some Euro-fied monoskier in a one-piece. It should feel like that repulsion you get when you try to press like poles of two magnets together.
4. Equipment malfunction: Your snowboard requires “preventative maintenance.” Don’t wait for the problem to come to you—give your gear a good examination from time to time, especially your binding straps and buckles. “Skating” (riding while not strapped in) down pow-lines can get a bit sketchy. Also, never leave your board outside overnight. Your binding parts can freeze up causing an otherwise preventable hassle.
5. Get hammered the night before: This does not yet apply to those youngsters out there who are not yet familiar with the might of the high-altitude hangover. I used to believe, “The more it snows, the more I should drink,” and I never really had a problem with it. Not until Father Time started ganging up on me did I realize the true meaning of pain. These days, my hangovers are harder to shake than body lice.
Don’t be an idiot
1. Get critical on your first run and break yourself, aka Hero Syndrome: “I know it was the first storm of the year, but Deadman’s Drop looked soooo good, and severe need to impress my buddies landed me in this coma. Now muscular atrophy and catheters are my only friends.
2. Ride the park: Self-explanatory.
3. Ignore the closure signs: It is one thing to lose your life, but what if you lost your pass? Think ripping out of bounds is fun? Try ripping in the afterlife. Not only did you pay the piper his full due, but you also jeopardized the safety of the ski patrollers who had to dig your frozen carc’ out.
4. Pant sag: If you insist on looking destitute, go find some alley to hang around. When you are more concerned with your appearance than your next slash, you have lost focus.
5. Complain: Led Zeppelin once recorded a song called “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” Keep this in mind when you start to bitch about whatever plagues you. Sorry, but the lodge is that way!
1. Overdress, aka Swampbath
2. Underdress, aka Hypothermia
3. Yellow lens on a bluebird day, aka Blinded by the light
4. Mirrored lens during the storm, aka Tommy the Pinball Wizard.
5. Ride with boyfriend/girlfriend, aka Powderwhipped
6. IBS, aka Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Rhea, Red Alert
3. Forget your pass: You make the call, poach or be poached.
2. Forget your board: Take it as a loss. Go home and beat the dog.
And the No. 1 way to blow it on a pow-day: GO TO WORK.