Deep Satisfaction

Editor’s letter, issue 128

‘I freely admit that the best of my fun, I owe it to horse and hound.’ That was the tagline (grammatically dodgy, I always thought) on the cover of the magazine where I first worked (can you guess the title? Think of a cheesy Hugh Grant film). Well, I’m convinced that the best of my fun I owe (it) to powder. Here’s why.

When my mum launched her mission to make skiing our family sport circa 1975, it was the lure of pow that sold my novice-but-adventurous dad the idea. No matter that he had to flail around for a spell ploughing those 205cm Rossis through it while she, a bit of a pro, wiggled down like an Arlberg maestress. (Note to impatient spouses: my mum would wait and let him have a breather; no charging off or sending him to ski school.) He learnt to ‘get down anything’ and quickly became chief cornice-hunter, ‘I’ll go first’ man on crud and jumps and general utterer of the word ‘Wooowww!’. 

Soon our Killy-clad family of four knew the off-piste terrain better than the piste in our ‘home resort’, and as that was in French-speaking Switzerland (Anzère, where my parents bought a tiny flat), we were out getting freshies while the locals were still having croissants.

So thank goodness for powder – and the crud, crust, drift, sift and clag that we deep-seekers take in our stride too. What I love is that even though it’s the same stuff we skied back then, there will always be countless ways to have fun with it, places to track it down, opportunities for challenge – and minimal predictability. 

In this issue pages Daron Rahlves illustrates this when talking about filming a project called Afterglow, which involved skiing back-lit spines at 3am. It took them five days to find decent snow (cover was thin in that part of Alaska last spring) and he and his co-rider, Chris Benchetler, could only see 20ft in front. Doesn’t sound promising, but he says: “It was one of the coolest things I’ve done on skis” – and this from somebody who, we reckon, hits heights of coolness regularly. Daron added that he didn’t let rip as much as he’d have liked, and that, given a few more runs, they could have got “better stuff”. We reckon the shots are pretty good.

I hope you’ll hit heights this winter – even if the pow doesn’t materialise exactly when you planned to ski it. My tip is to get that first lift (earlier risers should turn to page 20).

The most memorable powder day of my life was when my sister and I rose at 7:30am after being out ’til 3am, when the snow was starting to tip down. “Let’s go!” we whispered, leaving family and friends snoring. The whole village was sleeping on this glorious bluebird morning, and we lapped three unbelievable long runs of sparkling, untouched fresh with only the lifties for company. By 10:30, the sun had done its work. We settled down for a coffee and couldn’t stop smiling for days. Wishing you similar satisfaction soon.