For a few of us, the 2018-19 ski season has already begun; for most, there are still a lot of decisions to be made. But first, let me ask: How did you put your stuff away last spring?
Are you the type who after your last run of the season carefully removes, dries and replaces his liners, then buckles his boots and stores them in the correct position? Were your bases left with a heavy coat of hot wax, your bindings cleaned and checked, and your ski clothes all cleaned and sorted? Did you buy your multi-resort pass in April?
Or is all your ski crap still in the same place where it was dumped in the basement or garage, but is now growing an interesting mould experiment? Are your boots unbuckled, your edges orange in rust, and your jacket and pants still smeared in lift-tower grease? Do you even know what’s in your closet?
Of course, there are many types of skiers beyond these two ends of the spectrum, and like every autumn when friends, family and strangers repeatedly ask me, “Where should I go skiing this winter?” I answer with another question, or two, mostly to determine what kind of skiers they are and their priorities when it comes to planning a ski holiday.
What’s more important to you, powder or good grooming? Lots of snow or lots of sun? A condo or a lively hotel dining room? Skiing remains the most social sport there is, so if you always ski and travel with a group, are we talking me and the boys? Several families? Several couples? Is your maximum capacity reached in a cozy backcountry hut, cat or helicopter? Maybe a bus full of pirates from the ski club makes a most memorable week? Or you’re happy to meet new friends on a Ski Canada Readers’ Trip?
Is après-ski as important as, well, the skiing? (Be truthful now.) And while we’re on the subject, if you ski with a boisterous gang, are you and your lot even allowed back after your last trip?
For some, routine, familiarity and arriving with local knowledge when returning to your favourite ski area is the reward, while others are always wanting to play Lost and Found in a new resort for the week. Sometimes hearing another language intimidates, sometimes it intrigues.
Equally important, what are your worries? Being out of shape? Rushing to the car in the morning while forgetting an integral part of your ski gear? Climate change? El Niño? Trump? Brexit? Vail taking over the world? From merging trails and snowboarders not checking their blindspots to pocket zippers that close up, sometimes I can’t sleep at night when I’m thinking about where I want to go skiing. But I do love the months of distraction that go into the planning and the anticipation of a good ski trip.
While James at The Vacation Station and I start lobbing ideas back and forth for next season’s Readers’ Trips a year or more ahead of time, spring ski trips with friends or family in April, May or even June have been thrown together more last minute simply because we found cheap airfare, excellent snow or a good weather forecast for an end-of-season road trip.
Although I’ve never seen where he stores his kit, I’m pretty sure James’s boot liners are dry and his shells are nicely buckled and on the shelf at the end of the season. Since May, mine (I think) are under a pile of magazines, avalanche gear and merino wool baselayers that I’ve been meaning to put into an anti-moth vacuum storage bag for the last eight months. But no matter what kind of skier you are, I hope you’re having fun planning this season’s ski trip.