Today I changed my Facebook background picture for the first time this ski year. Since November, it had been a photo I snapped in Honeycomb Canyon last season. I’ve been proud to sport that photo and rep my home resort all this time. However, for the past week, I’ve been heli-skiing in Alaska and thought maybe I should go for a change- everyone else flying with me here had updated their profile pictures and I felt the need to follow suit.
It’s funny how a little thing like where you ski can be such a source of pride. As I changed my photo from my sweet Honeycomb shot to an impressive aerial view of the snowcapped islands dotting the Gulf of Alaska, I felt a twinge of guilt creep in. Was this being disloyal to my local mountain? Did this mean I didn’t love Soli as much as I believed I did? Would Honeycomb ever forgive me for enjoying the snowy pitches to the north?
And it’s not just pride that I discovered, but jealousy… even though I was in the wilds of backcountry Alaska, high in the most rugged peaks and pristine landscape I had ever witnessed, I still felt left out of the fun as I read news of the 40″ of snowstorm back home. Here I was, skiing fresh tracks all day, enjoying what others pay thousands of dollars to experience, and I kept thinking, “Man, my friends back home are having the time of their lives in our favorite secret stashes.”
How is it possible to feel both guilt and jealousy when I was in a situation others would give up their life savings for?
I figured it out- while being here in the Chugach mountain range is impressive and undoubtedly the experience of a lifetime, I have never had a day to complain about at Solitude, and many to rejoice over. I know my way around the mountain and can find the good stuff even on a day when the snow may be less than ideal. It’s close to home, so I can sleep in my own bed and be on hill within a half an hour. I don’t have to get geared up with avalanche equipment just to take turns. And days after a storm, I’m still slaying powder at Solitude- no helicopter necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I love this heli-skiing gig and am grateful for the every minute I’ve been here. But my local mountain- 3,000 miles away from the remote beauty of Alaska- has my heart. And if Honeycomb has a forgiving demeanor, you’ll know where to find me my first day back.