Growing up as a skier, every Christmas was inevitably filled with gifts for the sport. Long underwear, ski socks, and new gloves or goggles were often waiting for me under the tree each Christmas morning. My post-present afternoons were spent trying it all out whether in snow caves, cross country skiing, or even snowboarding on the nearby sledding hills of my small hometown. Luckily, this was the typical routine for many of my friends as well, and we would all join together with our shiny new toys and bellies full of cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, playing till it grew cold as the sun set. Unfortunately, as I grew older, while I still unwrapped long underwear and skied in the afternoon, I spent the last few years skiing alone. If I was lucky, I’d get a lap or two in with my husband, who works on ski patrol and is usually very busy during the holiday season. This year, though, with the newfound connectivity of group text messages (now that we almost all have broken down and switched to smartphones) and possibly a little help from Santa, I spent my Christmas break skiing in a group of Big Cottonwood locals.
What a Christmas eve treat to charge with the ladies all day in re-blown powder! We set the traverse out to upper scree, wallowing in graupel snow that far surpassed the snow stake totals. It was a brute, but we were rewarded with smooth, wide open turns all the way down.
Christmas day at Solitude couldn’t have been more perfect either. Bluebird skies and newly opened terrain treated me with some powder turns out in the Highway to Heaven and a few secret spots tucked into the cold corners of the Honeycomb East Face. As I dropped into one of my favorite powder stashes, I made sure to whisper a little “thank you” to Santa before slashing another turn and coasting out onto Woodlawn.
My last lap on Christmas was down the Powderhorn Cirque, breathing in the cold of December’s early evenings. As I hop turned my way down in the fading light, following the whoops of my friends, I realized that while my Christmas this year still had a few pieces of new long underwear in the mix, the best gift was returning to my roots of playing with my friends till the sun sets.