When I climbed off the bus Saturday the 14th in Killington, Vermont, it was drizzling and warm. Most of the mountain was hidden in a cloud. By the time I got off my first lift ride of the day my jacket and snow pants were damp. In my first turns, I found that it wasn’t snow but more of a slushie I was skiing on. Half way down the mountain I had to stop because my goggles fogged up, which continued to happen for the rest of the day.
For most people, rain on the lift ride up would mean a terrible day for them. The snow conditions would make them frustrated and foggy goggles would be the last straw before turning in. But for me all I could do was smile and think “this is what it means to be an East Coast skier.” For fans of East Coast skiing, we’ve had an awesome season. Huge dumps in February left all our mountains with a solid base for the rest of the season. But Saturday reminded that this season is an exception, not the norm. Fresh snow week after week and constantly cold temperatures is not what the East Coast is used to. Skiing in those conditions brought back fond memories of all the other terrible condition days I had. Days and days desperately trying to hold and edge on sheets of ice at my local mountain. Negative windchills in Vermont. Most of the time it sucks, but for some reason I still love every minute.
Reddit user DougFromBuf gave the best explanation of what it means to ski the East:
“Though found in many varieties from gnarly back country tree ripper finding a sweet fallen tree for jibbing to minivan driving dad trying to get on a lift before 11AM, there is a common thread that binds them all. They have all endured and will forever endure. The east coast skier is hard. He was a child on his first -10 wind-chill day. He skied with freezing rain stinging his face. The east coast skier may not love all conditions but he loves skiing in all conditions. He will rip all day on ice. He will slide on slush. He will savor any fresh snow and love a powder day whether or not he is adept at skiing it. This creature does not scoff at a small 500ft vertical hill. He knows it’s not all about the vertical, it’s how you use it. The east coast skier is proud. He may always talk about his trip to Vail (or Whistler, or Snowbird, or Telluride), but he will never deny his love for his local hill, even if it is 4 hours away and had lifts on wind delay the last two weekends. No matter what he faces, he simply skis and loves it.
In the end, the East coast skier is defined by one thing, that no matter what the obstacle, inconvenience or conditions he will ski, and he will love whatever mountain and whatever frozen substance he is lucky enough to slide on for he knows and has known from a young age that every day skiing is a precious gift.”