Quit complaining about the approach. In college I would paddle 30 minutes across an inlet rumored to be a hammerhead breading ground just to get to a remote island to surf. After crossing the island and paddling out to the surf, sometimes we had to paddle for hours just to stay in the same spot only to catch one wave that lasted 5 seconds on the longer end. Usually, those days ended with a choppy battle back across the inlet lasting upwards of 45 minutes.
Almost 5 hours of paddling for 5 seconds of eye stinging bliss.
When I consider approaching lines on skins, the comparison almost seems comical. People skinning are listening to headphones, smoking bowls, making jokes…yet still commenting on their skin to ride ratio being too high. “Dude, we just skinned 2 hours for only 20 minutes of riding.” Coming from a surf background, I would kill for a full 20 minutes of surfing. Recently, a friend of mine just embarked on a mission to surf 100 waves a day for a month. With the average ride being somewhere in the 6 second mark, that adds up to 10 minutes of surfing in what took about 8 hours of paddling…and he was Stoked! ( See more on how James fared with his goal to raise money for cancer HERE)
The point here is that snowboarders (and skiers) tend to be spoiled and out of shape. Most surfers I knew were obsessive about fitness and nutrition. Yet, most snowboarders are popping beers before first chair. To really enjoy the backcountry, one’s perspective must be juxtaposed. As the resorts get busier, stashes less secret, and rules more oppressive, a day in the skintrack should be looked at more of an escape and less of an Epic Mix count. Not to mention, bottomless untouched lines top dust on resort crust any day. So to many of us avid powder hounds, two laps in our favorite empty zone is often more satisfying than playing frogger on the resort.
From an physiological standpoint, this makes sense. When you are in your own zone, pushing your body and enjoying nature, your brain produces more neurochemicals than when you are cruising the slow zones in the family area. Waves of epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin jazz you up and stoke you out all at the same time, leaving a smile on your face and a buzz in your brain that will hopefully last for days. While this article isn’t meant to discredit the fun of lap shredding on the resort with the crew, it is meant to outline that the groomers and the grind are two separate parties.
It is the difference of going to the movies to see the new Bond film or bingeing on Netflix for a night. The difference between a meal at your favorite steakhouse or wing night at your local pub. Hell, the difference between a lunchtime quickie or that slow like Sunday morning kind of thing ( wink wink). The point is, all of these things are great, but the pace and enjoyment are all on different levels. I love eating 20 wings at a time, but also am pretty happy to slow down when the nice steak is on the menu. So next time you hear your bro (or gal) complain about time in the skintrack, tell them we don’t want to share our steak with them anyways! And if you feel yourself dragging, just be grateful you aren’t paddling 2 hours for 3 waves. Remember, this is the backcountry, the effort is the reward, the quality outweighs the quantity.
Technical Author’s note: I love shred laps, surfing, wings, quickies and Netflix…probably in that order.