The days are getting shorter, bike shops have changed over to ski and snowboard shops, and your new season pass sits patiently on your dresser. Winter’s close, but throwing on the skis or snowboard are likely weeks away. It happens every year, and the wait never gets any easier. So how do you stoke the fire in the meantime until the lifts start spinning? For me it’s often a combination of things. In Jackson you’re never quite sure when winter will grace you with its presence. Sometimes it looks like mid-January as early as October. Other years, you wonder when Old Man Winter will come out of hibernation. Nonetheless, there’s always plenty to do in prep for the upcoming season. Here’s a short list of a few things I like to do in prep for the upcoming season:
- Get everything dusted off and tuned-up: Whether you like to tune your gear yourself or take it to your local shop, don’t wait till the last minute. Take a look at your bindings, edges and base and make sure you get everything in tip-top shape. There’s nothing worse than finding out you have a broken binding or rusty edges the night before opening day. This goes for all of your other gear too. Pull everything out of storage and make sure you’re not missing a glove and (if you’re a backcountry skier) all your avalanche gear is in working order.
- Go catch a movie – a ski or snowboard movie that is: Few things will get you more excited for the upcoming season than a new flick. It’s also a great time to catch up with friends you haven’t seen since last winter. And of course, it’s never too early to dust off your favorite ski or snowboard movie at home.
- Get in Shape – physically and mentally: Whether you spend your days at the resort or in the backcountry, there’s no better time than the off-season to wake up the legs and break a sweat. Sure, you’d rather be on the mountain than in the gym, but I can guarantee you when winter rolls around you’ll be happy you did. Your friends will be spent after a few runs, and you’ll still be going till the bell tolls.
And if you travel in the backcountry, get out the beacon and start practicing. If you haven’t taken an avalanche course, do it – check http://aiare.info/ and https://www.americanavalancheinstitute.com for courses near you. OR, get together with your ski and snowboard partners and run some beacon drills – make a game of it and time yourself. At the very least, watch a few videos to get your brain thinking about snow conditions and mountain terrain. There are TONS of great resources on the internet, including things like http://backcountryaccess.com/learn-avalanche-safety/
- Take a hike: If you live around where you ski and ride, go check the terrain out before the snow falls (if in the resort, make sure you have permission to hike around). It’s fun, and sometimes surprising, to see what the areas you play on in the winter look like without snow. This is especially helpful if you’re a backcountry skier and rider, as it gives you a whole new perspective on how terrain changes with snowfall.
- Get together with friends: When I daydream of snow, I often think of a few select days from past winters. Some memories are triggered from photos, but a lot of the unforgettable moments weren’t captured with a camera. Getting together with your winter crew is one of the best ways to relive those moments. It’s a great way to feed the fire and hold you over till winter rolls around and you can make a few more.
Short clip from one of my favorite runs in the Teton Backcountry. I’ve ridden it too many times to count and it never gets old: https://vimeo.com/21420914
Below: Don gets a few lessons on the tune bench at a local shop in Jackson, Wyoming
Below: Don’s friends sharing the winter stoke
Below: Don in his happy place, riding the white wave
Below: Don and Mikey Franco destroying the old adage of no friends on a pow day
Below: One of those photos that brings you back to the moment
Below: Exploring new terrain with friends