Winter Call (Summer Ski Apology)

Dad (Kris Burhardt) and Majka Day 1 outside of El Bolson Argentina

I am not a hoarder. Or at least not of material things. But I might have to confess to being a recent hoarder of snow. And for that, I’m sorry.

Today, December 11th, 2012, I took a hike in the White Mountains and watched yesterday’s thin layer of white turn to clear liquid in the span of an hour. My skis—touring, downhill, classic and skate—are lined up in my garage ready to go. Like most of the northern hemisphere I am ready to ski. But I might be the reason why so few of us are actually getting to shred the gnar.

Here is my confession. I went south to ski and now the north is paying. In my defense, it was for a good cause. My dad turned 70 this year and one of ways we celebrated was to go skiing in Tierra Del Fuego. My father is ski obsessed and it seemed the best way to support him on his birthday was to indulge more obsession. We planned the trip, got tickets, and it all felt normal until I started sweating in my gear room from the heat and humidity of a near 90-degree NH day when packing my winter gear. I’m not a stranger to making the opposite travel/life/outfit choice compared to others around me, but when I hauled my ski bag through the airport terminal surrounded in flip flop clad fellow travellers I felt like a superior idiot—as in that my ego wanted to feel superior but reality showed me I was an idiot.

Ushuaia, Sort of like New Hampshire

The skiing happened. It was amazing. We split our time between backcountry, sidecountry, and area skiing. I even had my best day of area skiing ever in my life at Cerro Castor—the ski area whose claim to fame is the southernmost in the world. I toured Laderas- Argentina’s soon to be premier sidecountry focused area developed specifically to minimize environmental impact. I won’t get into too many details about the creamy corn, the knee-deep powder even without fresh snow, the backcountry shots my dad effortlessly ripped. That would just get me, and us, in worse trouble.

Global warming is happening. We see evidence ourselves, through photos, through videos, through what we can and cannot access in the outdoors everyday. I contributed to it with a flight to the southern tip of Argentina, after all. But what if there are also global consequences to switching the seasonal rhythm of our lives just because we can? We live in a time of amazing opportunity in that regard. This year is the first in five that I have not spent a majority of my November in Africa. And I feel the effect when I am instead in northern New Hampshire’s 4:11 pm darkness. I’m not saying I’ll never do it again, but maybe I’m saying that honoring the reality of the landscape we are in becomes all the more important when it is so easy to leave it. Maybe that’s where I have gone wrong and where I need to set things right so that all of the landscapes waiting and aching for winter can finally get that big dump.

Janet Wilkenson and Majka Burhardt out getting any winter they can, Crawford Notch, NH

Janet Wilkenson and Majka Burhardt out getting any winter they can, Crawford Notch, NH

Here’s my honor: You—you amazing hills and mountains of my new New England home. Please surrender to winter. Join the other mountains of the world that are swirling snow and ice and own your cold, white, wet, darkness. We will all be here to enjoy and celebrate you.* I promise.

*We might, might, have to leave when winter gives way to the black flies, but that’s really neither here nor there.