Loving winter – Stand up for the ski

I want it to snow and never stop. I want the drifts to turn to tunnels that form a warren from one door to the next. I want snow shovels to replace lawnmowers and plow drivers to have year-round employment. I want face shots in April and high alpine lines in July. I want the 30-foot cliff to become 20, then ten, then nothing more than a roll over.

On the street, people say, “It’s been a long winter.” But the truth is it’s not long enough. It’s never long enough, and I want to ask them what did they expect when they moved to a tiny one-road-in town at 9,000 feet? For what were they looking? Me? I was looking for turns. For a skin track that kept going up and up and up. A permanent place in the white room. I didn’t come for the views. I came for the skiing.

Each fall the stoke runs high. There are bonfires and snow dances. Season passes are purchased and schedules worked out with coworkers and spouses. Then February hits and with it comes talk of spring. The first day with temperatures above freezing slips in and we turn our faces toward the warmth like daffodils searching for the sun. How quickly we forget the dreams of winter.

This week President Donald Trump signed an executive order that is a direct attack on the environment. Should it be enacted it has the potential to set back years of environmental regulation that have served to help protect and preserve our nation’s waterways. Specifically it includes a directive that would roll back protections for the small, seasonal headwater streams that feed our larger waterways. Next week, climate protection is on the chopping block. Here, in this valley, the impact of these orders could change that which we hold holy.

I didn’t mean to bring up politics, but as I write it’s hammering outside and I can hear the bare branches of the aspen outside rattling in the wind. I love this weather and this place as much as I’ve ever loved anything and more than I’ve loved a lot of things.

After almost four decades of sliding around on snow it still hasn’t gotten old. I continue to wake up every morning and check the weather. My youngest son sleeps amid a nest of avalanche bags, soft shells and binding parts. I chose this life, and I’d choose it again. If I do not stand up now for clean water and a cold climate I risk losing the very thing that brought me here.

For a few years now we’ve held the title of the Last Great Ski Town, and we’ve fought to hold the name. Now, it’s time to stand up for the ski.

—Aimee Eaton

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