By the time I skied my 100th day this season—skinning up Alta at sunset after a rogue May storm dusted the mountain with a few inches of fresh snow—the outing felt both special and normal. Special because every ski day is a high-five from life. Normal because I’d spent the whole season getting re-accustomed to skiing multiple days per week like I did ski-bumming for many years.
These days, I am a homeowner. I have a career; I have garden tools; I fill out weekly timesheets at work. But I found myself putting off too much of my weekly fun until Friday happy hour. Yes, I still skied every weekend and holiday, with frequent dawn patrols thrown in for good measure. But skiing, to me, is what tennis balls are to Labradors. So, realizing that my indoor days had grown a bit more frequent than my outdoor days, I felt a wistful pang in my soul.
So, this season I decided to fully renew my vows with skiing and see what would happen if I balanced my full-time job with skiing 100 days, which is the elusive numeric benchmark at which a skier knows they’ve proverbially gone all-in.
It meant balancing work and mastering life logistics—and, oddly, I often had to defend the way I chose to spend my time to people who see “priority” and “play” as separate line items on the schedule. Here’s what I learned—and how some of my hard-earned lessons might help other people trying to do a better job of getting out more.
1. There’s quality in the quantity.
By doggedly committing to multiple dawn or dusk patrols per week, and skiing every single Saturday and Sunday between November and May, I rode through some amazing days and some laughably poor conditions. This gave me the opportunity to remember why skiing in any conditions is always more fun than not skiing.
By pushing through all the cruddy and icy snow days, I was in strong shape to shred all day long on good days. The “bad” days just felt like training for the great ones—and they weren’t exactly a chore. Not with Passion Pit on the playlist, toddy in the Thermos, and swooshing to be done.
I also found creative ways to take photos even when the snow was not prime for hero shots. I documented backlit clouds against the silhouette of the chairlift cables. I photographed the way raindrops looked on my goggle lens on the soggiest day of the season. I filmed a blustery storm rushing in and blanketing Solitude resort after it fell silent, closed for the season, with no one present but the mountain and myself.
When you find quality in the quantity, you revel in the imperfections of any mountain day. The point is rolling with whatever the day brings, and photographing your adventures is a fun way to celebrate their uniqueness, warts and all.
2. Savor the rewards of getting out no matter what the weather.
My friend Elizabeth and I hiked up Brighton in a wild spring lightning storm. We acknowledged that this didn’t align with safety protocol, but we were pretty sure the lift poles would get zapped first. Halfway up the mountain, we were drenched and ready to surrender. But suddenly the rainstorm subsided, the clouds parted, and we finished our adventure beneath an otherworldly, fiery sunset. If not for this 100-day goal, we never would have thought to go ski touring that evening, and that magical sunset would have never imprinted our memories.
The bottom line: You’re outside. You’re so, so lucky.
3. Learn to embrace slap-happy exhaustion.
I made good use of the resorts that allow inbounds skinning before they opened for the season (thank you, Brighton and Alta ) then jumped into full throttle mode in December. Holiday time off work conveniently coincided with a prodigious storm cycle, so I skied 17 days in a row. I gobbled each day’s powder refills like a glutton; my energy sharply deteriorated on the 14th consecutive day, when every chopped-up snow patch threw me like a bucking bronco. (That day I ended up leaving the hill early and then slept for 10 hours, which recharged me enough to respectably click into my bindings the next day.)
As the season continued, I incorporated dozens of backcountry dawn patrols, dusk patrols, shared moments of inbounds play with friends, and mind-clearing solo outings into my quest. Soon I broke past the exhaustion barrier, and my energy picked up steam. I got used to skinning back-to-back days lugging a heavy pack. I made a game out of timing my mogul turns to the tempo of Scissor Sisters’ “Running Out,” repeating the exercise for hours on end, laughing at the fact that I was training so hard just for the sake of it, not for any particular event.
And wouldn’t you know it: I got stronger as a skier and could push through big days without flagging. I was already a competent skier, but now I laid into my turns faster, more aggressively and confidently than I ever have before.