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It’s coming…

Image

This was the Webcam image this morning from Paradise on Mount Rainier. And once I saw it, ski season started. Sure, I won’t be able to actually, you know, actually go there likely for about a week and a half due to work and travel, but seeing snow down to the parking lot at Paradise means fall is dead and winter is here.

What follows will sound a bit dramatic considering that ski season only really ended for me in August. I recognize there are those who live in less temperate areas where the season lasts maybe six months. There are also people who live in the desert, so take your relativity and shove it. I’m used to a 10 or 11-month season. It’s been almost two months, let’s get on with it.

Aside from actually going skiing there are several other important behavioral changes that happen once The Season starts.

  • Checking weather data every 15 minutes even though it updates every hour. In Washington, we’re blessed to have the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center, an awesome organization that provides avalanche and weather forecasting as well as avalanche education. You should give them money, as they’re reliant on public funding to maintain their programs, which help keep dumbasses like me alive.Their Web site has all kinds of good stuff, but the true black hole once The Season starts is the mountain weather telemetry. Telemetry is basically just weather data: temperature, wind, precipitation amounts, etc. That data dictates what I do for the next 10 months.The telemetry tells you where the most snow is and how likely it is to be good. Too warm at Snoqualmie Pass? Stevens it is. Surprise wraparound snowstorm at Mission Ridge? Set the alarm for 5 a.m.It’s also like watching a Web gamecast of a storm as you sit there hitting refresh to see how much snow was fallen in the past hour, which is about the interval in which the data updates.

    In mid-winter, that’s relatively rational behavior: “Hey, I’m just trying to stay safe here by trying to find the best place to ski tomorrow so sorry if you need something work-related in the next five hours.”

    However, in October when you can’t even ski for almost two weeks it’s utterly idiotic. And, yet, here I am at the first mention of snow hitting refresh on telemetry. It’s a sickness.

  • Web cam photo Facebook posting. Of course, I posted the photo above on Facebook as soon as I saw it this morning. I’ll do the same damn thing all year at the detection of even the slightest unique image. Oh! The pass is CLOSED! Hey! Snow is COVERING THE CAMERA! It’s sunny out! No one cares, but it’s slightly healthier behavior than printing color copies at work and waving them at colleagues.
  • Gear caressing and fondling. I tell people that all the ski tuning, binding fiddling and edge buffing is a simply a matter of safety and performance. Others will tell you that they want to know their gear as well as their own appendages because their life depends on it. Nice try. It’s simply an excuse to touch gear. Nothing more. And it happens … a lot.
  • “Would a full suit of armor violate the dress code?”Starting in early September, I get incredibly paranoid about getting hurt and missing part or all of The Season. Mountain biking? Not a chance. Help you move? I’ll direct traffic or help pay movers. Jay-run through Boston traffic? I’m not Evel Knievel, buddy. Somehow taking chances while skiing is totally different. But getting hurt not skiing? That’s plain crazy.
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