This post is for adults hosting a healthy inner child and a sense of adventure. Rumors abound about people enjoying Spring recreation in the mountains with abandoned disregard for conservative social convention.
The mountains west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada experience unique characteristics throughout the winter when cold spells alternate with warming Chinook winds to create rare but interesting opportunities for eclectic, recreational options. The aberration is NOT an event which can be planned. The magic occurs in the perfect, spontaneous balance of privacy, pace, physical endeavor and temperature with warm, reflected sun on snow in refreshing, cool air. The amount of clothing necessary may be reduced to the point where winter sport can be enjoyed scantily clad with the exception of sturdy boots, snowshoes or skis, and very serious eye protection. Perfect conditions can provide for a very liberating and memorable experience. It must be private. It is not for everyone.
The day begins normally with appropriately layered clothing for the conditions of the day and a small daypack containing food, drink, an emergency kit, toiletry kit, first aid supplies and space to contain, or hang, some or all of the clothing you are wearing.
It is wise to know the following two emergency signals.
Sunscreen is very important. Application must be swift. Body spots which remain protected from sun do not need sunscreen. I am just saying. Partners can practise at home to apply sunscreen on each others hard-to-reach areas. If you discover, while trying to do this in under a minute, you end up in a tangled heap of undisciplined depravity, you are good to go for summer, but insufficiently disciplined for winter.
More practice is required.
Men who measure a good portion of their self worth by the size of their phallic endowment should be forewarned said member is likely to resemble a short stack of quarters. This shrinkage is a good thing because snowshoeing and backcountry skiing can generate a lot of full body movement and the alternative is a distracting, non-rhythmic, inner thigh slapping sound which is distracting and may reduce the magic of the overall experience.
Although you have found a private, secluded and sunny area, there could be aircraft passing overhead which may be carrying parks safety staff or sightseeing tours. They communicate by radio. For some unknown, deep-seated, psychological reason, perfectly normal people seem to experience a more elevated sense of freedom and uninhibited abandon while skiing or snowshoeing in the buff. If an aircraft passes overhead, many outdoor aficionados feel the irresistible need to toss nipples skyward into the breeze, arms flung high and wide, with an accompanying celebratory yell, (often ‘YAHOO’ in these here parts). This is a healthy, liberating and therapeutic outburst but…….
There are two important factors which could be subject to criticism. First, it is possible there is an aircraft overhead where, momentarily, no-one onboard may be paying close attention to where the aircraft is going. Second, a bold, uninhibited and enthusiastic signal, for requiring emergency assistance, has just been issued. If the aircraft is a patrolling parks safety helicopter, they will feel a need and an obligation to land and provide assistance. The mental stress placed on an aircrew can only be imagined. Do we land? Do we not land? We really want to land. We know we should not land??
This stressful enigma can be resolved by flinging one arm in the air and keeping the other arm pointed towards the ground. This is the ‘No assistance required’ signal which, at least, allows the pilot the option of looking where the aircraft is headed. All the other signals and/or gyrations you are considering are likely inappropriate.
It is important to avoid the creation of mental visuals while reading this post. Perhaps it would have been wise to mention this sooner.
Au naturel, Spring, downhill skiing is popular in warm weather, perhaps more on the West Coast in the Cascade Range, but also in the Rocky Mountain Range. The following popular Valhalla video from Sweetgrass Productions, and publicly accessible on Vimeo, provides graphic evidence of the adventure opportunities. Adult content. The music is great. Crank up the volume! Dance!
The recreation featured in this post is for skilled and experienced backcountry people. It is not a beginner sport. A better than average sense of wilderness savvy must be combined with common sense and a broad base of backcountry knowledge and experience. The natural conditions required to render these experiences possible are random and dynamic. Weather in the mountains, particularly at higher elevations, can change abruptly. Unbelievably rapid! The ability to read weather and respond quickly is very important. It is wise to be prepared for any situation, any time.
One purpose of this post is to use real information to teach the basic emergency signals in a way which will not soon be forgotten and to make people aware of special, optional opportunity in the backcountry when all the forces of nature come together in perfect harmony. If you did not find any humor in this post, it may be wise to avoid alpine adventure completely because if there are any essential qualities a person must possess to survive in the backcountry, they are the ability to maintain a positive attitude and a sense of humor at all times.
Have fun out there and stay safe. Keep your inner child alive. After a nearly 5-month-long medical hiatus, I look forward to joining you soon. Nudge. Nudge. Wink. Wink.