There are no such things as friends on a powder day.
This is especially true when it's the second week of the season, it's still "puking" snow from above and there's about four feet of brand-new white powder blanketing the mountains.
One thought dominates the lineups at the gondola getting to the top and being the first one to make fresh tracks. There is a palpable excitement and an impatient anticipation of what's waiting for them up above. Everybody is singularly focused.
They have been waiting for this snowfall during the long off-season spent away from the mountain and they're not willing to wait anymore.
Turn your head once or stop to put on lip balm and you soon become lost in the gondola crowds. Everyone else has already joined the stampede to get to the top.
I was reminded once again as we climbed into the gondola, there are no such things as friends on a powder day.
They weren't kidding, I thought to myself, as I sat alone on the chairlift, with all of my so-called friends about 10 chairs ahead of me. Apparently, there's no time to lollygag in lineups when there's fresh pow waiting.
At the top I could see the anguish in their faces. They looked down the mountain, covered in unmarked fresh snow, and then they looked back at me.
It was my second day on a snowboard; no need to say anymore about that.
When I caught their eyes I was startled by the complete transformation. Prior to that day, these were some of the most mellow and laid-back characters I had ever come across.
Last weekend, on the top of the mountain, they were transformed. They were intense. They were serious. They were impatient. And, more importantly, they certainly weren't waiting around for me.
I had no idea that fresh powder could have such an effect.
For the loyal few who hung around while I fell and got up and fell and got up, it must have been more painful for them then it was for me.
To be stuck on Jersey Cream when the anxious hordes rushed the Glacier Express chair as it opened, must have been excruciating.
And then to hear about it from the others later that night must have been an unbearable torment.
By all accounts, the fresh powder made for some "sick" runs on Spanky's Ladder.
By my own account, however, the fresh powder made for some soft landings but not all of the landings were cushioned by the powder.
Even 10 feet of fluffy new snow couldn't ease the blow of hitting the mountain completely out of control. Those are the falls when your head whips back into the mountain, your goggles and hat are sent flying and the wind is knocked completely out of your body.
Powder can't do anything for those falls except go down the back of your neck.
Strangely enough, they don't really hurt until much later. You catch your breath, try to figure out how you could have possibly used your heel edge while facing up the mountain and then jump back up again, because you ALMOST had it.
Its only later that the true ache seeps in.
It comes long after the last run of the day, long after the last apres beer (especially if the apres is a six-hour affair) and even after the 10-hour coma-like sleep.
And then it's true torment.
Im learning that the one true friend to have on a powder day when you're a beginner is Vitamin I.
Sure, ibuprofen can't magically repair the strained muscles but it can make you forget about them for a while.
And while it may seem tragically sad to some that ibuprofen was a good friend this weekend when others made themselves scarce, I guess they weren't the ones who were on the mountain.
They weren't the ones who can appreciate the joy of flying over powder, feeling as though you're floating through the air (neither am I at this point but like I said, it was only my second day).
It's amazing how fresh powder can change a town.