The weather this week has been invariably sunny and hot... in the Bahamas where I am. What it was in Whistler I can only guess from the various reports I've gotten speaking to and emailing the cabal of liars I regularly call friends, or in Facebook speak, Friends. While I sip cold beer and contemplate the abandoned resort hotel Xanadu across the canal — where Howard Hughes stalked the penthouse in the decades before his death — it strikes me how much better a location Whistler is for those indulging in the rituals of Spring Break than are any of the hot spots people pretending to attend college spend the week.
Nearby the monastic enclave in which I'm diligently pursuing enlightenment, there are a couple of all-inclusive holiday hot spots. From what I can observe, these are shorebound versions of cruise ships. Those sporting wristbands seem engrossed in primitive mating rituals, staring mindlessly at their phones, applying sunscreen, refreshing their drinks, gazing longingly out at the Atlantic, checking email, wondering when the buffet begins and pooling their remaining funds to rent a jetski for a few moments of fleeting pleasure. The most pressing thing on their minds is whether they've missed something important on Facebook, whether their primitive mating rituals will be successful or whether they'll be left to their own devices, so to speak. That these activities can be undertaken with a beer, or rum drink, in hand is either a plus or minus depending on how you feel about the long- term benefits of owning a functioning liver.
By contrast, spring breakers in Whistler are busy Googling hangover remedies, deciding which mountain to attack, badgering locals to tell them where the secret kill-ya-if-I-tell-ya powder stashes are, skiing/boarding their bums off, throwing themselves wholeheartedly into après and, sometime after that, pursuing primitive mating rituals as though the future of mankind depended on their success.
Other than that, the only thing on their minds is weather.
In my many years behind a guest services counter, "What's the weather going to be like for the next few days?" is, invariably, the question most often asked.
I'm certain they wonder why I have to think about that question so long before answering.
"Biblical," frequently comes to mind, though it tends to have too much baggage in these secular times.
"Variable," while a comfortable old standby just doesn't fully grasp the magnitude of what someone from, say, Mexico City who's experiencing snow for the first time must be wondering.
"Does it really matter?" is probably too smartass. But for someone who has travelled several thousand miles and squandered next semester's student loan to come slide here, it undoubtedly comes closer to capturing their reality.
Breaking into the song from Annie about the sun coming out tomorrow just plain scares people, perhaps because I can't sing, but more likely because they can't figure out why Whistler Blackcomb lets some crazed lunatic work for them.
What can a poor boy do? The only real answer is "Beats me; whatever it is, enjoy it." That's because regardless of what the calendar says, spring in Whistler is a state of mind, not an astronomical time of year.
As a state of mind, spring works in explicable and profound ways on those who ski and board. It is the Silly Season.
In spring, vast hordes of people suddenly show up at the resort who haven't been here all season long. They bring archival skis with no shape and no girth along their incredibly long length, they clomp around in rear-entry boots not sold in this century, they ski in onesies left over from the Age of Neon and, as sure as the robins return, some of them ski in jeans and at least one with a thick European accent arrives with a monoski. Google it.
But at least they're sliding. Many who have been here all winter simply give the sport up for something as silly as golf.
And so, spring skiers, I salute you. And for you I offer Max's top 10 reasons to keep on doing what you're doing:
10. It's not golf. Say what you will, golf's still a silly game. Very few having very little fun on very much real estate. Mark Twain pegged it when he referred to golf as a fine way to ruin a perfectly good walk. Besides, golf courses are so off the sustainability-o-meter they make ski resorts seem green.
9. You get to wear fewer clothes. Spring skiing means T-shirts under fleeces, shorts under ski pants, sunglasses instead of goggles, light gloves instead of mitts. The freedom of movement — not to mention the refreshing feeling of unzipping pant legs and letting the breeze play over bare skin — is definitely worth the wait.
8. Corn snow. Unless you're such a good skier it doesn't matter, corn snow is easier to ski than fresh snow. Yeah, it ain't powder but it sure is forgiving. You can ski steeper slopes, carve faster turns and generally hit over your weight. It'll make you feel much better about your day when you strike out at Tommy's later.
7. Late season powder. You can make book on it. There will be dumps and powder days in April, maybe even May.
6. Goggle tans. Or sunglass tans, your choice. Until you take the rest of your clothes off, you'll look like you've spent lots of idle time on some exotic beach. Best not to undress in front of a mirror though.
5. Weather. There's something really satisfying about ignoring the light drizzle falling in the valley and getting up through low clouds into blazing, warm sunshine for a day's skiing. It makes you feel godlike. And the views are psychedelic. Or was that the special mushroom omelette?
4. Bikinis. Yep, sooner or later you just know you're going to see one. Hopefully, it won't be on someone who has taken a high speed fall and discovered what corn snow has in common with sandpaper.
3. The Roundhouse deck. Brunch time or early après, the views from there are impossible to beat. You can watch the gifted and the hapless slide and/or ragdoll down Glacier Bowl and Whistler Bowl, enjoy a nibble, the bright sunshine and...
2. An ice cold beer. Sure, it's refreshing during the winter, but oh baby, does it taste good in the hot sun-cool snow of spring. Après at Dusty's or the Longhorn reprise the experience once you're down.
1. No crowds. Regardless of the persuasive validity of the previous nine reasons, you'll own the mountain. Habit is a hard thing to overcome and as sure as spring follows winter, most skiers will put their boards away and do something other than what they love by the time April turns into May. Losers.