10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE THIS THE BEST SKI/SNOWBOARD SEASON EVER! By Peter Kray

To quote “Game of Thrones,” “Winter is Coming,” and it’s time to get ready. Not for a super intense kingdom conquering, flesh splattering, intrigue-laced orgy of evil deeds, two-faced friends and mythological monsters—although meteorologists are calling for the “Godzilla of all El Niños!”—but for a powder plundering, super high-fiving epic of bottomless days and endless storm cycles.

With that kind of buildup, the bets are already on for this season to be legendary. Whether or not the weather shows up, here are 10 things you can do right now to make sure this is one of the best winters ever long before the snow starts to fall.

1. Have a funny pass picture contest with your friends: My all-time favorite stoke builder for the ski season is the annual pass picture contest I have with my friends. From Super Mario to Hulk Hogan, Guido Guy to Sheriff Shred, and my own present inner contest to decide if I should be Dr. Evil, Donald Trump or a Scandinavian

heavy metal rocker this year (see the contributors section), it’s like Halloween every time you get a double-take from a ticket checker. Of course, some areas are frowning on this practice of late. Maybe they forgot they’re selling fun. Maybe that means it’s time to buy a pass somewhere else.

2. Crank up the trash talk: Nothing amps up the level of expectation like using every free minute of October to openly proclaim how many days, how much vertical, how many faceshots, and how much air you expect to grab this year. Keep reminding your friends.

3. Buy new boards: They don’t have to be brand new, but at least new to you. If you’ve been avoiding rocker, bigger widths, or have missed out on all the new lightweight technology, you’ll thank yourself for getting some fresh sticks (or snowboard) to surf the deep shred Valhalla. Want to up the anticipation? Leave them leaning against your office wall until the first day you hit the hill.

4. Burn your selfie stick: Seriously, you look like you’re skiing in front of a mirror. Being on the mountain is much more fun when you put away all the low-budget reality show tools and just save every moment to your personal memory reel.

5. Book a snowcat trip to Monarch: Monarch is always fun. But it’s absolutely one of the best little ski areas in the world on El Niño years. And the snowcat hits some of Colorado’s best high angle—albeit a bit quick—vertical, with a vibe-free experience that makes you feel like a local. Also, Salida remains the frill-free ski town everywhere else was 30 years ago (that’s because it’s really a river town…Ssshhhh).

6. Make a list of five runs, tricks, or ski areas you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO HIT this year: Whether it’s a non-stop down A-Basin’s Pallavicini, first tracks on AMF at Snowmass, or making 10 turns down the face of Forever at Vail, add in a timeline of how it’s all going to happen, then make it so.

7. Take a snow safety course: Yep, this is the little public service announcement aspect of this article. That’s because everybody on the mountain keeps pushing harder and further for powder, often thinking it’s going to be three times as fun and exactly as safe as the in-bounds terrain. Yes and no. Betting wrong on an out-of-bounds line could turn 10 seconds of bliss into an eternity of nothing at all. Get smart. Go to snow school.

8. Get ready to call in Well: Sick days are for pansies. They ought to call them “Good days,” as in, “I feel too good to come to work today.” In the exploding Colorado market where jobs, houses, and untracked lines are at a premium, you need to step up your game to get what you desire. E.g., if it’s dumping on a weekday, go get it. You’re certain to get the least of the I-70 ski day onslaught (see more hints to avoid I-70 traffic on page 12), and as has been said in this column before, “every day you don’t ski, you never get back again.”

9. Hook up your buddies: Ski friends are family. There’s no better arc than that circle of snow buddies you deem worthy of sharing car rides to the ski area, frigid lift rides in the howling wind, and empty days of ecstasy when no one else is on the hill. Make plans to set the tone for a great winter by buying the first breakfast of the season, hooking them up with new vape pens, a new avy shovel, or a fine bottle of Scotch.

10. Be nice to yourself: From meeting deadlines to watching football to lazy Sunday brunches, there’s a lot that can get in the way of having a great winter. Don’t let it. Commit to getting up to the mountains on Friday, going hard at après (so you can get to bed early), and packing snacks (so you can fuel up on the chair), and you’ll thank yourself. You’ll always remember the deep days more than one hour that you spent at work.


Elevation Outdoors editor-at-large Peter Kray is the author of The God of Skiing. The book has been called “the greatest ski novel of all time.” You can buy it here: bit.ly/godofskiing