A Hair Toque, Sunglasses and Not Another Care in the World.
In the barrage of messages that I received on my 30th birthday, one stood out above the rest:
“Welcome to your Carlsberg Years,” it read. “You can now ditch your goggles and shred in sunglasses for the rest of your life.”
I googled “Carlsberg Years” and discovered that it was a painful ad campaign by the Danish beer company to celebrate adult-ish decisions like tucking in your shirt, getting your first business card, buying your first house, drinking imported beer etc…
Nowhere did it mention letting your mountainous mane flow freely while a pair of stylish sunnies shielded your ageing eyeballs from the natural world.
The birthday message was sent by a bearded ski bum who has a decade more of experience than I do. And it’s safe to say he was taking the piss. But in spite of his sage advice, my hairdo is usually protected by a helmet and my eyes are normally shielded by a set of blasphemous goggles.
Basically, I’m taking myself way too seriously.
“Goggles are like prisons for my eyes,” says another friend of mine. He’s a ski bum sensei who’s ten years my senior. As a true purist of the sport, he doesn’t even wear sunglasses. And he’s got one of the best hair toques in the biz:
Salt, Pepper and Pow.
He’s been to The Waddington Range a few times, but the eyewear always stays at home.
“No toque, no goggles, no problem,” he reports.
That seems like solid advice to me. So sometimes in the late spring, I’ll grab my sunnies from under the seat and leave the rest of the headgear in the car. Because when you see someone in the mountains letting their follicles breathe and their eyes get a little teary, it’s impossible not to think that they’re on to something.
And it’s even more impossible to not immediately think of the word “FREEDOM”.
Of course it’s one thing to blast down groomed runs in your hair toque and sunnies, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you’re out in the backcountry. The set-up goes hand-in-hand with extended lunch breaks in the sun, soul turns down mellow terrain, telepathic navigation in whiteout conditions and romantic love affairs with the melt-freeze cycle.
In fact, it’s rumoured that after passing their exam, all ACMG Ski Guides are required to turn in every pair of goggles that they own.
It’s a way of life, man…
Lighthearted and carefree, especially if your hairdo is flapping in the breeze and you’re sportin’ a pair of fake, gas station Rae Banzzz.
Think about it hard enough and your eyes’ll start watering.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rat race for fresh lines, steep faces and rad shit that’s gonna look really, really sick on Instagram. But some days, you’re better off finding the mountain equivalent to crumbly, knee high wave that offers up juicy rewards at the expense of very little risk.
Shredding’s one of the brightest things that we have in our lives.
So it’s best approached with a pair of sunglasses.
When the experts are throwing expressions like “Persistent Weak Layer”, “Low Probability/High Consequence”, “Sudden Planar”, “Whumpfing” or even just “Considerable” into the avalanche reports, you need to ask yourself:
“Would I be comfortable ripping this in my hair toque and sunglasses?”
And if the answer’s not a hard yes, maybe it’s time to find that mushy, knee high party wave.
Something that’s best enjoyed in a pair of dirty sunglasses, and then celebrated afterwards with a luke-warm Carlsberg beer.