The wind whipped through my hair and my breaths puffed out in clouds off of Bubblestar Ridge. I looked to my left and right; my friends’ noses and cheeks were pink from the chilly air and faces tilting up toward the merciful warmth beaming down from the sun. As I caught my friend’s eye, we both laughed out loud, which set our shivers to shaking again… sure, standing on a ridge, preparing to drop down a fresh line isn’t all that funny, but today we were all naked—and that makes pretty much everything hilarious.
We were quite the spectacle, I’m sure, decked out in just our boots and skis, wool socks pulled up to our knees and clutching our mittens and beanies for dear life. Spending a day skiing sans the technical gear we all know and love brings an entirely new meaning to the term “free skiing.”
We’ve all heard of (and have probably taken part in) skinny dipping, streaking, naked bike riding, but it takes a true thrill seeker to bare it all on a high alpine ridge in March and drop into knee deep powder. A thrill seeker, and maybe a tinge crazy person… swooshing through the snow, wind whipping, powder spraying your face and your, um, er… I won’t go into all of the snowy details, as we’ve got to leave plenty to the imagination on this one. But let me just say that our day of “free skiing” in the mountains was brutally tame compared to the stories I’ve heard around the dinner table. At least I now have something to aspire to.
But what can I say? The Kootenays bring out the wildness in everyone and those damn Sweetgrass boys… well, they can convince their friends to do just about anything.
So, after an afternoon stripping down on the slopes, how do you top that? You crack open a frosty can of Kokanee and take a swig. And then you ski down, and I promise that skiing in clothes never felt so good, though maybe a bit constricting.
Emily Nuchols is a writer and the founder of Under Solen Media. She’s spending a few months this winter in a house with a rotating door of ski bums and steeping herself in the mountain culture of Nelson, BC. Throughout the winter, she’ll be sending us dispatches from Nelson, exploring adventures in the mountains and telling us stories from the people she meets along the way. We’re calling it The Kootenay Column.