One of the first quotes I heard about skiing was “No friends on a powder day.” But the expression never really made sense to me. If it’s going to be one of the best days of the year, wouldn’t you want to share it with someone? Of course there have been plenty of times when my ski partners just haven’t been able to make it out to the hill at the drop of a hat just because it snowed. Sometimes they have valid reasons: employment, an exam, family in town, season-ending injury, etc. Other times, they’re just making up excuses because they’re lazy. We’ve all been there. But I believe it’s partly my responsibility as a good ski partner to make certain that my friends get outside and enjoy the powder. After skiing alone too many times over the years, I’ve come up with a few techniques to make sure that my friends will come, too. I start by thinking if I should appeal to my friend’s emotional decision making or logical decision making. Everybody is different with this, but I guarantee that one of these five responses will get you on the snow with a good friend. So if you’re getting a “NO” on the other end of the line, feel to try one of these tactics.
Great, let’s meet at 7 (a.k.a ignoring the facts)
Try acting like you didn’t hear their response. This strategy works best when your partner has trouble elaborating on precisely why they’re busy. Regardless of their reason for skipping a powder day, I recommend showing up at their house anyway, ready to go. Are they sleeping? Wake them up. Are they cooking breakfast? Speed it along. Load their skis into your car and offer them a ride to the office, but drive to the mountain. You can apologize later. If you take it to this extreme, I advise you to also call their employer and make sure their supervisor knows that they are sick that day.
I’ll bring you a breve latte (a.k.a. straight up bribery)
While coffee and espresso beverages are a good place to start, don’t be afraid to bribe with other things as well. My pro tip here is to always order your pre-powder day espresso beverage as a breve. Made with half & half instead of milk, the extra calories will help you ski longer. (Thanks to my reliable ski partner Jamie for that bit of advice.) Think about the specific reasons why your friend won’t go skiing. Did they have a late night? Bring them some gatorade and ibuprofen. Are they averse to cooking breakfast? Easy to solve. Maybe they’re short on gas money. You’re already driving! If I drive, my partner is probably buying the first round at the bar afterward, but perhaps they can choose what we drink. If you’re open to it, the possibilities with bribery are endless. I would advise against offering them first tracks on the first run, but that’s up to you.
I’m busy, too (a.k.a. the Guilt Trip)
Sometimes, when people tell me they’re busy, it comes off as a little condescending to me. Everybody is busy, but some of us prioritize time outdoors with our loved ones. My Dad always asks me, “Did you not have the time? Or did you not make the time?” I always try to make the time to ride powder with friends. The guilt trip response pushes back against their poor attitude. Still, it’s important to tread lightly. Too much guilt and they might get upset. Too little guilt and they might see right through it and hang up the phone. If you’re backcountry skiing, you can easily bring in components of avalanche safety and the need for a good ski partner. Nobody likes to let their friends down. The extreme guilt trip is to remind them that climate change will most likely destroy skiing during our lifetime and we need to enjoy the sport while it still exists. Yikes. Hard to say no to those facts.
It’s the last powder day of the year (a.k.a The Lie)
You can also lie about snow totals, quality of snow, lack of traffic, etc. Depending on the friend, you should probably be ready to sell your falsehood with lots of other lies. Turn the 10 inches that fell in 24 hours to a foot overnight. Tell your partner that the road is going to close the following day. If the skiing is good enough and you have enough fun, your partner will completely forget about your broken promises. One of my favorite lies is to tell my ski partners that we can come back early. Of course, we never do. Choosing the return time is one of the few unspoken benefits of driving to the mountain yourself. I know that once we lay tracks and get lost in those powder clouds, we’ll never want the day to end. It can be easy to forget how amazing powder skiing is and once we are reminded of it, nothing else in life seems matter for a little while.
Do you ever want to ski with me again? (a.k.a the line in the sand—or snow)
At some point in my mid-20s, I became a little tired of convincing people to have fun with me outdoors. Why was this something that I had to talk my friends into? This response is the solution to a dire situation—but it’s probably the last card in your deck, so be careful with it. Perhaps introduce a three strike method with your partners. After the third time they turn you down on a powder day, stop inviting them all together. They’ll begin to wonder. The important part to this strategy is to make sure they are aware of your new boundaries going into the upcoming season. Another element to drawing a line in the snow is public shaming. Perhaps on your fridge you have a “blacklist” of people who have said no to powder skiing with you. When your friends are visiting, you explain to them how names end up on the list. Too harsh? Maybe I’m bitter...