sunrise surf

“HURRY UP DUMBASS, TRAINS LEAVING”, I hear from out front.  I sacrifice brushing my teeth to slap on some sunscreen and start running through the mental checklist of things I need… surfboard, um, uuummmmm… Maybe a bar of wax?  My anti-earlybird state of mind is flushed away by happiness and serenity, and I stroll out to our haggard but beautiful ’94 Ford Explorer with a smile on my face. Let’s go surfing.

A few days and about a dozen surf sessions later, I sit in the SASS office discussing what to bring to Argentina with an excited client.  “Will I need to bring an AT setup?” he asks.  “Well that depends”, I respond, “do you have skins cut already?  You’ll definitely be going into the backcountry with that setup, do you plan on bringing a beacon?  Shovel?  Probe?”  The list goes on…

BCA gear

I hang up the phone and look over at the surfboards sitting on the wall, starting to draw comparisons to the two things I’m most passionate about:  skiing and surfing.  On one hand, you’ve got a sport that relies on you carrying anywhere from 10 to 30 (or more) pieces of equipment.  From base layers to inclinometers, there’s no getting around skiing and snowboarding being incredibly gear-heavy.  Then on the other hand, there’s surfing: a sport where in many areas, you grab just your board and head out the door.  Sure, some climates make multi-piece wetsuits a necessity, but with a hooded winter suit, gloves and booties, that’s another three items to throw in the car.  THREE.  I have more than three buckles on each one of my ski boots…

So why do we do it?  Why do us adrenaline junkies run out the door with just our boards and send an all-day surf mission, then succumb to an hour of prep before AND after a day out in the backcountry?  I can think of two reasons.  First, there’s the ritual.  Packing our backpacks and dialing in the micro-adjustments on our ski boots give us time to think about what the day will bring, and more importantly, time to get amped up.  Nothing beats that perfect mix of nervousness and excitement as you leave the house at 5 am to go for a painstaking tour.  Second, there’s the value of the contrast.  Spending so much time preparing for days on snow makes us appreciate the simplicity of a sport like surfing.  And being able to balance two sports that have such drastically different attributes creates a unique dynamic.  A dynamic that’s hard to find elsewhere.

latin yellow

So while my early morning wake up calls may not be the most pleasant, I’m still able to start my day with ease, knowing that it’ll be five minutes before I’m in the water, rather than an hour and a half until I’m on the snow.   And the next time you’re struggling to change the batteries for your beacon at 6 am, keep in mind those sports that require next to nothing, and appreciate ritual you’re taking part in.