Route Finder: Balance, and why we come for the winter but stay for it all in the High Country
Balance can sometimes seem like a foreign concept in a place such as this. We strive to ski or ride and most of us live here in that pursuit. I moved here to ski. I believe most of the residents of the county (and our surrounding counties) can tell a similar story. For the natives, I bet their parents or grandparents can. The snows of winter brought us here, and for me, those snows of winter turn to spring corn and that’s when the mountains really shine at the next level. Then the snows melt, bringing a return to balance that mirrors normal life.
After spending about three months of the last year living in my truck, seeking adventure and summits and powder, I’ve decided to settle down and get a place of my own again. This doesn’t mean I won’t be skiing — just that I need a return to balance in my life.
Summer is an ideal time to find this balance. It’s time to work hard for the winter to come (I’ve got one job already and plan on starting a second). It’s the perfect season to spend time with the kids: go camping, fishing, climbing, biking — the list could go on and on.
Perhaps balance is normalcy? For me, a return to the adult life is what summer sun brings to the High Country.
Back in the saddle
Riding your mountain bike is fun — I have a ride planned for the morning. The trails provide myriad tests for your balance, from getting up in the saddle for that gnarly climb to a root section that throws you around, from the screaming downhill over rocky ledges to the tight switchbacks that punish those with a lack of balance.
Through biking, you definitely get it all. Jump on the trails when you can and get that green therapy — it doesn’t take long to get the heart rate going. I also love biking because you know you can squeeze it in before work or after work, or after school (once that gets started again).
Back on boulders
Bouldering the other day was another place for the balance test. The horizontal moves, like a form of vertical yoga, hone your perception of the world and how you move through it.
“You got this, get it, push, destroy, no mercy,” I was saying to a friend on the rock. “But in a kind, Zen-like way.”
They laughed, but they saw the meaning of what I was saying. Balance was what I was getting at: thrashing at the rock to make a ragged attempt at the line isn’t balance — it’s desperation. Smooth movement with flow is what we seek. We seek to be at ease in a place where we shouldn’t.
Want more? Read on for Fritz Sperry’s musing on the late-spring backcountry skiing season
Back to balance
Balance can also mean a balance due or the bank balance. Even though I lowered my life expenses by living between my truck and where friends would put me up, I still incurred the expenses of life. Summer is time to even the scales, time to put in the work to set the ledger right. Working harder means making sacrifices that, in the short-term, mean less play time, but in the long term, mean playing in powder and having the ability to sustain all that I really desire.
So whether you’re in the kitchens or on the jobsite or in the office, you have to see the big picture. Life is compromise. You weigh the sacrifices on the scale and hope they balance out. They might not for the moment in time you’re examining, but if you look at it over the years, then the scales of perception might swing to equal.
Some people are guided by the reward. They need a goal to set forth on their path. (One needs only to look at the past season for the inspiration to “giterdun.”) As the equinox has passed, the days are getting shorter and, soon enough, the winter will return. The reward lies in all those ski days to come: playing in the (hopefully) plentiful fresh snow, enjoying the company of your closest friends and family. Let this be your carrot when the stick of life and hard work is weighing you down.
The goal is balance, but balance may not be attainable by always striving for your goal. Sometimes, we just need to release the pressure valve. Like anything in life, balance takes practice. You might fail initially at attaining balance, or it might be a lifelong struggle to maintain once you have it. You might work six doubles in a row with no time to go out and play.
But the mountains will still be there when you have time, so take advantage of life’s opportunities. If you don’t respect the balance, you might never have the chance.
Fritz Sperry is a skier, author, photographer and artist who has skied extensively in the Colorado backcountry. He’s the author of: “Makingturns in the Tenmile-Mosquito Range,” and “Makingturns in Colorado’s Front Range, Vol. 1,” both available from his company, Giterdun Publishing.
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