Hi, my name is Ron Betts, and I’m a ski-aholic. Luckily, my addiction hasn’t had too many adverse effects. In fact, the opposite is true. Without skiing I wouldn’t have many of the long lasting, and meaningful friendships I’ve developed, usually with fellow winter addicts.
Without skiing I might not have met the person who has become the most important relationship in my life, my lovely wife Lora. To say skiing has had an influence on my path would be the understatement of the century.
So, I thought that the best way to introduce myself to the readers of SPIN would be to take a little stroll down memory lane and share my top three ski memories— those magic days that have stood out among a lifetime of great days. Don’t get me wrong,I believe the greatest days are still in front of us, waiting to happen. With that in mind here (in no particular order) are my current top three:
#3 December 1999: This was always going to be a big winter. We were on the verge of Y2K, people didn’t know if the world was going to come to an end or not, the Prince song was coming true and we were supposed to party like it was 1999. I was working at a nameless Okanagan resort when I got late-night call from a friend to meet him, with my ski gear and a headlamp, at an undisclosed location (I may have already said too much). In any case, the plan was a midnight mission to ski an area of the mountain that was due to be opened to the public the following day. With the help of a snowmobile, which may or may not have been procured legally, we managed to put first tracks in bottomless snow, under a full moon, with a very select group of co-conspirators. As much as I don’t condone similar acts of subversive behaviour, the memory of poaching moonlight pow turns is enough to earn a spot.
#2 December 2013: My next memory also involves deep powder, good timing and great friends. By chance, I found myself at the aforementioned resort, conveniently on the day they were dropping the rope on previously closed terrain. There was a pack of rabid powder hounds waiting for the rope to drop. I was flying solo with a solid plan— hit it hard and fast, get ahead of the crowd and score freshies on all of the marquee runs. As the rope was about to drop I felt someone slide up next to me, I thought it was another skier jockeying for position so I dug in, prepared to defend my place in line at all costs. As it turned out, the intruder was an old friend. Apparently great minds think alike, so my wolf pack of one turned into a pack of two. A few more of the usual suspects were in the line and our pack quickly grew to five, all solid, all frothing.
When the rope dropped, we were off and it was on! We charged hard, no waiting, no speaking, just hooting, hollering and high fives. Whoever said there are no friends on a powder day never had a day like that.
#1 April 2008: Spring skiing can be awesome at the best of times; when you add four of your best friends, some of the best mountains on the planet and a helicopter, things quickly go to the level above awesome. That’s the scenario I found myself in a while back in Blue River, B.C. It was the end of a great guiding season and a few of us were sticking around to teach a guide’s course. We had a couple of days to kill and someone had the great idea that we should rent the helicopter for a day. We had enough heli time for about five runs, so the democratic solution was that each of us got to pick one run and we got to go first on our chosen run. We all picked big, north facing runs— the kind of terrain you dream of skiing but don’t often get to with guests. Our day finished with a previously unskied face, 40 to 50 degrees for more turns than we could count. We dedicated the run to our friend Andy Aufschnaiter and to this day the run is called “Andy’s Wall.” That day is burned into my memory forever.
Now that you know my top three, I look forward to hearing about yours. Let’s ride a chair, Sun Peaks is perfect place to have a ‘best day ever!’ and I plan on adding to my list every chance I get.