Today is a lazy day, a breakfast of fresh bread and homemade jams rolling into a midday stroll up high around the hillside rolling into a rather curious revelation that backcountry and freestyle mean the opposites here, only not really, truly inverted.
Alpine backcountry is Rocky Mountain freestyle which is not Swiss backcountry but kinda sorta, and by the end of this debate with Thibault and Quentin, one where I admit being utterly confused by this flip flop of terms and by people telling me that park skis are backcountry here and wide powder skis freestyle, and well, frankly, I see that I wasn’t mishearing, it’s a matter of semantics.
Because, the bottom line is that the whole approach to snow riding and what constitutes off limits and pistes and what not is simply untranslatable from one continent to the next, which, I think, is part geography, part culture. The tree line in Europe falls low and the one in the Americas falls high and the Rockies are older than the Alps, and when all of that gets jumbled together, you get a whole lot less big mountain possibilities there than here, or, at least, that’s what the die hard Swiss mountaineers tell me.
And, then the culture comes in, which, I think literally translates the Anglo term freeride to mean riding freely anywhere and backcountry to mean building kickers back in the country. All very logical indeed, except that for me, backcountry means off piste, like, skiing out of ski area boundary, hoofing it on skins, and freeskiers and riders tend to be park experts, tricksters, hucksters, hipsters, you name it.
Henceforth, to quell a raging debate with my cousin Quentin, it turns out we might both simply be right–or wrong, depending on how you look at it–and that the bottom line is that these terms are inherently incomparable because the backcountry is a place and freeskiing is a manner of riding.
So, there, and it’s high time for this stroll to roll into lunch of endive salad and more baguette and cheese and dried meats and Sylvie’s homemade apple pie.
McLovin’ it, only a bazillion times better.