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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

5 Reasons to Ski or Snowboard Solo

skiing aloneBy: Brooke Edwards Staggs
When we plan a day on the slopes, one of the first things we often do is enlist friends or family to come along for the ride.
Some of my best memories are of snowboarding with a group of friends, singing songs as we rode on the lift and challenging each other to hit that new jump.

Riding alone is a different experience. It can be a liberating one, though, and something I’d recommend every solid skier and snowboarder consider. Here are five reasons why.
1. You pick your path.
Some days I feel like taking it easy, carving a wide path down intermediate runs while I take in the sites. Other days I want to challenge myself, tackling that double diamond or veering into backcountry for a bit.
When you’re riding alone, you don’t have to consult with anyone. You have complete freedom to choose your routes, decide when it’s time for a hot chocolate break and leave whenever you’re ready.
snowboarding solo2. There’s no waiting around.
Speaking of hot chocolate breaks… My husband has only snowboarded a few times. While he picked it up quickly, he’s simply not a fan of the cold. That means he’s ready for a trip to the lodge to defrost and sip some cocoa after a couple of runs.
While I wouldn’t trade those snowboarding trips with my husband for anything, we’ve all been in the position of waiting for our riding partner to make a pit stop, fix a binding or make a phone call. And there’s something to be said for being able to make the most of every minute on the slopes.
3. You can meet new people.
I know what you’re thinking: “I thought this was about a day to myself?” But if you’re skiing or riding alone, there’s a good chance you’ll end up on the chairlift with a stranger at some point—especially if the resort is busy that day.
That ride can make for some awkward silences. But maybe instead you make a connection that might benefit your career. Maybe you find a new riding partner or, for you single folks out there, score a date. Or maybe you just score five or 10 minutes of uninterrupted conversation with someone you likely otherwise would have never met.
4. You can appreciate the peace
There’s nothing quite like the stillness that snow brings. After a big storm, when everything is blanketed and muffled by the snow, there’s something almost spiritual about the peace that envelops you.
It’s difficult to appreciate that tranquility when you’re skiing or snowboarding with friends, though. We fill the silence with conversation and we keep moving, not wanting to drag the group down.
The sense of peace I found by stopping to soak up the stillness during solo rides sticks with me long after I’m back in the routine of life.
5. You’ll step out of your comfort zone.
Doing anything alone, whether it be skiing or going to a restaurant, makes some people uncomfortable.
You might feel self-conscience as you wait in line for the lift, tempted to bury your face in your smartphone or crank up the music in your headphones. You might feel nervous about being on your own if you get turned around or your binding jams. You might feel bored between runs, unaccustomed to being your own companion.
If you do decide to ski or snowboard alone, be sure to let someone know your plans. Take a cell phone, a ski utility tool and consider sticking to more popular trails in the rare event you do end up in a jam.
But if you’re smart about it and open to the experience, hitting the slopes alone can help push the boundaries of your comfort zone. It can help you learn to trust your instincts, reflect and maybe even grow a bit as a person.