The Coast Mountains’ massive vertical relief have caused a major shift in my previously clean cut experiences of seasonal change.
I used to have one season’s gear active at once: the bike in storage when the skis were tuned, then skis locked away with my bike’s chain greased. However, last week in my adopted home of Whistler, I experienced all of the seasons in a single 48 hour period. I skied powder, then powdery slush, and after a short drive I was flying over warm moist dirt listening to the freewheel ratchet in the wind.
I shouldn’t be so surprised to find my Albertan experience of the seasons to be inapplicable elsewhere. After all, cold never leaves entirely, winter simply spends it’s summers down south, as the two identities of mother nature carry out the yearly dance back and forth across the equator.
The vertical relief of the Coast Mountains, like latitude, determine which face of mother nature you see. A conundrum of every coast mountain outdoorsman fights through with when asked ‘What were the conditions like?’
Last summer was the most obvious of years to see these differences in perspectives on seasons. In late august I worked with Sarah Leishman and Katrina Strand in the alpine surrounding Whistler. Months after the lifts last turned for skiers we found snow under our tires traversing leftovers of La Nina’s masterful displays of winter.