“If a battle cannot be won, do not fight it.”
- Sun Tzu
Last Friday there were a lot of couples heading up the mountain together for some Valentine’s Day ride time.
Having your special someone next to you on the chairlift to hug and high five at the bottom of the run can be the pinnacle of a relationship. Whistler is home to many couples that have built strong and lasting relationships on the foundation of recreation.
But it's not always as simple as spending quality time with your loved one while enjoying a shred. On the mountain, things can suddenly — and catastrophically — take a turn for the worst and lead to near-breakups.
“Why didn't you wait for me? You never wait for me!” is an all too common phrase heard in lift lines.
“Why the #%@! did you bring me here?” is another you'll occasionally come across as you slide towards the entrance of a double black run with a couple stalled at the top.
When there is a disparity in ability levels within couples, incorrect assumptions can easily be made on both sides. Is your partner ready for the terrain that is currently making them freeze up in fear? Did you stop in an obvious place to let them catch up, or was that feature in front of you just begging to be hit with speed? Maybe your darling overestimated both their ability and confidence themselves and asked to go there.
When you are skiing or snowboarding with a group of various speeds and ability levels, it's easy to just peace out and go shred. However, do that when skiing with your significant other and you may be peacing out for good.
Many a man — and some ladies — have learned this lesson the hard way. If it’s a deep day and everyone has powder fever, it may not be the best time to see if your partner is up for the challenge of keeping up with you and your buddies. Choosing a day with better visibility and less FOMO of powder might be a better choice.
The Whistler Blackcomb ski school came up with a clever marketing campaign a couple of years ago, leaving signs at lift unload ramps that read “ski school: saving relationships one lesson at a time.”
Everyone knows that teaching your partner how to ski or snowboard — despite the best intentions — can end in fits of frustration with no one talking to each other. In the resort, that's usually as consequential as it gets. But in the backcountry, it can amount to real danger.
I've seen couples in full arguments on the skin track, which besides ruining both their days, can lead to flawed decisions. Communication is key when travelling in avalanche terrain and if you can't discuss decisions together, you run the risk of exposing hazards you didn't see because you were preoccupied.
There are plenty of days in the season. Choose your battles wisely.
Vince Shuley has learned over his 31 years that patience is a virtue. For questions, comments or suggestions to The Outsider email email@example.com or Twitter @vinceshuley