Ode to Spring

Ode to Spring

WORDS • DONNY O’NEILL | PHOTO • NIC ALEGRE

The change of season arrives without hurry,
As does my elation for spring’s kiss;
It builds over months and many a snow flurry,
Through stormy, frozen laps of powder bliss;
All winter long I gaze, chin to the sky,
At craggy peaks enveloped in white;
Fantastic visions and daydreams fill my head,
Of steep descents from mountains on high,
Over velvet slopes touched by first light;
I count down to winter’s climax, ahead.

The vernal revolution has arrived,
Rivers run wild with torrent snowmelt,
Green color sprouts in lower forests revived
And the warm zephyr is once more felt;
But high in the alpine, snow holds on tight,
Glued to north faces of mountains so tall,
In frozen floods between corridors of rock,
A gorgeous reminder of mid-winter’s might;
Over dirt trail and skin track, I answer its call
To etch my sketch on white slopes of chalk;

I wake before dawn and slip on my boots,
Shoulder my pack and onward I trek
In pursuit of a one thousand-foot chute,
Among its sheer size I am but a speck;
It exists out of sight, above the clouds,
Molded by hands of some celestial being
And filled in by winter’s frozen onslaught;
I move through silent pines, devoid of crowds,
Ascending to an Eden of spring skiing;
I crest the treeline and my breath is caught.

Light beams flood the Earth in a burning glow,
Painting my icy treasure in sparkling gold;
There it lies: a vast field, blanketed in snow,
The final approach is set to unfold;
I lay my pack down to unstrap my skis,
Skins I pull out and stick to their bases,
My toes I guide into dual-toothed jaws,
Off I go, skinning with the gentle breeze,
Watching day’s first light touch hidden spaces;
I reach the apron, glance up and pause.

My keen eyes scan the hanging slope above,
Once fickle, plagued by tension and stress,
Its layered snow now bonded with love,
Giving safe passage, so upward I press,
Advancing by switchback, a zig-zagging line,
Until the pitch steepens too much to tour;
To the pack go my skis, crampons on my feet,
Up I climb the near-vertical incline,
Through a rocky threshold, drawn by the allure,
Of that steep skiing fruit, its taste so sweet.

One step, two step, with heavy breath I trudge,
Sandwiched between raised walls of rock,
Where a single slip, wrong step or misjudge
Could end with the punch of life’s clock;
But my focus is on the mountaintop
Not my perch, exposed in this icy pipe;
No, my gaze is fixed on the summit prize
And the desire to harvest spring’s crop,
For the sun is up and the corn is ripe—
Sure to inject me with the highest of highs;

At last, atop the pinnacle I stand,
Infinite views extend north, south, east, west,
Waiting below is a couloir most grand—
I inhale; my heart beats out of my chest,
I lean my ski tips into the abyss,
Jump and surrender to gravity’s pull,
My edge grabs the slope, and to my delight,
The snow is a soft and creamy surface,
With each hop, each turn my heart grows full,
Thank you, daily melt and freezing by night!

Pole plant and jump, I follow the routine
With complete focus, synapses firing
Through the granite hallway, I ski between,
One with the mountain, it’s most inspiring;
With each turn, the finish line draws closer
As the chute opens and eases its grip
Chased by curtains of sluff, I depart;
I leave a song, like some great composer,
A piece of spring skiing authorship,
This season’s concluding work of art.


Comments

comments

Upgrade Your Inbox

Don't waste time seeking out the best skiing content; we'll send it all right to you.