In the Backcountry, nailing the Perfect Line might be the best run you’ll never have. Like the Holy Grail, the search for the Perfect Line can be maddeningly elusive. Just when you think you’ve skied it, a bit of doubt begins to creep in before the buzz of the last one has begun to mellow. “ Well yeah, that one was good, but what if there’s something that’s even better out there? True, today was incredible, maybe tomorrow will be even better?!” It’s thoughts like these that drive the dreams and imaginations of skiers and keep us coming back for more. Symptoms of the search include repeated years of skiing, increased anticipation of winter and difficulty in selecting just one “Best Run of My Life” from a lifetime of intense memories.
To further complicate the search, the description of the Perfect Line is always changing. It might start out as just making it down your local hill without falling, then morph into a set of peak-to-valley linked turns, then a set of peak-to-valley tracks with NO turns, then riding the same thing backwards with blind air off a cliff thrown in for good measure. Or, after years of been-there-done-that skiing, it might just be the gift of a perfect day with a close group of friends.
We’ve included four essays this year to help illustrate that point. Covering opposite ends of the spectrum, one details the first time experience of a backcountry virgin, while another describes the first descent of Mt. Hunter - “North America’s most difficult 14,000’ peak.”* In case these cause you to lose perspective on the dangers involved with the sport, we also have two avalanche accounts: one from the bottom digging out, and the other from above digging down. These inspired writings are testimony that the quest will never end, and the Perfect Lines of today will merely serve as kickers for the even better ones of tomorrow.
The Perfect Line awaits for those that go out and find it, and while it may be a lifetime quest in vain, one thing is assured: you’ll have fun in the process, meet new friends along the way and ski a hell of a lot of powder before you die.