How To Shred the Gnar With Steeze
In primary school, the pet rocks you brought for show-and-tell may have often been overshadowed by stories from child wankers who’d been whisked off to Aspen, Banff or St. Moritz for a week of wholesome family fun. They’d ski on-piste, wear turtle-neck sweaters and sip steaming mugs of cocoa in their cosy chalets whilst you went on shitty camping trips and got eaten by sandflies.
But these accounts of life on the slopes were incredibly misleading. Although ritzy ski resorts exist, there are plenty of hobo-worthy ones too. Places like Whistler, Park City, Lake Tahoe, Queenstown and Niseko are absolute meccas for stingy folk looking to have an avalanche of fun: skiing or boarding all day, après-skiing all night and smoking weed every second in between. Whether you live, work or just play in the snow, it really is bliss. No wonder Father Christmas is so jolly.
And don’t stress if agility and fitness aren’t exactly your jam. My sporting ability peaked in 1998 when I won my school’s swimming age champion medal at age seven. Since then it’s been a downhill slide, with noteworthy mentions including Most Intelligent Netball Player 2006, Tennis Captain of the C Team 2007 and an unofficial award for best blowjob. But this hasn’t remotely hindered my love of shredding the gnar pow, and I’ve just returned from my fourth ski trip in 18 months.
But before you go, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the ins and outs of the slopes so that you successfully make your mark as the steeziest snow bunny or bum on the mountain.
You’re in the resort cafeteria when you overhear a conversation between two males in matching $60 Carhart beanies.
Guy 1: Yo, brohannesberg – gonna be freshies up to our nips tomorrow.
Guy 2: Aw dude, I’m gonna shred the shit outta that gnar pow. So rad broseph!
Only one conclusion can be drawn from the above: anyone who legitimately talks like this needs to be pushed into a ravine. There are, however, a bunch of words to learn that you can sparingly drop into your vocab to increase your coolness.
- Après-skiing: French for getting really wasted. Ski culture demands that you start drinking Captain Morgans each day as soon as the lifts close and don’t stop until you’re unconscious.
- Carve: To make sweet turn-lines in the snow with the edge of your board or skis (while you’re riding them, not while you’re dragging them home).
- Freshies: Virgin snow (the only type of virgin you’ll ever find in a ski town).
- Gnar pow: Short for gnarly powder – new snow on the mountain so deep you need a snorkel to get through it.
- Gnar gnar pow pow: This is gnarly powder to the extreme. Term is interchangeable (i.e. pow pow gnar gnar).
- Mashing: Prior to my first stint in the snow, mashing was a term I was familiar with only in the context of pumpkins and potatoes. But in ski towns – where the male inhabitants spend the majority of their time stoned, high or drunk – it’s sadly a verb commonly used in the bedroom. If you hadn’t already guessed, it describes the motion that occurs when a boy is too off his head to get hard, so mashes his flaccid penis against your inner thigh instead. (Note: Often used in conjunction with CD or coke dick).
- Shotski: A shotski is just a ski with four shot glasses glued to it – one for each participant. Everyone has to do their shot at exactly the same time or they’ll end up dribbling all over themselves and wasting the contents. If you don’t find this a challenge, consider upgrading to a pintski.
- Snow bunny: A female babe with swag who’s killing it on the slopes – the type you’d love to be pashing, but will probably just end up mashing.
- Steezy: A combination of styling and easy used to describe the dopest threads.
- Waxing: No – not the type you do to your legs. That’s not needed in the snow, because they’ll never actually see the light of day. A regular coating of wax extends the life of your skis or board and makes it go faster. A common cry-wolf on the mountain when show-offs stop at the lip of a jump is, “Aw man – it’s my board! It needs waxing.”
Where to Ski
This is the place you will first learn to shred. Being overtaken by three year olds can get really disconcerting, but don’t lose heart – even Shaun White probably used to stack it when he got off the magic carpet. As costly as it is, getting a lesson the first day can help prevent the formation of lifelong bad habits. It may also be the start of a beautiful relationship with your instructor, or at the very least, a root. I made the mistake of being too proud to be taught, so spent my first day trying to put my skis on backwards. It wasn’t till a few weeks in that I reluctantly turned to a professional, by which point I’d already broken my tailbone falling off the lift. My disgusted French instructor (who was middle-aged and female… eurgh) told me there were five things to learn when skiing: balance, posture, edging, pressure and speed. “All you have mastered is speed,” she spat, “and that is because you are so heavy.”
If you can’t figure out the gravity and scariness of a run based on the pictorial signage, then you deserve to go sailing off a cliff and get rescued by a St Bernard. It’s simple: green circles are easy; blue squares are medium; red is hard; and once you go black, you never go back – especially if there are diamonds involved.
Unfortunately, most good park areas are located directly underneath a lift, meaning any accidents will attract the insults of riders as they sail up the mountain. After hyping the crowd up, the coolest trick to do on a snowboard is to falling leaf down to a jump, then go around it. Especially if you’re wearing a GoPro. But on a serious note, if you are Bambi on ice and are going to attempt rails or boxes by just YOLOing over them, please wear a helmet, bum pad and mouth guard unless you want to end up learning how to shred in a wheelchair.
The appeal in going off the beaten track lies in the amount of untouched powder to cut fresh tracks into, and of course the adrenalin rush that comes with running into a tree or a grizzly bear. Keep in mind that no travel insurance companies will cover you if you injure yourself in this area, so if the worst happens, you’re best off doing what a pal of mine did in Niseko: drag your sorry arse and broken legs all the way back to the path, THEN call for help. It sucks and may possibly kill you, but hey – get whacked with a $90 000 medical bill and you’re going to wish you’d died anyway.
Long Hair, Don’t Care
Girls (and boys, if you’re phallically-inclined): if you’re still hung up on your Hanson crush from the nineties, rejoice. It’s commonplace for males in ski towns to not cut their hair the whole season, and just as common for them not to wash it in this timeframe either. Fortunately though, it’s socially acceptable to cover up hair grease with a beanie in all environments, even at nightclubs and during coitus.
When on the mountain, no matter your gender, it’s also important to have your hair hanging out of your beanie at all times to maximise your attractiveness. The downside of this is that it gets soaking wet, freezes and then tends to snap off, so we advise defrosting your locks with a hand dryer prior to running a brush through them.
What to Wear
To be the steeziest on the slopes, you basically need to cross dress. Boys’ tees and hoodies should be long enough to pass as dresses – knee-length at the very least. As for girls, nine-tenths of your wardrobe should be comprised of flannelette shirts. These should be tatty, thrift-shop worthy and big enough to look like you nicked them off the snowboarding instructor you shagged the night before.
Tragically though, snow clothing is expensive as fuck, so your best bet is to befriend someone who’s sponsored and beg for their Neff cast-offs. A word of warning: no matter how many times your mum insists that Aldi is “good value”, please don’t buy their overall ski pants and Jetsons goggles. You’ll just end up looking like my good friends Kat and Toren did their first time on the slopes.
If you’re female, prepare to end up the colour, texture and fat percentage of a blancmange by the end of the season. If you’re male, it’s either that or you’ll end up a string-bean with scurvy due to hitting the bongs so hard. Although logic says, “I’m moving to a ski town – I’ll board every day and get super fit!” the reality is that one serving of mountaintop chilli-cheese fries contains 9786867 calories. You can board for the rest of your life and still won’t burn that shit off. But it doesn’t really matter, because if your clothing is baggy enough to disguise your gender, it will also hide your beer gut.
Forget everything you’ve ever learned about Ivan Milat and not getting into strange men’s vans. Hitchhiking is the most common method of travel in the snow for hobos, as obviously very few of us can afford to rent or buy our own petrol-guzzlers. Apparently you’re supposed to use an open palm when flagging down a lift as opposed to a thumb, as it shows you’re a friendly and approachable person; but really – if you drive past a raised thumb without offering its owner a lift, you’re a cunt.
My first understanding of the prevalence of weed in ski towns occurred when I was fresh off the plane in Reno and en route to Lake Tahoe in my brother’s paedo van. As is custom, he stopped to pick up a hitchhiker on the way: a wiry gentleman who looked exactly like Grandpa Jo from Rugrats. His camo gear, cheery attitude and rucksack suggested he’d been on a Boy Scout mission for the last 70 years, so I struck up a conversation about the beauty of the natural flora in the region. But it soon turned out the only plants he had any interest were those of the cannabis variety.
“What y’all doing tonight?” he brayed. “Wanna smoke some weed? I got some pure shit right here. Home grown!” He whipped a bag of green from his pocket and waved it around the car, creating an air freshener-like effect. After laughing our heads off, we received the bag as payment for the ride and dropped our new friend at his “farm”.
In some ski towns, weed is currency, weed is recreation, weed is sustenance… hell, it’s even courtship. Going rockclimbing? A pre-cliff-scaling bong will be just the ticket to fire up your lungs and get you in the cardio zone. Doing a puzzle? Why not enhance your conceptualisation of what pieces fit where with a cheeky toke or two! Riding a ski lift with a complete stranger? Get to know them better by wrapping your mouth around the same joint.
But be warned – don’t be greedy. Just because it’s decriminalised in a lot of ski towns doesn’t mean it’s completely legal, and I know a number of people who have been dragged through the courtroom for possessing just a tad too much.
Gemma Clarke is the editor-in-chief of Global Hobo. She spends her time contracting tinea in foreign countries, taking afternoon naps in her van and drinking red wine through a (bamboo) straw.