I'm a huge fan of Seth Godin - one of the clearest thinkers of our time. I've read his books. I've read his blog for years. I'm constantly in awe of his work, his interviews, the way he thinks about problems. He is gifted at breaking down complicated topics into simple ideas that suddenly seem obvious.
When I finally, after years, read something from Seth that was just plain wrong, I had to write about it. In his "Skiing Out of Bounds" post from September 16th, 2018, he writes:
Some people find a thrill in going under the rope and skiing on the cliffs or other terrain outside the ski area. They’ll tell you that the runs are better. But if the ski area extends the boundaries, suddenly those spots aren’t as attractive. Now, it’s the next bit that’s seductive. Because the thrill comes from the out of bounds part, not the skiing part.
Wrong. Let me convince you.
The incorrect assumption is that the quality of the skiing - both in bounds and out of bounds - is the same. But it's not, and it has nothing to do with some thrill of breaking the law.
The reason people ski out of bounds is for better quality snow and a lack of crowds - both of which evaporate the moment the terrain becomes available to the masses.
In other words, many people will go to extraordinary lengths, perhaps breaking the law, certainly risking their lives, for better quality and a unique experience - a message that seems like something I would have heard from Seth.
Skiing untracked powder is one of the great thrills of life. In fact, it is my very favorite activity in life. At a resort, even on a day when it has snowed a foot overnight, the new snow will be skied off by midday. In the backcountry (out of bounds), it lasts for days, even weeks. In bounds, you're always skiing with a mountainful of other people. It's like hiking a beautiful trail with a large tour group in front of you, and behind you. You can still have fun, but most people would rather be on that same trail alone, or only with their group of friends.
I ski in bounds at a resort 95% of the time, it's a wonderful experience. That other 5% of the time I put in the effort, hike to those untracked lines where no one else is around for miles. I do my best to mitigate the risk, and have always been rewarded with a divine and memorable experience. Backcountry skiing is skiing in the purest sense - something that fills my heart with joy, and something of which I never tire.
I emailed this article to Seth, and he generously responded:
metaphors... sometimes they're like a pebble in your foot, annoying. thanks for the kind words!
A class act.