Whether you are a kid, an adult or a kid at heart, keeping a ski journal is a fantastic way to honor your days spent on the mountain. You need not make a masterpiece to commemorate the special time you spend on snow. Read on for some inspiration...
It all started during that glorious winter of yore in 2010–11. I was a recent college graduate with every intention of remaining outside Utah after graduating. Cue the rapid economic downturn of 2008–09 and the harsh reality that job opportunities were nonexistent. I returned home to Utah with the idea of ski bumming on my mind—I’m sure my parents were very impressed.
The bountiful storms and endless low pressure back then meant I skied powder just about every single day. In total, it snowed over 700 inches at Alta and Snowbird that year and I racked up over 110 ski days. I wanted to keep track of every inch I skied, so I began recording each day in my planner. I took notes about where I skied, who I skied with, what rope drops I had fortuitously timed and how many inches of powder I’d skied that day. It became an unbreakable habit. (You can see what I'm currently sketching by visiting my Instagram profile @kapowder).
Over time I began to notice patterns. I’d learn when in the early season resorts tended to open terrain, which runs Ski Patrol first opened after a powder storm and consistent weeks or months when snow tended to stack up every season. The notes helped me remember each and every ski day and I can look back, even now ten years later, to remember these halcyon days of young adulthood ski bummery in vivid detail.
Over the years my ski journal practice has matured and I tend to incorporate a small sketch or watercolor alongside my notes for the day. This rewarding process has brought so much joy and presence to my skiing habit and looking back at my logs over the years brings me great happiness. It’s even more fun to revisit mountains I traveled to or ski hills I visited for the first time. I hope to share this fulfilling ski journaling practice with you and provide a few tips, ideas and suggestions along the way.
IDEAS FOR YOUR SKI JOURNAL
Just the Deets
When I first started, I would waste no time recording who, where, what, when and how the snow felt. It was a fast and basic habit that I’d quickly finish each time I returned home from skiing. It wasn’t fancy or involved but I still relish looking back through these days and it’s a relatively low effort commitment to better honor and remember your time on the snow. I would spend a maximum of five minutes after each ski day to complete my journal entry.
Fast n’ Sketchy
I began craving a little bit more from my ski journaling experience and I often spent a few minutes adding a small doodle or sketch with a detail from the day. You do not need to be a good artist to do so and it simply serves as a nice, low-stakes creative outlet. Nobody has to see your ski journal so it’s a great spot to allow yourself a judgement-free zone and a place to explore your creative side.
When traveling or visiting new mountains, grab a trail map. I like to cut them up and paste them in my journal. I take a marker and trace the progress of my day. You can even add numbers along the map and highlight outstanding runs, funny moments or memories. I did this with my day at SEE Resort in the Tyrolean Alps in Austria and I can still recall in great detail the adventures of that day and where on the map I lost and then found my cell phone in 44” of waist-deep powder.
Record a funny happening, a joke or an absurd comment you overheard during the day. The quote above is from a friend of mine named Derek as he lamented the less than ideal conditions at Kappl Resort in Austria: "You ready for Ice Death Mountain!?"
For the Strava overlords out there, record your stats for the day in a nice table with a few notes about your day.
I often record the weather in my ski journal entries. This is always the case if new snow was enjoyed. I like to keep an eye on what the weather is doing since it has such an outsized impact on the quality of skiing and it can help keep me connected to the mountain and predict how good conditions will be.
Though wicket tickets have mostly been phased out—sigh—it’s still fun to save RFID tickets and maintain a collection in your ski journal. The more time passes, the more enjoyable it is to look back and see the old tickets. I’m grateful it’s still possible to score a beautiful wicket ticket at Utah’s Beaver Mountain.
For those who aren’t inclined to sketch or draw, I’ve had great fun with a small INSTAX printer I purchased. It will print any photo off your phone in Polaroid format which can then be glued onto your pages for a dose of vivid recall. When I don’t have much time to devote to my ski journaling practice, this is a time-efficient and visually interesting substitute.
If you’re traveling with friends and have a captive audience, it can be fun to entice your friend to contribute to the journal. It will help you remember the bonds cemented and the special memories created on your trip. Dedicate an entire page and have each member of your crew contribute a fun memory, sketch, quote, run, etc. It may surprise you to discover how artistic your friends are!
A FEW TIPS FOR YOUR SKI JOURNAL
Painting With Powder - Click Here
James Niehues: The Man Behind The Maps - Click Here
Lamont Joseph White: Skiing in Color - Click Here
5 Tips From Skiing's Soul Photographer - Click Here
Skiing Coloring Pages - Click Here