I recently spent a lucky few days playing in snow with great friends, amidst steep cliffs and fresh powder. Since I’m still a bit of a beginner, I had more than a few tumbles, and had to talk myself out of fear and anxiety that comes with facing a downhill slope with a board strapped to my feet, and being ok with the possibility that I might fall along the way.

At first, I stuck to green runs, since the territory was unfamiliar, despite the fact that I know I can do blues. And I hit flat spots, got stuck, and fell. Once I finally got unstuck and pointed downhill building up some speed, it got so much easier. As in motorcycling, turning at speed requires less force than trying to turn while going slowly. I started to figure out how to lean my body and look where I wanted to go, and my board followed that line naturally. Falling at speed is a bit easier too - when you’re going slow, your fall slows you down very quickly, and you end up impacting whatever body part you fall on with most of your weight. Going fast, you slide and roll, and the impact is a bit more spread out. I found that most times I fell at speed I was able to get right back up and keep going.

Eventually, I got tired of trying to anticipate my entire path, and said, “Screw it, I’m going over that edge anyway. I don’t care how steep it is.” Well, it was steep. And difficult. I slid almost immediately, and floundered in powder, trying to get up and sliding even more. As I sat down to take a few breaths and try to figure out my next move, I looked around, and noticed I was not the only one in the same predicament. I realized that going back up wasn’t an option, and going down the hill on my butt wasn’t really the most dignified way of doing things. I got up on my toe side edge, so I couldn’t see the bottom of the cliff below me, only the side of the mountain, and carefully slipped my board falling leaf style across the side of the cliff. After I finally made it down, I was rewarded with some great powder, and a few more falls, but a really decent run to end the day. I also got the satisfaction that I had attempted something outside my comfort zone, and even though it wasn’t graceful, I got down that mountain, and learned not only how to navigate steep cliffs, but how to keep from chickening out when something is a bit more difficult than anticipated.

I’m about to start boarding down a new mountain next week, one that involves code, AWS, and many other things that I probably don’t even know how to do yet. As with boarding, I’m not going to get hung up on the size or steepness of that mountain - I’m going to go over that edge, carefully falling-leaf at first, and eventually carving at full speed. And it’s going to be fun!