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A documentary I watched on impressionist artists explained how a shadow in the snow is never black, but full of vibrant colour – the combination of ambient light reflected from snow and the warm tones of the sun create blues and violets behind a figure. Monet was among these.
Fast forward five months and I found myself advancing toward Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona mountains in Queenstown, New Zealand. The snow fallen over the monumental peaks had the ability to transform from a large white sheet rolling over hills against a blue sky, to tiny intricate patterns of movement with a simple gust of wind picking up the individual particles and transporting, them like a whirlwind, through valleys light as a feather. The shadows, patterns and movement created, had the odd ability to completely alter your perception of depth. The crisp air brushed across your face forcing your pupils to dilate in elation as all senses simultaneously heightened.
Snowboarding for the first time was exhilarating. Strapping into the bindings, the odd sensation of minimal resistance over the morning ice on the beginner’s hill, adjusting your centre of gravity and feeling your way down unexplored territory over the mountains, with the smallest bump in the snow or a person disrupting the flow causing a crash or collision. As the days progressed, so to did our skills. Wearing our bruises proudly, like battle scars, we took on bigger and bolder runs with increased pace and less thought of technique. For the first time, you were able to absorb the scenic views of New Zealand’s majestic South Island and absorb the whole atmosphere. The ability to take different tracks and links to different lifts and see different angles created a sense of adventure and discovery that was addictive. To encounter the snows continually evolving properties from morning ice to afternoon slush or afternoon blizzard to thick fresh powder added to the infatuation.
Whilst the sun passed overhead as the days progressed, like the impressionists, we witnessed the vibrant shadows of the mountain change angle beneath our boards and ski’s recharging the ambience of all perceiving its’ splendour.