I have the ugliest jacket. Well, maybe not the ugliest jacket, but I'm sure once "jackets that repel the eye" becomes an Olympic event, I could be a contender.
This jacket I speak of isn't "WKRP sport jacket" ugly or "Michael Jackson leather" ugly... no, my particular treasure is "ski jacket" ugly.
Like all fashions that have had their day, my jacket wasn't always hideous. In fact, 'back in the day' it was a one of a kind treasure. Now, when I say 'back in the day' I'm talking about is the 80's when neon colours ruled the slopes and snowboarding was something that only skaters knew about. It was a great time; no one knew what they were doing. It was a time when you were immediately friends with anyone else silly enough to have Sorrels and duct tape strapped onto a glorified skateboard with edges.
So you can imagine the excitement when while shopping for a new jacket, I came upon this eye-catching item. Sure, it looked like a ski jacket... puffy with some green neon. But there on the patch was a snowboarder! Today, the jacket is covered in felt marker scribbles and the Sun Ice logo was long ago altered to say "unic". But the first person to ever put pen to my jacket was none other than Craig 'Burton Air' Kelly.
Craig Kelly was, and will continue to be, my only snowboarding hero. He was also one of the unlucky folks who didn't survive last week's devastating avalanche near Revelstoke. Wearing his autograph on my back 200 days a year, I quickly realized that you either didn't know who he was or you agreed he was the best. Pioneer, visionary, talented ... Craig will forever be known as the first professional snowboarder that brought style to the sport. But his heart was in the bottomless backcountry and true to the nice guy trait, he followed his heart.
Could it have been prevented? Well, last year the Campbell government was criticized by the Avalanche Association, Justin Trudeau and others when they axed the public avalanche warning system. Thus making Canada the only country in the world that promotes mountain tourism without a publicly-funded avalanche forecasting system. For once though, it appears that this tragedy really was just a horrible accident and not another death we can trace back to tax cuts.
In life, anything worth doing involves a risk. As with any margin of error, the odds get worse the longer you do it. It's ugly math that all backcountry enthusiasts are aware of but few are deterred by.
To some the risk may seem foolish. Even to those who have tasted the sweet nectar of the sport, death is too high a price to pay for carelessness. But to those who are careful, and have experienced the life-changing/mind-blowing/insurmountable pleasure of carving turn after turn in untouched, bottomless powder...
If it's your time to go, you may as well die by touching god. It sure beats falling in the tub.