Breaking Murphy’s Law


Winter has a strange and unfair way of doling out her gifts. For most of us, reading the weather report often feels like looking under the tree on Christmas morning only to discover that all the big boxes have your brother’s name on them. Like a jealous child we only notice the disparity. It’s always snowing harder somewhere else and we find ourselves acutely aware of the seemingly endless gaps between storms in our own neck of the woods. I have become conditioned to rely upon two idioms when referring to snowfall: “Feast or Famine” and “The Grass is Always Greener”.

As a skier living in Colorado, I’ve become familiar with seeing coverage of record storms in BC, Washington, Utah, and anywhere else that isn’t here. The past two winters have been abysmally awful for us Coloradans, with some parts of the state reporting seasonal snowfall totals that were up to 200″ below average. For the lot of us who are here for the snow, that’s a terrifying figure. It is clear how easy it might be to fall into a deepening mire of pessimism. The memories we have of past storms are too far in the backs of our minds, obscured by time and doubt.

When it finally does snow, we attack like ravenous wolves. The beautifully blanketed winter-wonderland is torn to shreds in a matter of hours. Nothing is left but an icy, mogul-covered carcass of a resort, its bones picked clean by the droves of powder-hungry skiers. Fat from overindulgence and drunk on snow, we look forward with glassy-eyes, eagerly awaiting the next snowfall. The fortuitous storm is all but forgotten.

Lately, I’ve also been paying particularly close attention to the affect of another idiom: “What can go wrong will go wrong”. Murphy’s Law, as it’s known, operates on Man’s tendency to focus primarily upon things gone awry rather than the good that is happening around us. A useful example of this is how you might get upset when a bird shits on your head while you’re walking to the grocery store rather than being thankful for each time you’ve made it the whole way, there and back, shit-free. As storm after storm passes through Colorado with enigmatic persistence, refilling our tracks just as quickly as we make them, I’m putting forth an honest effort defy Murphy’s Law. It’s important to take note of the good fortune and fully enjoy it. Inexorably, these strong and unrelenting storms will subside, and then we’ll be back where we were a season or two ago, wondering if it will ever snow again.

Patience and gratitude are important virtues for us, the disciples of winter. We rely almost entirely upon factors completely beyond our control for the success of our sport. There is a long list of variables that must be in order to create a single, perfect powder turn. Sparing you, the reader, from a 1000-word snow-science diatribe, suffice it to say that even perfect alignment of the stars is simply inadequate. As such, we must take great care to be grateful for our good winters, specifically each memorable experience within them, and to be patient for the next when things don’t go as well as they have in the past. So smile, skiers, and enjoy the powder turns we have today. Let us keep these memories in a safe place so that we may look back upon them fondly while we wait patiently for the powder turns of tomorrow.

Words: Mark Rauschenberger
Photo 1: Loïc Tonnot

[Editor's Note: Mark Rauschenberger is a writer & skier living in Colorado. For more of his work, check out: