Off-piste in the Italian Alps

The guy in this picture was one of a handful of really awesome people I met during a recent trip to Pragelato-Vialattea in the Italian Alps. He was a gifted snowboarder, clearly. But he was more than that. He talked me down from the ledge (or rather up from a creek bed) when I started to kind of lose my shit after sliding into a gulley in the powdery wilderness. I felt like an animal that was stranded on a tiny island with an incoming tide or something. I felt some helpless panic creeping in, in the cold and quiet of the bed of a creek surrounded by towering snow drifts. It probably wasn’t that big of a deal. But I was just so glad he was there to coax me up to the ledge rather than off it, to help me find a foothold and carry back on enjoying the amazing December conditions of this very promising start to winter in the Alps.

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