Trying to help dig a snow cave during a blizzard a couple of months ago (during that training course) really made an impression on me. I realised that although handy at times, regular sunglasses can be seriously out of their depth in some conditions. For much of the weekend it was difficult to choose between being blind from perpetually fogged up glasses (thanks to warm breath coming up the balaclava) or being blind from a stinging and freezing wind in my eyes. In the end I guess it was fortunate that we were digging the cave about 30 metres from the club lodge, so it didn’t really matter.
It’s true that we were there on a weekend that was noted for its unusually severe weather, and as we were sipped hot chocolate in our toasty lodge, about 2,000 skiers were being hastily evacuated from the mountain. Perhaps I’ll never experience that kind of thing again, but one thing I learned was that the people with proper goggles protecting their faces were a whole lot better off than people like me who’d decided to try and put off getting any. It inspired me to buy some proper snow goggles before my next alpine trip, primarily for a safety thing I suppose, just in case. This will probably be a few weeks away, but I thought I’d try to go shopping now before all the stock’s gone, since it’s getting towards the end of the ski season.
And that’s partly it, I guess. They’re virtually all aimed at skiers and snowboarders, where fashion seems to be something that some people take seriously. Or, at least, the retail displays are designed that way. I was fascinated when I walked into a couple of ski shops and the displays were designed so the only way to differentiate between products was the differing colours and patterns. It wasn’t long before I started getting a little frustrated, though. I’ve never done any skiing or snowboarding before and I’ve never owned any real goggles, and the presentation made it difficult to figure out what the functional differences actually were, let alone choose anything based on features.
I’m not used to this. Lots of people criss-cross between tramping and skiing/snowboarding, but the stereotypical fashion goals, or lack of them, tend to be quite different. I think I’m one of those people who has trouble adjusting. At the very least, I’ve never heard of a recreational skier coming home after several long days of generating sweat and not only being proud that they didn’t need to change their underpants for three whole days, but contemplating if they can possibly cut down on weight to be carried in future because of it.
In the end, I was able to scribble down a few brand names and models, and I came home to research it. Even when I went back into town yesterday and today to have another look at some models, I was asked several times if I’d already been “up to the mountain” yet, which I suppose means Ruapehu. I guess they assumed I wanted them for skiing, which is a fair enough assumption. Maybe I’ll use them for that one day, but I received the occasional blank stares or surprise when I explained that I actually wanted them for alpine tramping.
I have some snazzy looking goggles now, and I went for the fashion choice that suits me best. It feels great to know that someone like me can still look hip and groovy when I scale a slope with an ice axe, crampons, and fashionable goggles. I don’t know for sure if they’ll work as I hope they will, but one thing I learned was that functionality is only a secondary concern with these things.
It’s likely to be a few weeks before I get a chance to test it out properly, but I’m thinking of wearing them to Kapiti Island next weekend, or possibly to work tomorrow.