Every summer, indecently exposed to the sun’s sizzle and with winter’s last vestige all but shrivelled up, boarders and skiers take to Golden, British Columbia’s Mount 7 for one last stab at snow sliding.
“What are you guys doing?” asks our first-timer as we other five dudes strip down to nothing but our ski boots. “Did no one tell you we ski this naked?” I answer through our child-like chuckles. Abashed, he averts his eyes and gazes nervously at the dozens of people hiking the ridge below in plain sight.
“But guys, I told my parents to watch from town. They’ve got a telescope!”
“Sweet,” one of the others says. “They’re about to get the best show ever!”
Every summer, for a brief window of about five or six days, 1,200 metres above the valley floor, a special scene plays out in Golden, British Columbia. Mount 7, named for the hanging figure of snow that forms on its alpine face anytime between mid-June and mid-July, sits at the gaping divide between the Rocky Mountains and the Columbia Valley. It’s a triangular, chocolate-block of a mountain visited by thousands each summer. But it’s especially busy at this time of year, with people hiking for the view, to ski, or even just to watch.
Nobody knows why, when, or how it became common practice to bid adieu to the last slushy remnants of winter naked, but after a 14-kilometre four-by-four drive and an hour hike, it’s simply expected you’ll take your clothes off. Some do it as a random solo manifestation of local knowledge, others as a collective lark. Spectators will often chide you if you don’t— there can be up to 20 people at a time on top in peak season.
With corn spitting high up into your nether regions, and a beer or two in your belly, you make turns down a two-ski-lengths-wide strip of isothermal mush whilst avoiding the menacingly sharp shale to the left and right, as well as the precipice below, which you could conceivably roll off with enough speed. Exposing yourself to nature and your peers is rarely ever as exhilarating as this. There’s only one vague rumour of someone falling once; they didn’t tumble far, luckily, but were purportedly really uncomfortable for a while afterwards.