/, Saying/No friends on a powder day

Remember: there are no friends on a powder day

Riding with friends is great, but if it’s dumping you must follow your inner Yeti and remember this sacred commandment of the ski bum: there are no friends on a powder day.

As any powder hound will tell you, if you wait for your friends to get their shit together in the morning, the trails will all be tracked out by the time you get your posse rounded up. Fresh pow is a perishable commodity!

No friends on powder days

Practicing the proverb on a deep day at Winter Park, Colorado. Photo: Mitch Tobin

I love my friends and there’s certainly nothing wrong with skiing or snowboarding in a group on a powder day. But the adage does capture some mountain wisdom. Powder days often mean slow roads, big traffic delays, long lines, and other obstacles, all of which conspire against a wolfpack converging.

If you wait for your friends to show up, get dressed, put on their boots, buy their ski pass, go to the bathroom, get a snack, readjust their boots, go back to the car — the powder day may be over before it starts!

Source of no friends on powder days?

I’m an impatient introvert, so I was sold on this saw the moment I heard it, but the saying is a little standoffish.

Does anyone know the origin of this fine phrase? I’ve searched far and wide on the internet and haven’t found any entries on the etymology.

One variant of the saying is “there’s no waiting for friends on a powder day,” as shown in the image below I found on Pinterest:

Source: Pinterest, via darntough.com (?)

Source: Pinterest, via darntough.com (?)

Another proverb that stresses putting one’s sport before one’s personal life is “no sex before game day.” Although some teams, including many in World Cup soccer, abide by this motto, it’s apparently an old wives’ tale that sex diminishes athletic performance.

I see “no friends on a powder day” as a sort alpine version of “the early bird catches the worm.” There’s an implication that sleeping in and dilly dallying in the morning will deprive you of the prize, be it a face shot or an invertebrate.

SnowSlang.com is an illustrated glossary of skiing terms and snowboarding slang. Deepen your knowledge and love for snow sports by opting-in for our email newsletter, subscribing to our RSS feed, and connecting with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.

By |2017-01-06T09:24:09+00:00May 29th, 2016|Culture, Saying|4 Comments

About the Author:

Mitch Tobin, the editor of SnowSlang.com, is a communications consultant, multimedia storyteller, and avid skier/snowboarder. After working as a reporter at the Napa Valley Register, Tucson Citizen, and Arizona Daily Star, Mitch was communications director at California Environmental Associates and then started Sea to Snow LLC to provide consulting services to a variety of clients. He graduated from Yale with a bachelor’s in Ethics, Politics and Economics and earned a master’s in political science from U.C. Berkeley. Follow Mitch on Twitter @mitchtobin


  1. Alex S January 6, 2017 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Great article! Especially nowadays when there are so many people that only come out on powder days. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE fresh snow, but I enjoy no lift lines more. Lapping the crap out of runs when no one is there is a thing I don’t think people really get anymore,

    • Mitch Tobin January 6, 2017 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Agreed. It’s a madhouse here in Colorado on big pow days, and it’s one of the things motivating me to explore backcountry skiing. Too many snow snobs out there: any day is a good one to ski, even on a groomer with crappy man-made snow!

  2. John November 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    I completely understand the sentiment of the this saying. Back when I skied on long, thin skis, I never got into powder much. Then, a few years ago, I got some Soul 7s and I finally understood what all the powder fuss was about. Bobbing and bouncing on soft powder between trees, heck even down through steep moguls, is a feeling like no other. As the author observed, with the crowds that powder attracts, most runs are tracked out by noon if not sooner – even on week days. That means you have a very narrow window of opportunity to experience the glory of fresh powder. Now what happens when you’re with a) someone who skis at a significantly lower level then yourself, b) someone who needs to go to the bathroom frequently, c) someone who wants to start with a couple of runs on a green slope, d) someone who needs to go in to warm up every second run… You get the point. You can either sigh a LOT and grin and bear it, or you can excuse yourself and tell your friend(s) that you’ll meet them after lunch – or maybe at the car at 4:00 – it kind of depends. If it’s one of those days where it pukes snow all day, it’s probably best just to go your own way till the bitter end! If your friendship isn’t strong enough to survive a powder day, well, there will always be other friends!

    • Mitch Tobin November 6, 2017 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      Well put! I’m also a big fan of the Soul 7s and love how they perform in the pow. I’m about to start riding on my second pair.

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