September is the hardest month.
The snow from the previous season is gone, and winter hasn’t quite started yet.
Becky Nix’s string of consecutive months snowboarding was nearly shredded by September of 2008.
In the end, she rode the Snowbird tram to the top and hiked to a boulder field with remnants of slush.
“It was tiny and super gnarly. We walked back down the snowfield saying we were glad we didn’t die,” said Nix. “At least the fall colors were beautiful.”
This is what happens when you are on a streak — you’ll do just about anything to keep it going.
Nix, a 34-year-old microbiologist from Salt Lake City, just completed her 102nd consecutive month of snowboarding. Now, just over eight years in, Nix says her goal is to reach 120 consecutive monthly snowboarding trips. Ten years is a nice round number.
It all started during a casual snowboarding invitation from a fellow graduate student at the University of Colorado, Kim Ross. Ross had her own streak to maintain — already at 82 back in 2005 — and was looking for a companion for the summertime outing.
“It was August and she asked if I wanted to go skiing. The California person in me said, ‘Skiing in August? Let’s go’,” Nix said.
Nix started her own streak then and there. The rules are simple: Nix requires herself to make 14 turns for a trip to count. Hence the problem with September.
There have been fits and starts. Nix’s first monthly run was snapped after 11 months when she couldn’t make it to a slope in July of 2006.
So she started over, heading for Skyscaper Glacier in Colorado on Aug. 29, 2006, for some turns.
“I remember getting to 12 months [the first time] and thinking, ‘Too bad that I missed just one month last year. But it was OK, because I would start now’,” she said. “Once I got past two years of snowboarding [every month], it seemed like that was what I should always do. I don’t regret anything. Can’t change the past, only make the future better.”
The streak has played a role in life decisions — where to go to graduate school, where to settle down, where to plan business trips.
In September of 2007 Nix headed to La Parva, Chile, with Ross to celebrate finishing graduate school.
“We spent three weeks in Chile. It was a full-on, endless summer kind of trip,” she said.
Nix first checked off a Utah location in early January of 2008 at Snowbird. The photo caption posted on her website — www.powdersnowgasm.com — for that day reads “So much powder, I think I am going to like living in Utah!”
During a work trip to Germany in September of 2011, Nix planned a side adventure to Zermatt, Switzerland, to snowboard on another continent.
The streak has taken her to four countries, including Chile, Canada and Switzerland. She’s checked off four states: Colorado, California, Oregon and Utah.
The Beehive State leads her long list of completions, including each month of 2008 — all in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The vast majority of Nix’s checkoffs have come at Snowbird.
Picking a favorite trip, she says, is impossible. But deep powder days stand out.
Nix has met longtime friends on her monthly trips. It helps that she wears unconventional gear — a snorkel and, occasionally, a pink tutu.
“I was in the Snowboard Tram line on a powder day and there was this crazy girl with a snorkel on. I thought to myself, ‘We gotta be friends’,” said Amy Thompson.
In the eight years they have been friends, Thompson has witnessed and admired Nix’s dedication to the streak.
“She’s competitive and persistent. It takes a lot for her to do it or maybe she has just been doing it for so long that it is habit,” Thompson said. “We all ask her how long she will keep it up. She doesn’t see the end any time soon.”
Nix says she has considered what it might take to end the streak.
“Injury or pregnancy might do it,” she acknowledged.
But Thompson says her friend likely won’t give up that easily.
“She will probably find a sled or something,” Thompson said. “She’ll come up with a way to keep it going.”