One of my favorite words to use, when it can actually be used in context, is ‘purchase.’ Not as in making a purchase at a store; as in finding that sweet spot when you finally get a foothold or handhold.
“She was in a precarious unbalanced position when her ice axe finally found purchase in the snow.”
“Lugging the grocery bags felt agonizing as he slipped and slid across the muddy yard, but then his foot found purchase on a patch of solid soil and he lunged forward to the dry shelter of the porch.”
Our skis find purchase when there is just enough friction against the snow to make those beautiful turns. Our fingers find purchase when they’re searching for a loose spot in the plastic packaging around a box to be able to tear away the plastic. Aside from the physical, it’s also possible to find purchase in the mind: getting a new concept firmly rooted in the brain, or gaining a foothold in a debate or argument.
I notice each of these examples involves the finding of purchase. Implying that it’s not immediately obvious where or even whether the point of engagement exists. So there may be some trial and error or other exploratory activity involved to find purchase.
And that hints there is a brief moment of excitement once it is found. When we find purchase, we are once again grounded, positioned to take the next step, ready to move forward. Finding purchase creates a small feeling of relief, even celebration. No wonder people like skiing!