Published in 1925 as part of the short story collection In Our Time, "Cross Country Snow" is the story of a young man coming to terms with the responsibilities of marriage and his wife's pregnancy. The narrative begins with the central character, Nick Adams, skiing in the Swiss Alps with his friend George. Nick loses himself in "the rush and sudden swoop" of hurtling down the snow-covered mountain, reveling in the total freedom of "the wonderful flying, dropping sensation in his body." The two men progress down the steep slopes in cheerful competition and comfortable camaraderie, then decide to stop at an inn for a drink. The girl who brings their wine is pregnant, and Nick comments that "she's got that baby coming without being married." When George asks how he knows this, Nick replies that "no girls get married around here 'til they're knocked up." The author notes that George and Nick are happy, and "fond of each other." Enjoying to the fullest their present freedom, they look forward to "the run back home ahead of them."
George laments that he has to go back to school that evening and wistfully expresses the wish that they could continue to "just bum together." He asks Nick if Helen, his wife, is going to have a baby; when Nick responds in the affirmative, George asks if he is glad, and Nick says, "Yes. Now." Nick says that although he and Helen do not want to, they will have to go back and live in the States. George sits silently, looking at "the empty bottle and the empty glasses," and commiserates, observing, "It's hell, isn't it?" Nick, however, surprisingly replies, "No, not exactly." Even though the responsibilities of marriage and a family might be burdensome, and had been hard for him to accept initially, he has apparently come to term s with them and found that they are not so bad. As signified by the empty bottle and glasses, Nick has stepped out of the carefree world of male companionship and bonding, daring to love and marry a woman, and has found his situation to be not without its rewards.
George wonders if he and Nick will ever go skiing together again. Nick says, "We've got to," and George suggests making a promise about it. Nick, though, accepting the very real possibility that it will not happen, concludes, "There isn't any good in promising." The two friends still have this moment, however, and they leave the inn to enjoy the run home together.