In May somewhere along the Annapurna Circuit’s long, winding, dusty road, I began to believe that after a safe and successful slaying of snow on two peaks that I had finally achieved my goals as a Himalayan mountaineer. This shouldn’t be that shocking since I have spent ten years pioneering first ascents and descents in the world’s highest range with narrow-minded focus and more than a handful of narrowly missed catastrophes blending the good times with the bad and no regrets for how we did it. This insight was forced upon me in January, when my friend Jack died in my climbing partner Jon’s arms and then I decided to take a day off from filming heli-skiing in Haines, Alaska and my friend Rob died on a routine run guiding clients. The number of passionate people I have seen meet their demise in the mountains now takes up two handfuls of digits and that is likely too close for comfort, and forces me to ponder my own fate.
SKIING GRAND TETON
On Saturday, June 16, three of our Backcountry.com team members—Andrew McLean, Chris Davenport, and myself—climbed up the Stettner/Chevy/Ford route of the Grand Teton and skied the East face for a film project with Brainfarm Cinema and The One Eyed Bird.
We each had skied the Grand before, so for this particular adventure the route was familiar ground and we could focus on the film project objectives. The weather was perfect and the conditions were excellent. With a helicopter circling above, we headed up the ice-filled couloir link-up with camera equipment and ropes dangling around us. With the additions of Camp4Collective film pros, Renan Ozturk and Jimmy Chin, and JHMG support from Brian Warren and Chris Figenshau, our team of seven moved up the climb smoothly and carefully.
Reaching the summit before midday, our crew had some time to enjoy the spectacular views and relax in the comradery that comes with sharing time in the mountains. Then, one by one, Andrew, Chris and I each dropped in from the summit block for some June corn snow down the steep, convex ramp of the 13,776ft peak. That afternoon, with the entire team safely down in the Lupine Meadows parking lot, we toasted Coronas, radiating content from a good day in the Tetons. Read more…
Great deeds are usually wrought at great risk. — Herodutus
This has been a tough season and the losses are overwhelming. Because so many friends died in the backcountry this year, it is in the spirit of discussion and education that I thought I would share more about some latest adventures.
There have been many moments of confusion and sadness. It has been a difficult process of personal internal recovery to get back out there.. but, the mountains are what move me.
In 2007, I skied the Grand Teton in WY. It was a long and exciting day, but fairly easy going. Everything fell into place and the mountain welcomed us at each pause. My ski partner Karen and I had planned the trip and took a long weekend off from work. We drove 10 hours from Telluride, arrived at 8pm, and our team left for the park at 12am. We climbed 7,000 ft, covering some miles with heavy packs. Conditions were great for climbing and for skiing so we pulled it off. It was my first time skiing in the Grand Teton National Park, and 16 hours after we started we were back in the parking lot, elated with the accomplishment of a great ski descent.
Skiing the Grand Teton along with climbing Lobuche and Ama Dablam in Nepal in 2005, were notable turning points for me because both endeavors went so smoothly. With these two successful experiences I was deeply enchanted with the big mountains and with bigger possibilities in ski mountaineering.
From my last post you might think that all it does is snow up here in the Selkirks of BritishColumbia. Well, usually it does and for most of January it sure did. Alas, last week the snow hose shifted its focus, and squinty eyes and sun burned noses returned to the mountains of BC.
With my father in law, the original owner of my backcountry ski lodge Valhalla Mountain Touring, in place as the hut keeper, I knew I needed to get out of my neck of the woods and go play in the big peaks of Rogers Pass. A quick 2.5 hour drive from home (not including the snowmachine ride to my truck and the half-hour ferry ride inland), Rogers Pass is the number one place I go to play when I have some time off. If you haven’t been, its time to change that, as it is host to some of the best road-accessed ski touring in the world, hands down.
It’s a fat season so far in south central Alaska. We’ve had relentless warm storms that are plastering the mountains with thick snow. Most of these storms are combined with winds over 100 miles per hour… while it’s grim now, the base and mid-pack are rock solid for when the good weather rolls around and the spring ski season will be huge.
Here’s a gallery with a few photos from our season so far…
Mt. Seymour one of the first places my father took me to ski — once to be exact.
Years later, when I’m short on time I find myself back at Seymour for dawn patrols. After 20 years of skiing the backcountry, it feels like I have skied every chute I could find and all the nook and crannies in between. Looking back now I have realized Seymour has kept me in shape for skiing all over the world and parts I still dream of. Sometimes the size of the mountain doesn’t matter, it’s best to just get out there, have fun and do it.
Unless you’ve been living in a deep, dark cave… You may have noticed that there is a lot of cool stuff going on out there. So, we thought it was high-time we started rounding up some of our faves each week. We call it the Osprey Round-Up… Happy Friday!
This week has been a busy one for us here at Osprey, so we figured the best way to wrap it up was to give shout-outs to some of the folks who have us inspired this week…
Welcome home to Majka Burhardt! Majka just returned from her expedition to the Lost Mountain of Mozambique where she explored the cracks and recesses of Mt. Namuli’s 700-meter cliff face, searching for new species of life. Before that, Majka spent a few weeks in Ethiopia with the great folks of imagine1day. Thanks for all of your incredible work, Majka!
Another big welcome home to Kim Havell who came home after an epic ski expedition to Antarctica. Kim had this to say about her trip to the bottom of the Earth: “We arrived to a place with no one else, with endless first descents and up to 9,000-foot peaks straight up from the ocean. This is a backcountry skier’s dream realm…” Glad you’re home safe and stoked, Kim! To read more about an Antarctic ski adventure and to check out some beautiful photos, please visit powdermag.com.
A huge congratulations from us here at Osprey to Krista Park and other Osprey Bike team members Stephen Ettinger and Chloe Woodruff who will represent the US Mountain Biking team in the 2012 Olympics!
And because the snow is falling here in Colorado, we decided to leave you with a great short video filmed in our own backyard from our friends at Felt Soul Media. Just watch. It will have you packing up your Kode and heading up to the mountain in no time.
It’s that time of year to dream… snow is on the ground, yet only enough to possibly shatter a knee cap in between turns of glee. This year, I know I’m ready for ski season when our root cellar is full.
A year ago, we moved to Holy Terror Farm to try to grow and raise all our own food, with the important exceptions of coffee, chocolate and salt. Growing all that food for winter is quite a project!
I learn new things daily…
- that you can pull up cabbage root and all, and it will keep on the shelf for months
- that celery root doesn’t taste like celery and can keep all winter
- that my beets like to sprout in the dark in storage
- that making grape jam is easy after making grape juice
- that my freshly rendered pig fat makes scrumptious pie crust and the best ever hand lotion
- that our chickens can do an egg laying revolt, or can decide to run our rooster out of our place and into our neighbors’.
- that our rome apples turn red when you cook and preserve them.
So, in short, when all of the food is preserved and ready to keep our bellies full all winter, I’m ready to SKI!
I look forward to seeing you all out there filming on some remote mountain or at one of my Rippin Chix camps with Osprey demos! Happy winter and skiing!
It started 5 years ago. The goal is to ski every month of the year, through all of the seasons.
On summer when I was climbing Rainier, I noticed skiers coming down the mountain. We had just finished slogging up
and down the standard route, upon arriving at camp Muir, there we’re skiers climbing up and skiers skiing down. Being a skier first. I thought to myself “why am I not doing that?”. At that moment it all changed and skis have become a crucial piece of gear whenever I make a trip up into the mountains.
After a solid weekend I came home to Durango and got in a couple great mountain bike rides taking advantage of the tacky singletrack and sunny days. On Wednesday the weather turned and Indian Summer gave way to winter overnight. By Thursday it was dumping and heavy snow was accumulating in the mountains. By Friday, Wolf Creek announced they would be opening Saturday the 8th of October — their earliest ever. Other resorts around the country had yet to fire up the snow guns and Wolf Creek was going to open with 44″ of goodness. John Trousdale and I rallied early and made it to the hill before the contingent of front rangers. Another 8″ of blower snow Friday night teed up truly epic conditions for any month, but off the chart conditions given the date. In the parking lot it was blustery as I pulled on the puffy and inhaled my first crisp air of the season.