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. (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.
I’ve been an Osprey employee for just a few months now, and I feel extremely fortunate to be in the position that I am for a multitude of reasons, including my ability to help non-profit organizations.
In September, I attended Paradox Sports’ Gimps on Rock in Vedauwoo, Wyoming. A brain-child of Osprey-sponsored pro climber, Timmy O’Neill, the organization was founded in order to help handicapped athletes participate in outdoor sports by providing the necessary funding, equipment and venues.
For this particular event, my goals were to be inspired by those athletes with primarily prosthetic limbs, eat delicious food, courtesy of Malcolm Daly, and help fundraise for Paradox. Fortunately, all goals were met. In particular, with help from both Evolv and Osprey, we were able to raise more than enough to pay for the entire weekend.
By far the most motivational and inspiring moment was when Paradox athlete, Tommy Carroll, climbed a crack with the use of a prosthetic leg and a knee that did not bend. Despite multiple falls, he topped out the climb — making me feel more inspired to climb myself, than in all the years I’ve been climbing.
Twenty years ago, Tommy was involved in a motorcycle accident, crushing the entire left side of his body. He was in a coma for three months, hospitalized for 15 months and had surgeries lasting up to 14 hours. To witness his climb, despite all odds, was something I’ll never forget.
Paradox is a unique organization that cannot survive without support from the outdoor sports community. Please visit their website, http://www.paradoxsports.org, and be inspired!
It has been quite some time since I last wrote, and quite some time since I was last in the U.S. The winter in Montana was a good one aside from the tragic loss of Guy Lacelle. He was one of best ice climbers world wide, not only in ability but in his pure and genuine love for the sport.
As the snows began to melt I blasted off to Costa Rica to attempt riding on the swells of the massive Pacific. We spent 7 days on the remote Peninsula de la Osa among howler monkeys and flocks of Macaw parrots. Most days I would have no more than a pair of shorts and my machete for harvesting the abundant coconuts. Mornings and evenings were for surfing, mid-day was for siestas. After 10 days of work I managed to get a flight to Cuba, a nation I have always wanted to visit. I spent a night in the city: shared a bottle of rum with 6 employees at an ice cream shop, smoked my first cuban cigar with a family who practiced afro-cuban voodoo, and caught some spectacular Cuban rhythms!
The next 4 days I was in Vinales the famous tobacco producing area that also happens to be Cuba’s epicenter for sport climbing. I passed the days climbing on the overhanging-stalactite covered walls of the Karst geological formations with motivated local, Yorobys. Climbing in these expansive overhangs requires thinking three-dimensionally. The skills needed to transfer from steep mixed rock to daggers of ice could be applied to this new-to-me style of climbing.
After Cuba it was off to Mexico to work on the Yucatan.
The whole month of June I was in the midst of the saturated air of these three nations, sweating form day one until my return to Montana. The locals I met along the way made it a memorable travel.
I will have to say that I’m happy to be back home in the cool and dry high mountain air. I got to spend 4 days in Bozeman prior to blasting down here to the Tetons to start the summer guiding season with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. Yesterday, we took 3 young kids up the classic “Guides Wall” a 5-pitch 5.8 in Cascade Canyon. Feels good to be back on the rock.