Epic. That is the word I can think of to describe yesterday. We woke up, my hubby and I at 5 in the morning (I am NOT a morning person, at all. Early for me is 7.) to drive up to a peak to climb up and ski down. My first experience like this. Well, we did James Peak in January, but it was pretty mellow – although long – we could skin all the way up.
We use sunscreen with quite a bit of zinc in it, as we both are incredibly prone to sunburn, and being on snow is a whole bunch of reflecting light. Thus, I look a bit on the uber pale end, no? And there's Stella, peaking in on the pic!
We had to add on an additional 1,500 feet and I’d say a mile to a mile and a half of skinning to our day because the road was so snowy we couldn’t drive up close. Finally reached the base of the peak and the real work began. If there’s anything I’ve learned this winter, it’s how to better pace myself, and it showed yesterday. Although I’m not going to get any awards for how fast we did it (all told, a 3,800+ ft climb in 3 hr 40 min), but I was able to ski down with something resembling style because I wasn’t too knackered from skinning up the damn thing, which is a major plus!
Getting off the road was an immediate stream crossing – nothing like starting the day off right, right? Well, a stream crossing is officially not hard at all when you can just ski over it! Then it was right up a damn vertical wall (no skinning here – we booted it), then on with the skins and up the gully. But I’ve learned to not throw myself into these things all out right away, because then either A) I’ll bonk horrifically or B) I won’t have the energy to ski down. So, it was slow and steady. We stopped for a drink, and I devoured my Sharkies (I could feel a bonk coming on, and after one pretty bad one, I’m a wee bit scared of my next one, although I know with what Dan and I choose to do, it’s probably inevitable), then it was slogging back up the gully. It was hot, so we shed our outers and replaced our knit caps with ball caps.
It looks more than a bit dorky, but I had to pull my skipants up to my waist because the extra padding prevents my hips from being chaffed to shreds. Functionality or fashion?
I had a momentary scare when we were side-hilling (basically skinning horizontally across the mountain instead of up it) when my skis slid, and as the snow was frozen into a sheet of ice, I skid all around before regaining control. This doesn’t sound that scary, except that if I fell, I’d be sliding uncontrollably down, down, down. A thousand feet or so. I finally got onto the tundra, and collapsed, grinning, never so glad to see dry ground. We took off the skis and began hiking on the tundra for a while, as the part of the mountain with snow on it was very steep, and solid ice.
This is the part where we were side-hilling and lost my edge. Scary shit, man.
Then we reached a scree field. Maybe the single scariest moment of my life. I think I have a thing against rock. I’m pretty comfortable on the snow, but the scree was loose, every rock was loose, it was a desperate scrabble up the mountain. Everything I grabbed moved. Everything I put my feet on slid. Rocks went careening down the mountain side. I’d turn around to watch as the rocks that had slid loose bounced out of control down, down, down, out of sight. They probably never stopped till they got to the bottom. Every time I watched that, my stomach jolted. Finally, we got to another patch of tundra, where I collapsed, gasping. It hadn’t been hard work, but it had been terrifying work. I downed about half a quart of water and another packet of Sharkies.
When I wasn’t shaking anymore, Dan said maybe we should stay away from the scree and boot it up the rest of the mountain. I didn’t care what we had to do to stay off the scree. So, it was an intense few hundred booting to the top of the mountain (I have a fear of heights, but as long as I focused on the little chiseled steps that Dan had chipped into the snow with his boots, and not down, I was good. One foot in front of the other.), and then – victory! Everywhere we looked, it was beautiful views. A panorama of beautiful mountains – even a couple of fourteeners in there, which I hope to climb and ski soon.
Booting it up. These are very, very secure steps. Somebody had been up the day before, and they were still there. Deep, perfect. Very solid. A bit further up, it was just an inch into the snow, and you had to trust that your ski boot would hold.
Almost there. This part was maybe the easiest of the whole booting. It doesn't look flat in this pic, but if sure felt flat compared to what we just made it up!
A mountain I hope to climb and ski soon with my hubby! We could see it right across from us. Like it was a challenge.
The whole fam. I love these two beings with all my might!
The love of my life. I love you sweetie!
A gift to the mountain gods: the prayer flags we left on the peak are in the background.
This pic was a feeling of epic-ness to me. Great Goddess, does that look like a massive mountain!
Done with the ski, and back at the car. Stella is hiding under the car. She says "I voted for the cold! Why did you guys let the heat come?" Sorry Stella, we voted the same way…but I guess we just can't help the weather changes. (Oh, and the tele skis! This is a fun story. So, about a month ago, my hubby was skinning up the local resort which had closed for the season, and he passed a couple of guys on their way up as well. He was singing. I think Rise Against. Anyway, this Sunday, Dan and I were at a coffee shop, and a man approaches us – he remembered my hubby from that very brief moment! We talked for a bit, mentioned we were climbing this peak, and he says "Oh, I just did that one with my friends, but my pickup got stuck and I left my skis in the car. Could you grab them?" Good ol' Nederland. Random strangers ask you to pick up their skis for them so the don't get stolen by somebody else.)
On a different note, we are going to start feeding birds! I am so stoked for this. I can't wait. Hopefully we can get a myriad of birdies! Any of you feed birds and have tips for us?