Skiing Mount Whitney

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I used to love climbing mountains, well before I finally bought myself some backcountry ski gears… Yes, gears. Binders, skis, skins, and all the other life saving trinkets that are critical to being a responsible adventurer. I had been wanting to climb Mount Whitney for years and when the moment arrived that timing and friends could go, on a year of epic pow days, we left for the spring climb. Two of us had skis. 3 others had only snowshoes. Sad day for them.

Skiing has a place in my heart that in not different from the feel you get when you sit by a warm fire with drinks and friends. Being able to ski this mountain was like being doped up on a significant amount of contraband. While we had a long, dry approach and super heavy bags full of camp, food, crampons, skis, boots, ice axes, poles, and other necessary items, we soon hit the snow and so did our skis. With that, the skis moved with more speed and agility uphill than our snowshoeing buddies. Yes! Winning!

Anyhow, we all cruised up starting from 4,000 feet to camp at Upper Boy Scout lake 7,000 feet higher for camp. The top spot still loomed 3,500 feet higher.

There’s something about mountain ascents in the early hours of the day when all is dark except for the small trains of headlamps glowing heavenward. It reminded me that I was part of something bigger in life and yet, part of a small group of people who live for the moment.

We clipped crampons to ski boots because the snow was like Styrofoam and the angle like the side of a building, but skis were still along for the ride. We parked our skis and poles at 13,000 feet and continued up the coulior to the summit. We summitted about 11 am that day. And standing at the summit near the USGS post marker I realized one dream: a winter ascent and one that I would be able to ski down. The skiing was fast; snow was safe and I was skiing through perfect corn, riding through dreams and all the moments I live for.

Life, with all its constraints and useless blunderings, is the collective of all these moments and there is nothing better. It’s pow days and sick pow days, big mountain backcountry days, and base camps that keep my spirit alive. Go ski a big mountain.

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