Conditions were certainly not ideal this year. Mont Tremblant, Stratton, Stowe, so much chatter I left the slopes with a headache. However, February in the new Canyons/Park City territory was a trip to remember. Great terrain on mountains like Ninety-Nine Ninety and Jupiter made for an awesome time. This winter's ski season improved in Telluride during the month of March. Accompanied by family and friends, I made the trek out the San Juans and spent my time on the slopes with an ear-to-ear grin. Check out this short video I put together of my trip, leave a comment, like and subscribe!
I also wrote a short piece that captures my experience on Bald Mountain out in Telluride. i encourage you to give it a read!
Only Palmyra Will Know
By Will Hayward
The rhythmic cacophony of rigid boots striking the loosely packed rock dominated the silence. Our breathing, exaggerated by the dry, thin air, was a raspy indication of the steep slope fighting against our every step. There was no easy way up, and no shameless way down. We gripped our skies tighter, dug our poles deeper and pushed ourselves onward.
Climbing the southeast face of Bald Mountain was no easy task. Sure, the sporadic tree cover offered protection from the harsh sun, and the boot imprints, left by those that had conquered the peak before us, provided a somewhat defined plan of attack, but at 12,000 feet above sea level, nothing is easy. The peak’s relative inaccessibility was what we were after— Bald Mountain is known by locals of Telluride, Colorado, to be one of the most enduring powder stashes in-bounds. Without question, my fellow thrill-seeker, Tripp, and I woke early, ate, assembled our gear, and made the lengthy trip across mountain to begin our ascent.
Not everybody is able to understand. For some, the risk is greater than the reward. For others, it just isn’t “worth it”. What Tripp and I understood was that the sixty minutes it would take to climb were brief in comparison to the six minutes of pure joy that would be our descent. Yet, as we slowly treaded upwards, our periodic rests came more frequently and breath was an elusive commodity. It seemed as though every time we scaled one ridge, another dominated our sightline.
I tossed my skis into the snow and fell to my knees, too exhausted to stand, although not certain I would be able to get back up. Hastily, I removed the water from my pack and drank until I found myself coughing and struggling for deep breaths. Once I had successfully cleared my throat, I looked up. This time it was not physical strain, but rather pure wonderment that took my breath away. “I think I saw this in a dream once,” Tripp whispered. As I knelt there, my eyes followed the precipitous fall lines and razor-sharp rock to the top of Palmyra peak. At an elevation of 13,050 feet, Palmyra towered over me, dominating my line of sight to the east. I began to gather my bearings and noticed the forceful wind coming from behind. I pushed myself to my feet and turned to the west, where my vista extended the 130 miles to Moab, Utah. I felt both miniscule and monstrous, somewhat frightened, but at the same time, untouchable.
Tripp and I sat peacefully. Skiers went on their way, meandering through the maze of trails far below us, all of them in complete oblivion to our presence. The wind died down, leaving us in pure silence. It was just us and the mountain. If we found ourselves in trouble, or hurt, only Palmyra, peering down on us from its steep throne of boulder and snow, would know.
We laid our skis in the snow and readied the rest of our gear. The crisp clicks of heavy boots connecting with ski bindings resounded over the wind-swept peak. We were ready. Tripp and I traversed the ridge and peered down the face of the mountain, which had so patiently awaited our arrival. This was where the work ended and pure pleasure began. This was the moment where the classroom-daydream became a pleasant, surreal reality. We began our descent and Tripp followed closely behind, two adventurers drawing intertwined strokes down the blank, white canvas. The dry, cold Colorado snow flew into our faces and sailed off the back tips of our skis and left us whooping and hollering in excitement. The 170cm long, carbon fiber planks strapped to our feet became simple accessories to our joy. There was an unimaginable beauty: In the wild mountains below the tame, blue sky; in the tangible silence; in the act of doing. We could hike high hills and take in the view. We could “ski back down to the unimaginable valley leaving no footprints.”1
The next day, we did it all again.
1 Excerpt from the poem, “For an Earth-Landing”, by Erica Jong (http://www.poemhunter.com/best-poems/erica-jong/for-an-earth-landing/)