Today was a day I will remember for the rest of my life. It wasn’t about the skiing or the hiking...it was about a friend named Dan. I met Dan in Moab, UT four years ago when I was a raft guide. Dan was a fellow guide at the company I worked for. He was one of my senior guides so he’d been with the company for a while. Dan was also the bartender at our local watering hole. He was a little rough around the edges and a bit hefty of a brute, but his sarcastic grin and knowledge of the area was a gift to us newbies. Dan and I did a few trips together and each was a blast. I saw Dan every year after my guiding experience when I would cruise down to Moab in the spring for a little desert solitude. Each time it was like the clock had never ticked a second. Drinks, laughs, cookouts and the desert.
Dan took his life a few days ago. I got a call from my friend Jesse, who is a long time friend of Dan’s. It was 6:30 am and when I saw Jesse was calling I knew something was wrong. I answered the phone “What happened” He told me the short story. I was devastated. My Uncle Alan had taken his life in April of 2007 and it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with what happened. Jesse asked me if I wanted to make the four hour journey to Moab to go to Dan’s wake. I knew that I couldn’t go. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I new that it would really throw me for a loop.
Instead, I decided to honor Dan’s death with a little ski tour. It was Dan’s day and I knew that if I couldn’t go to his funeral that I had to do something to honor him. I asked my brother Chris if he wanted to tag along. We had experienced this not too long ago and he knew what I was feeling. So off we went.
It was a five degree day in Alta today, but we didn’t care. It was overcast and the wind was howling, but again we didn’t care. It was Dan’s day and we were determined to get up to Wolverine Circe and ski. We started up the boot pack and instantly felt a warming as our body temperatures started rising. Zig Zagging up the booter we finally arrived at the top. After a few minutes of enjoying the view and thinking about Dan I dropped into a line that I had never skied before. It was full of exposure and a bit wind loaded but everything came out OK as I skied out the apron. My brother tried to get a photo, but it was too windy and cold for the camera to focus. Chris came down a nice open chute to the apron and ripped a bunch of GS turns on his 130’s. After that we decided to skin up to the top of Patsey Marley (it’s the name of a mountain just East of Alta) and ski the nice open pow field down to the cat track and onward home. Patsey was wonderful. Deep and a bit wind loaded, but safe. It gets skied quite a bit and Alta Patrol does bomb it. We arrived at the bottom and our little excursion came to an end. I had to work at the Deep Powder House tuning skis and I was already a half hour late. I went on down to work and before passing through the heavy red metal door, took a second to look back on the day.
I missed Dan already. I will never see him again. I miss Alan too and it makes me sad to think about where they were at in life. I realized that I have to go out and do the things that really make me happy and enjoy it with the people that I love the most. I wish I could bring them back but as long as I know that they are with me on my journey then I will honor them in the best way I know possible.
My brother on the booter up to Wolverine Cirque
on the booter
Almost to the top
My brother almost to the top with Sunset Peak in the background
Wolverine Cirque from the bottomPulling a skin off the Mothership getting ready to drop into Patsey Marley
Me skiing the open pow fields on Patsey