A little ways up we realized the boot was slipping too often so we put a mountaineering crampon on it and that helped enormously. I could slam my boot toe into the steep hillside and no matter where I placed it, the crampon would hold me in place. That gave me one less thing to worry about slipping or sinking in. But those darn outriggers still kept finding no bottom and would sink way down and provide me no platform to move up from. A couple of times that dramatic sinking caused me to fall backwards and scare my climbing partners to death. In the end I settled on a technique that was crampon on the boot plus use just one outrigger trying to be very careful to place it where the base was firm and keep my other hand on the snow to keep me low and stable. It still felt like I was basically hopping so it was incredibly exhausting. My lungs have never worked so hard. But I made it to the top only about 500 vertical feet after the hardest hour of effort I can remember.
Photo by Stephen Koch
Kevin was there waiting and ready for his tasks. He had us go out to the very tip of a buttress that had at least a 500 foot drop so no room for error. Meanwhile Kevin and his partner Jason threw charges over the cliff. One of them really set off quite a slide which later we would ski through. Kevin had us ski around the rocks to an area way above the gondola terminus. He had Jason cut across the slope above us and he easily made it slide. It was just about a 6″ slab about 30′ across that slide down a 100 yards or so. Saved a charge with that move. A few more charges thrown and both Jason and Kevin were done. Now we could ski. We had about a foot of fresh powder intermixed with some slide debris. It was fantastic. Except I had really blown a lot of my leg strength for the ski day doing that climb.
Kevin skied with us a few more runs and then had to go do real ski patrol work. Stephen stayed with us and after a couple of very fast cruisers, he took us out of bounds for some incredible back country stashes. Incredible day. But it required several people have some real patience and a great attitude. I have to really acknowledge Stephen Koch and Kevin P as well as my brother Michael to make this day possible.
But the lesson for me and others was clear: I didn’t know if I could do this thing but I went straight at it with a positive attitude and with persistence and determination (and patience of those with me) I did it and it felt good. Remember what Scott Hamilton, the olympic skater says, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”