For the past two weeks I've managed to change out of my climbing and skiing clothes only twice. In the background nowI can hear the hum of the washing machine tumbling those stinkyoverworked garments. The full moon is filling Silverton wall-to-wall with blue light. And outside my window is the singular focus of my skiing attention this season.
Panoramic view of Red Mountain Pass ski terrain
Mt. Kendall is just over 13,000 feetand my house is at 9,280. Every day when I am doing dishes or making coffee I dream of the sweeping arcs I will one day make down Kendall's "Naked Lady" slide path. Two weeks agobefore mother nature deposited over five feet of new snow on usI awoke one morning to a sight; both disturbing and exciting....
Mt. Kendall from Danny's Kitchen. The "Naked Lady" slide path is the one directly facing the vieweron the left side of the photo
Carved like the rhythm of a metronomewas a singularperfect track down the center of the "Naked Lady." Someone had stolen my line out from under me as if they had snuck into my dreams! I paced about the kitchen wondering whenand with whomI would ride the waves of the Naked Lady from the summit to valley floor. I could see the plumes of snow coming off my partners skis as they sliced through endless white.
Matt Wade in the entrance to the Granddaddy Couloir in Commodore BasinRed Mountain Pass
Sheldon Kerr ripping up the Grandad Couloir
Matt Wade ripping the Grandad Couloir
And then one day...it snowedand snowedand snowed. The avalanche report called for "Extreme hazardat all elevations and aspects." Some said it rivaled the biggest storm they'd seen in a decade in Silverton. What is meant for me and my Naked Lady...she'd have to wait until things settled out and calmed down.
Danny leading "Santa Claus Pillar" WI5
But living in the heart of Colorado's San Juans means that we have options. This isin factthe center of the US ice climbing universe. Ouray is only 40 minutes away and is arguably the best venue in the countryif not the worldto improve upon one's ice climbingand mixed climbing abilities. There is more ice than I can shake a stick atand too many good climbing partners to let a day pass by unused for some adventure.
Gary Falk skiing up to Santa Claus Pillar
Hence why its been difficult to find any time to change out of my climbing clothes. Whats the point? I'm going to wear them tomorrow anyway! I've stumbled upon that magical efficiency in which all actions lead to the desired endin this caseclimbing.
Gary Falk leading up pitch 1 of Whorehouse Hoses in Silverton WI4/5
So while my clothes are nearing the spin cycleI imagine the beautiful snakes of blue ice that are still begging for me to climb them. My mind gravitates towards that perfect ski mountaineering line I see every time I drive by Sultan Mountain"The Elevator Shaft." Itlike the Naked Ladyand all the climbs I dream of doing this winteroccupy my mind like a diseaseand remind me how lucky I am to be living in the best place on Earth.
Looking up the second pitch of "Skylight" WI5in the Camp Bird Mine Road in Ouray
If you're not too busy with your own adventurescome visit for some of mine. For nowthe view out my kitchen window taunts me like a mean older sister. It knows exactly how to push my buttons. But I know when the time will be right to strike....