Climbing El Capitan - May 2022
You only get one first big wall climb on Yosemite’s El Capitan, one of the world's most beautiful and well-known vertical rock monoliths, and it’s safe to say mine was nothing short of incredible. When I got the invite from my two aid climbing zen masters during the spring to scale this beast I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity. Nervous thoughts dominated my headspace in the months leading up to the trip, even after numerous hometown crag days practicing techniques simulating a big wall climb, I was scared shitless. Fast forward to May, I find myself driving 17 hours across 4 states to climb in the place many refer to as the Mecca of American rock climbing. It is safe to say I am nothing short of awestruck when I finally get a view into Yosemite valley and lay my eyes on El Cap and Half Dome, pulling over immediately I recall whooping and howling at the view that captivated my vision and had me shuttering at the thought of climbing up its world of pure verticality. Ferrying up my first load of supplies to the base of El Cap I was dripping in sweat before 8 am, just what the doctor ordered. Once I caught up with my partners who had been sleeping in the boulders below we began our final day of preparation, gathering all the last-minute gear, water, and permits needed to quest off onto El Cap. Once we had our gear sorted and our wits about us we began what would be my most miserable, yet memorable, trudge of a hike in my life to get our gear up to the base. Though only a short distance away, the 170-liter pack I carried, filled with a week's worth of food, gear, and water was nothing short of soul-crushing–but volunteering to be the team haul-dog I pushed on. Partners alongside me we hauled the rest of our gear and portaledges up the boulder field to the base. We fixed our ropes and gear two pitches up the wall for the next day's launch, but as we rappelled down I couldn’t help but feel extremely uneasy at the undertaking that tomorrow had in store for us.
Descending to our cars and last warm meals for god knows how long we all shared the mutual feelings of anticipation and excitement for the week of vertical camping before us. Tossing and turning I got less than an hour of sleep that night, but that was the least of my worries. Lying in bed I combed my brain for any last-minute excuses I could make to opt-out of the climb because tell you the truth–I was scared to the bone, worried I may have bitten off more than I could chew. Thankfully no valid excuses made their way into my head.
Launching off and saying goodbye to the horizontal world as we knew it, we ascended our fixed lines and made our way up to the cached gear which hung awaiting our arrival on the wall. As the sun shined down on the incredibly comfortable ledge belay I sat down and took in the beauty that was right in front of my face. The sun shined on the golden granite wall that seemed to welcome us.
As the jug line that I would ascend jutted farther and farther from the overhanging wall I gulped and realized this was going to be the most comfortable part of the next five days. Saying goodbye to our last ledge on the entirely overhanging route we have now embarked upon, I was lowered into free hanging space, where I hung 30 feet from the wall and 250 feet from the ground, ascending what would be the second of the eighteen pitches ahead of us. It was at this point that the reality of how much work we really had in store for ourselves began to set in. Turtle-like progress slowed our team as our first big wall mission together needed a few kinks to be worked out before we were running smoothly. The first of the kinks was setting up our portaledges under a roof the size of a city block that rained down on us from the waterfall above. It was safe to say our first night was wet and miserable.
Opening our eyes at the first light of morning we were alarmed to hear a helicopter making its way up through the valley, surely just a training exercise we thought, but the chopper was on its way to short-haul rescue a team off the Middle Cathedral, the formation a stone's throw across the valley from us, frightening our team. As we packed up and readied for our journey ahead I couldn’t help but heed the ominous start to our morning, a subtle reminder of the dangerous games we play out here in the mountains. As our progress continued, efficiency issues continually plagued our efforts, brewing anger and doubts from within the team. Several small mistakes cost us precious time and we just couldn’t seem to keep everything running smoothly. Setting up ledges in the dark I finally got to lay down but as I sat awake unable to fall asleep I watched the stars twinkle high above while thoughts of retreat and failure raced through my mind. Were we really up to the crux pitches that my partners would lead come morning? Would we be fast enough or would we run out of water and food, stranded on the wall? These and other vicious thoughts tormented me as I tossed and turned throughout the night awaiting daybreak. This seemed to be the theme for the first couple of days and it was a scary thought wondering if we were really up to the challenge.
And then we flipped a switch. The sunrise on the great Cathedral Peaks and Merced river winding through the valley far below seemed different on our fourth day on the wall, and that’s when I heard it. Like a jet engine throttling past I saw him, a wingsuiter had jumped off the top of El Cap and was rocketing past us across the SE face like it was nothing. All at once we sat up on our portaledges, eyes wide as we saw the next jumper flap his wings from the top and drop, first came silence followed by the familiar jet engine sound that ripped past us as he followed the first jumper's path almost eye level with us about 1,750’ off the ground. Gliding like a bird the wingsuiter unknowingly flipped a switch in our team's unified head. We moved quickly that morning and had an incredibly efficient day moving through the crux pitches like butter, my partners were on it. We came together and the engine finally began running smoothly, on a fast track bound for the top of El Cap.
The rest of that day went swimmingly as we had our most efficient day yet. Working through the most challenging pitches on the route, the momentum shift we felt was palpable in the hot California air. Gathering our thoughts and taking in our last night on the portaledges we sat and ate as the summer sun curled itself behind the Nose of El Cap, it was truly an incredible sight to take in. The week's worth of hard work to get to this point seemed like a hiccup of a moment, but as I peered over the edge of my ledge I reassured myself we were far from where we started, nothing but 2,000’ of air between us and the ground. The journey was far from over but that night as we ate our dehydrated meals we couldn’t help but feel accomplished to not only do battle with one of the greatest walls on earth but to hold on while the roller coaster of a week took its incredible ups and downs. Through it all we counted on each other to work together and focus on the daunting goal at hand, making me realize that these incredible experiences in nature are truly best enjoyed with your best friends. This experience would be nothing without them sharing the hardships and glories of battling El Cap.
The final steepening headwall loomed like an ocean wave crashing down high above us as my partner geared up and shot off like a gun, T.N.T by AC/DC blasting from his harness speaker, attacking the wall head-on. After losing sight of him as he crested over the great headwall we couldn’t help but sit in hysterical excitement for the following glory pitches to the summit. The length of rope made its way slowly up, and finally we heard it: the whoops and ape grunts from above signaled our brother-in-arms had finished the pitch and it was time for us to spring to action. Returning the calls I run up the vertical rope, and then I see it, the summit of El Cap stands proudly above us, we hang only a few hundred feet from its great lip. This is when we began to get excited, we had endured five days of foul food, harness pinching madness, and death-defying exposure that all seemed to melt away as we sat like school children giggling at the thought that we seemed to just pull a fast one on Mother Nature, slipping through her grasp while shaking the hand of fear itself. Three pitches to go, we got this, two pitches, holy smokes we can see the summit tree, one pitch left, we can barely sit still we are so excited. Taking the rack for myself I finally get a pitch of free climbing among all the aid thus far and start up the glorified slab that brought me to the summit, and then just like that, it was over. I hugged the summit tree and fixed our ropes to the anchor and thanked it before lying down on the moon-like summit of El Cap I now found myself alone on. I’ve never breathed such a heavy sigh of relief as I took in the mind-boggling Yosemite valley view I now had a birds-eye view of, exhaling as we now had survived one of its greatest challenges. Embracing my partners as they made their way to the summit we sat together and laughed, trying to comprehend the journey the last 6 days consisted of.
While the sun set on that beautiful summer night we laid among a mountain of gear while satisfaction coursed through our blood thanks to the 2,500’ of overhanging granite we had battled, now safely below us. An orange sunset pierced the northwest face of Half Dome as we lay in our sleeping bags among the boulders slowly drifting into a calm sleep in the sand. Deep thoughts turned into dreams as the stars danced their way into the calm night, my mind wrestling with the fact we actually climbed El Cap. (But all I could think was: if this was possible, what isn’t?) To think a few months ago I’d never even jugged a fixed rope and to now find myself standing on El Cap’s summit felt surreal.
I was content with the undertaking we had endured but I couldn’t help but feel extremely hungry for what was next. These wild outdoor places have you eager to come back for more every time you are fortunate enough to walk away safely from them. Sitting on top of that big rock in the middle of California may not seem like a lot, but to us it felt like we were at the center of the universe and the gods were kind enough to let us pass through its gates to see the other side, I just hope we can visit again someday.
Skiing the Grand Teton - May 2022
Prescribed Wilderness - April 2022
Although time spent outside is often viewed as worthwhile, it is seldom viewed as vital. Counselors and mental health professionals alike have begun turning to the great outdoors where they have discovered an incredibly effective and versatile form of self-help counseling in nature, coining it wilderness therapy. Wilderness therapy has been around for nearly four decades and since its creation, hundreds of thoroughly researched scientific studies have been conducted analyzing how people can recognize and work through their deepest personal issues with the help of mental health professionals in an outdoor setting. Wilderness therapy strips away the typical conformity of doctors, offices, and motivational waiting room posters, replacing them with fresh air, sunshine, and physical challenges to strengthen the mind and body. The basis of a Wilderness Therapy experience revolves around participants traveling to a scenic destination for four to six weeks in the backcountry where the outdoors provide the perfect learning environment for turning inward to observe and appreciate the things that make us who we are. There are no distractions or amenities like wifi, air conditioning, or running water throughout the entirety of the experience which creates a unique atmosphere to instill meaningful change.
Full Article Coming Soon!
Thank You, Winter... Now Bring on Summer! - March 2022
Sun and above freezing temperatures in the forecast result in a chain reaction effect. The first being incredible excitement followed by scrambling throughout the house as I dig through my closet to find layers that haven’t seen light since summertime–that's when you know spring is here in Montana. With Spring comes a noticeable buzz in the air around town, the thawing tundra has a direct effect on people's moods because everyone knows, summertime is the best time here in Montana. Lakes begin to thaw, flowers begin to bloom courageous colors across hillsides, and animals begin to stretch their limbs and awake from their winter slumbers. The transition from winter to spring is beautiful, that is as long as you don’t blink and miss it!
At the Mercy of the Mountains - February 2022
Why do we climb mountains? Is anything gained from standing atop a wind-chilled summit while the only thought going through your head is freezing your butt off? Questions like these often linger in the minds of climbers as they find themselves in a continual pursuit of the world’s most captivating and challenging natural wonders. Facing an unbeatable enemy, (that enemy being mountains of vertical rock and snow) humans know they cannot win, they can survive in these harsh environments but these larger than life monoliths can never truly be conquered. In pursuit of self exploration and a view, the mountains call to these individuals who wish to endure the struggles of ascension in an unforgiving world. But in reality when you find yourself slipping backwards on a skin track and end up falling ass-over-teakettle backwards you curse the very moment you thought hiking up a mountain would be easy. Climbing mountains isn’t easy, it's sheer mental perseverance that pushes one to override the brain when every thought inside is telling you it’s time to quit because you’ve had enough. The mountains could care less if you are 12-pitches up a sheer granite wall, if you get caught in a storm and can’t go on you still have to get down and get off. I have witnessed some of the most intense and humbling moments in my life while out exploring these unwelcoming places tucked high in the mountains.
Though danger-ridden climbing may seem, many mountaineers aren’t the adrenaline junkies that Hollywood portrays them as. In contrast, most driven climbers feel at peace while climbing as it calms the mind, bringing them into a mindset of extreme focus through these difficult moments. Professional high-alpine mountaineer Benedikt Böhm once said while climbing the massive Nepalese mountain, Dhulagiri VII (7,246 meters), that: “Time has a different meaning (in the mountains) when you are leaving behind the comfort zone, it is hard, until it becomes liberating because you are forced to live in that very moment”. Maybe Benedikt is right, maybe the reason we desire these incredible moments in these spectacular places is because they demand our full focus on that one singular moment we are lucky enough to find ourselves in.
Life has a funny way of always surprising you, just when you think you’ve got all your bases covered life decides to see what you're really made of. I found myself caught with my guard down this past weekend in Grand Teton National Park when a ski tour to The Grand Teton’s Teepee Glacier took a turn for the worst when a member of our group suffered an unexpected injury during the descent. Four miles and some 4,000 vertical feet stood between us and the safety of the car far below when the accident rendered one of our strongest group members badly injured and unable to move the limbs on his left-hand side without deep shooting pains. Rushing to assess the damage we huddled around our comrade as he lay in writhing pain while winds whipped from every direction in the great basin. Alive but injured he lay in anguish as we were able to diagnose the source of pain he suffered during the fall. Before fear and uncertainty could begin to brew within the group we acted quickly and remedied the situation best we could, though we still had to get down to the base. It was at that moment we realized we were at the mercy of the mountains. Acting together we devised an escape plan on how to evacuate our injured friend to safety. Shivering and exhausted from a 2am start I knew my personal excuses needed to take a back seat to the task at hand because someone else needed me. The slow descent went smoothly thanks to our competent and strong team. We were able to reach safety at the lake below, hours since our day took an unexpected turn far above. Drained from the monotonous ski back to safety the group couldn’t be happier to take a deep breath as the toughest challenges of the day were now behind us. Slowly skinning back through the rolling hillsides we pondered at how thankful we were that the situation hadn’t been any worse. We were met with realizations on what it meant to have a good day in the mountains–an up-and-coming mountaineer once said: “A great day in the mountains ends with the same amount of people it started with.” This couldn’t be more true, as the situation in the Teton mountains provided an extremely valuable reminder to why we climb and what a good day in the mountains really looks like. To me a good day is enjoying an adventure with friends while being continually humbled by the rich experiences of our natural world, regardless of objective completion, being alive at the end of the day is most important. Our previous goals were now long forgotten as the palpable accomplishment of arriving safely back at the car nine hours after leaving it was far more rewarding. Arriving safely overrode all previous ambitions that we had started with earlier that day, reminding us that reaching the top isn’t what success looks like in the mountains.
Days like that one in the Tetons really wake the soul and evoke the questions that us mountain lovers wrestle with so frequently. Why climb? Why put yourself at risk? These questions and others dance throughout my brain as I try to corral them and understand that I may never be able to answer them fully. On one hand my dreams to reach these temporal places of freedom burn deep from within, urging me onward to experience the spectacular moments I yearn so strongly for–yet on the other hand I must remember that the mountains can take everything away at any given moment. The balance and humility one must carry with them while adventuring in the mountains is a delicate one. These passionate moments of life burn bright while living so close to the edge, as one small slip causes the entire game to come crashing down. “In the end we live only once and that means both, to be very careful about your life and on the other hand, to take the maximum of this one life” -Böhm. Maybe someday the age-old question of “why do you climb?” will be answered, but until then the answer is of far less importance than the question. Climbing is simple, you go up, you must come down, what goes on in-between is the essence of living in the moment, experiencing this beautiful life to the fullest.
All the way to the Top - February 2022
Toting heavy technical climbing gear to the base of any climb during winter can be a mission on its own. But with hopes of a summit bid to one of Bozeman's most classic Peaks we endured a speedy approach and found ourselves ascending the great gully that would lead us to its summit cap in no time. Whipping winds and snow blowing from every direction possible made this scramble to the summit one to remember. Every movement had to be smooth and specific, the centimeters of metal attached to our hands and feet securing us to the mountainside were carefully placed on each hold up the gully of loose rock and snow. Before we knew it we stood atop the wind-whipped summit, embracing each other and noting the quality and variety of climbing en-route. After familiarizing ourselves with the nearby peaks and ranges we said goodbye to our temporal place of accomplishment and descended carefully back down the warming gully. Returning to our skis at the base of the climb we were ecstatic to ski down the great couloir we booted up on the way to our successful summit bid. Skiing back to the car with the great peak in our rearview we couldn't help but smile at the great company, skiing and climbing we experienced throughout the day.
Everything in One - January 2022
Some ski lines are just different, whether that be the access, difficulty, or technicality in order to stand atop these great lines. This line, tucked in a basin guarded by a massive frozen waterfall was as exciting of a day in the backcountry you could have. Starting in the dark and ascending the 125' ice flow we topped out just as the skies began to clear and reveal us the beautiful Hyalite Canyon in all her glory. A speedy skin granted us access to the edge of the basin where our line lay hidden, tucked deep within a beveled notch of mountainous rocky choss. We decided to attack this line top down, as the large wind loaded slopes below posed a greater danger, so we gained the nearby ridge line that would take us to the summit. Watching Adam, pictured right, descend the steep slope and brave the first few jump turns we both knew that the snow was in perfect condition. Linking turns in the great couloir was a dream come true, and as we safely exited the chute into the great apron I couldn't help but look back and smile at the amazing opportunities nature provides for us in our own backyard.
Not taking yourself to seriously – November 2021
The seriousness of outdoor sports nowadays is a glaring and ever increasing sign of climbers, skiers, and mountaineers taking themselves too seriously. I mean this in the lightest of ways, as these activities are truly dangerous and could be deadly if not taken seriously. What I am confronting is the egotistical self-centered view of oneself in the outdoors that many athletes are choosing to portray these days. Reflecting this toxic behavior outwards and going as far as basing another persons worth on the number of flips and spins they can do off a ski jump is a sickening and ever increasing norm in outdoor sports. The true freedom and appreciation for the natural world seems to be lost in the pursuit of sport, grade/difficulty, and self glory while playing in these outdoor spaces. Maybe all I am trying to say is don't forget why you go out and enjoy these activities in nature and don't forget the humility it takes to truly take a step back and enjoy these beautiful places and the amazing memories you make journeying into them.
Fall and Global Warming – November 2021
Once temperatures begin dropping here in Montana eager climbers begin the waiting game of conditions aligning to freeze waterfalls, and therefore get some early season ice climbing in before the true winter ramps up. But with the affects of our warming planet staring us blankly in the face we are noticing these irregularities more frequently–typically ice has formed by November, but with temperatures 2-5 degrees warmer than average the flows haven't had the chance to freeze. The global climate crisis is here and now, and it's up to us to live our everyday lives more concisely with our planet in mind. These changes are happening now and they are happening in our very own backyard, with warming temperatures and seasonal irregularities becoming the norm, I fear for our planet as it is crying out begging for us to listen.
Winter uploading...... – November 2021
Seeking out early winter snow in the Absaroka Mountain Range, me and my climbing partner ventured high into the rocky hills for some of Montanas deepest snow (at the moment). The climb meandered past multiple ice flows beginning to form along with an incredible lake with a few inches of clear ice along its shores. Then the fun began; we began crossing over minefields of boulders that the snow precariously covered just enough to make the route finding slow and difficult. Once across the boulder fields we ascended a fantastic ridge that offered exposed scrambling in a beautiful setting high above the alpine lake. A short down climb through a small gully brought us to the base of the snowfield on the southern shoulder of our summit objective. With tiresome post-holing in waste deep snow up the slope we noticed the the sun beginning to sit low in the sky and we new our time was dwindling. Passing a gendarme along the summit ridge gave us access to the final summit dome and views into the great wilderness of the Beartooth/Absarokas, along with clear views of Bozeman's 5 major mountain ranges. With the sun beginning to set we knew we had to move fast to descend the great peak and not get lost in the dark, so we opted for a different descent route down a ridge leading south and were delighted to be back at the boulder field much sooner than anticipated. A few minor exposed traverses later and we were at the foot of the lake right as night fell. Once back at the car relief and happiness rushed through us as a long and rewarding day in the mountains is always capped off with life and limb safely back at the trailhead.
The Calm Before the Storm – October 2021
Ushering in a changing of seasons here in Northwestern Montana evokes a number of different emotions. The fall colors create jaw-dropping landscapes, but one can't forget the ever daunting truth that winter is near. Lurking behind these golden larches in Glacier National Park lies the truth, snow is beginning to fall in the mountains and climbers, skiers, and winter enthusiasts alike eagerly await our mountainous landscapes transition to white. For now, the colors continually captivate and remind us that our natural world is so incredibly beautiful and full of changes and surprises around every bend.
26 Hours in Glacier – September 2021
Beginning from a trailhead with ambitions of a 24+ hour effort is incredibly daunting, much-less when it includes; creek fordings, a haenous bushwack, 20+ difficult miles, and a technical climb up a sedimentary beast of a mountain. Yet when me and my climbing partner, Adam Cazell departed for a full-fledged adventure to one of Glacier Parks hardest and most picturesque summits, Mount Saint Nicholas, deep in the heart of the Park we couldn't even see the damn thing, it was the middle of the night. Starting our climb at 11pm we managed to cover all our trail miles and creek crossings before pre-dawn, a huge accomplishment as we were hauling-ass through the darkness (probably due to the large beasts it shrouded). Standing far below the great basin of Nick we knew our work was cut out for us as a 'enlightening' bushwhack through a burn path and fire swamp stood between us and the great talus slopes of the peak. Finding ourselves somehow unscathed on the upper end the schwack' we began up the moonlit slope of talus (due to a dead headlamp) that would lead us to the great ridge of the mountain, and as we inched closer and eventually crested the great ridge a heroic sunrise greeted us. The sunrise burned passionately in shades of red, orange, and magenta contrasting the jutting summits towards the seldom-visited eastern bend of Glacier Park. 12 hours in, with the silly-ness of the bushwhack and creek crossings behind us we finally would begin climbing the spectacular peak; and with the howl of the Great Notch dropping our internal temps we racked up rock-protection for what lay above us, 1,000 of technical sedimentary rock, ready to break at any moment to the wrong pull of an unfortunate chalked hand. With the overhanging crux of the climb beginning out of the Notch the only true difficulty was cruised by both Adam on lead, and me in tote behind. With a handful of intermittently difficult moves along the way the climbing eased as we angled eastwardly, moving up the north-east ridge, battling the rope drag of the ledgy route. As I climbed the last pitch a great pilot whipped a small farm-plane around the great face of Nick, curving along its great fin, and along the way, passing us en-route. Unroping for the final hundred feet we scrambled our way to victory and rejoiced with deep whoops and hollars into the great empty basin below as we stood atop Mount Saint Nicholas. A moving moment as the fall wind whipped against my cheeks and me and my friend, Adam stood atop something we dreamed of climbing for decades, alone in the Glacier wilderness, exactly how it was suppose to be.
The sobering thought began creeping into our minds as we signed and perused the summit register, housing the names and notes of the past years sumitters; and then Adam said it aloud:
"Were only half way there"
As the goal of this objective was to bypass the typical 2-3 day climb of the peak and push the entire climb out in one effort. And as we spotted our vehicles, almost out of sight, at the other end of the forested valley, we knew our work had just begun. Carefully rapelling off the great Nick we were fortunate to not have any issues with ropes getting stuck and were back at the Great Notch, 4 hours from when we started up it. 16 hours into the climb, our descent down the slopes of St. Nick began, and with each step painfully reminding us that our feet and quads were not in favor of going down, we marched and traversed our way to the base of the treacherous bushwhack a few hours left before the sky would once again turn to night. Sweat poured into the rims of my glasses, blinding my efforts through the overhead bush and downfall of the fire path that seemed much more pleasant at night when we ascended through it. I pushed, hopped, backtracked, and thrashed my way back to the creek, ten pounds of pine needles now in any open pocket.
"There's 26 hours in a day right?"
Laughed Adam, as we grunted our way through the blackened trail, spooked by the slightest movement around us, our goal of climbing Saint Nick in under 24 hours now slipping away–yet the teamwork for such an effort along with the beautiful experience we pushed ourselves through was more important than goals set before the epic adventure we now had almost completed. Not worrying about time or anything but getting back to our cars we put our heads down and hurt––but the slower we moved through the night the more dangerous, for the grizzlies of Glacier don't rest when the sun does. Finally reaching the final fording of the Middle Fork we were relieved to be wading through thigh-deep icy cold water, for this meant our cars were on the other side of the train tracks. Hour 26, we arrive back at our vehicles, tired, dehydrated, and flat out beat–yet something was different than when we first left, we were now carrying the joy of having summited the great Mount Saint Nicholas, and in one push; it was safe to say we were satisfied. Yet only one thought occupied my mind, what's next? With the triumph of the climb my mind raced with what's next, what's bigger, and what can't we do in the great mountains around us?
Into the Desert We Go! – September 2021
The allure of Utah's southwestern desert draws climbers to its magnificent and plentiful sandstone walls that provide the spectacular color palette of the orange and red desert landscape. Numerous areas attracted me and my climbing partner Zach as we approached the town of Moab (a hub for climbers, and adventurers alike) first of which being the spectacular Fisher Towers, seen right. The area compromised the most stand-alone mud-encircled I have ever seen with my own eyes, it was truly a spectacular sight as a 4x4 mile area was home to a lifetime of sandstone tower climbing. Adjusting to the soft and somewhat frightening climbing of the hard-pressed mud that comprised this tower was an incredible experience, chock full of ran-out, gearless climbing topped off with an overhung crux with the desert floor far below your heels as you traversed below the mushroom head of the tower. I let out an incredible and shrill yell as I topped out the great tower, that to my disbelief I now stood atop of. The incredible moments experienced at the Towers, along with the rest of the adventure throughout Utah were incredible and will be another great memory of friends, fast times, and of course great climbing.
Golden hour on top of Glacier Park – August 2021
Pushing personal boundaries in Glacier National Park while climbing up it's spectacular high peaks usually leads to epic moments. This one in particular was a sunset summit that me and my climbing partner, Andrew, topped out to conclude our three-summit day––and not a second too soon as these beautiful mountain goats 'posed' for a moment, took in the view, and headed on there way. Gazing into the golden rays of the setting sun we said goodbye to our temporal wild setting atop one of Glaciers most scenic summits and as ran down its ridge line we continually rejoiced and took in the moment as the sun set on the winding trail leading back to our cars.
The places that make us feel whole – July 2021
Few wild places feel like they welcome you with open arms––to me, Glacier Park is one of these places. The summit-spotted skyline of Glacier National Park is as spectacular as the first time I explored the Park more than two decades prior. Sharing this beautiful place with good friends is one of the most heart-warming feelings especially when exploring with first-timers! As I reminisce on the first time I saw the spectacular lakes, trails, waterfalls, and mountains of the areas we explored I could only wonder what my friends thought of the magnificent splendor that was a small taste of Glacier Park. The deep green of the forested valleys contrasting the Glaciated slopes of the high peaks makes Glacier one of the most memorable places I have personally explored. Calling this Park home comes with a high level of expectation for how the beautiful area should be treated by oneself–as someone who cares so deeply about Glacier I hope to set a good standard for how to treat and respect Glacier so that we can enjoy The Park for generations to come. Leave no trace principals, along with general respect for all that Glacier is requires constant remembrance of being a guest in the wild that is The Park. So get out and explore something beautiful today, responsibly :)
Beartooth Mountain Range Ski – June 2021
As the great Beartooth Mountain range came closer and closer into view, the energy from within my Toyota Corolla became amplified as me and my friends prepare for the best skiing the summer has to offer! The Beartooth Basin summer ski resort would be our final destination, and as we geared up in our t-shirts and shorts we knew it was about to be an amazing day. Gingerly stepping atop the massive cornice that guards the basin I prepared myself for the magic to happen, and with camera in hand, that's exactly what ensued. Chris Bodine, pictured right, takes no time to warm up as he throws a huge backflip to get things started! An amazing place with even more amazing people made this trip to the Beartooth's one to remember.
From the Summit of Mount Hood at Sunrise – May 2021
To some, a departure time of 12 o’clock midnight to begin climbing a mountain may seem completely bonkers but to an eager mountaineer with aspirations for a summit sunrise it seems absolutely perfect. Standing alone, the trailhead became illuminated by the stars and the great Mount Hood beckoned for my ascent. I geared up and began the assault up the frozen snow slopes, leaving the comfort and safety of the trailhead behind. As the night began to turn to morning a full moon began to illuminate the southern slopes of the great volcano lending a great deal of light to its steep upper ridges as I climbed through the night. As the climb began to steepen I traversed the great Hogsback and began climbing the prominent snow covered arete toward the bergschrund crossing that would be the crux of the climb. Cold, unwelcoming, and unforgiving are the few words a climber can come up with to describe looking down a Glacial crevasse. Once safely across the bergschrund the final snow and ice gully through the Pearly Gates came into view, opting to take the left variation I ascended the moderate ice gully packed with crystalline névé snow forming on either side to comprise an especially aesthetic climb to reach the crater rim. Emotions began flooding inside of me as the final summit crest was impeccably beautiful. Views of great Cascade mountains such as Adams, Jefferson, and St. Helens dominated the mostly flat plateau of Oregon and Washington. After 30 minutes the Western skies began burning hues of fiery reds and oranges and the first sight of sunrise began to shine on the great Columbia River, then to the incredible glaciated Northern side of Mount Hood. The 360 degree views were almost unbearably beautiful as the first light cast the most incredible shadow of the great pyramid that is Mount Hood on its eastern flanks. As I sat and admired the beautiful glaciated scenery around me I felt as if me and the mountain were one as it allowed me safe passage to it’s summit and greeted me with open arms to share this beautiful place. The incomparable feeling of sunrise atop a great cascade volcano is one of those moments in life where words truly can’t comprehend the pure feelings felt in that moment, so I won’t bother trying to explain it here, rather my photos can explain what words cannot.
Loving the Mountains – May 2021
I fell in love with the mountains, they stand as a gatekeeper between dreams and reality, a roadblock that with persistence, unknown outcomes far from what we thought possible can be achieved.
Not everyone has the access or capability to summit 8,000-meter peaks or run ultra marathons yet everyone truly can climb their own mountains and immerse themselves into a world of the unknown, a world where we can achieve what we thought to be impossible. No matter how small or your insignificant personal goals may seem to others-it’s a known fact we all have our own levels of doubt and fear that we can push through to become stronger individuals. This is how you can find yourself, this is how I found myself, thankful to be awestruck by the power and sheer beauty of the mountains.
We can't get enough of this spring Weather! – May 2021
When spring really sets in, and I mean really sets in, like full on green everywhere with blooming plants everywhere and birds chirping, you really can't appreciate the small window of the spring season here in Montana, and so we did exactly what any other member of the Southwest climbing community would do, we climbed! And we had an absolute blast doing it, pictured right is Brock Rugg, enjoying the final pitch of one of the best moderate multi-pitch trad climbs Montana has to offer. The temps finally rose to above 75 and we couldn't get enough of it!
Spring powder cannot be passed Up – April 2021
April powder must be taken advantage of. No if, ands, or buts! Rumors of 6+ inches of cold smoke powder near Big Sky had me and my friends geared up and ready to rock and roll the night before the storm. The next day, the view from the cracked windshield of the snow-covered peaks we were planning on skiing took our collective breath away. The skin in flew by as we found ourselves choosing from an array of spectacular chutes, cliffs, faces, and most of all untracked snow once we reached the basin. We couldn't help ourselves and took multiple lines before heading back to the car, and as me and my friends smiled and marveled at the great day we appreciated the increasing stability in the snowpack after a deadly year. Hi-fiving with everyone you left with at the beginning of the day is the best part about being out in the mountains!
Scratching that early-season rock climbing Itch – March 2021
Luckily for anxious climbers, South-facing walls exposed to spring sunshine are dry enough for pre-season crag days. Blake Bergerhoff, pictured right, can't get enough of this beautiful crack in Pipestone climbing area near Butte, Montana. As a group we climbed multiple routes, and explored the area for future projects! The excitement was in the air as all climbers topped out four different routes and shook the dust off, preparing for a great summer climbing season ahead. As the sun began to shade our precious wall we had to call it quits and as we took in the last of the views we couldn't help but appreciate the first sunny spring day here in Montana.
A day in the Glorious Backcountry – February 2021
Few things can truly satisfy a skier like a day touring through the beautiful mountains of Montanas backcountry. Hans Schulze, (pictured right) and I set out into Hyalite canyon on a morning fueled by a thick snowstorm that began clearing up once we entered the mountainous basin. The ski day consisted of low-angle terrain as the avalanche danger was heightened and we wanted to play it safe. The recent snow and bluebird conditions granted us an amazing day in some deep powder--the solitude of the mountains was appreciated and welcoming as we found ourselves basking in the glory of countless snow covered peaks.
Backcountry Ski Jump Session – January 2021
Whenever you get a large group of people barbecuing and hitting a ski booter in the same place, you know your in for a great day! That's exactly what me and my friends did as we took advantage of the beautiful sunny January day in the Montana Backcountry. Backflips, frontflips, sideflips, corks, spins, butters, grabs, and a plentiful amount of crashes made this session a 110% success in my book. As we all smiled watching the sun set, we couldn't help but laugh at the battlefield carnage of bomb-holes below the jump left from the great day of sending here in Montana!
Late season or early season Rock Climbing? December 2020
When temps don't drop low enough for ice to freeze, or winter weather storms seemingly pass up your home mountains, the only thing a climber could think to do to pass a beautiful Saturday was climb our local crag, Practice Rock, here in Montana. The ledges, snowy, the cracks, cold, our spirits... higher than ever! Frank Dean, pictured right, leads a classic route up the North face of some of Southwest Montanas finest granite rock. The day started and ended quicker than anticipated, due to shorter amounts of daylight, and as we left for the hike down we couldn't help but wonder if the winter season was ever on its way!
California Roadtrip Forever! – November 2020
Peering through the darkened night, we questioned whether the great Yosemite valley would be viewable at such a late hour—our answer came from the darkness in the form of a resounding ‘holy shit’. Once passing through an everlasting tunnel we were met by the incomprehensible sights of the high and mighty El Capitan-and the rest of the Yosemite Valley. The stars shone bright, and with time we adjusted to the darkness and could make out the distinct formations within the Yosemite Valley such as the stunning Cathedrals, and everyones favorite; Half Dome. As if living in a dream, we prepared our camp to the East of the Valley and tried to catch some unwarranted shut-eye, as the next days adventure included climbing in Yosemite which was at the forefront of our minds. Closing our eyes for what seemed like a second we awoke suddenly before the sunrise and began our morning at the base of El Capitan, having breakfast with nothing but sheer granite to sit back and admire. As we journeyed to the face of the El Capitan wall we knew we had to scramble up the world renown route- “The Nose” and experience what all the climbing legends had before us. After beginning the base of the route I understood how much of a feat the great climb would be and vowed to be back someday to finish it.
Red Rocks Rock Climbing – October 2020
Climbing in the Nevada desert had to be on of the most different experiences in climbing comparative to my background of climbing in the West. The sand stone proved spectacular as we warmed up with more mellow multi-pitch trad routes and worked our way up to climbing the monstrous Black Velvet peak at 13 pitches of roped up climbing. After battling with the crux chimneys of the climb we topped out and couldn't be more proud of the undertaking we pushed through out in the dry Nevada desert.
The Grand Teton – September 2021
Nothing really brings home celebrating another year around the earth than by climbing one of the US's most beautiful mountains, the Grand Teton. As we left for a monstrous single day of hiking to the Grand Teton saddle and then climbing 6-8 roped up pitches of technical rock climbing I knew it was going to be a big day. The entire day lived up to the glory that The Grand deserves. After a grueling 16-hour push we were greeted with numerous stacks of pizza and beer to wash down the serenity the beautiful climb that the Grand had taught us.
Wind River Range, Cirque of the Towers – August 2020
Day 2 - Climb Pingora
I woke up to two separate alarms, both reading 6:00 AM; it was time to get after it. The striking view of Warbonnet Peak along with the large faces of Warrior 1 and 2 were captivating. I was frozen in place studying their faces, while the the kiss of the morning sunrise warmed the icy mountain tops
A class 3 scramble to reach the base of the great peak would go smoothly as gear dangled from every loop on our harnesses, the jingling was the only sounds heard at 10,000’ feet in the waking moments of the morning. After navigating through the lower shelf we moved to the loose gully that would lead us to accessing the ridge line of the Southern Buttress of the great Pingora Peak, stands almost 12 thousand feet above sea levevl. The massive granite slab acting as a red carpet stood between us and the base of the left facing Dihedral to the beginning of the climb. The great crack system resulted in some great stemming and hand/foot jams to advance through the first 80’ pitch of the climb. The next pitch would be our last stop before the beautiful K Cracks, the stunning crack system viewable from our camp. Moving through the wide gully that reached the base of the cracks went very smoothly. I began pondering wanting to lead the Crux Pitch of the K cracks, but before I could say anything, Blake, one of my partners assured me that I would be able to send the climb and that it was mine to lead. Before I could syke myself out I answered with a confident, “Yes.” Nerves raced through every inch of my body as the massive wall stood between me and my goal, with nothing but a crack in the massive granite face to advance myself to the top. Mind racing, heart pounding I touched the crystalline wall and everything became clear; my mind left the negative thoughts below–climbing as if I was one with the mountain. Blood oozed from my knuckles from a cut in my hand as I maneuvered up the leaning crack, using friction as a foothold for the leg that wasn’t lodged in the granite. My hands moved smoothly, swimming up the granite, placing protection in sections that would be possible to hold a fall if I was to make a mistake. Once reaching the top of the pitch I looked away from the wall to the stunning landscape that captivated all 360 degrees laid out around me. A glacial tarn sat smoothly below the jagged ridgeline separating Pingora Peak from the Watchtower. it took my breath away as I stood atop the great pitch that was sent.
Once my climbing partners met me at the top of the pitch, we rejoiced with enthusiasm as we moved up the side of the mountain to scramble the last 100’ to the summit. The summit atop the broken granite blocks that make up the top of the great Pingora Peak stamding at an impressive 11,884 feet. It created a great moment of clarity as the Views of the Cirque and it’s beautiful summits, guarded by vertical faces of granite, coupled with glassy lakes sitting high alone in the alpine at the bases of these peaks standing before me, the moment felt like a dream. A sense of happiness and sadness always overwhelms me while atop mountains, on one hand the views and experience are captivated by the dramatic landscape from above, and on the other hand, the temporal feelings only can last for so long, as the goodbye retreat from the summit is always the hardest goodbye, yet the rejoice of only having the feeling and views from a summit are singular-only lastingfor a moment-possibly what makes them so special.
ROPE!! Yelled Blake, as the blue strands flew down the vertical wall in order to begin our descent off the mountain, making three long rappels to reach the base of the granite saddle that brought us to the base of the great peak we started up much earlier in the day. Once reaching camp safely we laid in the soft grass and admired the great summit we stood atop earlier in the morning.
Day 3 Climb Wolfs Head
Awakened by a cool breath of wind grazing past my face, I took in the scenery and blinked continuously until the outlines of the Cirques summits stood clear, standing above me. Our objective was the Wolf's Head, lying at the north end of the Cirque, guarded by a broken ridge line that would entail multiple “no fall” scenarios. The route was home to many dangerous points that would result in serious consequences if a mistake were to occur. We began moving through the morning dew to reach the base of Tiger Tower, a pit stop on the way to the Wolfs Head, we began our scramble up a western facing gully dividing Pingora and Tiger Tower. Loose rock and exposure woke us up immediately as I found myself traversing across a extremely exposed slab with no hand or feet holds, relying only on the friction of my hiking shoes and the rock, imminent death sitting at bay below me as the mountain face would likely claim me if a fall would occur. Moving through the hairy section we regained the gully, picking and choosing our route carefully as we traversed the face and reached the summit of Tiger Tower as the sun began to ignite the ridge line of Wolfs Head. Rappelling off Tiger tower and following the connected ridgeline we racked up and switched to the climbing shoes before climbing the majestic vertical shooting ridgeline. To gain the base of the mountain, a pizza-box-wide ramp at 30 degrees must be passed, nothing but exposure on each of our sides while crossing (the ground sat 1,000’+ below). Rhythmic breathing took hold as the ramp was passed. Pitch one and two gained the large NE ridgeline as we moved through two beautiful crack systems to reach the top of the ridge line and the real climb–Maneuvering up, over, and through the massive granite tower blocks between us and the Summit of Wolfs Head. Exposed climbing would be an understatement to describe this route, as we found ourselves on many delicate hand and foot traverses along the ridge. Pitch three was an exposed down climb to a ledge that would lead to a massive offwidthy’ break in the mountain, only pleasant if you were skinny! - As sideways was the only way you could even think of fitting through the route, as I grunted through the claustrophobic crack in the granite, I began feeling as if I was rebirthed by the earth once I was crawling out of the tight squeeze. The next three pitches were the best varied climbing terrain an adventurer could dream of. Starting with a crack spanning 50’ across a blank face with no hand holds, only a toe-deep crack that you must shimmy across, depending only on the tips of your toes. Halfway across the line in the granite I felt the intense exposure of the vertical face above and below me but didn’t dare look down. Instead I inched my way across the face and reached the ledge leading to the next pitch. The pitch started with a unique layback against a crack, followed by the opposite of the previous pitch-a hand traverse with no footholds, moving around a bulge in the ridgeline (with the same amount of exposure). With all the hard climbing behind us we took in the less-seen views of the completely vertical north side of wolfs head as we led a final ledged traverse pitch. The “crown” of a summit block was the final scramble to the incredible summit of Wolfs Head, standing proudly at 12,165 Feet. Sitting atop its windy summit with only jaw dropping views to occupy our minds as we sat in silence. A sense of clarity is felt atop a beautiful summit, carrying the feelings of appreciation to have been lucky enough to have rejoiced atop such a spectacular high point.
Rappelling off the backside of the mountain, we embraced the whipping wind as we moved smoothly over the extreme terrain–after 6 separate rappels we reached the top of the col separating the neighboring Overhanging Tower, and the tail of Wolfs Head. Moving through the loose terrain and living-room-sized boulders we eventually descended past the lake and made our way back to our camp in the meadow below. Continually taking in the views of the spectacular mountain summits we had the privilege to sit atop. As we celebrated with dates, pineapple, and couscous we sat under the stars, falling into a deep sleep below the summers best meteor shower. Life doesn’t get any better than enjoying the sights of mountains you have stood atop, illuminated by the stars-simplicity in its finest form, just the way I like it.
Absaroka Range – July 2020
Bracing the 5 am Absaroka Mountain Range Alpine chill we emerged from our tent, currently sitting high atop a cliff with the beautiful Elbow Lake sitting below–we observed the great granite spire of Mount Cowen we would be attempting to climb this morning. As we headed North towards the base of the summit we hopped through the large boulder field and infinite stream crossings to reach the substantial granite scree field that would take us to the basin below Mount Cowen. Once in the basin, two majestically laid tarns sat high above the alpine granite cliffs surrounding them. As the cirque became illuminated with morning light, the jagged granite points lit up as the magnificence of Mount Cowen showed in the shadows illuminating the opposing peaks we looked across and admired. The scramble up the South face felt as though me and my partner, Frank, moved as one; flowing up the steep face, electing to take the most aesthetic line possible to reach the beginning of the technical climbing. Once attached at both ends to the blue rope that would protect our lives we began choosing our way up the broken granite blocks that encompassed the ridgeline of Mount Cowen, placing gear but relying mostly on the confidence in ourselves as we navigated the exposed face. Once the summit ridge was reached a number of false summit ‘fins’ were navigated to reach the crux of the climb-a layback dihedral that would grant us access to the majestic summit block. The climbing went smoothly and the summit of the spectacular Mount Cowen (11,206’) was breathtaking as me and my climbing partner rejoiced with energetic enthusiasm to be in such a breathtaking moment! High jagged peaks stood near as tooth-like spires stood in the distance, while the beautiful tarns and Elbow Lake lay solemnly below the base of the granite masterpiece we stood atop. The moment seemed only to last an instant, but as I took my last 360 degree view of the summit and said goodbye to the beautiful instant we were in I embraced it and grinned as I rappelled off summit to reach more manageable terrain below. As we descended the loose gully back to the snow and shimmering tarns we looked back to take in the views of the amazing summit we stood atop hours before, thankful to the mountain for safe passage and an incredible experience. Returning to camp and packing up we took in the last views of the striking area we had the privilege to explore-as we descended the trail the weight on our backs seemed miniscule, as the accomplishment of completing our objective made us feel weightless in the afternoon heat.
Glacier National Park – July 2020
The heat was hot enough to smell as the igneous shale rock clambered beneath us as we moved through the Glacial Snow and rock field in our ski boots. We had set out earlier in the day, skis clinging to our backpacks, in search of summer ski turns. Traveling through Glacier National Park, our hidden ski lines were harbored deep within the Parks backcountry, our secret destination for summer corn snow. Massive jutting peaks stood guard, towering over us as we set up base camp in a Glacial Cirque with a gentle pond at its base. Taking in the 360 views of awe-inspiring mountains throughout Glacier Park we began picking and choosing of the snow filled lines that sat above us on cliff bands-guarded from the summer sun. Once the sun began to turn golden we took turns throwing backflips off a perfectly constructed jump-With each leap of faith we found ourselves totally lost in the moments of peace and focus as we enjoyed the setting sun over our dream of a jump. As the sun set on a spectacular day full of smiles and gratitude, we took in the snow covered peaks that surrounded us, almost closterphobicly, as they stood at every angle around us.
Lost River Range – May 2020
Attempting my first ever snow-capped 12,000’ Summit in the Lost River Range was the Memorial Day weekend objective. Steel butterflies moved loosely from within my stomach as we approached, and finally got our first look at Mount Donaldson-a massive rock amphitheater, with a summit block that loomed over us from far below the snow-covered cirque we sat below. The level of uncertainty and nervousness built from within as we trudged forward through the day. The uncertainty of pushing through my limits scared me, yet simultaneously propelled me forward throughout the climb, pushing myself to my absolute boundaries of what I thought possible. Upon reaching the summit my mind raced, my boundaries had been pushed to their limits, I had achieved the unachievable, taking what I thought was possible for myself and crushing the uncertainty that started up the mountain with me earlier that day.
Glacier National Park – June 2020
From the beginning, my love of the mountains has always been centered around Glacier National Park, and how could it not? Rolling valleys cut by rushing streams, to the highest reaches of shale summits guarded by walls up to 3,000' high, Glacier is a climbers paradise. I am constantly reminded of how every summit has a different meaning and beauty. As I set out from Marias Pass, an area I hadn't previously explored, my ambitions were high as I eyed the East face of the summit that sat before me. Traveling through the beautifully cut Continental Divide Trail, I reached a point where I had to say goodbye to the trail and hello to the dense brush separating me from the base of the 8,600'+ Mountain. Upon reaching the scree tongue, I tied my laces tight to traverse and ascend the shale face. Stemming, moving, and grooving up the walls I fell into a melodic groove making my way up the face. After a somewhat dicey traverse to the Ridgeline and I began moving quickly towards the summit cairn which was finally in view. As I took in the Bob Ross-type painting that lay before my eyes, I appreciated the solidarity and hard work it took to reach this point. As my eyes fell east, the Ridgeline from the bottom of the saddle cut perfectly up to a second Summit that would focus the remaining energy I had left. Cutting below large faces and steep exposures, I made my way through multiple false summits before reaching the summit of Summit Mountain-- a clever name, right? The summit views completely took my breath away, in an effort to try and see as much as possible, I made myself comfortable and enjoyed a long lunch break atop the astounding peak. It was such a moving landscape that felt close enough that you could touch it, even when the nearest mountain was at least 10 miles away. Saying goodbye is always the hardest part. Dismal weather headed in my direction and forced me off the summit, down the scree field, and ultimately back to the trail where I finally looked back North and admired the majestic summits I had stoop atop earlier in the day.
Lake Koocanusa – June 2020
Traveling towards Canada from Northwest Montana there lies a stunning reservoir, stretching for tens of miles through the alpine beauty of Montana. On this picturesque lake holds a local crag, sporting some of the best single pitch, sport, and trad climbing for hundreds of miles. Upon reaching the area, the number of routes astonished me; I felt like a kid in a candy store picking and choosing the first route to advance. Wonderfully bolted routes atop a high platform would take our focus for the morning, as we stemmed and crimped our way up the granite walls. Moving towards some smooth crack climbing, we found ourselves greeted by our worst enemy-- rain. We climbed as long as it made sense before we retreated from the downpour to regroup. A water break and lunch would prove to be the perfect amount of time before the sun would come back and dry all the walls to perfect condition. We eyed the classic route from the area, “A Room With a View” and set out to enter this room and enjoy the beautifully overhanging 40’ route right above the reservoir. Multiple car-sized overhangs stood between me and the top chains, as the movements began linking perfectly together I flowed up the beautiful route until I reached the bedroom-sized rock block where the route became very exciting. Taking in the views and gaining my breath I reached with all my might to catch the corner overhanging the route, and with a deep breath I was in the unknown completely exposed with nothing below me for 40 feet, I readjusted my feet and knew I had just completed the hardest part of the beautiful route. Followed by my close friends we were ecstatic to all have sent the wonderful route. So we did what any other climber would do and hit the rope swing on the way out, and enjoyed the warm summer water greeting our likeminded happiness for the days sends.
Tobacco Root Mountains – May 2020
If you have ever traveled to Yellowstone National Park there is a chance you have seen the beautiful Tobacco Root Mountains, and the small town sign of “Pony, MT”-- both I would come to find out, are a great hidden gem in the Southwest Montana Region of the Rockies. Traveling through Pony we were greeted by a picturesque mountain meadow, which would serve as the trailhead for our approach to a summit Ski of the range highpoint of Hollowtop Mountain, or so we thought. As we traveled upwards to the base of the Mountain a crystal clear alpine lake with a dark shade of blue greeted us as we finally had a view of the beautiful 10,000’ Peaks in the area. With inclement weather on the horizon, we had to make a choice, force the summit and abandon hopes of skiing, or ski a more southwardly high point that looked extremely promising. So we went with option B, as we had carried our skis all the way to the lake already. Armed with tenacity for type 2 fun, we bushwhacked our way through the downed forest until we finally reached the snowpack and began the skinning portion of our day. A massive rock cirque surrounded us, chock-full of summer lines begging to be skied. We picked the most hourglass-shaped chute and began the boot pack towards the top. As we crested over the ridgeline the surrounding drainages came into view-and they literally took my breath away, that and the 30 mph winds. Now the fun part would begin-- we strapped our boots tight and began to make the steep descent through the chute and began opening up our turns once the apron was reached, as we skied back to our shoes nothing but happiness and smiles occupied our minds as we made our way back to the alpine lake. The soft summer afternoon proved to be a delightful walk back to the trailhead. A wonderful gem of an adventure capped off with a Beer at the world-famous Pony Bar made this adventure perfect.