Thursday, March 31, 2016

Three Things Thursday. Issue #16

I spend a lot of time in the mountains with Chad. Which is great. Also great is his social media presence. He's eloquent, effusive, and selective with what he posts. He has a true adventurer's spirit. Perhaps more than most people I know. A selection of his posts from a recent visit here to the Tetons is equal parts flattering praise and travel-log, in a clear and stoked style. And I took some of these pictures myself.

03.01.16 | The Tetons TBT…to charging couloirs last week… I love this pic, but I’m more proud of the moments that preceded it… These coulies are intimidating. Steep, narrow, dark walls, no viz, a line you’ve never skied that curves out of sight… The moment you first stand atop your line is something else. Legs barking from a 3k to 4k foot skin up…out of breath from the transition from climbing to skiing mode… After the serenity of the skin up, you’re always slightly frazzled when you slide over and eye it up. The routine is familiar…Jed drops first and skis it smoothly…but he skis everything smoothly. A few seconds later, he radios back up that it’s Corey’s turn to drop. You can feel his intensity…and down he drops…and out of sight. And there you are…alone in the clouds, with nothing but your thoughts. Moments later the radio crackles to life, which instantly produces the adrenaline burst…”OK, Chad, you’re clear. And there’s a sweet inside line on skier’s right. Take it.” And just like that, you’re up… The first thoughts always seem to be negative… Fuck, this is steep. Will I eat shit? Are there rocks in there? Could it still slide? What happens if I get hurt? Or lose a ski? Blah blah blah. This is the crux. Forcing yourself to set those negative thoughts aside. Fuck that noise and turn it into… Wow, this looks sick. What would happen if I charged it like I’m in a ski mag? What if it’s the line of my life? That’s when you take a breath, sigh out the adrenaline and grab the radio… “Copy that, Jed. Drrrrrroooopppping.” You make that first tentative turn across the fall line to feel the snow…nothing…it’s quiet and creamy… it’s on. So you just fucking point it…the snow starts spraying across your chest and into your beard…and this happens. It’s a sweet pic, but I like it mostly because it is the embodiment of what the mountains have taught me. This has been a brutal week and I find myself standing atop a line I never anticipated I’d need to descend. But that’s life. I’m just telling myself to trust the lessons I’ve learned in the mountains. Don’t be afraid of change, challenges or the unknown. Look them in the eye. Charge them. And then fucking send them.

A photo posted by Chad Buelow (@chadbuelow) on

Saturday, March 12, 2016

15k day.

Years ago now I resolved to one day ski up and down 15,000 vertical feet. I even "pre sprayed" about it. I finally did just that earlier this week. It wasn't easy, nor was it as hard as I thought it would be. I made a minor effort to find a partner, but I also thought it would be cool on my own. When partners didn't come through, it wasn't all that heartbreaking to get out on my own.

Early morning, snow squall. Up Olive Oil. 

Wildlife. The Tetons are smack in a fricken wildlife safari. After skiing the Banana Chute on Prospectors Mountain, with no photos, I climbed the south east side of Prospectors to the back of the Son of Apocalypse couloir. 
Son of Apocalypse. Tracked, but great.

While I am not totally averse to the action selfie, a day paced like this one is not the time or place. This is the best I could do. Mainly powder skiing all day long. 

The last two laps were on a familiar skin track up Whympys, with the final trip to the summit of Albright. Where I had not been before. 

Summit of Albright, 5:16pm. Downhill!

I wish I could say I entertained profound thoughts about wilderness and weather and mountain vistas while gliding across Phelps Lake and down the Moose-Wilson Road. However, it was a brain-dead slog under beautiful light.