Marksmanship

I am a "little guy" in the ski industry.  I am a ski guide, I happen to make an okay turn and I work hard, so I have managed to get some support from companies so I can keep getting out there, exploring, creating stories and sharing them along the way.  But, it's pretty basic.  I am not one of the bigger names.  I don't get to spend weeks at a time waiting for one perfect moment.  

My good friend, Timmy Duggan, was a professional bike racer.  He worked as a domestique for some of the best teams in the world.  It was rare that he was given the opportunity to go for a win of his own.  He liked to say, "When you don't get many bullets, you need really good aim."

The weather in the past month has been frustrating.  There have not been many clear shots.  If I had had a few more Pesos to spend, I could have positioned myself in the storm, waiting for the brief moments of good weather, then run out and gotten powder turns in blue skies, just before the storms rolled back in.  This is a little bit of the "machine-gun" approach.  But I didn't have this luxury, so I had to hang farther from the action, where it's cheaper, where I had a kitchen, and where I could at least stay active.  It's not bad, but it's nerve-wracking to know that part of my job is to create stories and there are a bunch of talented skiers and story-tellers closer to the action than I.  It's easy to feel like I am missing out.  

The weather finally broke.  The final bit of wind and snow would clear out late Tuesday or early Wednesday.  Then it would be clear and relatively calm for at least a week.  I would have five-days to get after it before coming back to prepare for a week of guiding.  

Five clear shots.  Five bullets.  My only thought was, "Don't miss."

I left the coast at seven o'clock and was skinning toward Volcán Nevados de Chillan by 2:00PM.  I was on top by 7:00, and skied down in the alpenglow.  Bullseye.  The next day I toured up through Valle Hermoso, dropped a steep south aspect I had spied earlier in the season, went out to check out an area I'd like to spend more time in next year, and then sat in the hot springs in the afternoon waiting for the light to get right on the final descent of the day.  The wind was strong and I was moving slower than I wanted, so I missed the big descent I wished for; but the day was still a success.  Friday was clear again.  I moved to Volcán Antuco and established a base camp up on the mountain.  Goal accomplished.  Saturday I would head out to ski the south glacier of Sierra Velluda. The weather closed me out, but I got a bunch of photos that I really wanted.  The day was not a total loss.  Sunday was the last day.  I wanted to know every aspect of Antuco.  I climbed to the top, skied the east aspect in great corn, climbed back up, skied the south face in pretty crappy wind-board, climbed back up and then skied the northwest face in perfect conditions.  Definitely a bullseye.  

It can be really frustrating to not have as many opportunities as some other athletes.  But worrying about that does no good at all.  Don't get many bullets?  Don't miss the shots you get.


Donny Roth