Going Big to Start the Season

I didn’t sleep much last night.  I want to blame the jet lag.  I have to admit that I am nervous, too.  I might be a little scared as well.  I can’t remember the last time skiing scared me.  

It seems like everyone I know is skiing in Portillo and reporting the best conditions ever.  Why do I have to make it so goddamn hard on myself?  The most successful, well-known skiers are all in Portillo, skiing powder and drinking pisco sours.  This is the recipe for success, right?  Meanwhile, I spend hundreds of hours preparing, planning and attempting to anticipate the unforeseen – in a place that throws the meanest curveball of all time.  For what?  I have no idea.  And I mean this literally.  I have no idea what will come from this first adventure of the season.

This is my own damn fault.  I asked for this.  While it is easy to be jealous of the photos coming from the resort, I know the other parts of the story as well.  I have to remind myself that I left that environment for a reason.  Not that it’s not fun.  It was.  It is.  But I needed more adventure.  I’ve got all I need now.  

I (along with my friend and fellow ski guide, Nina Hance) will be heading into the Andes to ski in area I have only skied once – barely.  I know the skiing in this area will be incredible.  The weather forecast is stellar and the zone was just pounded with somewhere around 10-feet of snow last week.  Conditions will be perfect.  If we merely spend a week skiing great snow from a beautiful basecamp I will call it a success.  

There is also a peak that has haunted me for years.  On a clear day, its west face is visible from Ruta 5, 40-miles away.  In the evening it glows purple and looks to be a few-thousand feet of ‘Alaska steep’ spines.  I’ve never seen it close up.  My hunch and investigations lead me to believe no one has ever skied this face before.  I am trying to not get worked up about the possibility of a significant first descent in the Andes.  It’s hard to escape the anticipation that comes with so many unknowns.  

For this I leave the comforts of the known – not only the resorts, but my life at home.  As I lie in bed at night, worrying about whether the road will be open; if the carabineros will let us go; if the snow will be stable; if I have made the right plan, etc. I wonder, “Why the hell do I do this to myself?”  The thing is, I know it doesn't have anything to do with the ‘trophy’ of a possible first descent.  I go because I haven’t been there before.  I guess it's as simple as curiosity.  

Volcanoes Planchon and Peteroa seen from the road to Pichilemu, on the coast of Chile, 100-miles away.  You know it's big when you can see it from 100-miles.