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.