It's hard to believe I left the ski mountains of my dreams. But on March 21st, with a painfully heavy heart and tear-filled eyes, I drove out of Jackson headed for Alaska. Ahead were new adventures, for sure, but leaving my home and friends was the hardest move I've ever made. It really wasn't the mountains, although they're the best anywhere, I would argue. It was more the community that they inspire. After many years, I finally achieved the sense of belonging I'd always wanted but never attained. And now I was leaving. What was I thinking? And as I passed the top of Teton Pass and glanced back one last time in my rearview mirror, I cried again.
It was time for a gut check. I needed to step back and look at the bigger picture. It's true. I was fit and ready to skimo race. I've been training all season and the upcoming Wasatch Powder Keg was going to be my final race of the year. I was facing the last week before the event and it was time to rest. The problem was that this taper was corresponding with a spell of splitter high pressure which had the high peaks drawing my thoughts and ambitions like the sirens in Homer's Odyssey.
Yesterday, one of my favorite and long time ski partners, Steve Romeo and his ski partner, Chris Onufer, were buried and killed in a massive avalanche on Ranger Peak in Grand Teton National Park. They were reported missing late last night and a quick SAR fly over this morning yielded two beacon hits within a debris pile. Their bodies were recovered earlier this afternoon.
Steve was my first real Teton ski partner. I remember how excited I was when this notorious Teton character, Randosteve, asked me if I wanted to get out with him. I was pretty green back then. Not sure if I was up to his ability level. But ski together we did, and often, for two or three seasons. I'm a better skier for it. Steve had a knowledge of the range that few possessed and I was honored to be tagging along. He was always game to go big, often pushing the conditions just a hair and several of his close calls inspired healthy debate within the ski community.
What was cool about Steve was that he was willing to put his successes and failures out in the blogosphere for all to see. He shared his strong opinions and let others share theirs'. He created TetonAT as a vehicle to promote his "Live to Ski" attitude. And he was doing just that on his last day.
We'll never know what happened on Ranger Peak that day. Doesn't really matter. I lost another friend and a great partner. I will continue to Live to Ski in his honor. - Brian
Slough management. The expression suggests an ability to somehow control one of winter's most powerful natural forces - piles of snow yielding to the force of gravity. We see the term written in stories and hear it and see it in adrenaline-fueled ski porn. The fatter skis and higher speeds of today's free skiers allows for "managing" ever larger so-called sloughs. But at some point we need to call a spade a spade and admit that some of these events are really avalanches. I mean, who are we kidding here?
Last weekend a crew of Jackson skimo racers descended upon Bozeman for the annual Bridger Bowl Skin to Win Randonee Rally. This is one of the country's longest running events and is typically a fun and well-organized race. This year was no different although the weather conspired to make the day more trying than previous editions.