We're 30km deep, holed up in a snowcave just 200m from the summit of Mt Resplendent, itching for ski worthy weather window. I've been on the road chasing storms for six months, it's May, I'm trashed, and all my friends are surfing. Why am I here?
Flow forward to late July 2014 and I'm reflecting on that same question. I'm recovering from a bout of the Dengue Fever here in the Mentawai Islands, Sumatra. Long nights shivering myself in and out of hallucinations, a bedside burning candle was the one thing that warmed my spirit. Beautiful thoughts and emotions from my past come and go as I try to make some sense of it all, knowing that the hard time will pass as I give thanks for yet another fond experience in this life.
This seasonal lifestyle is nothing new to me, as I’ve now spent over 16 summers in the waves looking back on my winters. Its a wonderful time for reflection and healing after a long hard winter on the road. Still single, still traveling, still healing, still listening, still living my dreams, still asking so many questions as to the meaning of life. Once again I'm reminded of the values and virtues when oneself lives in the here and now. How this idea of living in this way frees my heart from all the insecurities and expectations that want to confuse me from the path. It is so planned and obvious and so simple, yet we rush around in a great panic as if it was necessary to achieve something well beyond just being ourselves.
A glassy wave barrels my mind back to April 2014. After four months living out of my ski bag in the Alps this winter, it was finally time to head home to BC and catch up on 'life'. I'd just survived my strongest ski season in 10 years, beat up but stoked! Soul skiing in La Grave with friends, skiing the Chamonix steeps with Andreas Fransson, and weathering a 50 year storm in the Dolomites with Mattias Fredrikkson and Henrik Windstedt.
The trip had it all, and begged to continue, but I was overdue to head home and hit the reset switch. You know - rest, dentist, bank, visit friends, and maybe, just maybe a haircut.
But rest wasn't in the cards. As soon as I set foot in Canada and packed my skis away, the phone rang early one evening. I was sitting on the porch drinking a tea, immersing myself in the silence of night, thinking how great it was to be home. Right, answer the phone!
Old friend Steve Ogle was on the line with one last mission, wondering if I was interested in an epic spring skiing mission / slog into the Jumbo Glacier. I slept on it, and next thing you know, I was on the road again. So much for the haircut.
The trip into Jumbo was a powder success and gave momentum for this next mission into the Rockies which would prove to be the “classic slog”.
I traded in the company of Ogle for two old buddies, mountain men Bren Mackenzie and Brett Eyben. The calendar hit May and we were still chasing snow. We were heading for Mt Robson Provincial Park to climb and ski Mt Resplendent, said to be the classic ski of the Rockies. Already way over the ski thing at this point, how could I shy away from one last high mountain mission when conditions were so prime.
Thinking that we could knock off the first 8-10km using bikes, the idea quickly became fantasy when we got out of the truck and found a foot of snow at the Trailhead. Well, we didn’t even need to say anything to one another... we had our work cut out for us. “It's time to saddle up boys” I said, and it was on.
Packed and stocked with 3 days of food and a proper ski mountaineering kit, we set off in running shoes at 8pm with good intensions for the 58km round trip and gain of 10,000ft from parking lot to summit. 2 and a half days was our time frame for the climb as the crew had some life obligations to come up. Imagine that! Time was precious and the days were short. As my dad would say “Let's get'er done.”
It was a suffer fest indeed, but we made it and it was a beautiful summit. Having to dig a snow pit 200m from the summit to wait out a weather window was the turning point, and when it cleared, it was time to open it up. We skied off the summit in -15 temps under bluebird skies. Not a bad place to finish my test of G3's new ION ski touring bindings. Hard work but someone has to do it, right? My trip was smooth, fast and safe - from the moment I strapped the old girls on my rucksack to opening it up on the descent.
I had been close to the summit of Robson 15 years ago and reflected on the beautiful mountain ever since. What a pleasure it was to have the whole park to ourselves. After a quality campfire session, we ousted the flames and put winter 2014 to bed. Time for some surf.