14er Ski Descents – Quandary Peak – April 24, 2000
Route: East Ridge
Team: Ted, Christy
Christy and I had just started hanging out and I figured why ease into it? Let’s cut to the chase. Let’s see how she handles this stuff.
Closing day on Aspen Mountain brought a big spring storm. We had already made plans for Quandary Peak the morning after, some new snow made it sound more interesting. Still in the early “getting to know each other” phase, we made our way up the East Ridge, chatting. Wave after wave of spring weather blew through and though it produced little precipitation, the whiteout conditions were disorienting. We both shrugged it off. Christy wanted to seem cool with it because that was exactly what I was doing. She followed me all the way through the wind and clouds to the summit without so much as a peep about the conditions.
I had hoped to ski the Cristo Couloir. Of course there was a foot or so of new snow on the frozen south facing crust beneath, with some high winds gusting and a euro-style whiteout. I guess sometimes certain things are only thought about in hindsight. I was more concerned with how the “1st date” was going, I ignored the obvious red flags that day.
As Christy was getting into her tele bindings I wandered towards the top of the couloir to make a ski cut. Contrary to the “everything’s cool” attitude we had thus far, we had actually discussed the conditions during the drive and determined the slope to be a likely avlanche risk— so making out a slight rollover in the slope I skied to it and stopped. Right at my feet the slope broke off and silently disappeared into the whiteout below. The crown ran in front and behind me until out of sight, from right between my feet, about 10-12 inches deep. Without a doubt it ran the entire 3000′ down to the reservoir below.
Christy was still above me and could tell something happened, I asked her to stay put as I kick-turned and traversed back to the East Ridge.
We skied, blinded at times by in and out whiteout conditions, down the way we came up and back to the truck. When I hear people talking about how a first date didn’t go so well, I always tell how this one almost unfolded.