Route: North Face
Team: Ted, Christy
With the arrival of June, north facing snow was about all that was left. The view of Missouri’s north side from La Plata the week before showed it was still in from the top, or so it appeared. Christy and I were excited as we made the quick trip over Independence Pass, we didn’t know the day would become an ethics litmus test.
We walked the dry Missouri Gulch trail to treeline. Upon hitting continuous snow we switched to ski boots and skinned up to Missouri’s north side. Opting to skin up towards the long northwest ridge rather than boot up the couloir, we gained the ridge, passing over the often mistaken false summit and made the top early. There was plenty of snow on the north side but the last thirty feet or so (linear, not vertical) to the summit were dry. Bummer.
The sensible decision here would be to ski from the start of the snow. But no, that wouldn’t count. All winter long this peak can be skied off the top and just because we were late shouldn’t allow us any slack in the rules. We could come back later to redo it right, but we were already here, and it was so close to being a true summit ski. Lou managed it from the top as well….
So there we were, laying my jacket down, shoveling it full of snow and hauling it up to a point to dump it out, over and over, until Missouri once again skied from its summit. We were waiting for the snow to soften anyway and now we could ski and know it was done right. It seemed incredibly silly at the time but felt right when it was done.
I don’t suggest everyone needs to subscribe to the same rules, they don’t. But for me and Christy it was easy. Lou did this first and therefore set the standard that others must at a minimum match if not improve upon. Standards are a good thing, all other sports have them including all disciplines of climbing and mountaineering. If you don’t care to abide you’ll still have a great day on the mountain but with loose standards and definitions comes questionable claims of achievement and a dilution of true accomplishments.
The following year Chris Davenport extended some credit to the concept while on Mount Belford, and a year later, Christy and myself along with the Dawsons and Jordan White rebuilt the ‘Belford Kicker’.