Rio Grande Pyramid
A Recipe for Disaster – San Juan Ski Weekend Day 3
Anyone who enjoys venturing into the mountains will agree there are the great trips, the good trips and unfortunately, the nightmares and/or disasters. The way I see it, every so often you are dealt a nightmare to serve as a reminder to appreciate the great days you’ve had. This final peak of our weekend ranks as a top nightmare we have experienced. Let’s reconstruct how this happens.
2. Once at the trailhead discover Christy’s telemark binding is half torn out of her ski, and bent. Refuse to heed this bad omen as a sign to go home, and repair it just enough to make the trip happen. Enlist the car jack, a green scrubby and a leatherman, straighten and remount. It should be fine, she should just avoid making any telemark turns.
3. Haul big packs with overnight gear and skis on tired legs up six fairly flat miles to camp. Do it only at a point in spring when the snow is in transition and you’re either walking in mud, running meltwater, or on unsupportive snow that fails into postholes regularly. You can curse a bit. After battling the adverse trail conditions for about four hours, arrive to camp at dusk, thoroughly worked, with sore feet and wet boot liners.
4. Get up super early, feeling tired for both yesterday’s effort, and because you’re not excited to have a 14 mile day to get to the summit and back to the car. Don’t follow the trail you know of and have hiked before, but insist that there’s a better one elsewhere. You won’t know it but you’re achy feet will have another 12 hours in the ski boots.
8. Have your perennially smiling partner (Christy) finally admit things aren’t very fun, and that we’re both so tired this is starting to seem like a bad idea. (climbing/ski route indicated in red)
9. Take 10 minutes on the summit and enjoy the views. Try not to dwell on the fact(s):
a. that it took way longer to get here, so the snow, where not cupped, is going to be too soft for fun skiing.
b. that we have yet to discover a real ski route down the mountain(apart from the 50 turns off the summit) that doesn’t involve dense timber.
c. that you’re both getting way too much sun.
d. that Christy’s tele binding could fail at any moment, and we’re in the middle of nowhere.
e. that once we get down from the mountain and back to camp, we’ll have a seemingly endless slog back out.
DONT TELEMARK!(or the binding could come off the ski)
After 50 turns, start traversing back into the forest.
10. Repeat step 5 three times again, then go to 11.
12. Effectively ‘blackout’ for the remainder of the day while heading back to the truck. Exhausted, you’ll require several types of coping strategies, including but not limited to: disbelief, hysterical laughing, denial, anger, surrender, survival and even some joking about contemplation of taking one’s own life. Take a self portrait to capture your feeling of despair.
13. Drive home that night mentally and physically broken(and with ski gear not doing so well either), and take a week off from skiing.