I’ve been reading Dustin’s blog for about a year now, ever since he skied with Dug and Rick on a chance encounter last spring. But it wasn’t until Tuesday night at the Friends of Flagstaff meeting that I actually met him.
With Tuesday’s business addressed inasmuch as it can be at this point, this morning we got together to ski. Dustin’s friend Jason, as well as Dug, Tyler, Adam, Aaron, and Adam’s friend, Keith joined us.
It was Keith’s first tour. He learned to use a borrowed beacon in the parking lot. He’s a snowboarder, and he was going to hike up in snowshoes with his board strapped to his back. I’ll admit I was more than a little apprehensive about the prospect.
Other than Dug and Tyler each using one pole, the hike up was uneventful. Except that somehow Dustin would get like a 1/4 mile gap on the rest of us, stop and take pictures until we had all passed, then somehow pass us all again without us noticing, and repeat. I guess that technically, he was working, since Dustin works for Petzl, and a good number of us were wearing their headlamps in his photos.
When we got to the ridge at the top of the headwall, I climbed those last 20 vertical feet Dug gave me so much crap about last week. And then kept going quite a ways further than that. I guess having 2000 fewer vertical feet in my legs did make a difference in my willingness to keep climbing. The much-vaunted view was nothing to speak of since it was cloudy.
Keith also shocked me by keeping pace with the rest of us in his snowshoes. Considering how cooked I was at the top after six months of doing this, that’s something.
Descending the headwall was no less than spectacular. Srsly. It’s steep, but fun steep, not make-you-pucker steep. The trees are big and spaced as if someone gladed it. The trees shelter it from the wind, so it holds good snow even if the wind is hammering everything else. And it’s the last 500 or so vertical of a 3,000+ vertical foot climb, so most people don’t hike that far (?!?), leaving it largely untouched even when the lower bowl looks like a ski resort.
Once off the headwall, I followed Dustin as he made beautiful telemark turns down to a cornice we had spotted on the way up. Dustin positioned himself to grab a picture of me dropping the cornice, and I inched up to the edge to spot where I would take off from.
Just as I was almost to where I wanted to launch from and ready to hike back up and make a run at it, I was weightless then falling. The cornice had broken off and took me with it. Thankfully it didn’t propagate, so I stood there laughing at what just happened. Turns out Tyler had the same thing happen on the same cornice moments later.
With the picture spoiled, we descended to the scene of Dug’s drop from last week to try and get a lesser make up shot. Thanks to Dustin for this and all previous photos.
From there, Dustin and Jason had to rush off to get to work, so I waited for the rest of the crew and snapped a few photos.
Wanna know why Tyler always looks good in his photos? Because he’s a damn good skier, that’s why.
Adam powering through the crust on the lower slopes:
Adam, after the crust overpowered him:
Somehow I failed to get any pictures of Keith. Sorry Keith.
With Keith and Aaron representing the snowboard community the way they do and Dustin and Jason showing how Telemark skiing is done right, I’m pretty much stuck without anyone to make fun of, except maybe myself.