Here’s a teaser for the next film in the Ski The Himalayas series.
We made it, we skied it, we are done in under two weeks with one ascent and one amazing descent. Our goal, to follow our noses to some of the best snow in Nepal has been a success. Our summit day on Thorung peak occurred four days ago and we now sit in the comfort of Pokhara Nepal, 19,000’ lower.
The summit ascent morning was cold, windy and the snow affected by the temperatures and constant wind loading. We began our ascent at 4:30 AM on an “Aconcagua Cold” summit morning and crested the ridge of our peak by sunrise to finally rewarm the toes and continue forward to the 20,200’ summit of Thorung Peak. Please take a look at the attached photos.
We skied the peak from the summit to the ground amidst 25,000’ mountains and a bluebird day. I’m proud of our team of four skiers and Stanford All American runner Hari Mix who beat us down and roped in with me…sans skis. This guy is fast and yo yo’d some mean tricks on the summit, I had to throw a photo in there of that, it is likely the only time he was “still”. Erik, Chris and Jon all enjoyed their first Himlayan summit, I feel lucky to have been teamed up with this crew of friends.
Even if it wasn’t Everest or K2 or any other of the popular peaks so steeped in Himalayan lore, it was better this time to be here and this way. The location, snow and line on Thorung is superb. I’m psyched because it applied the execution of nine expeditions sniffing around Nepal for the best conditions and the wildest location and we found a line that got our whole team up and down with no injuries and skied top to bottom. That’s rare. It also took less than two weeks to approach and top out proving that there are some attainable goals for those who always thought coming to the Himalayas couldn’t be done on a time or financial budget. I don’t put live the dream on my signature for nothing, I hope the images inspire you.
The descent and the story itself will roll out in Spring 2011 as a 120 minute podcast series and 60 minute Film. Stay tuned for more updates on Ski The Himalayas debut of the first 90 minute film offering due out in 80 million households this November and through the winter on Dish Network Pay per View, VOD and iNDEMAND cable VOD.
This whole crazy idea, a labor of love that I can’t seem to shake, continues to enable us to explore the world’s highest mountains not always looking for the biggest or most robustly cutting edge objectives (I’ll still do that), but the greatest moments of our lives…which generally come somewhere in good snow. It is not the height of the mountain that dictates our drive but the depth of the experience. The last five expeditions here with skis have certainly yielded that, this one was the least technical. Thanks again to those who support us, we are forever grateful. To start a trip, have it change completely and still snag a summit and a line down is a new highpoint for me, as with all Himalayan excursions, I will take what the mountains have to give.
I would share more but after 12 hours on three buses, two weeks in the hills and a buffet you wouldn’t believe…I’m going to bed!
Live the Dream,
Folks, nothing is worse than overstating facts and long prose. Please review the photo and know that we have chased the good snow away from Mustang and over onto a one peak powder skiing objective. 20,200’ Thorung Peak is covered in stable and amazing conditions, we will climb and ski it tomorrow.
I want to thank my friends, my sponsors and those of you out there rooting us on and for inspiring me to never waver in my commitment to skiing the Himalayas. Six months after breaking my ankle on 23,390’ Baruntse I took my first ski turns of the season (attached photo), in deep powder at 19,000’ yesterday and shared it with my greatest friends. I know now why we couldn’t make it to Mustang, the snow is better here!
Live the dream, never doubt the possibility of true adventure. More dispatches to come.
Folks, this is my ninth Himalayan Expedition. I have seen crazy stuff happen before, but never anything like this. We are on our way to the mountains but nowhere near where I thought when we landed in the heart of the Annapurna range just days ago.
If you know me well, you know I often joke about getting a tattoo across my chest of two tigers holding hands with the statement “Expect the Unexpected” emblazoned underneath. Well…it is because my life as an adventurer and explorer has put me into some of the most twisted realities I can or can’t imagine. I live life daily and this week has been no different.
When I strolled through town with my crew of friends, fresh off a twin otter flight to 9000′ Jomsom, I was on cloud 9 and headed to a place I’d never been. We were on our way to the dream trip of my lifetime, to climb and ski 20′800′ Saribung in Mustang.
I don’t mean to be too aggrandizing here, but if you’ve ever hit the tarmac in this area, you’re already well into an experience. Within moments we had joined our cook staff, reunited with our skis and expedition bags and only one key element was missing…where were the porters?
It was that realization that brought a direct question and then a horseman to the table. How long will it take us to get to basecamp I asked Gelu, our cook for a third time. 4 or 5 days sir, he responded. Across the table, with a glance that could cut a deck of cards our less than cherubic horseman replied “15 days” Then” you walk 2 more after that’ there is no food for the horses at basecamp”. Our research abroad and locally contradicted this statement to no end.
Ok, so let’s back this up for a minute, I just finished the last of 6 flights, thousands of dollars and months of planning to get here to negotiate with a horseman. We had known that we would need to get our gear deep into the mountains but everyone knew this would only take a few days. Something I was assured had already been taken care of was this detail and our route. Something I had no reason to doubt. We work with professional liasons in this country year after year and this is the first time we all sat down to realize that this horseman held our fate in his caloused hands and not in ours.
6 hours of conversation later, only one truth maintained; We were not going to the kingdom of Mustang to ski this fall. I was crushed, we hadn’t the time, we handn’t the gumption to add three weeks to our trip. Luckily we also didn’t have any pressure, this was on our dime and we were free to do what we wanted. That’s how we roll with Ski the Himalayas these days. This trip was ours and we were joined by friends who we love to share the mountains with…and we’re still shooting a film, about climbing and skiing 6000 meter peaks in less than three weeks. All I can say is I used every bit of knowledge from 9 expeditions over here to create a totally new plan and not go crazy or reroute us to some hard core new objective…we’re right in line with what we originally wished to accomplish.
Stay tuned to the next dispatch and find out how we ended up in a deep valley, surrounded by high peaks, only to be living and breathing more mountain air and returning to some unfinished business in the Muktinath Himal. We have two objectives above us and a great story already behind us!
Live the dream,
Funny how it feels to be easing my way back into snowsports now that fall has approached and my ankle is healed. I returned from Baruntse last May just in time for great high country conditions only to find that I wouldn’t get on snow again until a few weeks from now, my ankle was broken, but not my spirit. Now that I am here, there are more than a few new things I’ve adopted to aide my recovery toward the alpine environ that I’ve let draw me back over for my second Himalayan expedition in 2010.
The first aide is a new ice axe. Although this seems like pretty standard equipment and as a pro athlete you can bet I have more than 3 pairs…this one is different…it’s long like a cane. It’s like what I started with in 1998. It’s true, I have hung up the pairs of short drooped fangy technical climbing tools on this trip and will be styling with a shiny new Ice Axe that weighs next to nothing and its really strong. It’s only function; catch a roped fall on a moderately steep glacier (easy) clear snow out of my boots. Be something to lean over should I need to puke…hmmm, well scratch that last one.
The second and most amazing breakthrough I had was deciding to purchase a pair of cramp ons, that’s right, the steely pointed traction device of mountaineers everywhere. I have so many rusted pairs of steep ice climbing cramp ons and light techy ones too but they all served on function…get me up the steepest gnarliest ice and rock climbs I could find…well, they are overkill for what I am doing today. They suck at walking. I mean really suck and make you bumble like an idiot too. So I bought a pair of cramp ons so light so shiny, so new that I have been fixated on just putting them on my boots when we hit snow, I can’t wait.
The best part about being a Ski Mountaineer on this trip rather than preparing for steep ice and rock climbing at 21,000′ is that I can actually enjoy beginning again with the same passion and love that I have had for the mounains all this time. I can’t think of anything cooler than geeking out about new gear that although it’s functionality might not be ideal for the environs of my past trips, is 100% the best stuff for my immediate future. That’s a great indicator of how fun I anticipate the feeling of climbing and skiing with my friends on 20,800′ Mount Saribung in Mustang. Breaking my ankle helped me to rekindle my love for even the most basic of functions in the high mountains and to be proud that my friends are joining me for things that don’t intimidate the fun out of them. I’m focused now more than ever, but on the mountains rather than on all of their unsung undone prizes.
It’s cool. Cooler than ever actually.
When I broke my ankle on May 1st last spring, I was at 17,600’ on 23,390 Baruntse, also known as my own personal Moby Dick for reasons you can research at www.skithehimalayas.com. Unlike Ahab, I was rescued by a vessel rather than doomed to one. Lifted into the skies, wrapped in bandages, worked over through weeks of PT and now here I am again today, returning to wrestle with ambition and not the ankle. Hopefully stronger, admittedly risk averse and yet still with an appetite for the unknown. The whale is gone though, off my range for a spell.
It’s a funny thing this trip to Nepal. In the midst of sat phone calls to Global Rescue and to all of those I cared about in the days after the break last May, it was the rally cries of those who knew how important climbing and skiing in Nepal was to me that were heard the most. My friends and backcountry partners. Their words melded me to a new goal, that’s right, a new goal. “Fun” is the “new” badass for me, attainable is also a word I like. Baruntse will lay on the shelf until Spring 2012. Today, we are sleeping like dirt bags on seats on the Hong Kong airport, tonight our crooked spines will rest easy knowing we have arrived in Nepal for great skiing in the province of Mustang. I’m beaming through blood shot eyes and a half grin mired by sleep deprivation.
“It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun” I’ve heard, but today, it has to be fun to get my friends out. It also has to be safe, really safe. I want to live a long life and one that is enriched by my relationships with not only my beautiful loving wife, but also the righteous experiences I’ve had with my boys in Telluride. Oh yea…it also includes multiple trips a year to ski Nepal…hmmmm, thankfully I have 14 years of climbing experience to let me tip toe that balance.
So she told me to go (my beautiful loving wife), and I am with the mightiest of friends in search of an attainable conquest. We hope to vanquish a misty summit hidden in a remote province and then ski down. The five of us. There really isn’t much more to that that words can express without gushing at how extremely grateful I am to have such supportive and wonderful partners at home that will join me at large. Well, I could say that Jon Miller has returned and that you will get to know these three additional folks as we write our way through this experience and blast it into your inbox with some photos to inspire.
Join us as we trek to the province of Mustang and climb and ski a 6000M peak named Saribung. This expedition promises to be unique, it’s actually the type of dream trip that I would have followed up Baruntse with had I summited this spring. Funny how that works, as a hopelessly committed explorer, it seems that the mountains will always call me back. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose but this: my fifth ski expedition to Nepal since 2007 will truly be the one I cherish most. Read the dispatches, feel free to e-mail us and stay tuned to learn why.
Live the Dream,