This post is part of a Throwback Thursday series featuring trip reports that we haven’t had a chance to write about until now! Look for them at least every other Thursday!
If you’ve traveled the stretch of I-70 between Frisco and Copper Mountain you’ve seen it – the north-facing gnar that lies on the south side of Tenmile Canyon. Couloir stands next to couloir, ice closes out some of the lines, granite pinnacles cap their tops. These lines capture the imaginations of many ski mountaineers, but it’s not often that they come into good condition.
Back then, I didn’t yet have the vision. I didn’t know that skiing lines like this was really possible, so I didn’t dream about them. I’d traveled that stretch of I-70 hundreds of times and I can’t say that I had ever once thought about skiing one of the couloirs there. But, my friend Dave had the vision, and he needed a partner. So, I went.
I’ll be honest, it was one of my first true ski mountaineering lines. This line in Tenmile Canyon – a line I don’t even know the name of and still have trouble trying to find exactly which one it was as I pass by it on I-70 – it was this line that gave me the thirst. This line gave me the craving. It was this line that started love for ski mountaineering. It was this line that brought me to where I am today.
I didn’t own ski mountaineering equipment. I was backcountry skiing on the original Volkl Mantras and Lange race boots. I didn’t even have adjustable poles. But, I did have the drive. I had climbed Mount Rainier, and while I loved every moment of the experience, my knees hated every step of the way down. This whole concept of being able to climb a mountain and then descending it on skis was a revolutionary concept to me. And I liked it. I wanted to see just how many mountains I could climb and ski.
So, here it is, my recap of a day that changed my life over 11 years ago….
Nothing like a creek crossing in the morning.
We started out by skinning, but it got steep really fast.
We quickly transitioned to booting. But, conditions for booting were tough. We wallowed in the snow and had to sometimes resort to climbing near the rocks instead to avoid severe post-holing.
After hours of climbing and wallowing through the snow, I’d had enough. As much as I wanted to make it to the top, I just couldn’t do it. It was my first time booting so far for so long solely for the purpose of skiing. I wasn’t even sure if my legs could rally enough strength for the descent.
Dave continued up a bit further, stopping with just a little more to go.
Looking back down.
And a scenic shot to go with the mix.
Then, the descent. Oh yeah, it was fun. Dave.
And down we went, to join the hum of the traffic passing along I-70. I wonder if anyone even noticed we were up there….
Much thanks to Dave Bourassa for being a fabulous and patient partner on this day. Also, thanks to him for contributing all of these photos. In those days, I did not own a camera worthy of bringing along on an adventure like this. All of these photos were taken with Dave’s large camera, and at times he’d hand it off to me.
I hope that you have enjoyed this recap of a day started a new beginning, skiing Tenmile Canyon 🙂
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