No Ski-Mode, No Problem

So this morning I woke up at 7, had coffee, ate a breakfast sandwich, then went skiing.

Alex B and I (us Alexes stick together) drove down to Mayflower Gulch to head for a line I have wanted to ski for a long time, the Northwest Face of Drift Peak. The line drops steeply off the 13,900ft summit down towards a cliff band drained by a series of exit couloirs.

We quickly skinned up the valley and started booting up the West Ridge. It was hot, the weather in the distance looked ominous, the valley looked spectacular. We hustled ahead of the weather and high-fived on top two hours after leaving the car.

Even though Drift is not a ‘ranked’ peak, it has an impressive summit looking out over the ten-mile, with the Sawatch and Gore ranges in the distance. I pooped near the top, has a swig of water, enjoyed the view for a hot second and locked-in. Alex and I pushed it with the weather to give the face time to soften. It didn’t look perfect, but still looked darn fun.

Off we went. A full 10 feet into our adventure I heard a “snap,” that at first I thought was my boot flipping back into walk-mode. Turns out the switch was permanent….

The bottom of the carbon spine on the back of my right Spitfire broke, leaving my ski boot little stiffer than a sneaker. I pulled out my repair kit and tried to rig up a quick bailing wire fix. It proved uninspiring. Clouds loomed and rain fell in the Front Range to the East, no time for a full fix, it would have to do.

Deciding the committing face wasn’t the best idea, we headed down the West shoulder towards a couloir that looked great from the ascent route. Alex took off, kindly waiting for my awkward part tele-part one ski-part clown turns down the mountain.

We hit tree line just as the first flakes fell and heard thunder in the distance as we skied back to the car.

We were able to skin right from the winter trailhead, likely only possible for the next few days. No one else was up there. The climb was great. The skiing was somehow still fun, despite the obvious setback.

The one boot descent was a bit character building, but a great example of the first rule of mountain adventure…you never know what can happen.