Last evening, I noticed cold front weather had skiffed a layer of white over what had been the summer’s dirty snow, up on Mount Sopris above our town. It’s been brown up there for so long, I’d forgotten how new nieve on a summer mountain glows and beckons like the bright windows of your home when you pull in at night after a long day on the road, and know your loved one is up waiting for you.
Yeah, that mountain up there is calling my name. I know she’s friendly most of the time, even sexy. But she’s cold and dangerous too. Sometimes, the thought of her up there without me is too much to bear. Who’s she with? What are they doing? Is the snow good? How was it climbing in that wind before the storm broke? Every detail please!
No matter where I am in the world, if a cliff rises above, I think about climbing it. No, actually, I’ll WANT to climb it. I’ll want it bad. I will pick out routes, wonder who’s been up there, try to guess where the legend lines go if it’s a famous rock. Likewise, when a mountain lofts in the distance, in a nanosecond I’m studying the ridges and walls like a college student cramming for finals. My thoughts go hyper, figuring which line goes; which is the classic alpine, which is the hardman’s wont.
And if something up there is glowing white? Oh boy, the skiing mind wilds like a teenager at Copacabana checking out the latest fashions (or lack thereof). Sometimes, it is torture that even Dick Cheney would approve of. And never mind keeping the eyes on the road.
That’s our lot as alpinists. We’re in love, but our paramour is so often out of reach. When we’re not with her, we rage on about about conservation, preservation, global warming, muscle power vs petrol, bad sleds, crowding and all that junk like a bunch of worn out and barstool-perched cowboys breaking down their past fifty years of wives. We even wallow in guilt, and try to balm our itchy emotions with big important sounding things like “social activism.” Or, jealousy? We hear about friends getting the goods on the alpine, and who cares who is flirting with whom down here on the ground!
Yeah, set all the blogging and yammering aside for a moment. For most of us, when you get down to it, we just want to get close to to the one we love. Her windows, they are glowing.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.