It’s 9:30 PM, Chris Davenport just called with the news. He, along with incredibly strong and experienced ski alpinists Neal Beidleman, Nick Devore and Danny Brown, made a successful descent of Longs Peak today. This is Davenport’s 54th fourteener in his ski-the-teeners project, and the crown on an incredible odyssey that bagged him ski descents of all 54 peaks in one 12 month period.
MAJOR CONGRATULATIONS from myself and the Dawsons to Chris for an outstanding and inspiring job!
A reporter asked me the other day what it feels like to ski from the summit of one’s last fourteener during a project like this. I told him that the most powerful thing for me back in 1991 on Kit Carson (which was the last one I skied during my own fourteeners project) was the feeling of fitting into a continuum of ski alpinists — actually feeling the presence of former fourteener skiers such as Fritz Stammberger, the Fitz brothers and Bob Pfeiffer up there with me. But more, feeling the presence of those who would come later, and ski the 54 with ever more poise and skill, down bigger and better lines — yet still receive the same gifts of joy, spiritual awe and actualization that past seekers had received. It’s a beautiful thing, the progression of a sport. A wonderful part of humanity, the pushing of limits, the growth, the testing and winning through adversity. Inspiring others — yes, inspiring those of previous generations such as myself. Chris Davenport is that next wave, and I salute him.
Chris mentioned that he’d get a trip report up ASAP at his website. Meanwhile, he did say they found a skiable route on the southerly side of the mountain, and of course had an epic in the dark getting out of the remote valley on that side of Longs. The peak didn’t give up her charms easily during the groups 12 hour day. But then, if it was easy…
|Davenport gets ready to drop of the summit of Longs Peak. Can you imagine how that probably felt after 12 months and 53 other mostly difficult and dangerous mountains?
Again, this is an incredibly awesome and inspiring moment in the history of Colorado fourteeners. I hope it breaks open the floodgates for many others to attempt skiing the 54. More, the astonishing lines Davenport sought out and skied should give any ski alpinist a different view of just what an incredible gift the Colorado fourteeners are to ski alpinists. There might be no other group of mountains in the world that combines so many skiable lines with such good access and weather. Granted, not every year has perfect snow, but we have enough good years for me to honestly say the kind of skiing Chris has been doing is repeatable, safe if done with care, and as good as any place in the world.
Thanks Chris, thanks for your inspiration, your sharing, your optimism and your skill. You did Colorado, and ski alpinists everywhere proud!
Everyone, in honor of Chris and his companions I’m going to take a day off from blogging and leave this post at the top all day tomorrow, and update as info comes in. Feel free to leave comment congrats, if it’s your first comment here you won’t see it right away, but I’ll moderate as soon as possible and display, usually within an hour or so.
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.