The Here and Now – Climber to Skier

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Kickers at Berthoud Pass Photo – TJay Gerber

I’ve thought for a long time about if I was going to ever write in my blog again. I wrote professionally for a while, became disillusioned with the scene, took the time to concentrate on my own athletic ambitions and…here we are.

So, my name’s Michael, I’m 32, and I was an average climber until 2016 when a fall took out my tib / fib, and during my recovery, not knowing if I’d ever even walk straight, bought a backcountry ski setup and the rest is history.

After completing my AIARE Level I (basic avalanche safety course) in February 2017, things just…took off. I averaged 35 ski days in 2016-2017, my recovery year, 66 this past season, and as of writing, I’ve skied 49 days since October with approximately 77,000-feet of uphill vert. I’ve gotten to see Colorado in a way that few others get to see, I travel with a consistent group of some of the greatest ski partners that anybody could ask for, and I’ve gotten to realize dreams, like last year when I got to participate in my first ski traverse across the North Cascades in Washington. In April, I even got to ski my first 14er, when we dropped off the side of Quandary Peak to ski the Cristo Couloir.

As of writing this today, on a cold, snowy day in Boulder, yesterday we made a full on winter ski attempt on Flattop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, where we endured temperatures dropping down to -10 and wind gusts of up to 70 mph.

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Full on winter conditions at Flattop Mountain

We’ve had an incredible season this year, with all time conditions, and some truly incredible ascents and descents, with the spring high alpine ski season having not even started yet. But it’s been the days when we’ve suffered the most that make the best stories, from early morning pre-work skiing in sub-zero temperatures, to skinning up the resorts for laps after work, and driving through in blinding snow storms to find great riding in the most heinous of weather.

I think that’s what I admire most of my ski partners. There’s no such thing as bad days. We’ve endured thin snow, sketchy avalanche conditions, driving storms, wind, cold, and a lack of open donut shops to get at the heart of what it means to explore the backcountry, which for me is working as hard as we can so we can ski where few others go.

So why am I opening the blog again?

When I first started this site in October of 2011, the point was to share my travels, experiences, the places I go and the people I meet, and if it wasn’t for this site, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am. This is what started it all and this is what I owe a lot of my lifestyle to.

But I started to become disillusioned with the scene. Writing became a chore. It felt like I had to be innovative and controversial to stay on top and rack views and readers, and it wasn’t me.

So I want to get back to where it started. Writing about adventures and experiences, and some of the extraordinary days and places that I’m finding along the way. I may not be as prolific as I was before, but I believe that after taking a long time off to really get back to what I meant when I first started this site, I’m feeling a tinge more motivation than I have in a long time, and I would be dishonest if I didn’t say that there’s a lot that I’m looking forward to sharing.

So I’m going to write something up and let’s see how this goes.

If you want to catch up on the last year or so, check out my Instagram here.

 

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