04 July 2014

June 50k

Backcountry skiing is awesome. I love everything about it. I love being outside. I love the challenges of getting up a mountain on your own and finding your way down safely. I love the way it sounds when all you can hear is the snow falling and the feeling of charging through bottomless powder. I love sunburns and wind burns and bruises and soreness and SMILES.

But most of all I love the people who love backcountry skiing.

I imagine few other sports offer the opportunity to meet someone for the first time at 9,000', climb a mountain together the next day, and form an instant friendship resulting in many, many future adventures. Well that's just what happened with my friend Theresa. We met last July on Mt. Hood and have been getting out together ever since.


Our first turns together on Mt. Hood.

I can say for a fact that since meeting Theresa on July 28, 2013, we have skied together 19 times (thank you Kelly for inspiring me to keep a spreadsheet!). In the last year I've skied 40 days, which means half of my ski days have been with T-town. And let me tell you, this girl gets after it. Rarely do I find anyone - let alone another CHICK - who can rip down groomers and charge the steeps at the rate and frequency I like to rip and charge. Not only is Theresa a better skier than me, but she's a coach on Crystal's Freeride Team. I just consider myself lucky to chase after her all day, and hope someday she can teach me to huck my meat with the best of them. In return I have introduced her to the awesomeness that is skiing in a tutu.


You've heard of turns all year. How about #tutusallyear?


For her 44th (and my 32nd) consecutive month of Turns All Year, Theresa and I spearheaded a group to head to the Inter Glacier on the north side of Mt. Rainier on June 1. My new-to-Seattle friend Lisa wrote a great blog about this little trip from the perspective of someone who has NEVER been on a glacier before - you should read it. While the rest of us lounged in the sun, quitting after 4k', Theresa pounded out an easy 5500' of vert to start the month off right.

Then, just three days later Theresa and I headed to Mt. Baker on a Wednesday to do a one day ski-ascent of the Squak Glacier. We slept in the car, got up at 5, summitted by 1:30, and enjoyed 7700+ pretty good skiing down. Cheers to that!

Baker in a day? Check.

After all that skiing I was pretty pooped. But not Theresa. She took the first full weekend in June to not only summit Mt. Rainier via the Emmons Glacier, but to ski all the way down the Winthrop. Then she thought to add a little extra up section on Steamboat Prow (video below). That's 10,400' of awesomeness folks. Bringing her total vert of eight days to over 23,000 feet.

And thus the mission of June 50k was born. I mean, if she could crush 23k' in a week, imagine what she could do with a whole month?!



Now before you ask, Yes Theresa has a job. She works at least 40 hours a week as a physical therapist. But she does work 4x-10's so that she has Wednesday's off. While she's not sponsored (yet), I'm sure she'd appreciate any hookups with a Shell Gas Station, and of course her favorite DPS Skis ;-)

Okay now that THAT'S out of the way on to the rest of her epic month. After climbing Baker and Rainier in under a week, Theresa set off on June 11 to slog up to Camp Muir, which she reached in 2 hours and 38 minutes. My record is like.....4:15. So, she wins.

The following weekend she took a rest day Saturday in anticipation of skiing some sick couliors in the North Cascades on Sunday June 15. I was on that trip, as was our friend Nick, which meant it was stupid and bushwacky and the weather was complete shit. BUT it was steep and the skiing was surprisingly good and the trip made for a great story. Read all about Mix Up Peak on Nick's blog.

Me (tiny, top right), Theresa, and Frankie on Mix Up. Photo by Nick.

The following Wednesday, June 18, I once again took a Wednesday off to join Theresa plus her friend Carley and our new Mix-Up-Buddy Frankie to head down and do Mt. Adams in a day. I have not yet written a blog about our Mt. Adams in a Day Adventure because - while we summitted - it was completely exhausting and I have not yet fully recovered from that effort.

All you need to know is we left Seattle at 7:15pm and made it to the trailhead, packed, and got to bed at 1am in Frankie's Eurovan. We were up at 4:30am, climbed from 5:30am-2:15pm when we FINALLY reached the summit to ski down on 4,000' of perfect corn in the SW Chutes before being punished by the long traverse out. We made it back to car 12 hours later at 5:30pm, and then had to drive out on the worst forest road I've ever experienced. After dinner in Hood River I finally got home at 2am. And worked on Thursday. Frankie was up for almost 24-hours and is the hero of the trip for driving most of the way, and staying awake to get us back safe. I do not recommend Adams as a weekday one-day trip.


Climbing up Adams. You can see the false summit in the foreground. So far away.

Ladies in tutus with Hood in the background.

Summit of Adams. Rainier behind (and Rainier Beer in Theresa's hand! Of course.).

Now at nearly 30k', Theresa had two weekends and one Wednesday left to get 10,000' more vertical. The weekend of the 20th was Solstice in Seattle, so she took a much deserved two days off, and ran a beer mile with me to celebrate (in a tutu, of course)!

Tutu Fabulous.

With only three days left, Theresa set off on a mission in sub-optimal weather to ski not one, but TWO laps on Inter Glacier. She got in 8100' before a huge thunderhead started forming. It was time to bail. She made it back to the car and cracked a beer just as the rain started to fall. Not bad for a Wednesday. Not bad at all.

I think some rain's a comin'. Photo from Theresa's Instagram (@tlsipple)

For her VERY LAST adventure we figured out the math EXACTLY and realized we could take the Palmer lift up Mt. Hood and then climb the 2,750' remaining to the top and she'd be DONE! So, on June 28 we headed south with our friend Pam (who you may remember from Shasta), camped, and took the lifts up at 7am on Sunday morning.


Just above the Palmer lift.

Only 2,500' to go!

The trip was great - pretty straightforward - minus the crazy ice formations in the top 500'. But we reached the summit in under 4-hours to celebrate Theresa's AWESOME achievement! Then as a bonus, we skidded down the upper ice sheet in time to take a few laps on Palmer, upping her total feet of skiing to well above 50,000'. 

Theresa 4-pointing it. No one told us this would be WI2.

All smiles at the summit!

I'm super stoked for Theresa in finishing this awesome goal. As someone who loves to set challenges for myself (30 before 30 list anyone?) it's really special to not only see someone else reach their own goals, but to be involved in such an achievement. I feel honored to have skied almost exactly half (25,200') of those feet with Theresa, and I can't wait till we cook up something else. What's in store for TAY months 33/45 T-town??

The Big 5-0. Super awesome job well done.

You, too, can be awesome like Theresa. Just do this:

6/1 - Interglacier - 5500ft
6/4 - Mt Baker via Squak - 7750ft
6/7-8 - Mt Rainier via Emmons climb, Winthrop ski. Decent via Steamboat Prow - 10,400ft
6/11 - Camp Muir - 4800ft
6/15 - Mix Up Peak - 3500ft
6/18 - Mt Adams via South Spur climb, Southwest Chutes ski - 7200ft
6/25 - Interglacier with bonus lap - 8100ft
6/29 - Mt Hood via Palmer lift to Old Chutes - 2750ft

Total = 50,000ft

And one more BONUS photo:

We don't only ski together. We clean up nice too.

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