Racing that summer heat

I’m not a morning person. So a Saturday 3:00am alarm was pushing it. But we had rising temps to race against. Spring skiing had turned into summer runs with the above average snowfall and this meant two things for us. The steep lines had a longer window to ski, but we were now dealing with a shorter time slot until daily temperatures went above freezing, increasing the chance of avalanche. It’s June after all.

So as I was saying, it’s now 3:30am and I’m unloading my gear into Tim’s car, making small talk with friends across the street who are still awake and sipping beers in the summer night gearing down from a Friday out. We wished each other good luck - easy hangovers for them, and good turns for us.

Fast forward to 6am and we are at the base of the couloir. With raising temps on our minds, Jeremy and Tim transitioned quickly showing the habitual motion and effortlessly moving from skis to crampons for the boot pack to the summit.

Sometime later, between catching breaths in the thinning air, my brain finally woke all the way up and realized what I had gotten into. We were somewhere in the middle of gaining 3000’ in just a couple miles. I should’ve been running more this winter, but there was no time for that now. Tim had shot me a quick text the night before asking if we wanted to meet him for the ski and I said yes without hesitation, researching snow conditions but really missing the total vert in my equation.

But as slow as my progress felt, the line was way too good to even think of not pushing for the summit. There’s worse ways to top out a 14er. As the heartbeat in my ears got louder, my thoughts went to how I’d immediately buy lighter gear when I got home, how good pizza sounded, and whether or not the song stuck in my head was from something I heard on the radio or an episode of Sesame St. boiling up from my childhood. Didn’t matter.

By the time we hit the summit we were right at the temperature tipping point. So a fast rest and we were transitioned to skis, letting out loud shouts the whole way down. Worth the alarm - every time.