High mountain spring skiing is in full swing throughout the western U.S. A few weeks ago Clay James, DPS Skis’ production + quality manager, and his partner Rain Felkl completed a nine day ski traverse across the North Cascade Mountains of Washington. The intrepid pair were rewarded with clear skies and favorable snow conditions for the majority of their adventure. Over the course of their journey, they walked 55 miles east to west across the range – climbing, skiing, and snow camping along the way. In sheltered, north-facing terrain cold powder was found, while excellent corn was ripe on the south faces.
Clay had the following to share about applying his ski-touring skillset to venture deeper into the wilderness on multi-day missions:
Starting a ski traverse can feel like pushing a stone uphill...or maybe that’s just the heavy backpack with food, fuel, and winter camping gear.
If you enjoy walking uphill and looking at mountains just as much as you enjoy skiing down them, then you will certainly love the process.
Pack your backpack and take your skis for a walk with friends. Getting to explore new places, spend a night or two out, and share those experiences with others is special. You’re sure to learn something new about the mountains and yourself along the way.
You get to feel, touch, and digest the snow textures on all aspects and elevations. As the snow changes with every passing day, you’re granted a front row seat to watch everything dynamically unfold in front of you.
The sun angle, ambient temperatures, cloud cover, and wind: are all nature’s inputs that change the snow and affect skiing conditions.
You learn about the importance of timing and meeting the mountains on their terms, becoming completely engulfed by your surroundings and – for an extended period of time – escaping the routine and comforts you know all too well at home.
Being out in the mountains for days on end heightens your senses and deepens your appreciation for the liveliness of the peaks that surround you.
Enjoy the opportunity to safely crampon up inexplicably steep, frozen snow under moonlit peaks without worry of snow and rock crashing down on top of you.
Developing a deeper appreciation for the majesty of alpine wilderness areas strengthens the human spirit.
As complicated as it may seem, life becomes exceedingly simple out there. Walk, ski, rest, melt snow for drinking water, eat, sleep, repeat. Life distilled.
Dare to dream bigger this spring and venture a little further. The opportunities are endless, no matter how big or small. Once you get moving there is a vast untracked world waiting for you.