By Zach Crist
Although we’ve had a few great days of skiing in the last week, we haven’t had much in the way of sunshine to document the magic of Haines the way it deserves. With more than 10 feet of new snow in the high country and a strong likelihood of widespread blower conditions, it was time for a sacrifice—someone to willingly go against all rational thinking by packing his bags and leaving the team in Alaska.
This time, it’s me. But as I buckle my belt in the front seat of our puddle-jumper to Juneau, I feel good about my decision. There are very few experiences in life that compare to a classic day of skiing in the Chilkat Range, but the birth of a new baby eclipses them all. My wife is eight months pregnant with our second child, and I felt it was time to head home and lend my help.
As our single-engine Piper Cherokee Six accelerates down the runway, I realize there’s no turning back. But why should I? It’s been a phenomenal winter, and I am nothing but grateful for the dreams we lived. Since joining the First Ascent team eight months ago, we’ve had an incredible run. Starting from scratch with a team of highly experienced designers, we set out to build the best ski gear in the business. Five phases of prototypes, more than 140 days of skiing from South America to Alaska and many amazing places in between have resulted in the best gear I’ve ever worn in my 16 years of professional skiing.
As our pilot steers us to the south, the upper elevations begin to reveal hanging fields of ice guarded by mystical peaks with snow-lathered spines. It’s been more than two weeks since SEABA heli-skiing guide service has flown into the high alpine, but it’s only a matter of time. Perhaps my departure will prove worthy of a sacrifice to Ullr, the almighty God of snow, and he will smile upon the First Ascent team once more.
At least I’ll have the pleasure of logging onto the Born Out There Blog to see what I’m missing.
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