August 10, 2009
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The top is a good place, be it ideological or physical. In our case, as we sat on top of the chute that ran across Cobb Peak’s north face, it was particularly good, for several reasons. First off, we are skiers and as such are permitted to celebrate the achievement of a goal, regardless of it only being halfway accomplished. Like a hockey team celebrating in the second intermission or a baseball team celebrating during the seventh inning stretch, we sat there grinning, snacking, and congratulating one another on a job well done. To us however, this was more of a celebration of the entire season. After a couple of tough weeks in the freeskier world, it was safe to say that we were both simply happy to be there, about to embrace some of the last turns of the season. I’m a firm believer that it’s crucial to have that one last good day toward the end of the year, as this ultimately dictates the enthusiasm someone brings to the next season.
Reflecting on our approach that took an impressively inefficient five hours, we gazed around and took in winter one last time. Snow was absent from many of the surrounding hills, with entire drainages looking brown- abandoned by winter but not yet embraced by spring. As a skier I hate moments like this. I can’t help but feel a combination of loss and nostalgia. Turning my attention back to the chute, these feelings were replaced by excitement and anxiety as I began to examine what we were about to ski, and thought about how much I love moments like this. At 11,650’ Cobb sits at the South end of the Pioneer Mountains and, because of its southern location, is one of the most prominent peaks in the range. The North face is largely unskiable except for a steep, narrow chute that runs slightly east to west. While the snow was by no means exceptional, it would serve as a means to an end. It provided an unforgettable last day- making the inevitable arrival of summer a little easier to handle.
The descent quickly became more intense than we had planned for. The geography of the chute and the chalky snow made sluff management a serious issue. However, the safe zones that we had inspected on the way up were well-spaced and provided easy relief. We straight-lined a bit out the bottom into the massive basin and began the trek back to the trailhead. Dropping nearly 4,000’ on the way back to trailhead, the signs of summer were ubiquitous. Although still somewhat filled with a sense of loss, it is difficult to be disappointed with the approach of summer after a day like that. Every skier needs such an adventure toward the end of the season, if for no other reason then to ensure that the proverbial stoke fire stays lit through the summer