Time runs slower in the west. Every moment is noticed and appreciated, every breathe you take is savoyard! It's blissful. It's iconic. It's UTAH.
I had the opportunity to spend 3 days out in Park City, Utah with my family in the beginning of February. We couldn't have picked a better time to ride the 2nd largest ski resort in North America. This every expanding mass of pitch, snow, and aspen groves received an astounding 15 feet of snow in the month of January. And Mother Nature wasn't stopping, with just under a foot to be expected throughout our stay. I was ecstatic for my 2nd opportunity to ride out west but this was a bit different than the first time. I wasn't inexperienced anymore, I had paid my dues while going to college out in New Hampshire and I was prepared for what the west had in store for me.
or so I thought ...
A peak that stands just over 10,000ft above sea level. A towering and powerful beast that is rarely conquered without paying a price. Whether that be your dignity, your camera, or your life!
Thankfully, I was merely humbled by this white face.
I was accompanied on my quest to climb and ride this other worldly mountain by Snow Jesus himself, Tucker Finerty. Well known for his extensive travels around Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and the Mediterranean. This New Hampshire bred ski bum just so happened to be in the area and was hungry for some Powder.
Both Tucker and I have shared counter punches with one another. Aiming to one up the other with a once in a lifetime experience with a good friend. I myself have helped Tucker catch and land his first Shark from the beach while making a quick stay in Florida. It was his turn to return the favor!
The last time I was standing above a tree line I had just summited Mount Washington in New Hampshire. It was an exhausting 3 hour hike up to 6,289′. The reward, the view, the rush of adrenaline that surged through me was indescribable. Yet this New Hampshire staple was protected, it had been tamed by man. The feeling was simply not satisfying enough.
I've currently been living in the Sunshine State. An altitude of maybe a few feet. My body and mind were not prepared to face Jupiter. Tucker thought it would be best if we tackled a lesser white face on our first day together. It would be a challenge, but with the current state of the snow, the current state of my body, I would be able to gain my confidence and prepare myself for Jupiter.
Meet Ninety-Nine 90
Quite the scene. You are out of breathe, you've just tackled a Ridgeline that simply threw you on your ass. You're crawling to the summit, only to find your successful venture has led you to this sign.
YOU CAN DIE
That's what I like to see ! I'm a sick bastard I know. I threw myself to the ground, completely out of breathe and stared this sign down. I knew I had arrived. I had finally made it to my first test. A truly daunting challenge but a euphoric moment indeed. I found my breathe and stood up. My eyes wandered and I began to appreciate the vistas that surrounded me. The mountains faded into the distance, blending into the clouds that were currently dumping snow over their peaks. It was a dreamscape.
Tucker and I stood on top of the White face soaking up all it had to offer.
After sufficiently appreciating the vistas of Utah we both strapped on in and took the leap of faith. Hearts beating faster than normal. A tad bit anxious. But an understanding of what lied ahead.
Gliding over untouched snow, carving deeper than I've ever carved before, both Tucker and I tamed Ninety-Nine 90 with ease. Not an easy task, definitely not a run many intermediate skill level riders could manage. But, It was the breathe of fresh air I needed. It was the RUN I needed. Knowing the challenged that I was about to face, Ninety-Nine was the perfect introduction.
I was ready to face Jupiter and ALL it had to offer. The fear was gone, my adrenaline was pumping, I simply wanted to claim the face I had longed to ride. The face I came to Utah to conquer.