Dave Ward | Charge the Summit
And so, another epic adventure comes to a close. My 11 year old son, Nick, joined me in Park City, Utah, for his first real “boys only” ski trip. He was pretty stoked. My wife, Monica, and I have been struggling a bit and he was really happy to get some time alone with me. Up at 4 a.m., on a flight by 6 a.m., and our asses hit the first chairlift at 11:17 a.m. I love Salt Lake [spent a lot of time in Utah as a boy].
Day 1 is pretty mellow. We rock the bunny slope and I show him the basics. By the end of the day, he is pretty beat and wants to head back to the room to chill. I decide to go on a scouting mission. It’s starting to snow…I start to question myself: “Hike the Jupiter Peak tomorrow?”
The planets aligned. That night Nick told me he wanted to take a lesson and hang with some other kids on Saturday. I broke out the trail map to scout the summit.
As I headed up the trail, I quickly noticed that no one was following me. It had dumped eight inches up there the night before, and conditions were pretty clean. I was following tracks, but I was baffled that no one was following me. I’m thinking two thoughts…1) “It’s gotta be good up there!,” and, 2) “Um…did I fuck this up?”
There are two lifts that lead up to the Peak. [If you’re thinking about heading up, please pay attention.] The McConkey’s lift is MUCH closer…it’s about a 10 minute hike off of that lift. Looks a little sketchy as you go along the ridge, but it is shorter. Having refused to ask anyone for directions [confirmation that I’m a dude], I took the Jupiter Lift up. The map makes it look like you can ski right up to the gate that guards the Peak. Well, you can’t. You can ski about a third of the way there. So, I put my skis on my back and humped up the rest of the way.
It was a beautiful hike along a massive ridge. Finally, after at least 25 minutes, I arrived. And, there they were…all the people that hiked off McConkey’s. The Jupiter Peak sits at 9,998 feet…let’s just say 10,000 feet. I soaked in the splendor for a few minutes and then tried to scout a line. Everything within eyeshot was tracked out. I had seen from the lift that skier’s left was pretty clean, so I ventured off in that direction and found the cleanest line of the year [after navigating some rocks].
At the bottom, I ordered a celebratory Cutthroat Pale. Then, I collected my boy and we skied together for the rest of the day. While he slept in the next morning, I headed up McConkey’s and did it all over again.
So, what did I learn from this adventure? There’s always something, right? I’d say I learned two things: (1) ask people in the know before you go; and (2) don’t be afraid to pick the line that everyone else has passed on. You really don’t know until you go, but find out as much as you can BEFORE you get there.