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Footsteps In The Snow

After recent storms in the Front Range, I set out on Saturday hoping to get some decent turns on James Peak, but what I got was a lesson in perseverance and some nice footsteps in the snow.


When I arrived at the parking lot, the ground was damp but there wasn't any snow at 10,300 feet, so I pretty much knew that skiing was going to be a long shot. However, I slid into my Intuition liners, buckled up my Fischer Transalp AT boots, and strapped my rock skis to my pack and headed out with my dog Norbu doing his little happy dance.

There was a few inches of fresh snow on the glacier above St. Mary's Lake, which looked promising, but when I got to the top of the glacier there was only enough snow to damage the bottom of your skis. At that point the thoughts started creeping into my head: "Turn around, you've climbed this peak 100's of times, you have nothing to gain by topping out".  I decided to just go to the next rock outcropping or the next cairn and reevaluate from there. At each one of those little micro goals I realized there were plenty of excuses  but not a single, truly good reason for turning around. I was tired but not exhausted, cold but not freezing, it was cloudy but not stormy so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and eventually topped out.

The bottom line is to not let excuses keep you from reaching your goals and if you're willing to keep putting one foot in front of the other, you can do just about anything. But it helps to have a good pair of boots.

-Jim Gile


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