At 5:00am on a Thursday morning I could here the rumble of Brit’s diesel Ford out in the driveway. Montana had been getting hammered with snow and he convinced me to skip out on work and make the trip with he and Jed, out of town the next day. We were headed for Lost Trail, a small, Mom and Pop, ski hill with five, old, lifts, a few rope toes, to get you in between, and only a couple hundred feet of vert to ski; but, wedged into this small family ski hill was an abundance of cliff bands that would make any skier go crazy and steep turns you would never have imagined were there, pulling into the lot for the first time.
At this point in the summer, I'd figured I'd have 15 days on snow. The plan was to go back to New Zealand for a third summer; get back to work at Small Planet and crush days in the Chutes at the Remarkables. Heading into May, things looked like they were going to stack up just as planned; until, quickly it became apparent that time was running out, I was still lacking a work-visa and air fare was rising fast.
This past month has been wild. I've been super lucky to be given the opportunities to get out into the mountains everyday, with a whole host of interesting people. A few weeks ago, I was given the chance to hop onto the St. Michael's College's backcountry ski trip. My good friend and ski partner, Taylor "Yeti" Luneau, was organizing the whole thing and encouraged me to tag along. On an early Saturday morning, eight of us, loaded up two vans and booked it North, for a week of touring, none of us could have predicted.
For the last two months, I've been engaged in at least three conversations a day, that target the ridiculous weather patterns we've endured and the lack of snow, that has pushed even the most die hard to the edge of giving up. I can't say I'm not partied to the complaining contingent of skiers that has thought about calling it on the rest of the season. When you intertwine everyday of your life with a sport that rides only on the good graces Mother Nature provides, only to be kicked in the teeth by weeks of ice and sub zero temperatures, immediately followed by rain and spring melts, how do you not start to question what your doing?
I saw Ryan Denning in the Vista lifeline at Bolton Valley, this past Monday, right before he was gearing up to get in the car and make the trek back to the New Hampshire Coast. Snow had begun to fall that afternoon and a few hours later, as I lay sprawled out on the couch, my phone went off, with Ryan on the other line.
"I'm coming back up in the morning, hitting the skin track at 8:00. You free?"
I can't remember any season where 10 of my first 15 days on snow were spent blasting through crisp, dry powder. Northern New England has seen harsh temperatures and high humidity for the majority of the past two weeks; keeping many recreational skiers at the bar and lines untracked.
“So how’s turning 24?”
Dane asked me as we sat looking up at the girl’s field ripping their lines on the first day of the K2 Big Mountain comp at the Craigeburn Club Ski Field.
“Ah, it’s alright. Doesn’t really feel like my birthday; 23 was cool, but 24, eh.” Maybe that was it; I asked for interesting and not too long after, things did just that.
The alpine start is something that many of us have become familiar with over our climbing and skiing careers. Our relationship with it could be characterized easily by love or hate. It holds the keys to success with many mountain objectives but not without providing a touch of insanity to those who choose it’s path. Sleeping perhaps only two hours in a night and then rustling out of bed to drive to the trailhead may seem as if you had never had awoken from your slumber. You shoulder an unpleasantly heavy pack, spark up your headlamp and take off from the perceived comfort of humanity. Trudging in silence or perhaps cracking a few, “this is crazy” jokes, you find the mileage slipping by quicker than ever before. After a few encounters with the elusive “shadow moose” or “dead-tree-stump bear” your adrenaline pumps and drives you more quickly up the mountain side. Finally a junction is met, where mode of travel or direction must change, and we as mountaineers must transition from our drowsy state to one of heightened awareness.
Spring Break has arrived! After a strenuous sprint to the finish, the middle portion of our school semester was complete and the masses were released to do as they chose. Many opted for southern latitudes containing warmer weather, sun drenched beaches, swimming suits and tiki bars. This group however, opted for a different direction. Montana. Where the mountains had retained their heavy winter blanket, stashing powder in it’s open glades and high-class adventure in it’s alpine.
Rooted in Burlington, VT, Dreamland crew assembled like something out of Captain Planet during the 2010 winter season. Bonded by a deep love for anything vertical, the Dreamland crew has been aggressively gaining climbing and skiing experience from Vermont to New Zealand.
Dreamland is the product of, an overload of, combined individual passion. Rooted, for the 14/15 season, in Big Sky Montana, John Howland Taylor Luneau and Dane Weister bring separate goals to the table, that all culminate in summiting the same peaks. This collection of individuals provides a basis for cultivating greater knowledge, skill and awareness in the mountains.