On Top of the World
No experience beats the sensation of standing on top of the world. Just a gaze across the vast abyss of this planet we call home allows you to soar from your insignificant body and into the soul planet’s soul. The only obstacle is the hike to the top. The mouth of the Vasquez Cirque could intimidate Rambo if he gazed from its snow-tipped, powdery edge down into the untouched valley below.
Almost a mile of steep, unforgiving terrain stretches before your gaze; untouched by the foot of man. Even though the frigid cold and ripping winds swirl around my face, my body drips sweat, as it basks in the oasis of layers upon layers of long underwear, Under Armour, and Gortex shielding me from the outer hell around me. The skis on my back spread skyward as if inches from the unknown above us. As I approach my haven, the wind dies and the sun emerges from behind the dark, merciless storm clouds that shed two feet of fresh Rocky Mountain powder onto the piercing peaks I call home. Each step crunches beneath my boots as my knees become engulfed in this perfect paradise. I lay my skis down and a cloud of snow swirls and shimmers across the valley below me. Cautiously slipping my skis up to the ten foot cliff below, my fear turns to anxiety, which turns to excitement, which barely holds me back along the small cliff.
As I take a deep breath and throw myself to nature’s will, I have no fear. No fear from the mountain’s harsh conditions. No fear from the potential hurricane of snow just ready to erupt into a full force avalanche. No fear from the broken bones or even death that has riddled this slope in previous years. One wrong step, one wrong turn and I will be thrown to the mercy of the mountain. Why would any person risk their lives for one thrill? I answer: For the chance to do it again.