Indifference is why I go to the back country. Time without human measure. My grievances with health, equipment, and judgment bear no consequence to the terrain I enter, only to the fickle rational of my influenced intellect.

Mt Antero has a 4×4 road almost to the top. Zach and Fritz sorted out the final route to the top while James packed up for our retreat down Brown Canyon. Both routes looked straight forward and we would meet at a car we stashed near Princeton Hot Springs later in the day.

I lamely offered to ski out alone, knowing their better judgment would never condone splitting the party with my health situation undefined. I felt badly that James was saddled with baby-sitting me out, actually it was honestly embarrassing because I knew it was his strength of character, or better judgment that would never allow him to shirk his responsibility… the same judgment I questioned two nights before was getting me out of the mountains now.

As the snow line approached and houses appeared I checked my phone for service. On a windy rock outcrop I called my skiing buddy/ doc to get the scoop on my health options. Surprisingly he said if I used enough drugs it was feasible to continue – if I hydrated properly.

Last year at this time James and I skied across Yellowstone Park together. It was a trip that I’ve told friends was one of the best five trips in my life. I value his friendship and trust him. As we sat in the parking lot waiting for Zach and Fritz, unable to find the connection from a year ago, I realized this was not about right or wrong – that was I brought into the hills. This was simply the inability of us to find solutions together, the whole of our team was much less than the sum of its parts.

James had it right when he said, ‘We knew EVERYTHING would have to go right for this to work – it’s a big trip’. Despite my recent health advise I was spooked. Not the clearly quantified insight in movies, but the instinctual realization that if I could not contribute to the success of this trip I no longer belonged on it – regardless of the rational.

Godspeed James, Zach and Fritz.