Monday, May 21, 2007

Small Adventure = Personal Adventure

OK. Guest blogger. Big responsibility but I'll give it a go...

It strikes me that the concept of small adventure goes hand-in-hand with the idea of adventure as a highly personal thing. The fact that someone has been there before you is, to a great degree, irrelevant. Go and do. Today. Now. Everything is a first if you have never done it before.

Below is a story I wrote a good many years ago about this very subject. Perhaps it still applies:

The Friendly Game
By Kaj Bune
Originally published in Free Snow, 1992

We "discovered" it on a July ski tour several years ago and it cut the sky without a blemish. Orgasmatron Ridge. The name was a natural extension of our enthusiasm. To us it didn't matter if anyone else had skied this slope before, today it was all ours. We put down several sets of tracks in the perfect ego snow before we headed back to where the trail had been swept under the carpet of summer corn. The skis were reluctantly removed and our tele boots hit the dry trail of a North Cascades meadow for our return to the car.

Where is this place, you ask? I can't tell you. All of us that day took the unspoken oath of the backcountry skier. Anyone who has ever made a similar discovery knows what I'm talking about. There is absolutely no reason to believe that we were the first to enjoy this beautiful place, but that isn't the point, is it? The great thing about mountaineering of any kind is that every day is a new set of circumstances to be seen for the first time.

When all the firsts have been discovered and all the world has been explored there will remain the personal firsts. Even though many other people have taken on a particular challenge others will follow with the same enthusiasm for personal discovery. And the experience may very well become a closely guarded treasure that will be revealed only to close friends, if they are lucky. On the surface we laugh at the seemingly trivial nature of such things, but most of us are guilty of holding a certain place very close and not letting go; never mind if we were the first to set foot on the spot.

So it doesn't matter where Orgasmatron Ridge is located on the map. When you go there it will be different and you all will call it something else, I'm sure. The same will be true when you go to Powder Horn Bowl. The deep powder will be there when you arrive and the cornice jumping as good as ever, but it will be something new and different to you. Sometime this winter we may even meet there and share a few runs, never revealing to one another the significance of the place. That would risk giving it away and breaking the spell.

So when you ask me where Orgasmatron Ridge is to be found don't be offended when I answer with the traditional reply, "Somewhere in the North Cascades." It's all part of the friendly game of backcountry skiing.