Our team, United States of Canada, went into the Waymaker without high expectations but with a sense of adventure and the goal to do the best we could. There were many unknowns and it seemed a challenge not only to compete but to organize such a logistically challenging event. We came 3 days early to get a feel for the area and after 2 days of scouting in white-out conditions, we finally got a chance to see the Dachstien Masif. An impressive sight when you have rolling hills radically transforming into sharp spires of lime stone jolting up into the heavens.
With just barely enough time to get a route plan together we tossed ourselves into the mix and things started up. It took about 5 seconds to realize that this event was very, very well organized and well funded almost to the point of disbelief. Heli Putz, Patrick Tritscher, Carina Brunnauer, Martin Steinbach, the judges, the representatives from Atomic, RedBull, Sunto and other sponsors had things dialed, it really felt like the 28th edition.
We spent the day introducing the teams talking about the idea of the event and going over electronics, mandatory gear and route planning. With big inspirations like Kilian supporting the event one could not help but imagine images of his movie a fine line. For an event to encompass all of what it means to be free in the mountains is really a huge progression not just in skimo but in sports in general. To be out there with friends pushing limits and realizing new potential doing exactly what you naturally would do creates an atmosphere like no other. It's only a matter of time before the potential of this format is fully realized.
During the event it was evident that the white-out conditions would change the game and while at first disappointed, it soon became evident that it added to the challenge and experience. The draw back to the low visibility was having the helicopter grounded and film crews on foot. This however did not stop them and you would see random cameramen/women in the highest reaches of the Dachstien clinging to the edge of a cliff to get their shots. Once compiled despite all odds they were still able to come up with a great movie documenting the event.
To fit all our experiences from the weekend would be much too long so I will concentrate on one of our highlights during the event.
|Red: Ski/down climb Yellow: Abseil
This 45-50 degree powder chalked couliar with a abseil half way down was one of our main objectives for day 2. It was accessed from skiing off the summit to the lookers left. The top had a steep narrow skiable strip that ran out onto some rock bands which was negotiated by down climbing.
This brought us to the first section of great skiing and with big smiles on our faces we approached the the top of the abseil.
From here we burned some time digging and looking for an appropriate anchor. With no ice, lack of good horns and snow quality not suitable for a bollard or deadman, we decided on digging out and slinging a big rock with some cord.
We had guessed our 60m rope would do the trick and upon Mark cresting the edg, we were lucky to save some time and do it in one abseil.
From here we enjoyed some even better turns and could open her up now being out of the no-fall zone.
|Mcnab shredding out the last few turns onto the glacier.
Our next assent was to bring us to the high point of the Dachstien but due to increasingly poor conditions we got the call and we stopped 200m short of the top. Safety is number one and it was good to see the organizers make the call once conditions deteriorated. Having completed most of our day every one was able to realize some really good skiing and now have some things to come back for!
I can't be thankful enough to be part of such a great team. Andrew and Mark bring to the table so many skills it would be impossible to ask for better partners. It was an honor to represent North America and I think the team name really describes the tight knit community we have.