Reflections

Ignore that date above. For me, here in Antarctica, the New Year is about to happen tonight. Before I start making resolutions and promises and plans for next year, I'm taking a moment to look back at the last 365 days. 

The accomplishments have been few but significant. I co-authored a fantastic ski guide, Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes Washington, with an incredible team of authors, skiers and guides from Pro Guiding Service. The book launch party was likely the professional high mark of last winter.

My personal high mark last winter was finally getting to take a much needed vacation with my wife, Patsy, to ski and experience the culture of Japan. It was an amazing trip, from the incredible culture packed in Tokyo to the incredible snow we found in Hokkaido. It was truly a trip of a lifetime, and I was inspired by the experience to launch a annual week-long trip (psst, yes, it is happening and yes, there is still spaces open!), but let's talk about the future tomorrow. 

The rest of the winter passed by in a blur of great ski descents and tours around the Cascades. The blur kept going into the summer - this year's route du jour was the Torment-Forbidden Traverse, a personal favorite that I ended up climbing four times - twice in one week! The most memorable trip, though, was with the Adventure Film School, who teamed up with the Sierra Club Military Outdoors to take a team of veterans up into some of the most stunning alpine terrain of the North Cascades for a week long videography and photography workshop. This was an incredible experience, and the SCMO and I are already planning 2015's project.

In the fall, I finally attended the International Snow Science Workshop, a week-long gathering of guides, ski patrollers, avalanche forecasters, and snow scientists. Presentations varied from the deeply scientific to incident case studies. I got to meet long-time personal heroes of mine in the climbing and skiing worlds, reconnect with old friends, and road trip from Seattle to Banff, Alberta.

But really, one of the most amazing moments of my life happened in September as well, when Patsy and I closed the deal on a cottage in Seattle. I'm a homeowner, for the first time in my life. Wow. Of course, the first thing I did was rip apart the basement (where else is all my stuff going to fit?) and as we speak Patsy is supervising the complete renovation of the kitchen, which should be well and truly done by the time I get home. Sorry love, I'll make it up to you when I get back.

The last highlight of the year is right here. Antarctica. Here I am, again, for the ninth time, possibly proving something that I over-heard in the bar during my first trip in 1996:

Antarctica. The first season is for the wonder of it. The second season is for the money. And if you come back for a third, its because after the first and the second you’re too !@#$%^ up to function in regular society anymore.
— Master Chief Chuck Gallagher, USN, Retired

This was also big technology for me this year. Instagram has really worked out for me and I'm digging it. The new website is running well and I'm stoked for it. Now its time to really work on some content, but that's more for tomorrow's email too.

I didn't really send out a great Thanksgiving thank you. So this time I will. Thanks to everyone at Pro Ski and Mountain and Pro Guiding Service, especially to Martin, Gina, Forest, Erin, Kurt, Dave, Mike, Dave and Casey. Thanks to K2 and BCA, especially Hatt, Steve, and Marksie. Thank you to my new friends in Japan: Shinya-san, Jun, Taro, and the team at K2 Japan. Thank you to Outdoor Research, Ashley and Christian especially, for continuing to support and encourage me.

Thank you to all of my guests this year. I hope you had as much fun as I did, and found your experiences in the mountains to be the challenges you had hoped for. I hope to see you again in 2015. A special shout out should go to Carlton, Jacob, Jim, Josh, and JR for heading out with me multiple times this year (wow!).

To the G410 Team, down here in Antarctica with me again. I don't want to be anywhere else right now than here with you guys: Greg, Claire, Isaac and Brent. Well, Brent got to leave early to make it back in time for classes, but we gave him a pass for it and he's here in spirit, we know!

And my family. Grandma, Mom, my sister Betsy and her husband Kyle, my nephew and niece Gabe and Josie. You guys are wonderful, supportive, and full of love even when I haven't spoken to you in forever. More about that in tomorrow's post. And to my in-law family: Mark, Meredith, Ben and Avery. The Garcia clan - Sun, Roxanne, Patrick, Natsumi, Ellie, Emina. I wish we got to see more of you. And finally the Topinka clan - thank you for adopting us!

The Seattle Mafia, The Family, The Boys. I couldn't have made it through this year without you. Day, Eddie, Justin, Matt, Nick the Aussie, Big Nick B, Truc, and Wesley. And the Wives Club. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Finally, to my incredible wife Patsy, and to Neo and Clair. This was, no doubt, the hardest year effort. Full of a LOT of struggle and strife. Thank you for staying with me through it all. I love you with all my heart - you are my moon and sun and the stars that guide me.

On to 2015.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!