Eddie Kaupas: Out of bounds
At 13,000 feet, it’s cold, very cold. Frost forming with every breath. Winds buffeting the layers of mountain gear as we peer down the snow and rock-laden knife edge of the backcountry runs we are atop of. Frosty smiles crinkle with anticipation of the deep early morning untrack. As far as the eye can see, untrack and deep.
Some moments are for moving, this was not yet. This was for taking in. This time was for being there at this moment. The effort, the sweat, the extreme edges of life and its keenness. Gauging the dangers and safe zones. Sensing the wind laden. The avalanche zones, the fracture areas. Being the animal in its habitat.
Even skiing four continents over 50 years, the A-Basin backcountry never ceases to make me proud and smile.
Time for reflection, finite. The rhythms of the drums beat the turns are fast and deep. Open terrain 45 to 50 degrees. Snow piling at your thighs, chest, shoulders. Mandatory air here and there, bottomless landings. The bonding of your companions in the awareness of snow flight. Feel the ski, be the power.
How many turns? Gave up at 500. Flow, you’ve got the legs. Fast, steep, deep. Light with explosion that leads to that next turn. That … that was never touched, never reached. Something has happened. I am broken. I am holding onto that life force … my ki … focus hard. Flow, regroup, maintain…
My thanks to:
>The skiers I ski with for the lifestyle and uncompromising spirit we lead.
>My wife, Barbara Schneeman, whose strength, beauty and grace I test.
> My sons for love, support and family destiny.
>My friends, for these people I can be proud to share the planet with.
>To the staff of Kaupas Water for stepping up and filling the void.
>Tom Rosignola, the ER docs and the emergency trauma personnel at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco.
>The flight for life pilots and support personnel.
>The emergency vascular surgeons Jon Burch and associates at Centura Health Denver.
>The 10-star staff of the trauma ER, backup surgeons, respiratory surgeons, operating personnel.
>The nursing, respiratory, physical therapy follow up hospital staff.
>My insurance agent and executive of the staff to dot the I’s and crosses the T’s for the insurance policies.
>And the angel of mercy who watches over my family.
Seven days later on Feb. 4, I opened my eyes, my ki and life was still to be.
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