Pete Campbell and Sean VonFeldt: Solutions for problems with trekking story’
If the article “Trekking off the beaten path” written by Janice Kurbjun on March 6 offended or confused any avalanche technicians, ski mountaineers (novice or expert), Summit County backcountry skiers or certified mountain guides, that was certainly not our intention. While we acknowledge there were some slight inadvertent inaccuracies in the recounting of our statements and story as told to Janice during our interview, we’d like to offer some minor corrections to the story which should pacify the professionals and technical experts who might have been insulted or at least somewhat annoyed at the recount of our adventure.
1. We did not say our buddies in Jackson Hole were “semi-professional guides.” What we said was “our buddies were like skiing with professional guides” (i.e. they are as experienced and knowledgeable as any professional guides we know or have skied with). I guess you could say Janice was technically correct, in that we did pay our buddies with nachos, hot wings and beer for taking us safely and sanely out on such an awesome epic adventure!
2. Pete’s quote regarding a “bluebird” day being desirable to boost the safety level was meant to be directed toward visibility and lack of wind. We did not want to do a trek like this on a day with poor visibility, as we felt it was important to be able to see what we were getting into. As a result, we made the group decision to drop into the Gore Creek drainage on a northeast-facing aspect, which never sees midday or afternoon sun, keeping the powder depth very consistent, light and fluffy, especially above 11,000 feet (on a day where temp did not exceed the low 20s) … and of course we were not going to hang around the sun-drenched slopes on the southern-facing aspects until they softened to the point of failure.
This rebuttal of David’s concerns is not an attempt to discount the foundation or seriousness of any of those concerns, only to hopefully clarify our statements and our state-of-mind when embarking and deciding it was safe to carry on into the Gore Creek drainage (committing to end at East Vail where our wives could pick us up). As for our experience level, we have each been skiing for over 30 years and have successfully (and safely) completed hundreds of ski mountaineering trips such as this, including a handful of the Colorado Fourteeners and Mt. Rainier. Ski mountaineering is our passion and safety is paramount.
Also, the photo of Pete Campbell and Chris Hall was actually of Pete Campbell and Melker Sandberg.
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