While most people just hike the 14ers, the idea to ski them came to Austin in 2007.
"After skiing my first one, I was hooked. Each season I would pick ten or more 14ers and track their snowfall and study their climbing and skiing routes. When the snow was stable and the weather cooperated, I would make my move. It’s not easy and you have to really want it. I set goals and slowly started to achieve them; the project seemed daunting at first, but I was making progress and learning all the time."
"One of the reasons that this project took so long is that so much depends on snow coverage and stable snow conditions. Some of the mountains have only seen a handful of ski descents and require serious patience and perseverance, not to mention a lot of hard work just to get to these remote areas. After about 20 peaks, the reality of the project set in and I had a moment of doubt; could I really do this?"
Year after year, peak after peak...
"The project was starting to consume me. Even in the summer, I would scout peaks and do whatever I could to be ready and in physical condition when the snow fell. This winter, all of the persistence and patience paid off. A few very good friends and I were on the first train to Chicago Basin this year and skied three of the most remote 14ers in the state leaving just one to complete. Capitol Peak."
With 53 peaks down and one to go, Austin scouts the weather conditions and makes his move.
"On June 4th, a close crew and I made the 30+ hour mission. After all the years of work on this project, all of the travel, all of the successes and failures, I finally completed the project by skiing Capitol Peak. Capitol caused me a ton of anxiety as I knew it would be the hardest challenge I would ever face in the mountains. Sure enough, it lived up to that."
"It took me 5 attempts to get it done. Nevertheless, with each attempt I gained a new piece of the puzzle. Sometimes it’s not clear at the moment, but there is success in failure, however daunting it may seem at first."
Big high fives, Austin- Stay elevated and keep rocking Discrete!