Xavier De Le Rue and Jeremy skin toward the North Face of the Tour Ronde near Chamonix. The face is a popular, 60-degree ice-climbing route. They intended to both climb and ride it. Dan Milner Photo.
CHAMONIX-BOUND MAY 14, 2009 DEEPER
Normally I am a walking zombie at this time of the year, but I am on a plane to Europe to hook up with Xavier De Le Rue. My bags are stuffed with steel: ice axes, crampons, ice screws and carabineers. The thought of standing on the biggest mountains of my life is the reason.
It is still really, really hard to say goodbye to my family. Tiff and I have had some hard conversations lately. “Life is fragile—be safe, come home,” she says. Too many people have died and as hard as it is to think about, I am not above the law. But once I am in the mountains, everything feels right—I feel in control and I am always ready to back down if something doesn’t feel right.
This trip will be about following, taking notes and learning. The mountains are in good shape and the time of year is right. The Alps have always freaked me out, but I am ready to face my fears. The mountains have never had such a grip on me. I am feeling their pull and I am ready to learn the European way.