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Across the Ice

Episodes from a ski traverse in the Canadian RockiesIn the end, to ski is to travel fast and free—free over the untouched, snow-covered country. To be bound to one slope, even to one mountain, by a lift may be convenient but it robs us of the greatest pleasure skiing can give, that is, to travel through the wide wintry country; to follow the lure of the peaks which tempt on the horizon; and to be alone for a few days or even a few hours in clear, mysterious surroundings. —Hans Gmoser
1. Fear Vulture Peak Looms overhead. Five days ago, a huge avalanche swept down these cliffs, and our guide Ken is threading the safest path through the debris. Skiers use the phrase “big country” a lot around here—a shorthand for how tiny and fragile humans are, compared to thousand-foot cliffs or ten thousand tons of ice falling from above. 
I am afraid, but Ken’s obvious concern and care make me feel better. I trust he will achieve the primary goal of this trip, keeping us all alive. It’s challenging,…

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