“I feel like most people wouldn’t have died. Well I guess most people probably would’ve died.” Sometimes the epic puts this into question – not to dramatize the situation. However, when you’re 12 miles deep and the temperatures are hovering around subzero, some proper resilience of mind and body is necessary to get you out of there.
This is the story of my epic to solo Castle Peak’s South Face in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho. It’s a remote line that is undoubtedly made easier via a snowmobile approach. However, snowmobiling solo in fresh snow just simply isn’t the best idea – so if you do it, always have an exit strategy and never go further than your own two feet can take you out. And definitely carry your inreach.
Sometimes a sufferfest is rather welcome, as your mind drifts to places it wouldn’t have otherwise. Particularly a sufferfest in the dark without a headlamp and only with the company of the moon, mountains and woods. Throughout this epic, I was in a rather comfortable place knowing that I truly was going to be just fine. So I indulged in the rather psychedilc experience of following a recovered track out of the remote wilderness in the dark howling of the windy and snowy mountains.
The Classic Flow is a multi-part series that will dive intimately into the journey of Michael Wirth (a 24 year old ski mountaineer) climbing and skiing 31 of the Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America in just a single season. I hope you subscribe to stay tuned into the many more to come soon.
I embarked on this journey due to the fear of imminent last descents among these lines. With the climate changing rapidly, our snow is disappearing in many places. As a kid from the Aspen Valley, I grew up with Chris Davenport’s, Art Burrow’s and Penn Newhard’s book, The Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America, looming as a distant dream. Cody Townsend’s FIFTY project has also been a sense of motivation and inspiration to take on the challenge of skiing a variety of these lines – what an adventure? Thus, I set out in January of 2022 to ski as many lines as possible in one season to discover what was possible from the logistic, technical and endurance capacities of myself.
Carly Valerious illustrated the animated intro sequence and worked with the talented editor Rainy Adkins to bring it to final animated form. I can’t thank these two enough for their work on this.
Follow @michaelcwirth on Instagram for real time updates on the project and more of what’s to come from this upstart punk 😉 https://www.instagram.com/michaelcwirth/
Check out FATMAP and my profile to see a Classic Flow guidebook. Here is the Castle route: https://fatmap.com/routeid/3090090/ca…
And use this link to get a 30 day free trial: https://fatmap.typeform.com/MCWirth
I mean consider that FATMAP can make you a lot safer in the backcountry and it costs a fraction of Netflix ha.