The Whites of His Eyes

Brittany Anne Griffith (BAG)
Winter 2006

“Kevin wants to know if you want to ride Mount Currie today,” JD said from across the sunbathed deck. I squinted up at the massive peak that I was fairly certain was Mount Currie.

“Uh, sure,” I replied dumbly. It was after lunch and I couldn’t fathom how we were going to have time for the hike and the descent.

JD tossed the phone, shoved one last potato dumpling into his gob, rose from the deck chair flaunting his tree-trunk legs under boxer shorts and, in a monotone voice, said, “He’ll be home at two. We’ll go then.”

TWO?! Certainly he meant 2 a.m., in which case I would be imbibing during last call, not hiking up a mountain. Crazy Canadians, I thought.

Sure enough, Kevin’s truck growled into the driveway promptly at 2 p.m. “Ya ready, BAG?” he said, grinning behind aviator glasses as he peeled an orange and casually tossed his board in the back.

I yanked myself up into the front seat, and JD stuffed himself in the back. “How far is the trailhead?” I asked in a small voice.
“BAG, yer funny,” Kevin chuckled.

Shortly after my sincere, albeit naïve, question, we were loaded on a small metal sarcophagus with rotors, which didn’t seem to bother the boys one bit. As we neared the top of Mount Currie, it looked infinitely more massive and intimidating than two hours ago from the deck, finally driving home the fact that I was in deep.

The doors opened. I jumped out on wobbly legs and instinctively (or maybe I remembered seeing this in a Warren Miller video) crouched down. The din from the helicopter finally faded and a peaceful yet ominous calm remained. The silence was broken by the boys’ whoops, of which I was unable to partake. I was gripped. Although relieved that the giant, gnashing, sure-to-crash-and-explode monster was gone, I was left with the realization that I now had to descend on my board.

I had no more than an instant to process this dread before Kevin dropped in and gracefully began arcing huge, beautiful turns. I was momentarily distracted by this display of stunning talent. JD nudged me. “Giv’er.” (Canadian for “go for it”.)

An unknown force leaned me onto my back foot, shifted my stance forward, and aimed me downhill. I was in motion, focusing only on Kevin’s tracks in fear I would lose him. I nearly ran him over at the bottom of the enormous upper bowl as he waited.

“Oooh rights, BAG, yer a little shredder, eh?” Yeah, I thought to myself smugly, maybe I am. “Take ‘er easy in this next section. There are some cliffs. Follow JD and I’ll be behind you.”
With my newly anointed “shredder” status, I confidently took off after JD, this time picking my own line without concern.

Six seconds elapsed before I realized I had made a grave mistake.

I got going too fast for my feeble sport-climber legs to maintain control. I couldn’t turn to slow my trajectory, so I did the only thing I was able to: the good ol’ tuck-and-roll. The snow was soft, and initially the only thing I suffered from was a bit of dizziness and vertigo. After the fourth or fifth rotation, I remembered the cliff warning. Panic overcame me and I immediately did everything I could to stop.

A sapling conveniently halted my acceleration at the lip of a 30-foot precipice. I held tight to the last bit of pine branch, clinging with calm desperation, power-crunched my abs, inched my toe edge into the failing powder, and paddled with one gloved hand. Progress was perilous. Above me I could see the whites of Kevin’s eyes behind his goggles’ amber lenses, and the expression on his face resembled that of a blow-up doll. When I reached him I was grinning, breathless and perversely pleased with myself. “I meant to do that,” I postured, afraid and unable to actually speak.

Mount Currie had decided to commiserate with a desperate wannabe and let me off easy − at least this time.

About the Author

Since her little tumble, Patagonia Climbing Ambassador Brittany Griffith still struggles to achieve snowboard “shredder” status, has gotten mauled 10 times worse learning to surf and has logged an estimated 239,751 frequent-flyer miles, zero of which have been in a helicopter.

Check out bios on JD and Brittany.