Basalt resident skis into history
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT ” Jordan White stepped out of his tent Sunday morning to find the Snowmass wilderness blanketed in fresh snow. Blue skies hovered above the towering peaks of the Elk Mountains.
“It was a dream come true,” the 23-year-old Basalt resident said Tuesday.
And the perfect day to climb and ski his way into history.
White and a group of eight friends ” five humans and three canines ” left camp and headed for Snowmass Mountain on Sunday. Hours later, many of them stood at the 14,092-foot summit, snapping photos to capture the moment.
Three brought their skis to the summit. The others insisted White drop in first.
It seemed only fitting.
After a few calculated turns on 50-degree snow, apprehension dissipated. And soon, a three-year mission was accomplished.
On May 4, 2006, White climbed and skied his first fourteener ” Quandary Peak. With Sunday’s triumph, he became the fifth person to accomplish the feat on all 54 of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks, joining the likes of Carbondale’s Lou Dawson, Aspen’s Ted Mahon and professional skier Chris Davenport.
Only Davenport (362 days) completed the list quicker.
“This project had always been like an obsession,” said White, a project engineer for Fenton Construction. “It kind of had to be done. … At whatever point I set that goal, I ended up being a driven person.”
Joining this elite company was never White’s primary motivation. The Denver native scaled every one of the state’s fourteeners before he ever brought skis along.
“I learned those [mountaineering] skills earlier than I mastered the jump turn,” he joked. “But skiing down sure beats walking down any day.”
White, who went to school at Colorado State University, skied a few peaks in 2006. As the numbers continued to grow in subsequent years, he decided completing the list was a worthwhile venture.
The project reached a fever pitch of late. White has logged 17,000 miles in his truck in the last six months alone. During one stretch at the end of April, he skied Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle in one day, Humboldt the next and then El Diente, Mount Wilson and Wilson Peak in one 24-hour period.
“I’ve definitely developed a love for it,” White said. “I love the challenge.”
That love was first forged when he scaled his first mountain at the age of 5 with his late father, Kip. The passion has endured in subsequent years, even in the face of unspeakable grief.
White and his father were climbing the Maroon Bells on Memorial Day in 2005 when the two, who were roped together, fell nearly 400 feet. His father was killed and White broke his leg and was knocked unconscious.
White was in a boot for eight weeks. He waited almost a year before skiing a peak.
“I guess I probably had eight weeks to heal and reflect on it, but I wanted nothing more than to get back in the mountains,” White said. “It probably shook my confidence, but it also gave me a little bit of drive.”
White kept going. He has scaled mountains across the world ” from Mount Elbrus in Russia to 22,841-foot Aconcagua in Argentina. In addition, he continued to pile up ski descents on Colorado’s tallest peaks.
White’s mother drove from Denver on Sunday to meet her son at the trailhead.
“I think a special thank you goes to one person out there; and that’s my mom, Luann. … My mom has been the most supportive person in this effort (and the most worrisome),” White wrote on his blog at http://www.elksandbeyond.com. “Like any caring mother, she worry’s (sic) about me in the mountains, but she never tells me not to go. She understands, sometimes she even comes along. Without her support, this journey probably would not have
Where that journey leads now is up in the air. All that’s certain is that White is done with lists, he joked.
Don’t expect him to slow down, though.
“I could never quit,” White added. “This is what I love doing. … This [last three years] has been a fun journey.”
David Stapleton is the development officer for the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. A product of the club, AVSC sat down with Stapleton for a Q&A session in this week’s Clubhouse Chronicles.