Two days before he died, Trevor Petersen skied a powder run that will be burned into my memory forever. We were far from home under a brilliant sun and blue skies, making our way down a vast basin on the south side of Italy’s Monte Rosa, along with skier Gordy Peifer and photographer Scott Markewitz. The four of us were alone in this huge drainage – bigger by far than all of Little Cottonwood Canyon – and the only tracks in it were ours from the previous day.
In that silence that always seems unnatural in such a big place, Scott called out for Trevor to rip his way down to where the rest of us stood, while he took photos. The wind picked up and blew streamers of backlit crystals across the seamless blanket of white that separated us from Trevor. Then, against a background of flawless blue, on Scott’s word, Trevor dove in.
On Trevor’s first turn, the snow billowed, caught in the wind, and blew up and over his shoulders. He gasped during his unweighting – that trademark Trevor fish-mouth – and dove back into the white, disappearing entirely this time. The sun, behind his right shoulder, reflected and refracted and lighted the scene like the most intensely perfect ski film – it had the production values of a big-screen Miller feature with the intensity and power of a Stump movie.
On and on Trevor skied, rapidly eating up the landscape between us. At each down-weighting he would be swallowed by snow, at each up-weighting he would appear like a dolphin leaving the water. I saw a hundred possible covers, a thousand slices of perfection.
Then, as he came close to us, I felt something rising within me – laughter – and I heard it, too: from Scott and then from Trevor as he pulled to a stop next to us. It rang in my ears: pure, deep, and unadulterated, a laughing of the soul that sprang from the joy that transcends life. It was unstoppable and uncontainable and far beyond words.
It was a most amazing moment, to share with friends those mountains and that snow and the sun and being in Europe, and to have something with them magical and spiritual and shared and spontaneous. In my whole life, I’ve never felt anything quite that intensely perfect: to be completely at home in the mountains, at peace with the world, enraptured by life, and carried away by joy.
Photo of Trevor Petersen in Alagna, Italy, by Steve Casimiro