Josh Daiek hates his quads and his friends. That must be the reason why he and a group of pals have spent the last two seasons creating The Tahoe Ten, a video series documenting their attempts to connect multiple ski tours into one long, grueling, masochistic traverse of pain smiles, exhausted yahoos, and a little skiing. After walking to and from the moon last season, Diaek, Abe Greenspan, and crew set out from Kirkwood Mountain Resort and ended their adventure in Hope Valley earlier this winter. The day was what scientist would describe as “super friggin’ enormous, bro.” Twenty miles, 5 summits, 13 hours, and 10,000 vertical feet is an epic day in the backcountry. Here’s what Daiek learned.
Before The Rooster
An early start equals a good day.
I’m pretty sure getting up at 3 a.m. is more or less a nightmare for anyone. Do yourself a favor, don’t hit snooze when the alarm clock starts buzzing. Sit it up, eat a spoon full of concrete, and harden up because your about to embark on one of the most memorable days of your life. Cook some bacon and eggs and cherish the fact you probably haven’t eaten greasy food at 3 a.m. since the last time you stumbled in drunk from the bar.”
The excitement of the day will have you sprinting up your first objective like an Olympic runner in the 400-meter. Slow down little bunny. Conserve your energy. As you reach your first summit with the welcoming embraces of alpenglow, your morning struggle will seem like a mere fart in the wind. Take a moment to enjoy the beautiful scenery, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and then keep moving for God’s sake. You’ve got a long way to go.
Good company and good skills.
Be sure you’re hiking with someone you know and trust. You’re going to be spending the next 12 –plus-hours with this person. Most of your day will be spent walking side by side so it’s good to have someone with a little comedic value. Think about it like this, you don’t want to be walking around all day with a crappy Brittany Spears song stuck in your head because your partner is giving you the silent treatment.
Abe and I are constantly talking shit and making fun of each other. It keeps the day entertaining and makes for an overall better experience. Equally important is having someone that is smart and brushed up on their rescue techniques. Whether you accept it or not, every time you step foot in the mountains you’re putting yourself in harms way. You need to rely on your partner to make smart decisions that don’t jeopardize either of you. You want good company but if they don’t have good mountain sense and can’t save your ass when shit hits the fan, then you might want to consider another option.
Low tech, hi-tech, pricey, and inexpensive gadgets that help.
Technology is awesome, and lucky for us we have Google Earth. Study your route and identify potential risks, like south facing aspects that will warm and become prone to avalanche danger. Plan for travel on these aspects early in the day before the slope has a chance to heat up. This may dictate an alternate route, which could in turn change your whole day of travel. Study up.
Buy yourself one of those crazily over priced watches that monitor your heart rate, miles traveled, vertical foot ascent and descent, and all the rest. If you can’t afford one, do as I did and borrow one from a friend. If all else fails, download any number of apps that will track this data. This is very important info to have so you can brag at the bar and let everyone know just how rad you are.
Good eyewear is essential. Chances are you will be spending a lot of time hiking in the sun, and it won’t do you any good if you reach the summit blind. Yes, snow blindness is real. Be sure to have good pair of sunglasses. Glacier glasses are ideal, but if you don’t have them, here’s an easy solution. Grab a little duct tape and apply to the arms of your sunglasses to prevent any light sneaking into your periphery. It’s a good idea to insure no light can reflect under the bottom of the lens, too.
Just Say No
When yes isn’t an option.
Know when to pull the plug. There is certain risk every time you step into the backcountry. It’s easy to be eager and want that instant gratification of completing a certain goal. If conditions are different than you expected or become unsafe, don’t be a hero. You can’t claim your radness at the bar if you’re dead. Realize the mountains aren’t going anywhere and be patient for the right conditions.
Again, you need a solid partner. Abe and I are constantly voicing our concerns in the field. It’s imperative to our safety. Although we were able to complete our mission unhitched this go round, there have been plenty of times when we’ve had to turn around and walk away. I find walking away and knowing that you made the smart decision can be just as rewarding as completing the goal. I like to push my limits, but there is a time and a place.
End The Suffering
It’s only in your head…
Realize that all suffering eventually comes to an end on these long missions. I find the most important move all day is to keep moving. Eat on the go. Drink on the go. Talk on the go. Time is precious and you’ll need every bit of daylight. It’s time to turn it on as the sun is setting. You’re almost done so quit conserving energy and give it everything you got. I was gasping for air and my head was throbbing like the beat of a German rave party as I chased Abe up Red Lake Peak. I so badly wanted to stop and take a 5-minute breather but it wasn’t an option. One foot after the other, just keep moving. One more spoonful of concrete…oh yeah, you got it now.
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