May-June 2018


Searching Google Earth, I came across a couloir. I found the name of the nearby peak. I researched the peak. I found out it was the highest in Georgia, though it appeared to be in Russia on the map. Further research revealed though the peak had been skied in 2010 by Peter Schön, the couloir hadn't. 

You see, the late Andreas Fransson, unbeknownst to me at the time, had actually pitched a trip to Georgia with me as his ski partner just a few weeks before he perished in an avalanche in Patagonia. I'd always wanted to go to Georgia and always wanted to go on a trip with Andreas. Since his passing, I'd been searching for a ski line in the Greater Caucuses that I thought would do his memory justice. Finally, sitting on Google Earth, I found it.

As it turned out, a strong Bozeman fellow named Jason Thompson had actually tried to climb and ski it, twice. In 2008 and 2015, Jason and his assorted team members were turned around by ice in the steep, 4700-foot couloir, which topped out just over 16,000 feet near the summit of Shkhara West, a sub-summit of Shkhara, Georgia's highest peak. I wanted to go there, climb it, and ski it. With Jason's blessing, in the eleventh hour, I was able to safely ascend and descend the line from the base camp that my partner, Mary McIntyre, and I had spent 10 days in, waiting for good weather.

in partnership with Goal Zero