The Line of the Week
Photo’s by Ryan Salm
Words by Ryan Salm
Riders – Glen Plake and Friends
Location – Mt Humphrey’s, Eastern Sierra
Every so often you find yourself lying awake listening to a portable am/fm radio. It doesn’t really happen that often but when it does it leaves a lasting impression on your brain. Maybe it was those deep lyrics streaming from KIBS, “I can take you for a ride on my big green tractor, we can go slow or make it go faster, down through the woods and out to the pasture, as long as I’m with you it really don’t matter”. For the rest of my life this will always be our song. The music I shared with Glen Plake while bivying at 10,500 ft during 90+mph winds on assignment for Julbo USA.
Sometimes you try and try to market yourself for the perfect job. You do everything right, are the perfect candidate, get told you pretty much have the job, but still get the shaft. Other times you walk into a room, spot a rock-star like Plake, gather up your courage, think of a pickup line and drop it like Vince Vaughn in Swingers. That’s pretty much how my run in with Plake went because two days later I was invited to join a crew consisting of Powder, Backcountry, Skiing Mag, and Julbo USA for a three day backcountry trip to the Eastern Sierra.
The crew was great, about 13 deep including guides. Plake lent me a homemade pair of his Elan ski’s with a lighter touring setup as he laughed at my Gotama’s and Duke’s. We toured and boot packed to base camp, skied a nice line under the shadow of a perfect Eastside lenticular, which stuck around throughout the weekend. Plake wined and dined us all weekend using flat chunks of rock, heated re- hot on a whisperlight to make backcountry pita bread pepperoni pizza’s while snow was melted to make the perfect hydrating drink concoction (water). Lots of stories, lots of laughs and a full moon rising to end the day.
The following morning we awoke and began a tour of Mt Humphrey’s. The sun baked hard on my pale white skin as we took Plake’s remedial kick turn seminar. Skin, skin, skin, skin, kick turn…”Nope, that’s not right, do it again.” With his South Lake Tahoe, Cali vibe mixed with a Chamonix skill set, Plake is the true master of the Eastern Sierra backcountry. He hikes as nimbly as he skis, fast and smooth. Regardless of conditions he’s ready to roll.
It was a scorcher in the sun as wet slides and big fat rollerballs were abundant. One slide swept down an entire couloir during a quick photo stop. As the sun set on yet another awesome Eastside Sunday we skied a beautiful line back to our camp. The lenticular cloud I mentioned lit up the sky yet again, and the wind began to howl. A few members of our party opted to stay at camp for the afternoon session and upon our return it was evident that the wind was getting the best of them. Their first thought was to move camp to a lower elevation. They brought up the idea to our group, who were beat after a long day of skinning, boot packs and skiing. We opted to stay high for the night.
As the sky got darker and the moon peaked through a gap between a mountain and a cloud the wind began to rage. Our group of 13 started to build. We had walls around our bivy’s but they weren’t going to suffice the winds that were blowing. We built 7-8 foot walls over the next hour, ate dinner and braced for mother nature’s windy wrath. The first big gust was unbelievable. I could feel it through the walls of the tent like the exhale of a velociraptor. The gusts were huge and sustained. I don’t recall sleeping at all. Every so often I stuck my head out of the tent and watched big fluffy clouds roll by. It must have been blowing almost 100mph throughout the night. At first light I looked toward the door of the tent and noticed it was open, and snow was beginning to pile up on my sleeping bag. I just laughed. We quickly packed up camp and headed down to the Buttermilk’s and lower elevation. I didn’t get to shoot the dawn patrol couloir mission we had planned that morning.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of dropping out of a winter storm in the Sierra and rolling into Bishop wearing flip flops and board shorts with 65 degree temperatures. We kicked it at Plake’s homemade RV and shot the shit for a while before I threw on KIBS and drove my big green tractor on home to my house in the Tahoe hills.
The Line of the Week is a weekly photo piece by Ryan Salm featuring some of Tahoe’s finest athletes doing whatever we deem rad. We will be using the term “Line” loosely to describe anything resembling chutes, big airs, pointers or any general madness. All images are the property and copyright of Ryan Salm Photography.
For more of Ryan’s work, check out http://ryansalmphotography.photoshelter.com