By Asit Rathod
I thought my two hundredth ski down from the 11,239 foot summit of Oregon‘s crown jewel, Mount Hood, would have been a little different. It was a peaceful day with no wind, and the sun was shining down on me. Walking towards the summit I broke down and began to cry from the flood of emotions. I started thinking back on the years since my first summit and was amazed at what surfaced.
Sitting on the summit I could only remember less than a dozen epic ski descents out of two hundred. So the question hit me hard .... “Why have I kept coming back to this place so often if it wasn‘t about the skiing?” The tears slowly began turning into uncontrollable laughter as the memories of all the wild and special times came flooding back. In that moment it all made sense: it was never about summiting or the skiing.
The fact is I must have over five to six hundred times skiing from high on Mt. Hood. I have always followed two cardinal rules in the alpine: (1) safety, and (2) fun and happiness.
If neither of these rules are met, I‘m back at my car heading home to spend time with my loved ones.
Soaking in the sun that special day, I remembered the first time a climber was really mean to me for bringing my skis to the summit, because he felt it was dangerous and he would have to rescue me if I got hurt. I remembered skiing the north side naked for the first time just because I could. I remembered bringing up a stuffed Boobie Bird for the son of my love because he wanted his Boobie to get to the summit. I remembered watching a boy named Bryce become a man before my eyes while spreading the ashes of his father Mark Cartier, one of the greatest climbers I've ever known, on the summit. I remembered spreading the ashes of too many friends taken before their time. I remembered every smile of every friend who came with me to the summit for their first time. I remembered the faces of every friend who told me while standing on the summit that this was one of the greatest days of their lives.
We all go to the mountains for many different reasons. It can be to escape the humdrum of day to day life. It can be we are searching to understand ourselves just a little better. It can be to feel, just for a moment, like a superhero. It can be that we need to find a bit of happiness when it feels like the darkness of life is winning the battle.
What I know is the evolution of skiing and mountaineering has led us to this moment. It is no longer about being the first, the fastest, or who's done it the most often. It is about being like an artist entering the mountains with fluidity and harmony – matching the vibrations of this moment in our life with the alpine. We must respect the time we have been given by pushing the human spirit into places that once lived in our dreams. The Dali Lama has been asked many times “What is the meaning of life? He has always smiled and said “Happiness.” So what I do know now on my two hundredth summit that I did not know on my first is that we go to the mountains to find our happiness, because the future is beautiful, my friends.
About the author:
Asit Rathod grew up skiing on Mount Hood from the age of 5 He is a “suit” by day, but a big mountain athlete at heart. Asit spent 5 years skiing and climbing 200+ days a year between Chamonix, France and Las Lenas, Argentina. Having skied from Mt. Hood’s 11,239 foot summit over 210 times, he can be considered the snow sports ambassador to the state of Oregon. Asit works for Findlay of Wilsonville. He is a product ambassador for Volkl skis, TREW clothing, Zeal Optics, IceBreaker, and Naked Winery.