Winter camping has always been intimidating for me. The thought of keeping you and your gear warm and dry enough to function while in the cold and snow can be daunting. A friend always said, “winter camping is an art”. Despite being friends, I thought he was either insane or a liar.
|Skier: David Ellison|
It had been on my radar for a while. Five years I think. Rishiri was first mentioned to me over a whisky induced conversation on a rainy night in Honshu. Plans that year fell through, and since then the arrival of spring in Japan meant my departure for adventure elsewhere. It turns out ski and adventure partners in March can be tough to come by.
It’s best to start with where this trip began: running the trails of Cache Creek in the Tetons with Lee. Conversation always ebbs and flows depending on how bad my asthma attacks are, though as usual, Lee did most of the talking. He brought up spring adventures, and a possible trip ‘somewhere that doesn’t see many skiers late in the season’. It sounded interesting enough and we left it at that. About a week later I got an invite to a group titled ‘Kyrgyzstan (or somewhere else if anyone has a better idea)’. This was my rough introduction to the group. Some of the members I knew well, some I didn’t. One of my favorite things about ski friends is you will trust their friends without question too. So even though I had never met them, I knew they were good people. In addition to myself, our team consisted of the Norwegian brothers Petter and Thomas Meling, the Finnish Hannu Kukkonen, Scotsman Hugo Scrimgeor, and the ‘American’ Lee Lyon.