Atop the American West


Mile 389; April 11; Highway 6 West, NV; 6,265 feet

The compass reads west. I have the cruise control set on 80, the empty road ahead serving as a perfectly straight gun barrel for my Toyota Tundra, shooting through the emptiness of the Great Basin of Nevada. On the horizon, the sun is nearly setting over what is the largest mountain range I have seen all day. Beyond those jagged, gargantuan silhouettes ahead are what I expect to be another 5,000-odd miles of road, trail, skin track, boot packs and enticing ski descents, a spectrum stretching from below sea level to the highest point in the contiguous United States.

  My quest is vast, but simple: I am off to ski the highest peak in every state in the American West, 11 peaks in total. There is something intrinsically independent about these mountains, an attraction that drew pioneers, cowboys, woodsmen and, more recently, skiers and mountaineers from around the globe. It is the same urge around which I established my own direction in life.

  I am pursuing this adventure because these mountains are all in close proximity to home. Some are near to my heart, and others far from what I can imagine. This is the world into which I’ll be spending the next month—or however long this journey takes…

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