The Ring of Fire ski tour wrapped up in a smashing success a few weeks ago, and showed the world what it is like to go on a ski road-trip with Chris Davenport. Davenport and friends climbed and skied 15 volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest in 14 days, for a total of 78,641’ feet of climbing, and traveled nearly 142 miles on their skis. Along the way, Davenport got local skiers and friends fired up, and involved the larger ski community with great posts and video. He also took along fellow WME skiers Jess McMillan for the whole tour, and Daron Rahlves for a week.
Although the original plan allowed the whole month of May to complete their objective, thanks to an unexpected stretch of good weather, the skiers were able to bang out the task in half the time. Rest days were originally slotted in as expected bad weather days - but since there wasn’t any weather, the team took advantage of the sunshine and got after it while the going was good. That part was great for the tour, but tough on the legs.
When perpetually fit Davenport asked McMillan to be a part of the trip about 3 weeks beforehand, it prompted McMillan to embark on a serious, accelerated training program. “If anything, my training program mentally prepared me for the trip. It was great to think; okay today we are going to skin/hike 11,000 vertical feet. In my mind I could quantify that by thinking, I am going to skin/hike Jackson Hole Mountain Resort almost three times. While training I skinned JHMR at least 15 times, so I knew I could do it. It was just one more trip up JHMR. The trip was more mentally challenging than physically challenging for me. We only had two rest days. I learned to push myself past my comfort zone."
The trip involved smaller and easier summits, but also offered some extremely challenging moments. The Sisters Traverse, in which the team bagged three summits in one day, included an 18-mile traverse, and 10,000 feet of vertical.
The moral support from the ski community was strong, and those in the area often came to climb one or more days with the Ring of Fire crew. In the morning, McMillan and Davenport would be excited to wake up and see who else was camped outside in the parking lot, ready to hit the trail. An all-time high of friends joining the trip was Mt. Hood, with about 15 skiers joining in the effort.
The team all seems to agree that Mt. Jefferson was one of the standout moments on the tour – and a perfect day. The volcano, above a beautiful forest, with an exciting, steep two-pitch climb to the summit, and some mountain goat companions, rewarded the skiers with a nearly 8,000 foot descent of perfect spring corn. “In my mind, Jefferson was the whole package, a perfect day,” said McMillan, and Davenport agrees.
All told, the trip was an impressive feat of athleticism and endurance, and shone more light on ski mountaineering as part of freesking culture. But, most importantly to those who suffered through just one, or all of the climbs, it was about having fun on skis. Jess sums it up: “It wasn’t about pros going out and skiing the raddest lines. It was about celebrating skiing and friendships.”
Link to Dav’s Ring of fire Blog:
Link to Jess’s Blog: