I just got back from travelling through Colorado for the backcountry season. After doing the first descent of the South Face of Engineer Mountain in Durango and the first ski BASE jump off it as well, I got call from my friend Matt Skinner who lives in Telluride. He sent me a picture of Ajax Peak and said “Matty, you have to come over here and do the first ski BASE jump off Ajax. It would be awesome”.
After ploting it for a year, we decided to get it going this spring. I called local ski legend Herb Manning and pro ski mountaineer Kim Havell to see if they wanted to come and help with the project. Both of them were fired up and willing to help.
We spotted a couple cliffs – one off Ajax and one off Ingram. Both faces were right next to each other. After, a couple hours of climbing, we realized that Ingram was a little small so we decided to focus on Ajax.
The cliff was very intimidating with an overhung top and a positive/ angled rock below. We couldn’t get a precise estimate of the height but after throwing a couple rocks, it looked like it would work.
Herb was standing on the edge while Kim was checking out the jump from a side angle and spotting us for potential avalanches or other dangers while climbing.
The wind was perfect as well as the sky and the runway was a little chaotic but doable.
I gave a 3, 2, 1, droping and started skiing towards the edge. It was a bumpy ride but the excitement was at its top. The edge is getting closer and closer and last thing you know, you are flying through the air and you can see your shadow on the rocks several hundred of feet below you.
Once the canopy opened, it was a long rideÂ – over a minute of gliding over looking Telluride in the background.
This jump happened less than 2 weeks after ski legend and BASE jumper Shane McConkey passed away. Shane inspired all of my generation of skiers to take our skiing to the next level. In my case, he made me want to add BASE jumping and follow his foots steps. Shane will always remain a reference and this is why I wanted to dedicate this jump to him. We even named the cliff after him: “Shane’s Cliff”.
This was a great adventure and it gave me many ideas for next season!Â I am back in Salt Lake City right now which is my new home andÂ getting ready for more adventures in the Northwest so stay posted! The footage was featured on Good Morning America. This is a great way to show the general public what big mountain skiing is about as well as BASE jumping. This was my second time on the show. You can see last year and this yearÂ video segment by clicking on the link below.
Plum TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tw52pBgPuHQ
Good Morning America 2008: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=4377478
Good Morning America 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBENYzwenZY
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go big or go home frenchie! Spokane misses you
Ski BASE jumping looks fun. Maybe I’ll get into it when I get bored of the backcountry glades, which should be soon.