And our magnificent view to the Tetons 50 miles away? Hah! We could scarcely see 100 feet back along our tracks—and the tracks themselves were rapidly filling with snow.
Tenzing murmered softly, "Goddam you, Earl." I thought the wind took on a noticeably higher shriek after that remark. We sipped water, gulped gorp, tried to clean the snow from our goggles and decided that there was nothing to do but retreat.
Heinz swallowed and said through clenched teeth, "This wouldn't be the place for a virgin, would it?"
Tenzing said, "Only a virgin who can ski like hell!" and he shoved off down the mountain. It took the four of us about half an hour to fight our way down the unprotected slopes to the tree line and there Earl's storm suddenly went limp. The trees cut off the fearsome wind, and without it, the snowfall became a gentle, friendly curtain.
We paused for breath, and Heinz panted, "Earl sure knows how to lay on a really stressful adventure." We skied down in relatively leisurely loops. Amazingly enough, within half an hour—long before we reached the lake again—the afternoon turned as dazzling as the morning had been.
Back at camp, everyone was practicing Telemark turns on a warm sun-splashed mountainside, unaware that scarcely four miles away Earl had been cutting up like an ax murderer.
We mentioned the storm, but it made little impression. They had experienced no bad weather. The next morning, basking in Earl's finest smile, we skied back to the roadhead, and while the others re-provisioned for the second week of the course, Heinz and Tenzing and I rode back to Lander and civilization. That night, while Lannie, Drew, Gary, Bob, Linda, Mike, Paul, etc., stumbled into a cold and darkened camp for another one-pot dish of something or other, the three of us, freshly showered and shaved, dined on filet mignon and sipped a pleasant Beaujolais in a candlelit restaurant. We toasted each other and NOLS and wished each other more personal growth through stressful adventure. When Earl's name came up, as it had to, there was another ode:
Oh, who's the fink in robes of a deity?
Who dumps yukky weather with unrestrained gaiety?
He's a god who's most capricious,
And, at times, just plain malicious.
May you lose your toes to your own frostbeity,