SCARPA ambassador Chris Davenport is an icon in the world of big mountain skiers. He’s skied everywhere from the LHOTSE face of Mount Everest to the Antarctic Peninsula. He’s appeared in over thirty ski films and holds two World Extreme Skiing Championship titles. Davenport has made numerous first descents and skied hundreds of classics. When not skiing (which, by the way, is very rare) he commentates on ABC Sports, ESPN, and Outside Television, delivers professional lectures to businesses on risk management, and spends time with his family in Colorado. Davenport was also named one of ESPN’s 50 Most Influential People in Action Sports. In addition, he’s even written two coffee-table books: Ski the 14ers and 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America. In short, Davenport has a glittering ski resume—and has no plans to slow down.
Davenport started his career racing down big faces in Alaska, hucking 30-foot cliffs along the way. Now, his focus is geared more toward ski mountaineering. From January 2006 to January 2007 he became the first person to climb and ski all of Colorado’s 14’ers (a mountain summit taller than 14,000 feet) in one calendar year. To clarify, this means he climbed and skied 53 peaks in one year! Last year, Davenport embarked on a mission called “The Ring of Fire Tour” – an attempt to ski 15 volcanoes throughout the Pacific North West and California over the month of May. Because of good weather, Chris and his team were able to complete the mission in just 14 days. They climbed 78,641 feet, and traveled about 142 miles on skis.
Two of his companions from The Ring of Fire Tour are fellow Aspenites, Ted and Christy Mahon. Both are highly accomplished ski mountaineers in their own right. Ted and Christy have skied all of Colorado’s 14ers (Christy was the first woman to do so) and have both climbed numerous mountains around the world. This combination of knowing each other locally and having all skied Colorado’s 14ers sparked the idea in their heads to ski the Centennials.
Colorado was granted statehood in 1876 (100 years after America became a country) and thus became known as the Centennial State. As climbing grew in popularity, people started referring to the one hundred tallest peaks in the state as the Centennial Peaks in tribute to the Colorado’s nickname. People have climbed every Centennial – Christy Mahon for example – but no one has ever skied all of them.
For people like Davenport, and the Mahons, they prefer challenges that others haven’t accomplished, or attempted. The group’s plan was to ski as many of the mountains together as their differing schedules would allow. Unlike the 14ers, there was relatively little beta on ski routes on many of the 13er Centennials since most aren’t skied as often as their 14er cousins. However, with this group’s experience, topo-maps, satellite images, and advanced knowledge of backcountry safety, they were able to put their plan into action.
By the end of 2012, the group collectively skied nine of the 13er Centennials, adding onto the 53 14ers, making a grand total of 61 Centennials skied. This spring, the team has climbed and skied 14 more Centennials. This included a one-day, four peak traverse outside of Breckenridge. Other memorable days included their descent down the aesthetic Pearl Couloir on Cathedral Peak, skiing the Dragon’s Egg Couloir on Mount Meeker, and climbing Teakettle Mountain (considered by many to be the hardest Centennial climb).
Follow Davenport and The Centennial Skiers as they continue their journey to ski all of Colorado’s 47 13,000-foot peaks: centennialskiers.com
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF CENTENNIALSKIERS.COM