Mark Harfenist

Mea Culpa

It was time, I suppose, for a revitalized sense of humility: not meekness or servility, exactly, but more a respectful modesty about abilities, beliefs, understandings. The basics: a late-winter backcountry ski tour with friends in familiar terrain. There were four of us. I was the one with the most backcountry experience, the most local knowledge, the most specific avalanche training, …

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Graduation Day

I am inescapably and resoundingly middle-aged. I have been a college student for three years now, liquidating savings and borrowing heavily against presumed future earnings. Recently—remarkably—I graduated: thirty years almost to the day since I finished high school. Early that morning I drove to the mountains for a celebratory ski in the Mt. Baker backcountry, my excuse being that I …

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How to Achieve a Period of Deep, Uninterrupted Sleep

Begin by accumulating long-term sleep deficit. Join persons more vigorous than self for an outdoor adventure. Over-estimate abilities. Under-prepare. Get a late start. Remain optimistic. Push harder than accustomed. Admit inability to achieve desired objective only when dehydrated, fatigued, and threatened by imminent darkness. Get separated from partners. Make incorrect route choice. Down-climb approximately 800 vertical feet chossy, exposed, class …

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