by Robert Frohlich
I’ve asked notable Ice Axe adventurers and other ski industry notables if fatherhood has affected their outlook towards the heightened, but dangerous experiences found on mountain peaks.
Doug Stoup, 46 – (8 times to both the geographic North and South Poles): Having children makes it harder to leave home, but I wouldn’t be the person I am if I didn’t do these adventures. I’m away from home much of the time, but I stay in touch with my family on a regular basis. I talk with my boys all the time. And I hope to bring my boys with me in he future.
Tom Day, 48 – (Warren Miller Productions): There is no doubt that your children weigh heavy on the back of your mind when it comes to making decisions that have life threatening consequences. Right from the get go a deep love is formed between you and your offspring. Nothing makes you happier then to see them smile. And you just want to see all those smiles they have to give. Of course you want to be there to help guide them in their path. I certainly feel I have thought harder on my decisions of doing this and that, knowing that I want to be with my children. It’s a fine line between what I think are good decisions and what other people think. And there are times that I bend my own boundaries!
Jason Mack, 38 – (Points North heli-guide): Having my little boy Declan made me want to continue the things I do. I didn’t want to ever be in the position that said “Daddy used to do this and that until I came along.” I want to stay true to my love of doing these things where my son could be proud of my accomplishment and I can pass on my influences.
John Griber, 43 – ( 2 times atop Everest, cinematographer, Ambassador for North Face): I love my wife Becca and my son Nevin very much. By this point in my career the time I spend away from home is quality time in the mountains and also a way to provide for my family. I’m concerned about missing times with Nevin and as a result I’m becoming more reserved, but that could be an age thing, too. More than anything, he’s my buddy and I know he’s proud of me.
Jeremy Jones, 38 – (World class snowboarder): Being married and having two children I value my life more than ever. I want to come home. I can’t turn my back on the mountains. It has a hook in me and is a portal into my spiritual world that makes me who I am. Now, when I go into the mountains my kids are with me with ever decision, yet I know everytime you sep into the backcountry you are at risk. You can’t look at my life and say don’t worry.
Andrew McClean, 48 – (over 100 backcountry first descents); H aving kids is very grounding, it makes it much easier to back off things now. However, being in the backcountry is still the juice for me. I’m lucky, too, because my wife Polly knows who I am and my make up. When ever I leave home her last words to me are still, “Have fun.
John Morrison, 38 – (Lord of The Boards Champion, Warren Miller ski talent): My 2 year old daughter,Dakota, keeps me in check – she’s the first thing that comes to mind every time I go climbing and skiing. This past spring I was caught in a slide on Denali. The first thing that came into my mind was her face. I’m away from my home 75 days out of the year. Everytime I leave, the last thing my wife, Christy, reminds me of our number one rule – “Come back.”
Robb Gaffney (author of Squallywood): In all honesty there is a “let down” from not being able or willing to push the risk up to that old level. I have to consciously move from a place of “immediate gratification” of the past to a place of “delayed gratification” and sustainability. And one thing that really helps is having friends still going strong in higher risk sports and being able to live vicariously through their exploits.
Scott Gaffney (filmmaker): The most significant changes are the sudden decrease in personal playtime and the increased desire to be home, seeing my son go through all of his changes. In the past, my work would have me travelling all over for up to a month straight. Now, no matter where I go, I don’t want to be away for any more than two to two and a half weeks at a time. Sage learns new words practically everyday and goes through so many changes. I won’t see those changes in person ever again, so I want to be home as much as possible.
Aside from that, I know what I do is dangerous, and for the first time, I know I have to get some life insurance dialed in.
Jim Zellers (Adventurer/ extreme snowboarder): “I still can’t quit the search for those heightened pleasures, but the objectives have changed. They are not as frequent, they’re a little bit more planned out, and I scope things a little more thoroughly these days. Bottom line is that my kids really don’t care whether I drop some “line” or “peak”, they are like all other kids – they just want their parents home every night. That plays into just about every decision I make. I may not always make the right decision, but it plays in all the same.
Daron Rahlves (Professional skiercross): I know that I’m responsible for two new lives on this earth and raising them wit my wife Michelle. I think about them all the time. I love having them around. Competing in Ski cross is not the safest way to bring food to the table, but it helps bring food to the table and I love it.
Eric Deslauriers (Author, filmmaker): When the kids first arrived, I felt oddly vulnerable for about two years. Then, as the kids got bigger I felt more comfortable with risk. I have made a couple of financial/professional decisions based around my kids and my desire to be with them. The kids are young only once and I want to be with them as much as I can.
Craig Calonica (Heli-ski operator): On the first year of my daughter’s entry I climbed two routes on El Cap. I also climbed and skied McKinley and Kilimanjaro during this time. As a matter of fact I summited Kilimanjaro on her first b-day. I called her from the summit to wish her happy b-day and then skied down which at the time had only been done once before. On her third b-day I opened up Nepal to Heliskiing and have continued to open up new areas every year to skiing since. I guess you can say it really hasn’t slowed me down much. However, everything I’ve done in my life I’ve been fully capable of safely doing. I plan to keep it that way, especially having my daughter in my life.