INTERVIEW BY MORGAN DINSDALE | POSTED FEBRUARY 14, 2017
At 45, with one of the most respected ski careers in the world, Chris Davenport, has come a long way since his first victory winning the 1996 World Extreme Skiing Championships in Valdez, Alaska. The Aspen-local completed numerous first descents of peaks around the globe, guided and skied on Mt. Everest and became the first person to ski all fifty-four of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in less than one year. Through everything, he has learned that his passion for the sport grows deeper when shared with others: he says there’s nothing more satisfying than watching someone achieve a goal in the mountains and being a part of it.
Morgan Dinsdale: We’re sitting in the Bugaboos Lodge Museum, a room filled with over fifty years of CMH history. Having been recently inducted into the US Skiing Hall of Fame in 2014, how does it feel knowing you’re also becoming a part of CMH’s history?
Chris Davenport: If the walls of this place could talk, the stories they would tell are some of the most remarkable and important stories in all of skiing. This museum is a testament to human passion. To doing what you love. To perseverance. A who’s who of people who’ve had such passion and love for the mountains. History is really important to me. I’m fascinated by how we got to where we are. To stand on mountains few have before – that’s never lost on me.
MD: You’re one of just a handful of skiers to have documented ski descents on Mt. Everest. You’re also one of a handful of skiers to have skied in all of CMH’s tenures. What makes these experiences so special?
CD: When I was climbing Mt. Everest going over the Hillary Step, I was thinking to myself what it must have been like in 1953 when Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first humans to touch that rock and see the summit, knowing that they were going to be the first summit the world’s highest peak. I feel that same way skiing at CMH, skiing runs that were pioneered in the 1960s. You can’t help but soak up that history and feel privileged to be a part of a living legacy. It gives me goose bumps.
MD: As a CMH trip ambassador, how do you see yourself continuing this living legacy?
CD: When Hans Gmoser got his first opportunity to take people out skiing in a helicopter I can imagine light bulbs going off. CMH is a legendary company, with legendary founders and incredible vision. To be a part of it is such a huge honour. The freedom of the hills is a real thing here and the sense of freedom and empowerment you get when you’re out in these mountains is really hard to beat. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than watching someone achieve a goal and being a part of it. Hans just wanted to share his wisdom, his passion and his love for the mountains with others. I truly believe he would get such great enjoyment from seeing everyone up here – and that’s what I get out of it. I can remember my 13-year-old self sitting on a chairlift dreaming about skiing every day for the rest of my life – if my kid-self could see me today getting to share my love of skiing with you guys all winter, skiing remote and unbridled mountains with people from all over the world, he’d be absolutely blown away.
MD: What do you hope people take away from skiing up at a CMH lodge?
CD: I hope most people take moments to breath in the air, to look at the views and really appreciate it for more than just the powder or the vertical – though those are hard to beat – because it’s so much more than that. It’s esoteric; it’s poetic unto itself.
MD: How do you mean?
CD: There’s something almost indescribable about every incredible day in the mountains out here. I can tell you a story about every single peak I’ve ever done that was worth a dam to me. I can remember every summit and turn like it was yesterday. It’s such an intimate experience up here. You know the first time you kissed a girl, you know the first time you went beyond that; it’s the same in the mountains. The first time you ski epic powder, the first time you stand on a summit – not even just the first time but all the important times where you’re just flowing, connected to the hills where nothing else is on your mind. It’s rejuvenating to the human spirit, and that’s what I hope people take away from skiing up here, a reset for their mind and spirit.
MD: We’ve talked a lot about legacies, is there one you personally hope to leave behind?
CD: If I had to describe myself in one sentence it would be: I am a skier. It’s who I am. It’s what I love. It’s what matters to me. If there’s a legacy it’s that I gave something back to a sport that has given so much to me. That I leave the next generation with better opportunities than I had – not projects so much as stoke. Skiing is a gift we should never take for granted. Being here, skiing completely wild mountains in a controlled and safe environment means we can push the boundaries with smiles on our faces. The confidence and freedom that this gives us means that no matter what day you’re out in the mountains it’s always a good day.
For more info on CMH Ambassador Trips click here.