Dr. Taite Anderson’s favorite hobby is water. Wind, gravity, petrol, any type of potential energy works for Dr. Anderson. They say 71% of earth is covered by water. Add in seasonal snow coverage on land and the surface of our planet is over 80% playground. Almost every year since college, Dr. Anderson and a few of his close friends head west in search of special powder clinging to the mountainside. Their annual pilgrimage has evolved over the years into heli-skiing and snow machining in the rugged wilderness of Alaska.
Dr. Taite’s experience in his own words:
The rush of the helicopter ride coupled with the bliss of fresh turns in powder excites all my senses. “Alive!” my whole-body screams. Even my teeth feel alive as they are the only thing exposed to the piercing blast of snow every time the chopper lands within arm’s reach. I can’t help but smile.
The pilot, with droid-like focus, launches us up the mountain with more power and finesse than any supercar could imagine. As he punches the nose into the snow, the massive blades slow just enough to stabilize the aircraft on the side of the mountain while we unload the gear into a small pile and lay over it, securing it in the blast of the rotor wash. “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” They say in our safety briefing.
It’s go time. Avalanche pack strapped to the climbing harness. Airbag trigger out and armed. Boots buckled. Skis on. Heart pounding, not fast, but focused. Intent. Content. Aware. So aware of the beauty. The risk.
The frozen, still, crystal snow becomes fluid as each ski floats over it, enticing some of it down the mountainside in a mini avalanche with each turn. In that moment, it feels as though the entire world pays silent respect to the intimate bond being formed between man and mother nature. Even the scream of seldom used muscles is muted by the muffled sound of the deep mountain snow.
The pilgrimage has changed over the years. “Work hard. Play hard.” has been replaced by, “Work smarter. Play better.” We used to drive through the night to Colorado after class, eating canned food with at least one person sleeping in the bed of a freezing pickup truck. Now the same pilgrimage to connect with creation and old friends has evolved into heli-skiing, fat biking and snow machining in Alaska. Instead of sleeping on the floor in a hotel room smelling of wet gear, I now get to sleep in a bed at my best friend’s house.
It is with a grateful heart that I reflect on a most amazing Alaska adventure. I hope to be so fortunate next year to have my health, my friends and another opportunity to experience fullness in life in such an extraordinary way.
Dr. Taite Anderson grew up in the small town of Alexandria, Minnesota, as the son of a dentist. He married his wife just before he started dental school and she started medical school. They studied hard for four years in Indianapolis before moving to La Crosse, WI, for residencies in oral and maxillofacial surgery and f
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