9,570' Terminal Cancer
photo - The Terminal Cancer chute in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2016
    Terminal Cancer is a strikingly narrow ski chute located in the remote Ruby Mountains of Nevada.  There are no major population centers nearby and no ski resorts located anywhere in the range though a nice heliskiing outfit, https://www.helicopterskiing.com , flies people out to some big lines in the range and some of their knowledgeable guides were willing to talk to me when I called to question them about snow and avalanche conditions in the Rubies even though I was not a paying customer of their company.  There is no avalanche forecasting site or good beta site on the internet for this range so they were a great source of information.  There is nothing resembling the CAIC anywhere in Nevada. 
     This line first found it's way onto my radar when I was looking through Chris Davenport's "50 Classic Ski Descents of North America" book and saw a picture of the line.  It looks sick and it is a classic ski descent with easy access to  1800' of narrow chute skiing/snowboarding.  
     I had just been hanging out on the Yucatan with my girlfriend for a few days diving, dancing, drinking, and enjoying a brief respite from winter south of the border.  When the trip ended and we flew back to the states, she had to go back to work and I still had a few days off before I had to get back to work.  I had been following the weather in the Rubies all winter waiting for a good window and it looked like this was the time.  I did not really expect to have a partner but weather looked good and I decided I was driving out there with or without a partner.  After I left off with Sam, my girlfriend, I hopped in my car and started driving towards Nevada.
      On the way out I racked my brain thinking about partners.  I was going regardless but it sure would be nice to share this descent with a friend.  One of the nice things about being a nurse is the extended time off from work I get regularly but it often leaves me going solo when most of my friends are Monday through Fridayers or have kids and are only free to ski one or two days a week.  As I was driving, I thought of my good friend Sam Jordan.  
     I knew it was a long shot but I knew Sammy J was living in Salt Lake City for the winter and I decided to call.  The conversation went something along the lines of  "Hey Sam, I am driving to Nevada right now to ski Terminal Cancer in Nevada and you should come with me."  As fortune had it, Sam was somewhat free and keen on skiing Terminal Cancer too.  Sam is a good friend of mine that I had skied a lot of great descents with over the years and I was excited to have him come with me for  this adventure.  I picked him up along the way outside SLC and we drove out to Elko, Nevada where we turned off the highway and drove up to the winter closure of the Lamoille Creek Scenic Byway in the Rubies.  This was the trailhead to Terminal Cancer. 

Members of group - Sam Jordan & Zach Taylor
photo - The Lamoille Creek Scenic Byway covered in snow just past the winter closure.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2016.
     We got to the winter closure just before sunset and were able to just barely pick out what we thought was the line just up the snow covered road from where we were parked.  It looked like a pretty easy approach.  We drank a couple beers and caught up talking about skiing, traveling, life, etc... under the starry winter Ruby Mountain sky for a bit before crashing out for the night.  We were both excited for the next day.
      The alarm went off just before the late winter sun began to rise the next day and we leisurely made our way out of our sleeping bags and began to prepare for our climb and ski/snowboard descent.  We knew the approach was relatively short and the winter temps kept us from feeling too worried about wet slab potential this early in the season.
     A groomed snow covered road with many snowmobile tracks made for an easy mile or so approach to the base of the couloir.  It was a sunny, bluebird day and life was real, real good.  
photo- Sam Jordan looking up at the Ruby Mountains from Lamoille Creek.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2016.
     We skinned for less than an hour before we were at the base of the couloir.  Excited, we shouldered our planks and put on axe/crampons for the climb.  The snow was good for cramponing and we enjoyed the climbing up the chute.
photo - climbing up Terminal Cancer.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2016.
photo - Sam Jordan climbing up Terminal Cancer.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2016.
photo - Sam Jordan climbing up Terminal Cancer.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2016.
     As I climbed, I pondered where the name, Terminal Cancer, came from.  I still have no idea really.  If anyone does please email me!  I would love to know!
     Regardless, I pondered cancer, the disease, not the ski line a bit as we climbed.  I thought of family and friends that have fought cancer.  I thought of all the patients I have had the great privilege of taking care of and serving over these past few years as an ICU nurse, EMT, and CNA that were battling cancer.  I thought of many that had lost that battle that were parts of either my personal or professional life.  I pondered that one day I may face a battle with cancer that may or may not take my own life.       Some of these thoughts might be perceived as morbid by some but for me at the time they gave me a renewed appreciation for the incredible life I have the fortune of enjoying right now.  I enjoyed the sweet mountain air and the snow beneath my feet so much more as I pondered the life I have the great fortune to currently lead. 
photo- Zach Taylor climbing Terminal Cancer.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2016.
Sam Jordan climbing Terminal Cancer.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2016.
     The snow conditions were a bit punchy but not too bad and with a short approach we had plenty of energy to kick in a nice boot pack up the couloir.  After an hour and a half or so of snow climbing we reached the top.  
photo - Zach Taylor topping out the Terminal Cancer chute.  photo by Sam Jordan, 2016.
     It was a beautiful, sunny day in the Rubies and we hung out in the sun for a while enjoying life at the top of the couloir...
photo - Sam Jordan sitting on some cliffs above the Terminal Cancer couloir.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2016
photo - Looking out at the Rubies from the top of the Terminal Cancer couloir.  photo by Zach Taylor, 2016
photo - Zach Taylor climbing the Terminal Cancer couloir.  photo by Sam Jordan, 2016.
     After enjoying the views of this beautiful mountain range that neither of us had ever been in for a bit we decided it was time to enjoy some great riding/skiing.  The first fifty feet or so were a bit bony so we down climbed briefly and then put on our planks.  I dropped in first.  The couloir was narrow, narrow enough that I clipped the wall on my second turn not paying attention.  It really was not that steep though, maybe 40 or 42 degrees max at the top.  This pitch angle combined with the narrowness of the line made for a super classic descent that was not overly difficult.  It was just really good fun as you can see below via photos and video....
photo - Zach Taylor dropping into Terminal Cancer.  photo by Sam Jordan, 2016.
video - Zach Taylor and Sam Jordan skiing Terminal Cancer in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada.  video by Zach Taylor, 2016
photo - Zach Taylor descending Terminal Cancer in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada.  photo by Sam Jordan, 2016.