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Jim's Tribute, September 2005
Another Day, Another Core Shot
September 14th, the day that my brother Jim died one year ago, in a strange way turned out to be a peaceful day. A day of success for Jay and I accomplishing what we had traveled so far to do. A day that I fulfilled a promise. I had promised Jim in my dreams that I would ski the line down to the rocks where he had passed one year before.
On September 11th Jay and I traversed below the famous Cerro Martin Peak in the Las Lenas backcountry. Guided by Jose from the Las Lenas ski patrol we approached a wind swept pile of snow and rocks. In a backpack we carried a granite plaque created by my father John, my uncle Shawn and myself; it read:
James W. Franklin Jimmer 1983-2004 Another Day, Another Core Shot
My uncle had told me that there was something special about a person's name carved in stone, he was right. Jay and I had traveled to Las Lenas Argentina to deliver the stone to this spot. The weather was deteriorating quickly, the great peaks of Cerro Entre Rios and Cerro Martin were not visible, the wind was increasing and it was snowing moderately. We built a rock platform at the base of a large boulder that would act as a shield from any wind or avalanches. We placed the stone plaque and began our 3 mile journey down the canyon to the base of the mountain with intentions of returning on the 14th. By the time we reached the base the storm was in full force. The wind howled outside the hotel all night into the next day. The storm pounded the mountain for more than 30 hours, this storm was not predicted or expected. With the increased avalanche danger and poor visibility the Las Lenas backcountry was inaccessible for the next 2 days. I hoped the weather would clear for us to return to Jim's spot on the 14th.
The morning of the 14th the skies were finally clear. The storm had dumped tons of new snow and the wind had blown the snow into the chutes, bowls and pockets. We met up with 3 of Jim's friends from the year before, Dave, Skyler and Raja. Skyler's first line of the morning was sick, a steep line, almost too steep for the snow to hold. A 15 foot drop at the entry down a narrow chute to a 15 huck and mandatory rider right turn on exit with at least 600 vertical feet of snow and rock below. We watched from the canyon floor, I have to say it was one of the craziest lines I have ever witnessed. He exited the chute with his arms in the air and dedicated the line to my brother Jim.
At noon time we headed to the Marte chair once again, this time armed with a bottle of champagne, a Cuban Cigar and intentions of summitting Cerro Martin. The weather was perfect, sunny and clear, but chilly. The air was so still, Dave had been up there many times and he said that he had never seen it so calm, it was silent. From the top of the Marte chair Cerro Martin peak is accessible by about an hour hike to 11,200 feet. The hike was brutal for Jay and I coming from sea level the air was so thin. My lungs and leg muscles ached with every step. We walked the edge of the ridge, off to the right was more of the Argentine Andes and to the Left was Chile. 800 vertical feet below I could see where Jose, Jay and I had traversed a few days before. When we finally summitted Cerro Martin I could see down to Jim's rocks where we had placed the plaque on the 11th. Across the bowl to skiers right was the cliff line that Jim had thrown the infamous front flip off last season. Jose and Mike were already waiting at Jim's rocks. I raised my arms in the air and yelled, "Jimmer", it echoed quietly off the distant peaks. The snowfall and base depths were so large this year that everything looked different than I had seen in photos. We scoped the lines off the lip and down the bowl, all of them steep lined with rocks and filled with wind packed snow for the first 15 meters, pure untouched powder after that. Right then as we stood on the thin ridge a breeze broke the silence and one lone cloud rose from the valley behind us. It passed right through us and rose into the sky. I knew that it was Jim just letting us know he was there with us in this moment.
One at a time we slipped off the small cornice and down into the open bowl. The snow slid around my skis, I rode the small slide down as I turned. The last 400 vertical I finished with 4 large turns. All I could hear was my skis cutting the fresh snow. The decent to Jim's rocks meant something different to all of us. We all skied and rode it like it was our last run, for me it was the fulfillment of a promise, a promise I made to Jim. We all gathered at the rocks, I felt so small surrounded by such large peaks and so grateful to be there with these people who were Jim's friends. We brushed Jim's plaque off that was covered with blown snow from the last 2 day's storm. We all sat for a while, drank champagne and poured some on the rocks, smoked a cigar and enjoyed each others company. Everyone said their words to Jim and started their journey down the valley. Jay and I stayed behind. One at a time we each left a picture there with Jim's plaque, a picture that we had treasured. The rocks where Jim had lay one year before were about 30 meters from the plaque and were buried this year because of the huge snowfall. We carried two large rocks to this spot and put our skis in a cross. I knelt in the snow there and looked up at the peaks above. The spot truly was blessed with beauty that is unexplainable. I could feel the power of the mountains that Jim loved so much. I felt so lucky to be there in that moment.
As we headed across the snow fields towards the valley I looked back to the spot that my brother Jim had never left alive, he did leave today with us in spirit.
September 14th 2004, the day that Jim left this world on his greatest adventure. Jim has cleared the path for us to someday follow. He will be waiting for us and until then he will be alive forever in our hearts and in our memories. Another day, another core shot, another day of life, a gift to do as we want with. I don't intend to waste it.
posted by Airjunkie2000 @ 6:27 PM 11 comments 11 Comments:
At 9/18/2005 09:20:36 AM, Anonymous said... A beautiful, heartfelt memorial. A deep, forever lasting love between three brothers. The only love we keep is the love we give away. At 9/18/2005 10:09:48 PM, Schiavoni family said... Great and loving tribute to a great and loving person. Thank you for sharing. Teddy, Hanna, Miko and Aili
At 9/19/2005 12:14:38 AM, Shanna said... John- Your words and memories of Jim bring me to tears. So sad, so young, so beautiful. He will always be in our hearts. Thanks for sharing with us your promise to Jim, I could feel a part of that day that you had on the top of that mountain when you called his name, inside my heart and soul. Thank you!
At 9/19/2005 01:12:38 PM, Anonymous said... Well said. I am at work man.. you need to put a warning on that thing.... I have to go dry my eye now.. seriously though, great blog. Not being a Franklin it is tough to put into words the respect I have for the innate ability you and your family have to cherish the moment. I am sure it has lots to do with your strong family. Never the less.. a year ago when I heard Jim was gone I promised that I wouldn't let life pass me by without taking the time to really take it all in.. Jim lived more in one day than I have in my whole life; We should all take enough time off from real life to really enjoy life. -Manning
At 9/19/2005 09:05:23 PM, Anonymous said... John and Jay. I am glad the 2 of you fullfilled your pact made to Jim. Cherish that feeling forever. Jim will live in you as you go about your life. Thanks for taking the time to share this with others. It means alot. Jim H.
At 9/21/2005 01:59:01 PM, Anonymous said... That was truly powerful! Your a good friend, brother, son and person... you enrich the lives of others around you!
At 9/24/2005 08:52:33 AM, Anonymous said... To the Franklin family, it's still hard for me to accept what has happened to Jim. Now hearing and seeing what John and Jay have done makes me want to go and visit Jims' plaque. It was great reading the article John, it really put a warm spot in my chest. You guys are really great. Thanks a lot. Your friend, Jeff Arsenault Autumn "05"
At 10/08/2005 04:59:38 PM, email@example.com said... To The Franklin Family, I have never had the pleasure to meet such wonderful people.That young adult's have lived and learned from your son, that keeps them all strong and willful, you are to be the outmost strongest people I know of, that my son has shown a bright light for jim in all the memories he left to jeff, I thank You from my heart! Brenda Arsenault 10-08-05
At 12/15/2005 12:09:07 PM, Anonymous said... yea, solid tribute. Thanks for the stoke and for the glimpse into the life of Jimmy.
At 12/15/2005 12:42:16 PM, powstash said... I diddn't know Jimmy, but reading this made me write a little something on my blog out of respect for your/our fallen brother.
backcountry blog At 8/17/2006 10:58:23 AM, Anonymous said... Awesome tribute...I see why Jim loved his family so much, you are all so strong. I will forever miss Jim and all the fun we had together. Till we meet again..I'll always love you xoxo
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