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Monday, April 23, 2012
Ring of Fire

By Brigid Mander
ESPN.com

Chris Davenport, left, will be joined by Daron Rahlves and Jess McMillan on his volcano mission.

Chris Davenport's latest ski mountaineering mission has a great name: the Ring of Fire. Along with photographer Christian Pondella, and a select list of other skiers -- including Daron Rahlves and Jess McMillan -- Davenport is aiming to ski all the volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest during the month of May. They'll climb and ski Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens in Washington, Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, and more in Oregon, and in California, they'll summit and descend Mount Shasta, Lassen Peak and more. Davenport also has a new sponsor to help power them on this next epic: Whole Foods will be providing the grub to get them uphill. We caught up with Davenport, Rahlves and McMillan to find out more.

Davenport, via phone from Newark International Airport, en route from Alaska to Italy, on the trip basics:

It is going to be physically demanding, moving from trailhead to trailhead every day. We might try to do two volcanoes in a day; some of them are small. And some might take two, even three days, like Rainier, or Glacier Peak.

Whole Foods is going to be supporting the trip in a dietary way. You can't get enough calories on a trip like this, and you'll be losing weight regardless. We were so lean and mean by the end of the Colorado 14ers. Now, we're going to be styling -- and we have an RV with an amazing kitchen.

I want to make this a grassroots sort of thing, including as many local friends as I can along the way. It's just going to be fun, and get back to the roots of a spring ski mountaineering road trip.

The crew plans to ski Washington's 14,411-foot Mount Rainier.

Daron Rahlves, via email from Tahoe, on why he agreed to join:

Chris Davenport came up with this and invited me. He's got all kinds of ideas floating in his head, and this one interested me.

I did a three-day trip in the eastern Sierra in 2011, plus Mount Shasta with Jeremy Jones, and got hooked [on ski mountaineering]. I'm fired up for the overall experience of skiing these mountains after reaching the top on my own effort, and hanging with a crew that has this stuff dialed.

I haven't trained specifically for this at all. I've been skiing in Tahoe and just came back from a heli film trip with TGR in Alaska. I'm only able to do a week on the trip, so if weather is on our side that will be 8 out of 19 volcanoes. And we will be eating like kings.

Jess McMillan, on a skin track at the top of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, on training to keep up with Davenport for a month:

I was stoked when Dav asked me on the trip. But the more I looked into it, I was like, 'Whoa, I'm going to have to do some training.' I've never done a physically demanding endurance trip like this. And I have one month to get in shape for it. This week, I am doing 25,300 feet of climbing, and more next week.

It's a little intimidating. I mean, Dav wanted to do Rainier in one day. I was like, 'Whatever, Dav, I'll see you at the summit on your second lap, then.' But really, I can't wait to go into Whole Foods and go grocery shopping.