- Written by Ben Jacklet
- Category: Ski Mountaineering
- Published: November 04, 2013
Asit Rathod has shredded powder from Chamonix to Argentina, but the mountain peak he knows best is the 11,239-foot summit of Mount Hood.
Rathod is working on a book tentatively titled Faces of Hood, about the classic descents from the summit of Mount Hood. He has climbed up and skied down Mount Hood more than 180 times.
That's quite an accomplishment for anyone. But it's particularly impressive for a first-generation Indian American whose parents wouldn't even let him ski downhill when he was a kid.
Asit grew up skiing cross country on Mount Hood with his family, wishing he could join his friends up on the steeps. He was 18 when he finally got his chance to point them downhill, and he couldn't believe how much fun it was. He crashed often and improved quickly, and before long he could rip it with the best of them. He made it to the summit of Mount Hood for the first time at the age of 19.
By then he was completely hooked. He decided to follow his passion, to get out and ski the best mountains in the world. He left Portland State University, moved to Chamonix, France, and ended up skiing five winters in Chamonix and four summers in Las Lenas, Argentina.
For two and a half years Rathod competed on the big-mountain freeskiing tour in its early days with the likes of the legendary Shane McConkey. He was one of the first people to get the call on the sad day when McConkey died in 2009.
Rathod moved back to Portland and took a finance job in the automotive industry. But his heart was still in the mountains. It wasn't uncommon for him to wake up at 2 am, drive up to Timberline, climb to 11,239 feet, ski down, and make it into the office by noon. He gained notoriety for his smooth style in the steeps, his outrageous sense of humor, his tradition of enjoying a cigar and a shot of Jameson's at the summit, and his tendency to shake things up with the occasional buff-naked descent.
In this photo, shot by Carlos Martinez, Asit is heading up Mount Hood in perfect climbing conditions.
His adventures also inform his research. In April of 2009 Rathod traced the historic line of big-mountain pioneer Sylvain Saudan down the hazardous Newton Clark headwall on the east site of Mount Hood.
Two years later, he skied the Cooper Spur line from the summit, in the raw.
A 50-pager to toss in your pack
The first time Rathod summited Hood at age 19, he didn't really know what he was doing.
"I wish I'd had a book then like the one I'm writing," he says.
Rathod wants Faces of Hood to be the classic guide for Mount Hood ski mountaineers, a compact 50-pager to toss into your pack and bring with you, loaded with topo maps, graphics and photographs showing exactly how and where to find the best lines from the summit. He has been working on the book for years, but now he should finally have the time to finish it. Rathod turned 40 in March, started re-thinking things, and decided to change his life again.
"I was really caught up in the corporate world, and I started questioning myself," he says. "Like what am I doing this for? Is it worth it?"
He quit his job in October, with support from his girlfriend Charlie Nesbitt.
"She doesn't just put up with the things I do," he says with a smile. "She accepts them."
In addition to his Faces of Hood project, Rathod is also working on a collection of stories from the perspective of a first-generation Indian-American called Sex, Drugs and Hinduism. "Every single one of these stories ends in hilarity," he says.
Hilarity is a common theme in Asit's stories. He is the kind of guy who orders a double-shot of whiskey with his Mexican lunch, strings together one hilarious story after another, and then pays the bill with a crisp hundred-dollar bill. He drives a spotless Ducati and he gets his powder boards for free from Volkl. For all those reasons and many more, Shred Hood is thrilled to announce that Asit Rathod has agreed to write for us in 2013-14. Look for lively posts from Mount Hood's President of Pow once the snow starts flying, and if you happen to see a naked Indian at 11,239 feet, just say carpe diem.