Monday, November 10, 2008

Pardon my absence....

The snow is flying in the Wasatch, so I figured it was time to blow the dust off the ol' blog. No big plans for the year, no 70 day goals, no races, or any of that stuff. Just another stellar season of Wasatch touring with good snow, good suffering, and good friends, hopefully including some newbies!!

Stay tuned for another exciting 6 months of ski stories!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Weekend wrap-up - Days 19-21: FAC, Maddie Mayhem, Bambi Basin

A quick summary of the weekend:

Friday, Jan 22 - The Return of FAC (Friday Adventure Club)

Matt and I finally got our acts together and resurrected our cool-kid Fridays. He dubbed it FAC (Friday Adventure Club), and I'm psyched to have a dependable touring partner for the rest of the winter. I had planned on getting together with climbergirl (Rebecca) as well, so the plan was something mellow that we could do multiple laps on in case she wanted to bail. I was tour guide for the day, and decided Pink Pine would be a good choice for easy approach, mellow skiing, and good snow conditions. I think I nailed it! It was a beautiful day - warm with very little wind. The skin up the ridge was nice and slow, and it was great for once to be able to chat while we skinned. We chose the steeper trees just above the big open area on the ridge to drop in. As we dropped down in, we realized it was DEEP. Matt took first dibs and disappeared into a cloud of powder, and setting up to take some photos. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

(Insert pics here)

All three of us were unbelievably psyched about the snow, and Matt and I were hellbent on another lap. Rebecca sat it out while we went up for another. Second verse, same as the first. No pics - we were too excited to ski. Another great day in the mountains.

Saturday, Jan 26 - Maddie the Anti-Social Basketcase

Josh woke up on Saturday feeling like crap, so we scrapped the ski plans for the day. After a hour or so of homework, I went outside to get something from the car and I almost started crying. It was so beautiful! I dropped what I was doing and decided to take Maddie up Neff's for one last effort at dog touring. Well, she proved to me that she can't do this anymore - after doing fine with a couple of dogs, she went after two golden labs. I leashed her up to my waistbelt (ski-jouring :)) and got up to Thomas Fork before deciding it was going to be a disaster trying to get her back down the canyon. I figured the best course of action was to take her off her leash and just go as fast as possible so she didn't have time to mess with the other dogs. Well, it worked. However, she is now a stay-at-home dog. Too bad, but I don't need a law suit.

Sunday, Jan 27 - Rollin' Deep at Deer Valley

I looked at the weather forecast on Sunday morning - high of 30 degrees, no new snow. I figured it was as good a day as any to be at Deer Valley. We had gathered quite a crew for the day, and I was really excited to hang with everyone. Alice and I got up there around 9:30AM to whipping winds in the parking lot (hmmm...I wonder how Bald Mt is?) A little discouraged, but up for whatever, she led me over to Northside lift which was staying relatively sheltered. The groomers were in primo condition - groomed snow covered with about 2-3 inched of wind-deposited powder. But it was cold. On the third or fourth ride up, I got a call from Scot who was sitting at Silver Lake eating breakfast. We jumped at the chance to go warm up.

After an hour of eating and waiting for everyone to get their shit together, we finally got back out into the storm. We met up with my parents and the group size was suddenly ridiculous. Scot, Rachel, Brooke, Alice, me, Rachel's dad Mark, my mom, dad, Laurie, and my dad's buddy Jermaine. To Sterling!

My dad led us through a white-out to the Sunset Glades, which were silly-fun. I felt like Luke Skywalker on Endor, speeding through the aspens. We took a look at Ontario on the way to Quincy and decided it was worth a shot. Good, but messy at the top and bottom. The group started splintering on Northside as we lost people on their own agenda (*coughcough Laurie coughcough*), and people with tired legs from snowplowing all weekend (Alice). Eventually, Scott, Rachel, Brooke, and I ended up on Sultan skiing suprisingly good buttered-up snow in Perseverance Bowl. A couple laps through the trees, and it was off to Silver Lake for beers.

Such a good day hanging out with some of my favorite people doing my favorite thing in the world!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Geek-out: BSG Season 4

I often find myself getting distracted at work. I mean, come on....can a person really sit at a desk for 9 hours and not get distracted? Anyways, I've noticed recently that my thoughts have been straying errantly to Battlestar Galactica of all things. Not that I have other important things to think about. It might be that we've been re-watching the series over the last few months and it's in my subconscious all the time. Plus, I've been watching the old BSG series at night and as cheesy as it is, it lends some interesting insight to where ol' Ron may be going with all of this. Regardless, I've been starting the geek out about season 4, and I've found some pretty juicy stuff.

One of the most juicy-licious tidbits I found today was this: the BSG Last Supper

Man. That pushed the gears into motion. It's all a bunch of heresay, as Ron Moore is notorious for leading his fans WAY off-track. Still, it's fun to speculate, and questions instantly come to mind:

Tigh. I think he's going to go into uber-Cylon-hunting mode, as a knee-jerk reaction to his realization that he's one of them. He's always hated them, and now he has every excuse to go completely insane. The comment about Helo and Sharon makes me think that maybe Hera will be one of his targets...

Apollo. No frakkin flight status?? "Judas-like"? Say it ain't so! I've always had this glassed-over opinion of Lee as the quintessential good guy, whose intentions will always be faithful and honorable even if his decisions are flawed. Not sure where this is going, but PLEASE don't turn him into a slimeball!!!

Baltar and Six. Who knows? And honestly I'm starting to not care much. His role in all of this is very intriguing, but his character is really wearing on me. I keep having to go back to the idea that Six is insanely driven by making him love her, and that's somehow going to come into play before the end. She is in the center of the picture - I'm sure she will play a pivotal role.

Starbuck and Anders. Veeerrry interesting. I assume they'll get back together, but I still wonder how she will interact with Lee. I read on another blog that along with the DVD release of season 3, they are including an extended version of "Unfinished Business". I have to assume that if there is an emphasis on that episode, Lee and Kara's relationship cannot be pushed aside. And yes, I admit I'm a total fangirl for the Kara/Lee relationship. It's just GOT to happen.

Tyrol. Poor, poor, tortured Tyrol. I think the Cylon revelation hit him the hardest, with his internal struggle with religion and the whole debaucle with Sharon. I can't even begin to hypothesize on what he will do this season. I'll leave it at that.

Ahhh....Pres Roslin and Adama. Definitely my second favorite relationship. Love these two together!! They have their disagreements, but they always seem to understand each other. I think whatever happens through this season, they'll have each other's backs, even if it's not obvious to everyone else.

And finally - the final Cylon. It is hinted that the final Cylon is not in the picture. Who else could it be? I think for the time being, my money is on Tom Zarek. Not only would that be a totally cool homage to him and the old BSG series, but he's the only mysterious, powerful character left who's not in the picture. I guess it's distantly possible that the creepy lawyer guy is the last One, but I doubt it.

Ah, speculation. I have to admit this is the fun part about all of these insane TV dramas. Once you know what happens, it's just not the same.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Day 18: A Little Cross-Country Fun

As I was unstrapping my skis from my pack, recovering from the short bootpack, I looked up and saw the unmistakable lion's mane of the Wizard himself, Bob Athey. He was casually skinning up the steep crest of the Obelisk's ridge that I had just gasped and struggled up with my skis on my back.

"Hey, you got crampons on those things? How'd you do that?" joked Josh.

"What? Ya mean ski cross-country? Isn't that what we're supposed to be doin'?" He lit up a Camel and took a few puffs. "Are you guys some of those BMFR's?"

Quizzical looks all around.
"Big Motha-fuckin Rippers?"

"Big Mountain Free Riders."

"Uh, no. We suck. Well, except maybe Dan. He likes to jump off stuff."

And then he was off, skiing into Hogum and towards the Hypodermic Needle. My first time ever meeting the guy, and all I can think of is what a strange old man he is. But boy howdy, the guy can skin and ski like a madman.

Saturday was on the agenda as "big day" for the weekend. Snow conditions had stabilized nicely after all of the storms, and we wanted to get out and do something new. I had been desperately wanting to go into Hogum for the last two years, especially after hearing about it from Josh last season. None of us had skied the Hogum 200, so that became as good an objective as any. Plus, Josh wanted me to see the Obelisk, a strange rock monolith on top of the hogback between Maybird and Hogum.

Chris had called earlier in the week and was psyched to get out with us. I also got a phone call from Dan the night before, having just gotten back from Costa Rica a few days prior. We started skinning around 8:30 and chugged slowly into Maybird. We ran into a lot more people than I expected, following a group of five up to the Obelisk and seeing several parties heading to the Aprons. Josh had his eye on a chute on the Maybird side, so we passed the parties dropping into the first chute and headed for the Obelisk.

After two years of wanting to see it, I was so excited to finally look down into Hogum Basin. As we reached the ridge, I realized we were so socked in I couldn't even see the basin below us, let alone the granduer of the Pfieff, Chipman Peak, and Lightening Ridge. Pisser.

Well, all was not lost. We dropped the Maybird chute to very high quality snow and got some great turns in back to the skintrack. Although the morning had not gone so well for me in terms of skinning (I felt extremely slow and run-down), the skiing had lifted my spirits and I was ready to attack the ridge again. A dozen or so switchbacks and a bootpack later, we were on the summit again.

Lo and behold, the clouds began to part and Hogum came into view. Unbelievable. The scale of Lightening Ridge was overwhelming and the North face of the Pfeiff was stunning with its big apron below. And surprise - the camera batteries were dead. Good lord, that's always the way it goes.

So we figured skiing off the summit of the Obelisk into Hogum was the way to go. We picked our way down through a rock minefield and picked a good-looking chute (which had been skied that morning). The top was windcrust city, but we took a quick left and dropped into another chute with some quality snow. All in all, it was about 2000 ft of skiing. Not bad. However, we started skiing out the canyon, and we saw what we had missed (and where Athey had gone - why didn't we pay attention??) There were several more beautiful northwest facing chutes just north of the summit with longer fall-lines. I guess it's all a learning process poking around in the Wasatch. I know where I'm skiing next time I'm in Hogum.

Another hour or so of bushwhacking, sidestepping down death chutes, sweating bullets, and a river crossing (no thanks to Chris and Dan laughing as I floundered across), we were back to the road and the sweet smell of burning brakes around 3:15. A little under seven hours - not too shabby.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Day 17: Skiing the Big Boy - West Kessler

Saturday was shaping up to be one of the best touring days of the year. After feet and feet of snow, one storm after another, we were due for at least one day of high pressure and clear skies. We talked with our dependable ski partner Scott on Friday night, and decided to call our shot in the morning.

We picked Scott up at his house around 8:00 and decided to check out Mineral Fork. Scott had skied some east-facing shots the week before and had seen some sweet stuff across the canyon on Kessler. We decided to check it out, even though none of us knew where we were going. Scott said it looked like fun, steep tree skiing.

After a false start (Scott forgot his beacon - d'oh), we started skinning a little bit before 9:00. The temps were really comfortable and there was absolutely no wind. The aspen forest in Mineral was almost magical, and it felt like we were walking through a fairyland forest. I had the strange urge to start singing "Little Bunny Foo-foo", and I kept expecting to see a forest gnome pop his head out at any given moment. It was definitely a cool morning.

We got up to the face we wanted to ski and saw a big dilemma - a large cliff band with a probable entry chute that we couldn't see. The entry was a steep right facing gully running up between the cliffs. However, the real obstacle was the choke right below the chute. There was a beautiful ice pillar coming off a rock band we had to get over. I was extremely apprehensive, and continued to say so, but the boys convinced me that we at least had to check it out. Scott skinned over and found that it was actually pretty accessible. I owe him $2 for being right about that. Damn.

We stopped for a long food and water break, getting geared up for the climb ahead of us. The sun came out, and the sky turned an impossible blue. The snow was just unbelievable beautiful, and was sparkling with a slight touch of surface hoar in the sun. The trees around us were caked with rime and the whole scene was just incredible. We all just kept looking at each other and shaking our heads in disbelief.

We came around the corner of the entry gully and saw our objective - a lone chute through the trees all the way from the ridge of Kessler. We giggled like idiots and started sniffing our way up the face. Route-finding was pretty interesting and it was fun figuring out the safe routes and working on safe travel techniques. The sun was wrecking havoc on anything that was exposed and there were a few spicy choke points on the way up. Scott is so great to be with on days like these - it's really fun to learn from him.

The upper section was steep and deep. Josh earns the Mule Award for the day for some seriously hard trail breaking for at least 1000 ft. I earn the Mooch Award for the day for not breaking trail at all. I figured it was fair since I could barely keep up as it was. Eek.

We came up over a rollover and saw the gentle rise up to the ridge. Josh finally stopped for a minute, took a breath, and said "I'm knackered." I laughed, because I knew he had been getting his ass kicked for at least an hour, but didn't want to admit it until the objective was in sight. The ridge of Kessler was breath-taking with the Twins, Dromedary, O'Sullivan, and Bonkers down-canyon, Whipple and Raymond across canyon, a mirror-calm Great Salt Lake in the distance, and Cardiff Fork below us up-canyon. After 5 hours of skinning, we were standing on top of Kessler ridge. So freaking cool.

Even after the coolest day of touring I remember, the skiing was the highlight of the day. We had about 3000 ft of perfect snow in perfect conditions. The only downer is that the camera batteries died at the very top. Curses!

An epic day called for beer and nachos, and we gladly basked in the glory of a great day for an hour or so at the Porcupine. Thanks to my dear husband and Scott Keller for the best touring day I remember. You guys are the best touring partners I could ask for. I always feel like I'm a part of the process and part of the crew, that my concerns are valid, and that I'm never a hindrance. And I always laugh my ass off, even if I'm always getting crop-sprayed in the back of the pack. :)

The word of the day is "sick".

Stats for the day:
5.4 miles
3592 ft vertical

(click on the maps below for route and profile info!)

Trying something new. Click on the image below!

Day 16 - The Deer Valley Experience

Friday was my first Deer Valley ski day of the year. After weeks of incredible storms and bottomless powder in the cottonwoods, I decided to see how the better half lives.


Deer Valley is definitely it's own microcosm of skiing. I'm sure the culture is shared with placed like Vail and Aspen, but I've never been to those places, so I get to rip on Deer Valley. It has its own fashion trends, its own gear trends, and even its own skiing style. It seems like every year, there's some new fashion trend that just blows my mind. Last year it was fur-lined coats, white sunglasses, and gigantic fur boots. This year, it seems, is the year of the helmet cover! And I don't mean the cute panda or pig ones that the kids wear. I'm talking 100% real fur bling-a-licious helmet covers on adult women. I have no idea where these people find this stuff. Good lord, I wish I had my camera. Where is Rachel when you need her?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ski day catch-up

I've been woefully bad about keeping up on my ski day tracking. Here's a quick rundown of my last hadnful of ski days.

Dec 24, Xmas eve: Chase and Tara were in town, so I borrowed Brooke's Silver Card and met them up at Alta. There was no significant new snow, but it was warm and the snow was soft.

Dec 28: Tara and I decided to do a tele day up at Solitude on Friday. First run of the day, I lost control and had a stupid little fall, just falling over onto my hands. As I stood up, I thought "uh, oh" - my back was screaming. I figured I had pulled something, but I wanted to keep skiing. We went back to the car to get my other skis. We lasted until about noon, and I had to get home to ice my back. It was ugly. Jamie and Kate showed up that night and I was couched. I don't want to say much about the weekend because it was so incredibly frustrating, but let's just say I didn't get to ski. By New Year's Eve, it was starting to loosen up, but still no skiing. I went snowshoeing on New Year's day and it felt pretty good, but....

Jan 2: Josh was a good sport and was willing to go up LCC to see if I could tour. We decided to hit Flagstaff to check out Day's and Toledo and see what we could do. Disappointingly, I made it about halfway up Flag before my back started spasming. We de-skinned and had a few good turns back to the road. Not much, but at least I was improving.

Jan 5: My goal for last week was to ski on Sat. That's all I cared about. Massage, ice, heat, stretching, you name it. A big storm was lining up for Friday night, Sat day, and Sunday, so I didn't want to miss another good weekend. Sat morning, I did a long warm-up at home and we busted up to Solitude. I brought a book in case I had to sit in the lodge all afternoon. :) My back felt surprisingly good all morning, albeit a little unstable. The wind-buff was super fun and it started dumping snow around 10:00. By about 2:00 I was ready to go, and the snow was getting a little heavy, so we decided to save ourselves for Sunday.

Jan 6: I woke up praying that my back wouldn't be wrecked. I felt pretty good, and did another good warm-up at home. My met Chris at 8:45 and got in the first group up Eagle. We were a little disappointed as we dropped into Paradise that the overnight snow had not completely covered the heavy bumps from yesterday. We picked around for a few runs, meeting up with Robin and Joe, and playing phone tag with the rest of the Soli crew. Summit, Milk Run, and Parachute all opened sround 10AM, and it was mayhem all afternoon. We were the second group that dropped into Milk Run, and it was incredible. Next run we hit Parachute to get over to Summit - again, the coverage was awesome and the snow was incredible. As we got to the top of Summit, the Honeycomb gates opened, and we proceeded to take three laps of the best skiing of the day. Eventually, we made our way back to Summit and met up with Lis. After a run in Headwall forest (sick), we met a huge group for lunch (Jack, Lisa, Pat, Jake, John). After lunch, it was back up to Summit as it started puking snow again. We skied until 3:30, and did one more Vertigo run off Powderhorn. Untracked powder at 4:00 - can't beat it.