Saturday, January 22, 2011

easy skizy through the treezy

At some point during the last couple weeks a switch was flipped. I don't know what happened but the excitement and confidence are flowing strong. Eva has become a skier. In the past she had fun but only for a run or two and always had to right by my side. Now at the end of the day she begs for one more run.

We skied at Solitude on Monday with the Samurai's crew and she could not get enough. The nuking wind had not effect on her morale. Every day this week as I was leaving for work she asked if we could ski today? I had to explain the harsh realities of life. I have to work and you have to go to school but "yes we will get out again soon". Friday we towed up Neffs which is one of our mid week ski stomps. The snow was boilerplate ice and she thought it was great. Can't get enough of the water bar "jumps".

Today after a morning tour on Kessler and a surprisingly good run on the Lawnmower, the girls met me at Solitude for another date on the hill. Again, it was nuking snow and wind but the rosy red cheeks were out in full force. She has discovered the "trees" and we can't do a run without her leading us down a tree trail. "Easy Skizy through the Treezey". We have created a monster!

She has developed a pretty good arsenal of turn diameters. Generally tighter as the slope gets steeper. I love watching her semi snow plow parallel GS turn. I think being timid early on helped as she was so afraid of going fast she really learned to turn. Now the fear is melting away she can us her turning skills to check speed rather than just snowplow. She tells me the next step is poles...

We had Stella in boots as well but once she got in skis on snow she decided otherwise. "I want to sled until I am 3"

Wonder if I can tow both of them...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

memorial couloir #5

Headed out for a mellow solo walk and of course ended up doing something fun. A quality adventure for only being out for couple hours including drive time.

Memorials had not been touched. Warm and wet below about 7500', nice consolidated powder in the upper 1500'.

Black and White from Wasatch Tours.

Classic double fall line. First turn is steep with the bottom falling out while the next is mellow in the gut. Over and over and over!

Crows feet in the distance.

There's my car, and my house.

Exit was classic North Fork with just enough snow to get you in trouble. Survival skiing at it's best.

A little more recon for a link up...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

where's whipple?

I only make the effort to post on new or unusual adventures, something that I may want to look back at or may be interesting to someone else. I wish everyday was worthy but that's not realistic. Despite starting only 4 minutes from home, this morning was post-able.


Cool ribs looking down into the Whipple Couloir


Half way down with the Twins standing gaurd.

I don't know why everyone says the Whipple is so hard to find? We walked right up to the entrance and skied. Easy peasy lemon squeeze!

Andy enjoying frozen avy debri partially hidden by 4" of nothing.

Nice 1500' shot.

We flipped it at the bottom of the main chute and skinned and booted back out so we could hit a delightful little Northish facing chute off Wild Cat ridge.

2 new lines and 6k of skiing within view of home and then to work...

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Skimo Nationals

Quick trip to Jackson Hole for the USSMA Ski Mountaineering National Championships. Check out Powder magazines write up here and catch a glimpse of our own Samurai taking the whole shot cyclocross style.

Jared and I drove up Friday and got a quick ski out on the mountain. Much better snow coverage that last year but again no actual backcountry skiing on course. The route consisted of 8000 feet of groomers and moguls, 2 long boot packs, up Corbets with the ladder at the top, and tons of steep skiing. Unfortunately it all had that resort skiing feel. I have also wondered why the National championship does not change venues. Same place every year???
They have the same validity problem as the Utah State Mountain Bike Championships.

Cool picture by Powder mag.

The turn out for the race was impressive and surely was the deepest strongest field ever in North America. Also cool to see our Canadian National Team friends from our trip in December. Reiner took the well deserved win!

Quick recap of my race: Started well and felt pretty good on the first and longest climb, roughly 45-50 minutes. Settled into a steady pace in the early teens with Jared (recovering from illness and not his samurai self) roughly 20 seconds ahead at the 1st transition. Skied a bunch of huge steep bumps down a chute. My bottle fell out at the top and shot straight to the bottom where I was able to pick it up. Flat light and light snow made the skiing tough. Smooth bottom transition straight into a mogul ascent. Passed a guy or two guy and basically followed just behind Jared with him making time on the DH and me catching back up on the climbs. Up the first boot back it was windy and I was getting cold, very cold. Across the ridge was frigid but the Coombs couloir made it worth it and was surely the most interesting skiing on the course. An event free transition led me towards the Corbets boot pack where my day completely fell apart. While going up Corbets my ski holder strap on my pack broke off and I lost my skis off my back. I retrieved one quickly but the other required a little post holing off the booter to retrieve. After digging around in the snow I found my strap and reattached it only for it to fail again another 20 feet up the chute. I noticed a couple Canadians and Andy passed me while I was wrangling in the snow with my skis and pack. Finally I just tied it onto my shoulder strap to get me to the top. The damage was done and I was now hypothermic. I booted to the top, up the ladder, and walked up the ridge in a whiteout gale in full survival mode. I could not speak and my hands where quickly dying. I was nauseated and ready to vomit from the cold. Nate passed me on the top and I could not even speak to him. I ducked into the hut on top and saw my white fingertips, I quickly decided to descended straight to the bottom of the mountain and to a hot shower to salvage my hands. Bummer, I missed the last short climb and was officially a DNF. Jared, Andy, Tim, and Lane all finished up strong, although maybe not the results they were looking for either.

During these races you walk a very fine line. It's like a cyclocross race in the cold bad weather. Your dressed in your underwear and if you are not on the limit you can't stay warm. Futzing around in Corbets for 5-10 minutes was all it took to put we over the edge and in dangerous territory. It didn't help that lower on the mountain was warm with no wind and I had worked up a good sweat, then I had to stop in the worst possible spot. My finger tips are still a little numb but I think they will heal and I hope to not have any permanent damage, I'm' all to familiar with the lasting effects of frostbite.

Once again I learned a lot and came away feeling good about the race despite not getting the result I was looking for. No I was not in the lead group, but time wise I was running much closer to the top guys and for the first 3/4's of the race I was in the mix.

I also learned that I may not be in a position to pursue skimo racing. Living in Utah requires to much travel for competitive racing and takes away from the adventurous part of ski mountaineering. Just think of all the cool things I could do in 2 full days. Instead I was driving, hiking groomers, and skiing moguls at a resort. If I had unlimited time, then yes I could do it all but I have ridden around in circles for 20 years on bikes and need the exploration aspect of skiing to sooth my soul.