Friday, December 1, 2006

Pink Pine Powder Day

Click the title for a little movie. It might take a minute for it to load...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New to the quiver

So last year I started skiing seriously. I am not very good hence I retain the title climbwill while the other Will gets the ski prefix. Contributing to my lameness was that my old skis weighed next to nothing and were only 90mm at the tip: My 190 lb. carcass would just sink through all that powder we had last year. My new Voile Carbon Surfs, mounted with dynafit comfort bindings and driven by the Scarpa Matrix boot will hopefully change that (both the sinking carcass and the bad skiing that is).

The Voile skis have snowboard inserts. To mount the dynafits you have to obtain this grey plastic mounting plate. On the mounting plate there are three hole patterns on the for the rear binding piece for small medium and large boot sizes. The hole patterns are spaced 1 1/8 inches apart. The dynafits can adjust about 1 inch, leaving two 1/8 inch gaps between binding configurations on the ski. My boot landed just shy of this gap. The binding adjustment screw at its limit will just barely accommodates my boot. Either the guys at Voile checked to make sure that no major boots sizes' land in those gaps or they were just plain stupid. Mondo point sizes are not exactily equivalent to centimeter sizing: e.g. my 28.0 dynafit evolutions are slightly shorter than my 27.5 scarpa matricies. So it seems unlikely that they could ensure that all boots will fit their skis...


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cyclocross State Champs: I'm A Contenda!

I just got done with the Utah cyclocross state championships. Another fine day of racing at Wheeler Farm. Some of us on the blog do this funny sport. True, its somewhat strange, and it does not have the following that road or mountain bike racing has. Why do it? Well first off you have to like racing. Why cyclocross racing? If we make analogies to auto racing then Road racing would be like NASCAR or Indy, Mountain bike racing would be like Baja or rallying up pikes peak, Downhilling would be like monster trucks. Cyclocross is like formula one: Winding tracks with ups, downs, curves, hairpins, banks, continual accelerations and decelerations, and running. Most people know of cross for the running and jumping over barriers part but mountain biking can also have hike-a-bike sections. To me the running makes for interesting tactics and emphasizes different types of fitness, but the running makes up only a very small part of the race. The other thing about cross is that it is the winter time branch of cycle racing: When the other racing seasons winds down cross is the only race in town. The mud and snow make for suffering and challenging riding conditions: Do I run this muddy trenched section or can I ride it? The other great thing about cross is that its much more low-key: People come out to have fun. Antics abound and the courses are usually in parks where many people show up. Spectators can usually see much of the course and watch the progress of packs of riders and the race leaders as they go by different sections of the course.

Here is some pictures of the single speed and men's B race. The race was great for me. There was some good racing.

Check me out cruising on the runup.
On the last lap this other single speed rider snuck up on me and passed me, demoting me to third place. I passed him right back and we both got clogged up in a pack of B men riders. We all went through a wooded single track section. Once out of the woods I took an inside line that was bumpier than the smooth section, but the B men didn't mind me passing as I was not their problem.

The course closed back up on a corner and I safely had three guys between me and the other single speed guy. I unloaded all energy reserves on the flats going into the final stretch for the single speed silver. Steve Wasmund, the first place guy is like so much better that I never even saw him the whole race. Maybe next time...


Monday, November 6, 2006

I'm all out of gears, AKA another thing you can do with a Voile ski strap

Two weekends ago a crashed out pretty bad on my cyclocross bike: Right off the start line and into a pile up. I dented my top tube on my thin-wall aluminum Cannondale frame, frayed rear shift cable, and busted my rear shift lever. This last Saturday I finally started to fix the dang thing for Sunday's race when I finally realized the extent of the damage.

I called up the folks at cyclesmith and I converted my bike to a single speed. Before the crash, this was my last bike to still have gears. But gears grind, bend, and eventually break before anything else does on a bike and so the single speed is a natural progression (regression).

In a cyclocross race gears confer only a slight advantage and this year the Utah cyclocross series has a single speed category that runs with the B male category. The single speed fields are about 10 people and the B men run about 40. The leaders of the SS category are usually in the top 10 of the B category (I got 6th overall last Sunday).

To make the single speed I bought some lightweight non-shift break levers and a Surly singlelator. The Surly singleator works to keep the chain tension on the rear cog. Rather than fiddle with jingus spring system I just used a good ol Voile ski strap to keep the chain tension. It works well and its bright orange! Ben also helped me out with a 18-tooth BMX rear cog: Muchas Gracias Ben!

I'm running a pretty tall gear: 48 chainring X 18 cog X 700c wheel X 32mm tire giving me ~72 gear inches. This seems to be a good choice for the flat winding courses of Wheeler farm that don't have too many hairpin accelerations.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Paddling the 100 Year Storm

This last Fall break the unofficial Community Writing Center Environmental writing group (and friends) ventured forth on the a truly I'm-building-a-rock-wall-worthy trip down Labyrinth Canyon (Green River from the town of the same name to a takeout somewhere near Canyonlands ). The route covers 60+ miles of flatwater canoeing in 3 1/2 days. On Wednesday we drove down and did the shuttle. The Ranger at the takeout , joint hanging precariously from lips, said that the forecast called for rain. Of course we all thought that rain in the desert meant a heavy shower in the afternoon to cool things off a bit: No big deal. The next day, already raining outside, we were told by the grocery lady that Green River called for 3 inches in the day. Yeah right. It was oft remarked that morning and throughout the trip by our group that "It doesn't rain in the desert." "It will pass." "It can't hold much longer."

Well, the rain WENT FOR 48 HOURS STRAIGHT! Sometimes a sprinkle, but most of the time a deluge... Our launch was marred only by a very talkative boating ranger with a sphincter that could cause nuclear fission. For all you planning this put in: Have your ducks in a row for this guy, He's nice, just through.

The Team: 9 total, including 2 canine humans; Gnu Canoe: lis (team rhetoritian) and climbwill (team mathematician) of IMBARW, Yellow rental canoe: Randy (team linguist (possible CIA operative)), Gavin (team ceramicist, saveourcanyons operative #1), chester and basil (canine humans, trip leaders), Green rental canoe: Julie (resident Wisconsonite, did not know what she was in for), Dave (saveourcanyons operative #2), and Brooke (team tough-as-nails realist).

We finally launched amid dense skies and a light sprinkle. By the afternoon it was outright rain. We shivered and paddled and it was OK. We stopped for lunch beside this manmade geyser and the rain subsided: They were drilling for oil a long time ago and struck upon a high pressure aquifer. It didnt erupt while we were there but there was a guy there telling us that it goes 100 feet.

Even in the rainy cold I did'nt stop many of us from partakeing in some ice cold pabst blue ribbon et al, which leads so a beer logistical observaion: Chasing tail 16oz. cans are thin-walled and spontaineously spring leaks thereby making them non-rivertrippable.

By afternoon we were getting cold and we threw in the towel by early evening. The rain went to a sprinkle and Gavin and Randy brought us fire. We set up tents in the brush and actually dried off while drinking beer and telling jokes circled round the fire. By 9pm the rain started hard again. All night the rain went hard. Around 5am Lis got worried about the canoes and the rapidly rising river. I got out in my skivies, not wanting to get any of my clothes wet and found two of the boats, which were beached completely that afternoon, were completely floating, tied precariously on to some branches. There was paddles in the water and we lost a water jug to the rising river. That night the river rose about three feet.

The rain kept going that morning. We were all cooking under a small tarp. Lis and I just drank coffee from our rainfly stove setup, not wanting to get wet. We slowly packed up and by 11 am we shoved off, still raining cats and dogs.

Paddling and shivering, I was still drinking beer. We were finally into the labyrinth canyon part of our journey. There were waterfalls coming down all around us. The whole desert was flash flooding.

The river kept rising and there was not much river bank left. We stopped for lunch on this thin little silt bar under an overhanging cliff with waterfalls coming over us. We stuffed food in our gullets and did JUMPING JACKS to keep warm.

Later that afternoon the rain tapered off and after 16 miles of travel we found a bitchin campsite. Lighting a fire proved to be a challenge. Randy asked if anyone had some dry paper. I had brought a few academic papers to read on our journey, one of which was my draft paper that my adviser made comments corrections on. All of it burned!!!!!

No rain while cooking dinner, which was nice, but the second forks touched lips, KABAM!!!!!! We quickly ate and jumped in the tents of another nights worth of heavy rain. We kept our tent dry by digging a trench around it so that the water wouldnt flow under.

The sun finally broke by morning. Blue skies and another 3-4 feet of river. There was no banks anywhere hardly. Without paddling Julie's gps tracked us at about 5 mph. We had 35+ miles to the takeout. We paddled all day looking for a campsite with none found. We paddled past sundown as a full moon came up over the canyon. After 8+ hours paddling we did all 35 miles to the takeout in one day!

The ranger, still with joint hanging off lips, said that the road out of the canyon was finally repaired enough that we could get out. Some boaters were stuck for two days waiting for the road repairs to get out. The flood left silt all over the parking lot up the the rims of the trucks.

The storm supposedly dumped 3 inches or more over the desert. Many dams broke, roads washed out, and general havoc occurred. They say the storm broke records for the century in some places. I do not have data to back this up, but a 100 year storm has a nice ring to it...

I recommend doing this river. I have a canoe and people should borrow it.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Cyclocross Prologue

Its Fall. The leaves are turning and that is when must of us here at IMBARW start thinking about skiing (see previous posts). However for some there is cyclocross, namely climbwill and bostin. This last Sunday Sunday Sunday was the first CX race of the season up in Pocatello. M and I drove up Saturday night for the race and also a climbing outing at Ross park, a basalt crag literally in a park with green grass and benches. I've been training for the race season seriously since about early July. In Friday Harbor I time trialed around the island. I even bought a HR monitor to get nerdy with...

A video of me at a barrier section can be found here. If anyone can show me how to flip the picture please let me know....

  • Or here.

  • Here are some pictures of me and others in the B race.

    The guy in the cutoff jeans and tie die with the fixie was ripping...

    For my efforts I won the most strange prize: An EPO fleece blanket.

    Saturday, July 15, 2006


    Now that the pain in my quads has subsided and the lightning-induced adrenaline has been flushed from my body I can revisit Ben and I's trip to the Bugaboos in the Canadian rockies.

    When I first started climbing waaaayyy back in 98 when I lived up in northern Idaho, I remember fliping through Climbing magazine and seeing shots like this one

    Even when I was young and full of climbing hubris I realized that the Bugaboos, a mere six-hour drive from my doorstep (I routenly took the eight-hour drive to Smith rocks), were outside my abilities. Some of this was due to poverty because I simply could not afford many of the required peripherals like mountain boots, ice axe, crampons, bad-weather clothes, ect..., which could total 1200 bucks or more to purchase. Also, Ropes, and rock shoes were more disposable items back then as I would routenly took 100+ whips on a rope in a matter of 3 months, so just feeding the rope habit was costly. However, the real obstacle was just the intimidation factor. Those spires looked big. They are hemmed in by glaciers and shouded in unpredictable weather. So then I was comfortable climbing at short sunny crags with overhangs and that posed chalenges that you could reduce to specific sequences of moves over a few feet of rock rather than the manifold logistical challenges involved summiting one of those spires.

    But this year I made it happen. This spring I finally booked ahead one week at the Conrad Kain hut, which stands at the base of the Crescent glacier, just at the base of the Snowpatch spire (pictured above) and just a little further, Bugaboo spire. The col pictured to the right of Snowpatch leads to Pidgeon and the Howser spires, which are more of a hike.

    behind the hut in the picture is the Hound's tooth, which is the first spire you see on the hike in. I did not seem like many climb this because it is surrounded in difficult-to-pass icefall even in early season.

    The hike in was probably the most exhausting day. Both Ben's and I's packs were sub one hundred pounds, we think, packed with food for the week and climbing gear. The great thing about the hut is that you don't need to bring any more camping equipment besides a light sleeping bag. No tents or pots/pans.

    We woke up at 4 a.m. the next day to set of on a nine-pitch 5.9 that goes up the west face of snowpatch. Below is a picture of Ben walking up to the col in the alpenglow

    On the west face in the morning I was really fucking cold. Once we got climbing we warmed up and the climbing went smooth enough through consistent 5.8 and 5.9 climbing to the top on stellar rock. The rappels took forever and then I realized why I love crags with walk-offs.

    After that warm up we wanted to do something with less hiking and more sports action. One of the classics there is the McTech arete, which goes at easy 5.10. From the base the 5.10 flake pitch looks a little intimidating, like you have to smear a blank wall while underclinging a left-leaning flake. Once you get on it you see that the thing is littered with mondo footholds that gives you rest stances all the way up. Ben sent the the 5.10 pitch with style. I got the twin crack 5.9 pitch above that which was 40 meters of perfect splitter hands interspersed with a few roofs: Very fun. After we rapped we took inventory in our energy levels and decided for another climb the next day.

    We decided on the Cain route up Bugaboo spire which is mostly hiking/scrambling and one 5.6 pitch. Yet another 4 a.m. start and we were hiking. I did not feel so well. When I got to the top of the col I felt downright sick, but scince I was at the foot of the Bugaboo I just kept going. The higher I got the better I felt, but I never felt good. The whole time I kept marveling at how great the weather had been. In four days of being there we never saw a drop of rain. We scrambled and scrambled going quickly up the low-angle rock till we got to a minor ridge which we traversed. We then had to rope up for a pitch, but still wearing our mountain boots. At the top of the pitch there was another ridge to traverse that leads narrows to an inposing gendarme where Conrad Kain in 1918 in leather mountian boots soloed. Stepping across you could finally see the exposure. We were a good 2000 feet above the crecent glacier and it was really nice to finally be on steeper terain that felt like real rock climbing. The traverse was airy and so Ben and I went across it scarefully. Then I put on my rock shoes and scampered up the gendarme where you could really feel the exposure. After that It was a quick pitch up to the south summit. Below is a shot of ben climbing to the base of the gendarme.

    At the base of the gendarme we met up with this great couple of New Zealanders, Lisa and Rob, which we shared company with. We snaped pictures and chatted all the way to the top. Here is a picture of Lisa at the base of the gendarme preparing to second Rob's lead

    The four of us were very merry, our attitude casual, and we sort of lost our haste in the party at the top, which was a bad idea in the Bugaboos. Afternoon thundershowers push through on good days and benight parties and give them a hypothemia on bad days. And by the time we summited we were due... The clouds were forming while we were lounging as you can see in the background

    The four of us decided that we would team up on the rappels for speed: The leaders would set up one rope while the last in the group would pull the second rope and then leapfrog ropes in between for the next round. We rappeled the gendarme, me going last, and I was able to unstick the snagging ropes soon enough. Everytime you pull a rope up there it is unnerving. You might spend the next two hours fishing it out of a snag. While I was rappelling it started hailing and the thunder became less than distant. At the base of the gendarme again we then had to reverse the exposed ridge and then rappel once more to get off the exposed summit. As I pulled and rapped the ropes Ben took off ahead to set up a rope across the ridge. Lisa then Rob cliped onto that rope and ran accross. We were all working very quickly, hoping to evade any electricity. At the base of the gendarme at least I wasnt the tallest thing around. On the ridge however you ARE the tallest thing around. When rob steped off accross the ridge I saw him jerk about and go "whoa". He said that something hit him in the back of the head, like someone swatting him. He kept traversing and was OK but we all realized that we were not getting off the hook on this one. The whole ridge was electric. The storm reached a fever pitch. Once Rob was safe Ben was to "belay" me accros the ridge. As I stepped into the unknown my ice axe, attached and sticking straight out of my pack began to buzz. At first I thought it was unusual but I knew it wasnt good. Essentially it was electrons slowly being sapped off the metal shaft to the air (or the other way around, I don't know), being pulled along the rather large electric field set up from the rock to the sky, with me and my rather conductive metal axe in between. The ridge, which on the way up I was carefully traversing accross, I was now flat out running and jumping across. Half way across the ridge I found Ben huddled 20 ft. from the belay. Apparently his first choice for belay spots produced lots of buzzing in his axe and all through the rack and the rock was even buzzing, so he moved away from there where he was the only thing buzzing. We exchanged a few words to explain the situation and then I kept running. Each step I was thinking could be the last. As I was flat out running across the ridge I had a "Tom Ames prayer" moment as my brain was trying to work out the limited options it had in dealing with the situation. At the end of the ridge Lisa and Rob just set up a webbing belay around a rock about 10 ft below the actual chain belay which was wayyyy to exposed. I ducked below a rock and yellled to Ben that I was off and I gave him a hip belay to get him over to us. A minute later I saw Ben leap and tuck his legs to clear the bolder and land on our little perch below the ridge. A bold move in such an exposed position. We all rapped quickly and once off the ridge we finally stopped buzzing. We were out of immediate danger. We all told each other to be very careful. The adrenaline served its purpose in getting us off, but now it could make us do something stupid. Every step down was slow and careful. We rappeled another time just to be on the safe side to get us down some terrain that we easily scrambled up earlier. Here is a picture of Ben seconding the gendarme with "lightning ridge" in the background

    On the way down the col we spoke with some other parties with similar stories to ours. There was some lady on the top of Pidgeon spire who was having involuntary limb contractions for several minutes before she could rappel down to safety. I think I would have puked...

    The lesson learned is that you must be most of the way down by 1 pm. in the Bugs otherwise you are playing with fire (st. Elmo's)

    The fourth day was for rest. The weather that day was perfect so it was unfortunate that we were so sapped because good days are precious. On our fifth day we decided to climb sunshine crack, which has some cool offwidthing and is sustained at mostly 5.10. Here is a picture of Ben heading for the overhanging offwidth on the second pitch

    About 10 seconds after this picture was taken it started hailing and got really cold. It has rained and cleared earlier that day as well so we thought it prudent to bail. The forcast looked bad for the next couple of days so we decided it was time to leave the Bugs and head to the Sawtooths for some more climbing after some days of rest. So we drove and drove and got up to the Elephant's perch to try our luck on the fine line. The weather looked questionable up there as well but we started up the first pitch, which was the crux at 11c. We didnt do so well on it but we had some fun. The clouds were looming at the belay and so we decided to bail. This turned out to be wise: On our way out rain and lightning could be seen all around and we found out that our wisperlight stove clogged up, which was the third time a wisperlight has failed me in the backcountry. Don't tell me about the cleaning kit and all that, none of that works in the long run. Those stoves just suck major ass.

    So are the Bugaboos are great? The answer is yes. Will I go back? I hope so, but I might try for the alpine granite in the Sierras first as I hear the weather is more stable and the drive to the them is much shorter.


    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Mike the Headless Chicken Festival Trip Report

    Ok, so before I go into my Bugaboos trip report I have to clear the back log of trips I've taken and not reported to the proper officials. So here goes...

    Last May M. and I traveled down to Fruita Colorado for the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival. The Festival got its start with a famous chicken who in the 1930's, give or take a few decades, was decapitated by a farmer in Fruita in just the right way so that the brainstem that controls the basic physiological functions was left intact and connected so the chicken could runabout and live out the rest of its days as a circus sideshow act, making said farmer a tidy sum. Fruita does not have much else to brag about so they made a yearly festival for the chicken. The festival is on par with that of a small county fair, but without the FFA or any livestock competitions. Fruita is also a good place to ride your mountain bike on lots of singletrack. Of course just about everybody there has about 3-6 mountainbikes straped to their cars at all times.

    Both M. and I entered in the "Run like a headless chicken 5K", so before the race we did the obligitory small town festival thing and looked at all the classic car stuff. This one was my favorite

    but there were lots of other more standard "classic" cars like mustangs and studebakers that all exuded the mid-life crisis anxiety of their owners, with their emaculately detailed and dirtless exhaust manifolds.

    I've never run a 5K before so I derived my strategy from bike racing: I'd figure I would make up my time in the corners by finding the "inside line" as I explained assuredly to M.. This did not really work. Perhaps if there were more corners, I don't know... I can't remember what my time was but they had orange juice and bananas at the end which was a bonus...

    After the 5K we settled in to some of the best parts of the festival. First there was raw chicken flag football

    Neither of us wanted to participate in this event. Salmonilla.... ick! but it was fun to watch. The annoucers for the event had to tell all the kids not to lick their hands and to wash them throughly after the game. The raw chicken football of course landed all over the grass contaminating everything...


    Next there was the wing eating contest that I decided to enter in. I had no ambitions to eat very fast. I just was hungry after the race and free BBQ wings sounded pretty good, so I got in line. Whilst everyone was feverishly stuffing wings in their gullets, I causally nibbled, making sure to get all the meat from the bone, then carfully dabing my napkin to clean the sauce from my lips. The announcer accused me of freeloading but this accusation seemed strange with me sitting next to six other contestants in their orgy of glutony.

    After the wing contest there was the most anticipated event for M., the peeps eating contest. Yes, thats right, Peeps, those easteresque, multicolor, shugar-coated marshmallow things. M. loves them, especially she says after they have been left out for a week and are slightly crisp (stale). The contestants all lined up. There was M. and about 20 or so children and a few other adults all vying for the glory. They layed down on three or four folding tables more Peeps than I have ever seen. M. thought is was a glorious sight.

    M. did not win despite her love for the Peep. In part because she felt rediculous at 5' 8" and towering over the other excited pre-teen contestants, and in part because she miscalculated her strategy: With Peeps, with their marshmallow properties, stuffing is a more effective strategy than chewing, she found out.

    After the festival we did our share of camping, biking, and hiking and all that yuppie REI stuff. Every afternoon though it got so hot that we had to go down to the city beach to cool off and commune with our jet-ski loving, bud drinking, BBQing brothers and sisters.

    All in all it was a great trip. Definitely imbuildingarockwallable...


    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Hiking the Gulch With Praying Strangers

    Last week Lis and I went down south with a group of about ten folks to do some hikes and backpacking in the Escalante National Monument. The group was a little different that I am used to. It included Lis' father and cousin, and an assemblage of others who, as I came to learn, did not know each other well. Lis' father, Lamar, is an avid backpacker. Aged 69, he can outhike those one-quarter his age. Lamar loves the desert and started backpacking in his forties. He has lead many groups of scouts down there and loves to share with others the wonders of the desert canyons. The others in the group were an odd group of folks whom it seemed were only halfway having any fun. It was odd because many in the group were not very talkative or lively. This is of course relative to myself who could be described as a regular jabermouther who has his own blog and everything. Besides the lack of loquaciousness I found the four-times-a-day prayer gathering a little alienating, but mostly it was the frowns and the stony silence that was a drag. I dont mind thanking god (in lower case) for the food in my bowl, good health, asking for world peace, for ending of human suffering, and compassion. But anyway...

    We arrived in the afternoon for a quick hike up to Calf Creek Falls. To the climber's right of the falls there was some very wet and slippery 20-degree slabs. After a quick look-around and obligatory tourist photo-ops I got to work on sending the slabs. Using my chacos, cinched down tight for security, I found small dimples in the rock surface to gain footing. After brushing away moss and dirt I put my tips and finger nails on micro fisures. One slip sent you surfing down the slabs like a slip-n-slide. After many failed attempts I found a line of weakness going to an obvious ledge

    I'd give the route a solid 5.7 difficulty rating. Decend the route by surfing down the slope at excessive speed, tripping over a sand bank at the bottom and diving into a somersault, and almost colliding with a tree.

    We spent the next two days hiking Coyote gulch by way of crack in the wall to red well. For dinner Lis and I had cous cous with curry powder, shalots, carrots, and cashews. I think the frownypatnsers had those microwave noddle thingys. The scenery was beautiful and all that. I definitely reccomend checking out Escalante if you havent. The canyon was cool and shady, lush and green with numerous arches and interesting formations along the way...

    For last day we hiked up brimstone slot, which is next to Peekaboo and Spoky. We didnt make it far up the slot before serious chimneying and wading through sesspools was required. It did not matter though because we had to turn around because team Prozac wanted to leave for home by lunchtime.

    All in all it was a good and interesting trip in a naturalistic and anthropological way.


    Monday, May 1, 2006

    Superiority Complex

    Robert's job description I think says that he spends most of his time staring longingly at the broad and inspiring face of Mt. Superior while wishing to ski it, and also helping kids off and on the rope tow occasionally. Well, last Wednsday Robert finally got to ski it.

    The team: Rob, Ben, John, and Yours Truly.

    We woke up early and booted up the 3000+ face, gaining the summit right as the spring corn was softening up. Crampons and ice axes were the order of the day. The skis sat astride our backpacs.

    Avalanche debris littered much of the face. Skiing down, we picked our way in between old slide paths to find the untouched sections. The spring corn skied so well it seemed mostly effortless, like on the rope tow where Rob works, but steeper and longer.

    All told it was a great day if it wasnt for feeling so gosh darn tired.

    Mountaineering: Walking uphill slowly in the snow while not feeling well.


    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    Escalante in the Spring

    M. and I decided it was time for some desert hiking. Unlike most of the time, it was pretty cold all day and there was an extra color I'm not used to down in the desert: Green. We hiked up the Gulch, going upstream with blooming plants, green grass, a high flowing stream, and evidence of recent flooding found in the bent down reeds, flattened plant life, and tangled grass hanging at waist-height off of more stout things. The weather could not have been better and the 10-mile hike in was splendid. After droping packs and setting camp we traveled up a side canyon to see an arch and frolic about.

    We topped off the trip with a visit to the Hell's Backbone Grill. Its not what you'd call a dirtbag sort of resturant, even though you can definitely dress like one in there and have nobody care, but after a long hike some gormet food is pretty good. My reccomend: Before you drive home, go in for a cup of coffee and a wiskey and black pepper chocolate bread pudding, which will run you about 10 bucks.


    Wednesday, April 5, 2006

    Josh the Wasatch Sasquatch Sighted in Porter Fork

    The abomitable snowman himself was seen in porter fork last sunday. Its hard to miss Josh when he is coming right at you as can be seen at this link
  • The Sasquatch Himself!!!!!
  • ...

    Anyway.... Josh, Bobby, and I all headed up to porter fork last sunday. I think this might be one of my favorite places in the Wasatch. It was a lesurely day, plodding along in the warmth of spring in heavy sticky new snow but I'm not complaining. At the start Bobby said he was not feeling well and wanted to turn back. This sort of situation requires subterfuge. I told him that the view of the run "lies just beyond that tree" and "you should decide what you want to do when you get up there". The old carrot and stick tactic... After several iterations of this tactic we all got near the top with a view of the porter fork limstone wall that would make for some great sport climbing in the summer. Splitting the wall was a nice chute on a shady northwest aspect. I pointed the chute out to the team and muttered some passing comment about how it would be cool to someday ski it. Bobby spied chute and the fategue turned to excitement as he piped up "I'll ski it!" I said that I would watch and film. Then Josh said he wanted to do it. "Fuck it" I said, "I guess I'll go up there to". I mean how hard can straightlining be. I mean its kind of defined by what you are not doing: turning, which I've only sort of got down, so not turning wouldnt do any harm. It turned out that I did to some turns and a fair bit of sideslipping but anyway...

    What ensued was a great day of skiing. The following links are to films of the event...

  • 1

  • 2

  • 3 (rocket man=josh)

  • 4

  • 5

  • 5

  • 6

  • -will

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Maybird in Spring

    I'm sorry I have no pictures for this one. The camera never came out of the pack as the clouds prevented any good pictures.

    The skin into the pine and maybird canyons is always a bear. All three of these are hanging canyons and it takes a little activation energy to get out of hyway hell and into shangri la. We have all done it and concede that it is worth it. I tend to like little conttonwood drainages better than big for views, besides mill B south of course, and the Broads fork cirque... Ah hell they are all pretty. I take that back. What I do like is the openness of the red pine, maybird, hogum drainages. I love looking up at the phiferhorn above. Today however the phife was in cloud cover. Ben and I got near the pass into hogum but neglected to go there as there wouldn't be much of a view. We stuck to the trees on the east side of the drainage. Up high the powder was not too heavy by spring standards and the underlying crust didn't cause any funnybuisness till we got lower down. Ben and I had a great decent through the trees on moderate angles and out of harm's way as far as avalanches are concerned. I actually felt relatively comfortable on skis for the first time in the backcountry! I thank Rob for the lesson at alta last Saturday. By the end of last Saturday he told me I did not look quite as bad as I did in the morning.


    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    King's Peak Outing

    It all starts with a healthy diner. Then I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and started driving out through Wyoming to King's Peak. The plan was to ski in as far as I could and possibly climb the thing.

    Andrew McClean's book states that the road to hell is paved with good intentions but the slog into king's peak is just plain hell. I don't know if that is exactly true, but then again, I did not get all the way in. At 8 in the morning I started off from the road which is three miles further to the actual trail head. By mid morning my elevation was higher, the snow deeper, and the temps warmer.

    So warm in fact that snow started to stick on my skis pretty badly. Breaking trail was difficult and slow with the heavy pack on but the scenery was beautiful. It was nice to be in perfect cross coutry ski terrain, with incline for nice steady climbing and perfect kick-and-glide. By about 4 pm the temps started to drop and I conceded that I was no where near the gunsight pass that leads to king's peak and so I'd better just set up camp. I was probably about 2 miles from the pass, and then another 4 to the peak. I had enough food to keep going the next day but M's flight was getting in Satruday night and I didnt want to cut it that close. I found out that the small 220 g propane/butane tank will melt 3 L of water plus all the cups of coffee and tea you want, and cook dinner of cous cous at 20 F. The night was cold. My thermometer diped into the single digits that night. I found out that with two socks with heat packs taped to my feet, with a warm full nalgene in the foot of my bag, with long johns, flece pants, caplene and down jacket on, inside my 0 F rei down time bag that single digit temps are just barely doable. I didnt get much sleep that night but all told it was OK.

    The next day I woke and had tons of coffee and relaxed as it warmed up to a comfy 20 F. I tooled around the meadows on my skis for a bit then decided to haul ass back to the car before it heated up too much and got clods of snow on my skis. On my way out I met up with this family, an 10 and 12 year old and this guy who were all doing kings peak. these kids were tough. They camped in the single digits just like i did the night before. We chatted awhile and they told me that they were really enjoying my ski track in. They also told me that the whole wastach mountain club was planning to be up there this weekend to enjoy my ski track.

    I plan to go back in a few weeks when the 3 miles of road melts out so I may park closer and the snow will be more settled and there will be easy trail breaking and/or a skitrack in.


    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Porter Fork Bluebird

    Ben and I went up porter fork today. We are usually pretty fast on the up, but today there was some very impressive splitboarders. They were flying up the hill with those large, unwieldy planks. Very impressive...

    My legs on the other hand were doing about as one would expect after 5 days of skiing in the last 6 days. Near the top I started to feel like I was skinning in ankle-deep molasses. The picture says it all...

    As for the skiing? It could not be better. After a few cornice and wind-drift kicks gave naught but a shrug we dove down into the top of porter fork bowl for some of the best turns this year, at least 3500 vertical feet worth. Here is a pic of Ben doing the first slope cut

    And here is me, another satisfied Porter Fork customer

    At this website you may view a video: