Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas at Home 2009

Nothing like spending Christmas with family!  This was the first year that Traci, Junah, and I spent Christmas Eve and Day at home together.  For Christmas Eve we re-enacted Luke Chapter 2.  Junah was baby Jesus, Traci was Mary, and I played the part of the Joseph.  Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Christmas Day we enjoyed the morning opening some presents - Junah got his first pair of skis (80cm XC style with strap around bindings), and some sweet Patagonia Bibs that are good for a few sizes, as well as, diaper functional = KEY! 

then we went to the Hollingshead home (Inlaw Christmas Party) to enjoy some sledding on the golf course behind their home.  All was good until food poisoning set in.   I felt it hit me like a rock and could barely drive home after the festivities.  Nothing like spending Christmas night throwing up to the tune of 50+ times - YUCK!!!

I recovered   

Monday, December 14, 2009

Butler Fork to East Raymond Shoulder

Solo Tour! - Headed up into the Butler Fork trees to take a look around after the weekend dump.  From the road the snow was deep to start the skinner.  Problem was that there was only one parking space ava.ilable so I dug myself one with the trusty car shovel (took half an hour).

Heading up the skinner I encountered two guys whom had taken an about face and were heading back to the car after several encounters with the infamous unconsolidated "WHOOMPFFF!" under the snow.  I wished them well and decided to continue on for the XC adventure.  Soon I encountered the infamous little fellows singing their praises "Whoompfa Loompfa Doopity Doo, I've got a warning message for you!" and I must admit at first that it is STARTLING, to say the least.  The snow would unpredictably settle causing the eerie Whoompfing sound that would rattle the surrounding trees and shrubbery.  I even spotted some vibrating trees as far as 150 feet from my person after such an event.

After fifty or so similar experiences I became acquanted with their banter and noted cracking and movements under the snow (remember this is all low angle).  Scurrying and hurrying  I made my way into the Olympus Wilderness area.

Originally I planned this tour to collect snow stability data for future ski tours.  The data is important and monitoring it frequently to observe changes in the snowpack is key.

Once I made my way to the top of the Butler Fork trees, I was overwhelmed with shrubbery and growth and at first pondered my rules about this area and early season skinning.  Often the snow is not deep enough here in the early part of the season and making passage through the growth and over it can be difficult.  Not wanting to settle for the lower elevation snow I took a look at my surroundings and made a new plan.

MT. Raymond - (click to enlarge pic) was looming over the south side of Big Cottonwood and its slabby peak was slowly poking its head out from the clouds.  With the snowpack in early season shape I headed to the ridge to investigate the snow further as I wanted to have a look at north facing aspects to see what was going on with my snow. 

After tromping and gliding along for an hour or so I decided to have some downhill experience. I also wanted to find a better route to the ridge that was
out of these thick trees.  (The Snow was Good here).

Reaching the valley floor I made a hypotenoose like approach to the ridge seperating Big Cottonwood Canyon from Millcreek Canyon to the North.

Monday, November 23, 2009

November Skiing, 11-23-09, Twin Lakes Pass

Rallied with my wife Traci and our friend Alex Romashko (sans mustachios) up into the Alta area for a look around after a great weekend storm.

Monday, Monday....we awoke and enjoyed one of our normal family breakfast meals of oatmeal w/ apples, cinnamon, raisins, honey, and lots of butter. Alex made the trek to be part of the breakfast crew while we ate with Junah our son. We enjoyed the morning hype before a backcountry jaunt and sipped on Argentine Yerba Mate. Alex promoted his new camera equipment and we were eager to put it to work to videolog our endeavors and for shameless promotion of the ICELANTIC skis we rock day to day.

Next, we rallied Junah to one of his favorite grandparents lairs because of the pre-season rocky-ness that we were sure to encounter up there. We want Junah to be with us as much as possible and we even plan on backcountry touring with him in the pack soon, but today he played at grandpa Brents and grandma Kristies.

Feeling like children ourselves before a Christmas present wrapper shredding fest, we hurried up to the Grizzly Gulch area just North of Albion Basin, Alta to inspect the newly fallen snow.
Alta ski resort had listed their resort as unaccessible to uphill skiers this day in hopes of retaining the newly fallen snow for their Thanksgiving holiday opening. We didn't mind heading up into country that is normally associated with Solitude - our favorite resort. Let the Altaqaedans have theirs.

Once arriving at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon we experienced the joy associated with being friends of skiers whom have the same itinerary as ourselves on such a day. Two of Traci's good friends - Cody and Seth - were just returning from a skin up into the Twin Lakes Pass area at the top of Grizzly Gulch. Perfect! We now had a skinner to follow so we thanked Cody and Seth (Cody was sporting a wicked cool mustachio himself) and then we were off to get our share.
Ummm....Cody and Seth both claimed that there were copious amounts of sharks and knee twisting, angry natural formations just waiting under and on top of the snow. Fearlessly ready to eat up happy snow lovers so our ROCK GARDEN sixth sense skillz were put to the test this day. Later we would have our own experiences with the aformentioned compositions of ROCK.

Skinning up into Grizzly looked heinous to say the least. Rocks, Rocks, and more Rocks reared their ugly heads as we scoped out the natural drainage to make our way up to the pass. After finding our way to a non-skinnable section of the drainage we removed our skis and started some slippery boot packing to get out of the drainage. It was running with water and we wanted to avoid wetting our skins and gear so we made our way back up to the pole line trail and placed our skis happily back on our feet. Soon we were gliding along to the pass with only minimal occurences of rock filled encounters.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November Skiing 11-16-09, Alta Preseason Skinning

Today was the first day of skiing with my wife Traci. Our Wasatch Wonderland is lacking for early season snow and our ski senses are overloaded with anticipation of riding the deep snow in heaps. Today we needed to make some turns so we moseyed up to Alta and made a twilight jaunt up to the Collins Quad mid mountain station. It was nice to unglue the skins and tromp up the hose blown snow, sans lifts while enjoying the fading days sun.
Wanting to get make turns on the choppy and icy surface for practice and balance, we secured our rigs to our boots and shralped the man made wonder beneath our feet.
There was chatter and the air screamed with ski clatter but our hearts embraced gravity's pull as we welcomed the first of many days to follow making our way up into the Wasatch Winter Wonderland.
Thanks Traci!