South for a week of work. And since I'm leaving Alaska I coordinate with friends who live nearby. By chance an old high school friend, Tim Stubbs, happens to live in the same town as my client. So I make the arrangements, board the red eye and fly south reaching Southwest Colorado in mid afternoon. We start driving west right way. It's dark when we get to our campsite but I can see faint outlines of desert towers jutting into the stars. Warm desert rock and dust and stars. I sleep out in the open but it's hard to close the eyes when the stars are so bright.
Morning comes and I awake to the blood red landscape that is Valley of the Gods. Sandstone towers jut three hundred feet into the sky surrounded by sand and rock. Abbey country. We drink coffee and soak in the surreal view. I have never been to this part of the country and my visit is over due. The slickrock and towers permeate the senses similar to the way big mountains do. ( Read more... )
Scott Fennell down KCK.
Yvonne down Goat Head.
It's no secret the snow has been good in the Front Range. While the official NOAA snowtel in midtown is reading 129 inches (just shy of the all time record of 132.8 inches set in the winter of 1954-55) the unofficial ski reports show much much more snow on Hillside and in the Front Range. Gullies are filled in more than usual, the tree skiing is good and normally hard technical couloirs are now doable for the average Joe. Thus when the snow is deep, sky is blue and the backyard calls, there is no need to drive north or south. ( Read more... )
What is a forecast? When the ave center gives you a green light, how does it affect your motives and goals for the day?
That was the discussion of the day as we skinned up valley under crystal blue skies with what appeared to be a stellar snowpack. We had a big line in mind but our group has been skiing long enough to know that ideas don't mean anything. You might have objectives for the day, but our ski group is equally at home backing off slopes and objectives as we are at actually skiing our intended line (actually the truth is we're perhaps more likely to back off the intended line). "We'll just go up there and have a look," seems to be the mantra every time we start out to do something. And so we go up stuff and look down.
Sometimes we dig a pit and sometimes the pit is good and we embrace the run. Sometime the pit reinforces what we already know and we go accepting the risk. Often it's a justification for turning around and going down as fast as fucking possible.
But that's the pit. The snowpack can very different from the forecast. Sometimes it's better than what they say; sometimes you have to read the fine print ("isolated avalanches in extreme terrain"). The question is: how does the forecast affect your decision making for the day?
Ten years ago it seemed the only way people skied big lines in Turnagain was by putting in their time down in the Pass and taking the time to study weather, snowpack and local knowledge before committing to dropping down big lines like the south side of Proper. These days Proper gets skied all the time and good visibility combined with a low to moderate forecast will lead to a dozen plus descents in one day. Would the big lines in Turnagain get skied as often as they do without a forecast? ( Read more... )
In two weeks I'll be at six months since my fall. Six long months where I was limited to couch-surfing, swimming, cross country skiing and mellow yo-yo runs (in that order). But Saturday felt different. Good snow and a flexible ankle so we went and went and my ankle never bothered me so we kept going. Up the west face of Cornbiscuit. Down the steep south face that you shouldn't touch unless ave conditions are perfect. Then up the southeast ridge of Cornbiscuit (Wolf's Run) and back down again. ( Read more... )
Better pix after the jump. ( Read more... )
A fall, sprain and fractures in the tibia and talus meant I spent most of September and October on the couch watching bad Netflix, [reading] [a few] [good] [books] and learning how to code jquery mobile. No late summer / fall rock climbing trip for me. After the doctor said I wasn't going anywhere tickets were cancelled and the news was broken to my climbing partner who was pretty bummed that he wouldn't get the chance to drag me up Sierra granite. Alas. ( Read more... )
Comments submitted after the jump. ( Read more... )
The comment deadline is October 31st. You have just over 2 weeks. But what's in the plan and what are you going to say? ( Read more... )
Former Anchorite Austin Thayer was visiting and the weather forecast looked halfway decent so we met up early and drove up to Hatcher in the hopes of getting in some climbing before the rains came back. Ignoring the puddles we pushed up Archangel road and were roped up and starting up the first pitch of Toto by 10am. Swinging leads we jogged up the route and topped out on the top of pitch 5 two and a-half hours later... ( Read more... )