Sunday, February 24, 2008

Noodling in the BC

I've been fighting some bad allergies. The doctors tell me I'm allergic to exercise. Maybe it's just that I'm allergic to exercising with certain people who make me pin it all day long. So yesterday, I took it easy in the BC with my samurai brethren. Jordan was behind the camera.

Are those modified F1s duct-taped to my feet? Yep.


Sam before he tried to pull a cross together.


I'm going to hit the Rando Racing circuit soon. Here's my schedule:

March 1 -- Seattle
March 7 -- Snowbasin
March 15 -- Powederkeg at Alta
March 22 -- National Championships at Jackson

Then, it will be time to start spinning the pedals.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Speed Work

This morning I did a fast-paced workout up Neffs. According to the more reliable Suunto, I logged 5305 feet in 1 hr 38 minutes. I was hoping to make it to the top in under 1.5 hrs. I think if I had not taken water breaks and catch-my-breath breaks, I might have made it. Oh, and I was trying some new 3/4 length skins that weren't gripping the greatest.

In any event, I was relatively pleased; I think I'm making good progress for next month's rando-racing. ~3000 feet per hour isn't great, but I think it's competitive.

And for those who think that there isn't any good snow anymore . . . I think I logged over 3000 feet of nice creamy pow, and it was still fun on skinny skis.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Family Day

We skiied at Solitude yesterday -- 3 generations of Samurai (plural).

Here's Ethan getting a face shot with his power wedge.


Little skiier dude.


Ethan and Grandpa.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rope, Helmet, Whippet, Skis? Check.

In theory, that combination spells trouble. In principle, well . . . it worked out ok. Bro skiier Sam and I did a "tour" this morning.

Our ultimate objective was Superior (the pink part of the mountain in the background).

Along the way, we took a few detours. We climbed up Toledo Bowl, went up the ridge to the first saddle, and then dropped off into Holy Mole. The entrance was nice.

Someone kindly left a rope for us to get into the actual chute. A "one arm rap" was sufficient.

The chute was steep, but not too steep, and held some nice snow.

And the apron was ok too.

Climbing back up to Cardiff Pass, we got buzzed. The first time was kind of cool. The ninth and tenth times weren't so cool. And after that, it was just plain irritating.

On the pass with Superior back in our sights.

From the Black Knob, we booted up the ridge.

This probably qualifies as mixed climbing; no tools necessary though.

When we got a couple hundred feet from the top, we skiied off into a northeast facing chute.

The snow was nice.

And then we climbed back up again. I opted to walk around the catwalk. Brotha Sam closed his eyes and "put one foot in front of the other" . . . ok, maybe the closing the eyes part is an exaggeration.

We topped out at 11,400 feet.

And then skiied down the South face, opting for a chute on skiier's left.

Things got a bit hairy since the "snow" in the chute was rock hard. Midway down, I thought I was too tuff to slide slip, and I put in a little hop turn in. My ski edges didn't hold that well, and I spun around, landed on my back, and started sliding down the mountain. My thought process was: oh crap, I'm glad I have a helmet on, it would be better if I could be sliding down feet first rather than head first, stay calm, get your feet below you, it's good I have a Whippet in my hand, get in a position to dig in, okay come on Whippet, arrest, arrest!, ARREST!! Luckily, I came to a stop and my skis stayed on. I temporarily lost a pole though. About 500 vertical feet later, I recovered it.

Here is Sam demonstrating the side slip.

Once we got out of the chute, the snow was decent. Here is Sam, freeing the heel. What was that saying I heard? . . . Something about half the binding half the brain?

It was a long long run.

3000 feet later, we hit the road.

Some cool dudes stopped and gave us a ride back to Alta.

Great day skiing with Brother Sam. Afterwards, I picked Ethan up, drove back up to Alta, and we made 5 lift-served runs in Albion Basin. Ethan likes to straightline the basin. It kind of worries me.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day

Link to online album here.

Link to Jon's album, from which I pirated several photos here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The TRI Canyon Tour

We went long on Saturday. Bart and I started at 6200 South and Wasatch (after we missed the 6:30 bus), rode to Alta, and then traipsed across the mountains to Big Cottonwood, and out Millcreek. It turned out to be about 18 miles, 7500 feet of vertical, and 5.5 hours. I got two blisters, had an allergic reaction (which is still ongoing) to a Pro Bar, drank 30 oz. of EFS, 1 hammergel, saw a coyote, a trophy elk, and a mad moose, had a great time (except for the time when my Dynafits didn't lock (probably user error) and I stradled and then dangled from a small pine tree), and got some good training in. Speaking of training, my HR monitor says I was in Zone 5 for 1 hr 20 min and Zone 4 for that long as well. Bart doesn't believe in technology, but I think he got a decent workout as well -- all fueled by two bottles and a PBJ sandwich. That in itself was impressive.

Because of the clouds, the light was flat all day. Not great for picture taking.

Below is a picture of our route from the Little Cottonwood Canyon road up Pole Line Pass. At Cardiff pass, we went up the ridge towards superior.

We then dropped into Cardiff. Below is a picture of Bart just after he worked up the Moxie to drop in.

Below is a picture of our route through Cardiff Fork. As you can see, we skinned up Montreal Hill, and then traversed and skiied our way out to the BCC road.

Some nice turns were had on the steepish north facing Montreal.

After hitting the BCC road, we skinned up Mill D and to the top of Reynolds peak. We descended Reynolds through the trees and then climbed back up to the Millcreek ridge.

Here we are on the Millcreek ridge, looking into Wilson. Luckily, someone had skiied the Wilson chutes, which instilled in us the fortitude to do the same.

The Wilson run was perhaps the best of the day. The snow wasn't excellent and I was praying I wouldn't catch a tip in the stiff snow -- skiing light boots like the F1 leaves you at the mercy of tough snow conditions. BUT, after the first 5 turns, the other 30 were nice.

Our exit was out Millcreek Canyon. We were debating on whether to to a grand tour or whether to hit the Soldier Hollow skate race. After our tri-canyon tour, we were able to get some skating too, albeit on heavy alpine gear. Check out the elk.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Quick post. Hit Neffs this morning. My Garmin says 5100 feet elevation gain, but I don't believe it. It was probably more like 4300. It also says I was only moving for 2 out of the 3 hours we were gone. No comment on this (except to say that I'm going to start a Dynafits only club). You can see the stats here.
Not bad for a morning run.

We had to bail on a chute because of windloading. At the top things were starting to get slabby. We missed the summit by about 100 feet, but you got to know when to fold 'em. When we got down to our car that we heard that White Pine had ripped out and covered LCC road.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

Today began at 5:30 am this morning. Jon and I headed up to Alta to find some snow. I've lost track; I think that Alta has probably received over 500 inches of snow this year. But like I said, I lost track. There was probably close to 25 inches of new. The skin track was at least a foot deep. We thought we were early risers, but as we got out, we could see a train of headlamps up Cardiff and Flagstaff. We summitted Flagstaff in a long line -- all 17 of us. It's good there's lots of terrain. Jon and I skirted around Days bowl and skiied the east facing shots. It took a lot of time, and I kind of wish we had skiied the north facing twice instead of the east facing once. The upside is that we were able to look into Cardiff. I picked out some lines that I think are skiable. Jon thinks otherwise. The other upside is that I got some decent photos with my little point and shoot cam. I wish I would have had the SLR because the lighting was incredible. I've posted some pics below.

On our way out, I skiied a line from the top of Flagstaff straight down the gully, something that's only possible in big snow years. While it was possible, it wasn't without a price. Skiing over a rock band, the Havocs took (another) core shot. My poor skis. On our way out of the Alta parking lot, Jon and I stopped and looked at the south face of Superior. We came very close to turning around and making a run off Little Superior; however, our consciences (admittedly dulled) got the best of us, and we did the responsible thing and went to work.


See the tracks?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Grinning (in my mind)

Good day in the backcountry yesterday. No pictures to prove it though. If you could only read my mind. . . .

Sam and I did a little recon for the upcoming PowderKeg race. We got up early -- before the snowcat or the masses hit -- and did a fast skin up the Grizzly cat trail. We went to the base of the Patsy Marley face, kicked a big cornice and got a fairly decent sized pocket to pull out, 15 inch crown in one place. Sam held onto my poles while I kicked the cornices. It only took a couple karate ski chops before there was a big "WHUMPH" and the cornice fell away.

After that we took a steepish run off into Twin Lakes area. We were eyeing some chutes in Wolverine Cirque, but decided not to tempt the dragons. I'm glad the biking season is around the corner, because I think I'm developing a chute addiction. That's not necessarily bad, but it can increase the acceptable risk level.

We skinned out of the Twin Lakes area and burned up the cat track to Black Bess, where a mob of Solitude patrollers were doing avy control work above Honeycomb Canyon. Some of the dudes were standing on sheer cliffs, shoveling cornices off into the canyon. I told them they deserve hazard pay. They weren't amused when we asked if we could drop some of the chutes down into the canyon.

Mid-way down towards Michigan City, we ran into WOW -- the Wizard. He recognized Sam's fluro green coat and was surprised to learn that there are actually two samurais. WOW was headed "cross country" -- up into Silver, then Days, then Cardiff, then out Mineral. WOW mentioned he had seen the post below about drilled F1s and asked "What's yer point?" Good question.

After our WOW encounter, we cruised up the Patsy Marley ridge and dropped off the top into Alta. (That was only after we debated dropping into the Wolverine Cirque again. . . The first step in dealing with addiction is admitting that you have it.) That run was good. Really really good -- like over your head good every turn. Sam said it was one of the best of the year. I kind of agree. I skiied it straight without stops, trying to develop some downhill stamina.

Perhaps the highlight of the day, however, was my family BC tour. Karen was on Dynafits (without heel pieces) for the first time. And I made some mini-skins for Ethan's cross country skis. With those skins, Ethan was able to set a pretty fast pace up Neffs. He crumpled at the water tanks though because he was tired and didn't think he could make it to the top -- he was pointing to the top of Olympus. I told him I didn't think we were going that far.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rando Racing -- Scarpa F1 Mod

So I met up this morning with Chris White, a fellow Cat 3 racer, a former Black Diamond employee, and engineer. The subject? How to make F1s lighter. And he was kind enough to share his secrets with me and to let me share his speed secrets with you. As you can see, Chris has gone to great lengths to minimize the weight.

There are several things note in this picture (click to enlarge):

 1. The cables have been totally removed.
2. The heel throw has been modified (more on this later)
3. A bungee cord has been attached to the heel throw, which acts as a "spring" and holds the throw up while skinning.
4. The ratchet buckle has been fastened onto the cuff.
5. There are lots of holes in the cuff.

  Note that lever on the heel throw has been removed and some of the aluminum has been milled out (the newer F1s do not have a lever).

  Chris also shaved off some plastic on (a) the bottom of the cuff in order to get a longer stride, and (b) on the heel throw notch in order to be able to flip the heel throw open with his hand.

  Chris drilled some holes in the heel piece under the liner. I'm sure that reduces weight by a few thousandths of a gram.

 Chris got this cordura tongue from a Scarpa rep. It provides protection from snow, a bit of padding, and a bit of support. I dig the Scarpa logo.

  All extraneous plastic on the ratchet straps has been hacked off. Chris keeps the top cuff closed with the ratchet strap even while skinning, and then locks the heel throw down for support on the descent. There are holes drilled in the buckle strap.

  "Extraneous" rubber is ground off from the arch of the boot. Good to leave a little bit there to prevent slippage during booting.

  The heelpiece for this Dynafit binding was made from scratch in a machine shop. My understanding that M. Santurbane had a lot to do with this -- that was before he was a pro cyclist.

  Super trick.

  The skin attachment on the tip is a BD skin fastener that usually fastens on the rear. I think I'd opt for a notch in the tip, but Chris' solution is very creative.

  Skins are cut short and tapered at the end.