Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hut Trip

I had the privilege of staying in a stinky hut for 3 days in the mountains of Idaho with 10 other guys who share two passions: biking and skiing. Although biking is what more or less originally brought us together, we focused on the skiing. Here are some photos:

Getting ready for the haul:

From February 24, 2009

The hut:

From February 24, 2009

Boulder Mountain backdrop:
From February 24, 2009

The male model:

From February 24, 2009

Elevation by Alex:

From February 24, 2009

On Ben(ded) knee.

From February 24, 2009

Um guys, can you wait for us?

From February 24, 2009

Skinning through the old growth.

From February 24, 2009

From February 24, 2009

From February 24, 2009

The Crew:
From February 24, 2009

With Open Arms:
From February 24, 2009

Pfffft . . . boarders . . .
From February 24, 2009

The male model skis too:
From February 24, 2009

Hey Ohran, what are you doing?
From February 24, 2009

The Lonely Road.
From February 24, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Denied on Valentines Day

Our plan today was to catch the bus up Big Cottonwood Canyon, get off at Spruces, climb Reynolds, ski the north side of Reynolds, climb up to Millcreek ridge, head towards Gobblers, and then exit Neffs. We placed a car at Neffs and generally followed our plan. Here's Sam skiing off Reynolds.

Here's Bart skiing off Reynolds.

Here's Alex "skiing" off Reynolds.

And then we headed up to the Millcreek Ridge towards Gobblers.

We had the discipline to pass by the Wilson Chutes. When we got to Gobbler's shoulder however, we looked into Alexander Basin and followed our hearts. It was, after all, Valentines Day. It was deep. Here's a series of shots of Sam doing his freeheel thing.

On Districts:

Which way is up?

And here's Alex "skiing" his Basin and pulling Gs only a boarder can pull:

I jinxed us when we got to the bottom, saying, "That run was so good, we're going to pay for it." As we made our way out of Alex's Basin, we immediately began paying our debt as we headed up a steep ridge that we affectionately named "Cluster Ridge." For the record, we officially claim the first ascent of Cluster Ridge. We are certain no one has ever ascended it because it is impossible that there is anyone in the world that dumb. Suffice it to say, it was a time eater.

Cluster Ridge led us to the top of a Gobbler subridge. We did not fully ascend the subridge because as we topped out, we got throttled by blowing snow, blowing snow and more blowing snow. We de-skinned and descended what would otherwise have been an epic run off the Northeast face of Gobblers. Sorry, no pictures of this run exist. You can imagine it though by looking at a blank white piece of paper.

When we got to Porter via a tight terrain trap, we had a little pow wow about whether we should try to make Neffs where our car was parked, or simply ski out to the Millcreek Road and hitch hike home. It turns out that we did both.

None of us had ever followed Porter to Neffs and we could only guess where we should go. That combined with the fact that I'm a notorious bad route finder and we were still in blizard conditions didn't help. And if you call a 3 inch slab an avalanche, then we kicked off several. After a 1.5 hr attempt to ascend Cluster Ridge II, we pulled the plug and skiied out Porter.

Lucky for us, we immediately got rides out of Millcreek, and some BD employee dropped us off right at our cars. It was a tough day, somewhat disappointing, but as always, well worth it. Thanks guys.


Start: Spruces thanks to a $4.50 bus ride from UTA
Finish: Millcreek
Diversity: nicely balanced -- 1 splitboarder, 1 telemarker, 2 AT'ers on F1s and Dynafits, 2 white guys, 2 Japanese/Chinese guys
Vertical up: 6200 ft
Vertical down: 8500 ft
Miles: unknown
Time: ~ 7 hrs
Visibility: ok to not ok to really not ok
Trailbreaking: top of boots to high thigh
Skin failures: a few
First ascents claimed: Cluster Ridge I, Cluster Ridge II
Number of times I saw Bart on his back: 3
Number of times I saw Sam upside down: 1
Stages of hypothermia experienced: sewing machine legs, feeling of hopelessness and desperation, minor irritability
Highest moment: #1 skiing into Alex's Basin, #2 finding a ride out of Millcreek
Adequate food: no
Food consumed: 1 nutella sandwich, 1 bag cliff blocks, 2 PROBARS (Maple Pecan and Koka Moka)
Mission accomplished: no
Worth it: yes
Understanding Valentines: Karen (me), Rosie (Bart), Sammie (Alex), Recommendations Accepted (Sam)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

For Sale: Scarpa Spirit 3s

Scarpa Spirit 3s for sale. Lightly used. Some scuff marks. Used this season only.

Size: 27.5, Street shoe size ~10

Price: $200

Great all around touring and skiing boot.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Crested Butte Randonee Race

I got to participate first hand in the COSMIC racing scene on Saturday in Crested Butte, CO. Here are some notes:

  • Pete Swenson has done a great job at growing the sport of ski mountaineering racing/rando rally -ing/randonee racing in Colorado. There was a big turnout in CB.
  • The CB Rando Rally climbed to 11,900 ft. and descended down Mt. CB. The technical descent definitely gave the race its "ski mountaineering" status. Total ascent of ~4800 ft. Icy bump skinning. Booting up a rocky ridge.
  • Gunnison/CB has to be the heart of US ski mountaineering racing. They have great terrain, great access, and most importantly, some really fast people there, like from another planet fast. On the second pitch of the first climb, there was a group of about 8-10 with a couple other groups of 4-6 behind. I was killing myself to stay in the first group (I'd say between 55-70 fpm) when all of the sudden Brian Smith launched a full on attack, sprinting out of the group up a hill. B. Smith ended up winning with a time of just under 2 hrs.
  • Unlike other races where the first group separates and the race order is essentially established, the field was so deep that there was competition throughout the whole race. People were rallying past one another, getting passed in transitions, every second counted.
  • I was a bit disappointed to finish out of the top 10 and pretty much got destroyed, finishing 20 minutes behind the leader. (Edited to add: ACTUALLY, now that I see the results, I feel a bit better.) That said, I couldn't have been happier frothing at the mouth in a line of 15 fast guys in skinsuits in F1s drilling it up a 40 plus degree pitch. It was like I had been separated from my flock at birth and had finally found my family.
  • I had gear issues. I went through 4 skins. I had to stop a couple times to put my spare skins on -- first the left, then after a few hundred yards, the right. On the final climb my spare skins were dangling off my skis from my toe down, making it hard to go up, let alone go up fast. When they completely failed, I put my skis on my back and started booting it.
  • My F1s kept popping out on the downhill. I think I'm going to have to install shims that prevent the "flex out."
  • Avg pace for me was about 39 fpm. By contrast Targhee was 50 plus fpm. The difference is a bit puzzling, but might be attributed to terrain, gear, fitness -- don't really know.
  • When I rolled into Gunnison at around 11 pm, it took me over 15 minutes and a variety of high-decibel producing methods -- telephone calls, door buzzer, counter bell, screaming, and finally rapping on a glass door with a hard object -- to wake the worker who was loudly snoring in the back room.
  • Bad driving to race ratio: 5:1. Left SLC at 3:30 on Fri.; back in SLC at 6:30 on Sat.
  • I'm now motivated to grow the rando racing scene in the Wasatch. Who's in?

EDITED TO ADD: Crested Butte Rando Rally Results


1 SMITH BRIAN 02:00.1




5 BROWN JON 02:08.4

6 O’NEIL PATRICK 02:17.6

7 JONES JAKE 02:18.3



10 INOUYE JARED 02:22.1

11 STUBBE JASON 02:23.6


13 RIEPE BRIAN 02:34.1

14 WIENS DAVE 02:35.2

15 SMITH TODD 02:45.0




19 NOLAN MIKE 02:54.4

20 CICORA BRIAN 02:57.3

21 ORAM ALAN 03:00.1

22 TAYLOR MARK 03:07.3


24 ELLIOT IAN 03:12.1

25 GARCIN RICK 03:43.1

26 BRON SKI PETER 03:53.4


28 NORTON SEAN 04:17.8

29 EASLEY NIC 04:38.1