Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sleeping Maiden: Part III

When the clouds lifted and a big fat empty steep canvas was revealed, we were pretty enthused. I jumped in first to make my mark, but put the brakes on after a few fast turns. It was steeper than it looked. And the exposure made me nervous. On the left were sheer cliffs. A fall to the left would really really suck. On the right, there was an open bowl, but it cliffed out at the bottom. Basically, a fall anywhere would be risky business. So, I made tight controlled turns, keeping my speed in check.

Sam, on the other hand, was laying it out -- with a free heel. The pictures in the previous post somewhat depict that, but to get the full effect, you had to be there. About 2/3 the way down the ridge, our route cliffed out. I stopped and pulled out my camera. Andy and Lars skiied to me. But Sam thought he was auditioning for the Powder Whores, and he kept going.

From April 18, 2009

I yelled, "CLIFF!" about the same time he realized he ought to slow down. He tried to stop, but couldn't. He grabbed a tree. It ripped out of his hands. He tried to grab another small tree, but couldn't hold on, and then another tree. And then he disappeared from our sight. Here he is trying to stop.

From April 18, 2009

I looked at Andy and Lars, and asked, "Did he just go off a cliff?" Not really believing it, I skiied down to the lip of the cliff and peered off. It was a long way down. I looked down and couldn't see Sam, so I looked above me to see if he was hanging in a tree. And then I heard him say, "I'm okay." I spotted him several hundred yards below in a shadow.

When I looked off the cliff, I had a sinking feeling because it was pretty big -- probably about 50 feet or so. I was relieved to see that Sam was ok. And dumbfounded that he had just fallen off a cliff and had skiied away.

Having skiied to the lip, I was in a bit of a bind. There was a cliff below me, and the snow I was standing on and the snow above me was heating up pretty quickly. In fact, roller balls and bits of debris were zooming past me. I thought it might be Andy and Lars skiing above me, but as soon as I thought that, they popped out below me near Sam. All at once, the mountain seemed to be coming down.

I tried to sidestep up the hill, but it was mushy and steep, and roller balls and debris kept smacking me. At one point, I got knocked off balance by a soccer ball-sized snowball. That scared me. I thought that rather than risk getting smacked by snowballs, or avalanched, trying to climb up, I should go down. At least that way, my fall would be somewhat controlled and by choice. So, I traversed to where the cliff was the smallest and jumped.

From April 18, 2009

As I was falling, I actually thought to myself: this is bigger than it looked. My landing wasn't great since I didn't have much speed going off. I cratered. My arms yanked behind me and I did a couple cartwheels down the hill. I righted myself, stood up, looked around, brushed snow off my face, and, quite loudly, yelled, "F*%$!" It was punctuation mark on a somewhat hairy ordeal -- thinking my brother might have died, to thinking that I might get knocked off a cliff by a giant snow ball/slide, to falling through the air and cartwheeling down the mountain.

Here is another pic of the cliff. Sam went off the big part. For the record, Sam's fall does not count as a legitimate air. You can see his hole in the bottom center.
From April 18, 2009

I'm just glad he didn't ski off this.
From April 18, 2009

"I'm alive!"
From April 18, 2009

And for future reference.
From April 18, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009


Please keep a lookout for my bike:

Ridley Noah, Size SM, Dura Ace 7800, Ritchey Bars and Stem, Fizik Carbon CX Saddle, Look Keo Pedals . . . .

It was stolen out of my garage last night.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sleeping Maiden: Part II

She may be sleeping, but she's still alive, no doubt about that.

Yesterday, Brother Sam, Andy, Lars, and I skiied was has been dubbed the East Ridge of Timp, the ridge in the picture below.

From April 18, 2009
We got a relatively early start. Andy and Lars slept at the trailhead. I drove down from SLC at 5:00 a.m., stopping in Lehi at McDonalds for the "Deluxe Breakfast." Usually, a banana or a PROBAR does it for me, but for whatever reason, I was starving by Lehi and spontanteously stopped at McDonalds. 3 pancakes, 1 hashbrown, 1 sausage, some rubbery eggs molded into a square, a biscuit later, and probably close to 1000 lard calories, I felt better. Sam and I left the trailhead around 6:30.

As we left, we noticed a hippyish looking guy on 3-pin Voiles, wearing a harness and some climbing gear. For whatever reason, we didn't make conversation, and just went about our business. Later in the day, as I was hitch hiking from Sundance, he stopped, turned around and gave me a ride back to my car. It turned out that this guy was one of the legends of Timp that I've heard about over years. He's summitted Timp over 200 times and has pioneered most of the first descents. On the day we crossed paths, Dan had skiied a line requiring two raps. I think it was one of these lines in the pic below.

From April 18, 2009
I had been scoping out Roberts Horn and asked if he had ever skiied it. He said he had, but was a bit irritated that someone had skiied it a week before him. Nice job Matt T.! See the Roberts Horn line?

From April 18, 2009
Dan pointed out some lines he'd done over the years. He calls this "Trepidation." I understand why.
From April 18, 2009
Back at the ranch, Sam and I made good time up the cirque. We joined Andy and Lars at the top, made our way to the Emerald Lake and traversed up the glacier and into the clouds.

From April 18, 2009
Although visibility was zero, we made it to the saddle, and started the southern traverse. I've been up there a few times and using my impeccable route-finding skills (I've taken a lot of flak lately for getting lost a lot), made it to our drop in point. And just as we did, the clouds lifted.

From April 18, 2009
The view from our vantage point was amazing. Here's looking South to some lower cirques, then Cascade, and then Nebo in the far distance (or was it North? . . . whatever).

From April 18, 2009
And here's looking West. Bart has been wanting to climb and ski this line. It's looking good.

From April 18, 2009
And to the east was the East Ridge. It's big. It's long. It's steep. It's exposed. It's beautiful. Here's Sam dropping the knee over Sundance (which looks dead pan flat) and Deer Creek.

From April 18, 2009
. . . To be Continued

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More April Skiing and Going Faster: Tidbit 1

The ski days continue. And they continue to be good. And it's April 15th. Memorable tours in the last 10 days or so include (a)a tour with my two brothers up Superior, laps on the north face and then an exit on the south face just as the crust got soft,
From April 7, 2009
(Aaron with Monte Cristo in the background. Yes, those are tele bindings.)

From April 7, 2009
(Cardiff reminds me of the Alps.)

From April 7, 2009
(Skiing on Superior.)

and (b) a tour with Bart up Solitude, a nice powder run into Twin Lakes area, up to the pass, up the cat track to Davenport, dropping into the East Bowl of Silver Fork, up the West Bowl of Silver Fork, homerun out of the Meadows, and back to Solitude.

From April 7, 2009
(Bart doing business standing on top of the Meadows with East Bowl Silver Fork is in the upper left.)

A tour that will be memorable for reasons other than the skiing was good was this morning's tour with Jon and SBJ's crew. Suffice it to say that I got several people lost a few hundred yards from the parking lot. My embarrassment was slightly mitigated by the fact that it was dark and blizzard-ing, and the fact that although we lost some time, the run out was pleasantly decent. But any mitigation was cancelled out by the exacerbating fact that it was my first outing with the SBJ crew, and I had to use my compass a few hundred yards from the car -- a nice lasting impression.

As we were skinning up some gloppy snow, I think most everyones' skins got soaked, and as we gained elevation and the snow got drier and powder-i-er, the snow started sticking to most everyones' skins. One of the guys described it as having to carry two children on each leg. My skins, however, remained clean, hence Going Faster: Tidbit 1 is wax your skins.

Waxing skins is a technique I've picked up in rando racing, but I'm sure savvy tourers have been doing it for a long time. BD produces a soft wax that can be used for this purpose. I think you're supposed to rub it on your skins. What works best for me, however, is using a low fluorinated wax that I iron into my skins. This technique seems to make the wax less gloppy on the skin, last longer, and give better glide.

Here's how I do it:

1) Crayon/rub wax on the skin with the grain. I like LF red wax because it is somewhat hard but goes on easy enough.

From April 16, 2009
2) Run an iron over the skin, melting the wax into the skin. Set iron to lowest setting. Unplug your iron and wait a bit if it seems too hot.
From April 16, 2009
You'll notice that your skins will glide better and be less prone to glop.

BONUS: If you use a brush to strip wax from your skis, brush the top sheets and bindings with the brush, and it will aid in preventing top sheet/binding glop.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

April Powder

Snow-wise, it's been a pretty eventful week. I think Alta has had 150 inches in the last 10 days. It has delayed the biking a bit and it has delayed the spring ski objectives I had been looking forward to, but who can really be ungrateful for powder?

On Monday, my brother Aaron returned home from the motherland (Japan) from his LDS mission. In the movie "Steep," there is a scene where Glen Plake says something like, "As soon as I got out of broken legs, I went skiing. As soon as I got out of jail, I went skiing. That's where I had to go to make it all right." The first thing Aaron did was go on a different type of mission: skiing. Here he is with SLC in the background:


Last night, I skiied up around Alta, and it was deep. So this morning when I checked the weather and saw that Alta had received yet another 14 or so inches over night, I headed that way again, this time with Mike. Unfortunately, we got turned around at the mouth of LCC. The sherrif was setting up last night as I was coming down and it looked like he had been there all night. So, we went up the other canyon instead. Breaking trail was tough. On sidehills the snow line was above my waist, and I was on some big waisted Districts as well. My hair froze on the up track.


Here's Mike wallowing up a slope. I didn't see his skis all day, and they were fat too.


On a easterly facing high elevation aspect, I kicked off a new snow slide that propagated around the ridge. We were on high ground so, not too much danger.


On the up track, we were pretty stoked about the conditions. After a run off the top, we were slightly confused. We weren't sure whether it was really good or not-so-good. The snow was super deep. Every turn snow would billow over the head and into various orifices. I skiied several hundred feet completely in the white room. I also skiied several hundred feet without oxygen. Mike skiied with his avalung in his mouth, not because he was scared of getting caught, but just so he could breathe. We sheepishly concluded that maybe it was too deep.


As we decended below 9000 feet, we came out of the clouds, the powder got less deep, and we had a couple epic runs. I'm not a fat ski guy, and I've often thought that my 110 mm waisted Bluehouse Districts might be overkill; today I doubt there is any ski that would have been overkill.


And they say there is more snow on the way next week. . .