December 21, 2006

Accumulating Snow

So when most people think of Denver in the winter, they think of a nice snowy city. On the contrary, it rarely snows in Denver, and when it does, it's in the form of these pretty, little, snowflakes that hover in the air and never seem to land on the ground. Thus, the snow never accumulates.

We recently had a snow storm (note that I'm not calling it a blizzard like the TV stations) in which the snow actually landed on the ground. This caused widespread panic amongst Coloradans across the state. When the storm started, there was a gust of wind recorded in Denver at 35 mph. Since this is the minimum required to consider a snowstorm a blizzard, the media has insisted that the entire storm was a blizzard becuase of this one stupid gust. This pesky snow has caused nearly everything to close - mail service, schools, universities (during finals week), shopping malls (only days before Christmas), and engineering offices (mine included!). Most irritating is that they decided to close one of the biggest airports in the country. The airport is to remain closed until noon tomorrow (Friday). Our flight, scheduled to depart at 12:30, has been canceled. As a result, we may not make it back to Oregon before Christmas.

On the up-side, Ashley and I put on our skis and engaged in a ski tour of South Boulder (SoBo) last night. We visited several friends and saw people stuck on the road, including about 4 busses, some of them sideways in the road.

Today I went up to Eldora with a bunch of the people Ashley works with and skied over 2' of fresh powder. It snowed for a few hours in the morning and cleared up to become a bluebird day by about 10:00 am. It was the best ski day Eldora has had for a few years, and I got to use my new K2 Anti Piste skis (really wide skis made for powder) for the first time!

I'd like to close with a picture or our Honda Accord.

Rubsy the Christmas Tree

This is a picture of Rubsy the Rubber Plant dubbling as Rubsy the Christmas Tree. After the whole tree towing incident, this is what we resorted to.

December 19, 2006

Random Update

On Sunday I went skiing up at Eldora. There still isn't enough snow to ski off-trail, but they've got more runs open now. I managed to find a run where the middle third was covered with a few inches of man-made powder, which seemed to break up the monotony of the groomers. I can't wait to go back to Oregon where they actually have a snowpack! Sunday night Ashley and I hosted a Holiday Sweater Party, centered around Hot Buttered Rum, holiday ale, ski movies, and (of course) ugly holiday sweaters. Yes, those are moose slippers on my feet with red noses.

I have only two more days of work before we leave for Oregon!

December 12, 2006

Taos, NM

I'm leaving after lunch today to go to Taos, NM. I won't be doing any skiing - I don't think they have any snow down there yet anyway. Instead, I'll be pointing a laser gun at a pile of rocks and pulling the trigger for a couple of days. The end result is to be a survey of a rockfall area that can't seem to get along with the adjacent highway. Should be much more fun than office work.

December 10, 2006

Mt. Sherman

Yesterday Dane and I hiked up and skied down Mt. Sherman. Mt. Sherman is known as being the easiest 14er in Colorado, however, the conditions yesterday made it a bit of a challenge nonetheless.

The day started out with me realizing I forgot my climbing skins, which meant I would have to hike up, carrying my skis instead of skiing up, unless I could improvise some skins. The photo below shows my attempt, which worked well on lower angle slopes. I was able to complete the approach using this setup.

Much of the hike up was over rocks anyway, so the climbing skin issue turned out to not be too problematic. The only problem it really presented was the fact that the skis on my back acted as a parachute during the entire hike up. When we neared the summit ridge we were both nearly blown off the mountain, so we ditched our skis and snowboard for the final summit push. The following video is of Dane leaning into the wind shortly after we gained the summit ridge.

This was the most brutal weather for a bluebird day I have ever witnessed. Much of the climb was into this wind, making the ascent much more strenuous than it needed to be. We took a few photos at the summit before beginning our rapid retreat back to a more sane weather scenario.

We were able to ski about 2/3 of the way back to the car by linking up the most continuous patches of snow we could find. The video below shows the beginning of Dane's run.

. . . and a good shot of me throwing some snow

The car-to-car trip took a total of about 6 hours. Overall it was a fantastic trip with some exciting weather.

On the drive out from the trailhead, we passed several people out cutting Christmas trees. Dane and I thought this looked like a good idea, but we didn't have a saw. However, we did have a towstrap. We were both aware from past experiences that alpine trees are surprisingly stout. Knowing this, we picked a nice, small 5' tree near the edge of the road. Shifting the 4-Runner into 4-low and slowly driving away, the tree held its ground with an impressive resolve.

As a final effort, I put some slack in the towstrap and drove away, more quickly this time. As the strap became taught, the 4-Runner came to an abrupt stop. Upon questioning Dane, who was outside the vehicle watching, I found out that the tree didn't even budge. Not wanting to damage my truck, we left the tree and drove home with Dane saying something to the affect that in the future, he'll feel much more comfortable using small trees as climbing anchors.

December 06, 2006

Costa Rica

My friend, Antonio, is graduating in a few days from the same engineering program that I did about a year ago. He plans to spend a couple months lying low and traveling before beginning work at a firm that competes with mine. One of his planned excursions is to visit his dad, who conveniently lives in Costa Rica. As luck would have it, he invited me to go with him! His dad ownes a small hotel in a medium touristy mountain town, where we will stay for free. I believe the food is covered too, so all I really have to pay for is my plane ticket and any recreating we choose to do while we are there. I hear there are monkeys all over the place, so this brings the excitement to a whole new level! I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity.

I've informed Keith and Melanie of my planned trip (January 20 - 28), and they think they'll be able to find me and hang out since they'll still be on their tour of Central America. This all means that I'll have to return to work for 2.5 weeks after my holiday trip to Oregon before leaving for another week - vacation time courtesy of the North Dakota field work and compensation time earned there.

December 03, 2006

Backcountry Weekend

On Friday after work, Ashley and I drove into the mountains to visit our friend, Dane, who is staying at his parents' vacation home in Frisco, CO. The three of us went skiing on the slopes of Mt. Baldy on Saturday, and Vail Pass on Sunday.

The primary task during the Mt. Baldy trip for all three of us was to stay warm. I'm pretty sure the temperature where we were skiing never rose above 0 degrees F, but I'm not sure how cold it actually got. After the short approach to the skiable slopes, we found ourselves at an old mining structure. Dane combined his climbing skills (to ascend the structure) with his riding skills to create the entertaining video below.

After that point, it started snowing and we never saw the sun again. It became too cold to take pictures, but Ashley and I did pose for one shot, managing to smile and pretend that we were not experiencing the initial signs of frostbite.

The snow was deep and plentiful, but after two runs we called it a day and thawed our frozen lips out in a glass of beer at the Breckenridge Brewery. Still frozen, we returned to Dane's place for a hot tub.

On Sunday Dane and I went back out in search of more powder, this time at Vail Pass. Ashley stayed back to grade papers and study - that Ph.D. thing is always getting in the way. The sun was out all day, so the frigid temperatures didn't play as much of a role. We explored a new area, and found a bowl that appeared to have good snow and a good pitch. Upon dropping in, I found the snow to be deep, light, and consistent for several hundred vertical feet. On each turn I sank between 12 and 18 inches, my cheesy grin getting bigger with each turn. The run was amazing, and the next run that we did in the trees right next to it was just as good.

November 24, 2006

Wild Turkey Wednesday (and Thanksgiving too)

Ashley and I spent Thanksgiving with some of her friends and coworkers. These people strongly believe that the day before Thanksgiving is a holiday in itself, slightly more important than Thanksgiving itself. Being as Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday, and people eat turkey on Thanksgiving, these guys invented Wild Turkey Wednesday. It just makes sense. The day before Thanksgiving you gather up the crowd that would traditionally eat dinner together, and you take shots of Wild Turkey 101. Don't worry if you take too many shots, because the next day (Thanksgiving) you don't have to be conscious until some time in the mid afternoon - and even then, you don't have to be fully functional to eat Turkey! See, it's all so logical. At about 2:00 am, we managed to squeeze 6 drunk people into a taxi to get home from downtown.

The next day, we deep-fried two turkeys and had a feast equal to any I've ever seen - topped off with 5 pies. The deep fryer thing is pretty nifty. It cooks a medium-sized turkey in 45 minutes, keeps it juicy, and somehow doesn't make very greasy.

And the last logical benefit to Wild Turkey Wednesday - on Thanksgiving you can be thankful that you don't have to drink any more if it.

November 14, 2006

El Beardarino

I haven't done a post for a while - not a whole lot to talk about - but here's a quick recap. Last Friday Ashley and I went to the premier of Pull (Matchstick Productions counterpart to Push, which premiered earlier this year). The movie was shown on the 5th floor outdoor patio of one of the buildings on campus and was free. I felt real bad for all the other oysters that were duped into paying big bucks for the Warren Miller movie that played that same night in Boulder Theater. They had to go watch people fall of the chairlift, meanwhile Ashley and I got to watch people ski sick lines at various locations around the world. Saturday we hiked up to a bat cave above our house in the Flatirons. Access to the cave is usually blocked because they don't want you disturbing the bats while they do whatever it is that bats do. It wasn't spectacular, but still quite unique for the area.

On Sunday, it snowed in the mountains so we went back up to Vail Pass to revisit the good times we had two weeks prior. The snow was not nearly as good, but the coverage was adequate and crashing face first into the two inches of powder that covered the crunchy crust made for excellent beardage insulation.

Last night, Monday, a friend of Ashley's was able to get a few extra tickets to a Colorado Avalanche game. As I recently found out, this is a professional hockey team. They suck. The Edmonton Oilers beat them 2 to 1, but they dominated more than the score shows. There were two fights, but neither of them were very good.

November 01, 2006

No More North Dakota!

Truth be told, the field work in North Dakota really wasn't that bad. The worst part about it being that I had to live away from home for 25 days all together. On the up side, I earned a bunch of comp time, so I can take paid time off over Christmas and on powder days. Another perk is the roughly $10,000 I put on my credit card, including 3 round-trip flights - all of which I have been reimbursed for and contributed to my flight miles.

As a welcome home celebration after arriving at the Denver airport an hour late on October 30th, I went straight to the Boulder Theater to watch a Ziggy Marley concert to promote his new album, "Love is my Religion". Fantastic show only a few miles from our house. I love living in Boulder.

October 23, 2006

Pumpkins and Jello Shots

Saturday night we attended a pumpkin carving extravaganza. A vast variety of beers and wine were consumed as well as roughly 200 jello shots. After reading the above list, one might come to the conclusion that the evening was very unproductive. On the contrary, nearly 25 pumpkins were cleaned and carved with an awards ceremony culminating the event. Ashley won the best "cheater" pumpkin award for her snowflake. Apparently she broke the rules by bringing a stencil of the snowflake she created earlier in the day while sober. I took home the grand prize for my rendition of "paranoid". I attribute this honor to both the unique shape of my pumpkin (very tall and slender - I suppose you could use the word 'gangly' as far as pumpkins go), and the fact that I was around at the end of the party to accept my prize - a mixture of the drinks remaining at the end of the night.

October 22, 2006

Yahooie! It's Ski Season!

Today Ashley and I drove up to Vail Pass in hopes that we would find enough snow to ski on. As it turned out, the snow cover was much better than expected and the 1 foot of powder was just bonus. Yes, that was 1 foot (12 inches) of pow pow, Colorado backcountry style.

October 17, 2006

North Dakota - Shift 2

I've been pretty busy this shift, until today that is. We're having the equivilent of a snow day in grade school. The drillers decided not to work, so we are stuck here without much to do. Below is a picture of our field office - a bit snowier than last shift. It's starting to look a little more like that Fargo movie now.

October 05, 2006

North Dakota - Shift 1

I'm back in Colorado for a few days before heading back for another 10-day shift in Dickinson, ND. It's been a good learning experience so far and I've learned a lot about drilling, installing monitoring wells, and logging soil and rock core. I spent my first shift working with an experienced person, as did Ryan, who is in the same position as me. Next shift, the two of us will be working together without the supervision of experience, which should prove to be more exciting. We're actually working in the town of South Heart, 10 miles west of Dickinson. The population of the town is around 350, and I think we know most of the locals after just 10 days. The people here are pretty friendly in general, however they have a unique cultural quirk that seems to prohibit them from freely sharing their name when you introduce yourself.

Example - typical conversation with a North Dakotan:
Josh "Hi there! I'm Josh." (shake hands)
North Dakotan "Hi."
Josh "And you are?"
North Dakotan "Last July we had a really bad hail storm that destroyed all my crops."

The weather here is always windy, and the temperature this time of year ranges from 20 to 80 degrees. We've had a couple nasty, sideways rain storms which makes it difficult to write and keep paper dry. That's about as exciting as things get up here.

Our last day of work for the shift only required that we work for half a day, so we drove west a few miles to Painted Canyon, aka Bad Lands - a part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. During a hike here, we saw two buffalo (Les Bouffs, as the French would say), a buck, and an elk - not to mention the cool rock formations that the geologists hiking with me found particularly interesting.

Mt. Field, as viewed from the jobsite.

Rotosonic drillrig setup

Painted Canyon - driving along the freeway, you come over a small rise and much of the gound unexpectedly disappears as seen in this picture

Buffalo 1 - in attempt to get close enough to take a picture, I hiked out a ridge towards the buffalo seen in the bottom right of this picture. On my way there, I looked below me and saw the one in the following picture.

Buffalo 2

Why I don't eat mushrooms

September 24, 2006

The Matron

As a last fling before heading to North Dakota, Ashley and I climbed yet another of the flat irons above our house. We climbed a 5.6 route on the north face of the Maiden for two pitches before gaining the sloping east face for two more long pitches. The 5.6 pitches challanged my trad leading abilities, and the much easier east face was a fun scramble. Hiking from our house, the round trip hike/climb took about 7 hours. We made it back in time to make it to an Octoberfest party that one of Ashley's friends threw with a keg of Pilsner Urquell and all the brats you could eat. We were once again made aware of what a small world it is when we saw Sara at the party. Sara is the girlfriend of the brother (Jess) of the ex-girlfriend (Emily) of Jake's. Crazy.

The Maiden - the face opposite this view, hidden in the trees.

The first pitch

Ashley coming up the east face, pitch 3

September 20, 2006

North Dakota or Bust!

My work is sending me to the beautiful resort destination of Dickinson, ND beginning Monday. Dickinson is located in southwest North Dakota at least 150 from everything, and I don't even think they have a giant nickel. I don't know much about the project other than the fact that my job up there will be to record the soil and rock profile at each location where we drill 150' vertical holes through the earth. Paying particular attention to the height and depth of the coal seams and the groundwater level. The ultimate purpose being to both discern how much coal exists beneath the site, and gain an understanding of the environmental impacts that operating such a mine would create. I anticipate having access to the internet and phone reception while I'm there, so reaching me should not be a problem. I'll be there from Sept. 25 to Oct. 5, and Oct. 10 to Oct. 21. I'll be sure to watch Fargo this weekend to see what I'm in for.

September 17, 2006

Devil's Thumb

Yesterday Ashley and I hiked up to the base of the Devil's Thumb, only to be blown off the ridge as we were unprepared for the cool, windy weather. We stashed the climbing gear near the base of the climb, and hiked back to our house - about a 3.5 hour round trip.

Today we bundled up, brought lots of extra warm clothes, and went back up. On the way there, we saw a critter that we were sure was a cross between a chipmunk and a baby mountain lion. It seriously looked like a miniature adult mountain lion - the actual kittens are fuzzy and chubby, so we know it wasn't one of those. If anybody knows what this small, skitterish critter might be, please let me know.

After retrieving the pack from it's hiding place and scampering up some loose class 4 rock, we crested the ridge and made it to the base of the actual climb, which is only 2 pitches long. The start of the climb wasn't easy, probably the hardest trad climbing I've done. Unfortunately, this wasn't the crux of the climb. The second pitch began with a steep overhang, the true crux of this underrated climb. I made several attempts at ascending the bulge before deciding to resort to some unconventional techniques. I was able to throw a nut with some webbing attached to it up above me to the apex of the overhang, where it wedged itself in a constricting crack. A few ugly attempts at climbing the webbing later, I was standing on top of the overhang with screaming forearms. From this point, I was able to scramble the rest of the way to the summit. Ashley was able to follow me to the anticlimactic summit where we took a few quick photos in the sustained 40 mph wind before rappelling back to the ground. The video below serves as a testament to the vicious winds we encountered.

Although this climb was more difficult than any 5.9 I've ever climbed, the guide book gave it a scant 5.7. Several times I was ready to quit, but perseverance and ingenuity got us to the top. I guess you could call it aid climbing, although the throw technique is probably not a frequently practiced maneuver.

Devil's Thumb Pictures

The Devil's Thumb is the prominent, top-heavy spire skylined in the upper right of the picture.

A closer look at the back side of the Devil's Thumb

Ashley rappelling the last pitch

September 13, 2006

The Maiden

Yesterday Jake and I climbed a rock fin/pillar in the flatirons known as The Maiden. Jake, Emily, and I began hiking from our front door. A couple hours later, we were standing at the base of the Maiden. Emily waited for us at the bottom while I led Jake on his first trad climb. The route we chose was a 5 pitch climb that involved a lot of traversing and descending as well as the usual upward climbing. At a rating of 5.7, it was the most difficult trad climb I have completed to date. The route was fantastic, but perhaps the greatest part of the climb was the the rappel from the top, which the guide book referred to as the most famous free rappel in all of Colorado. Dropping over the huge, overhanging face, there was a point during the 120' rappel where we were at least 40 feet from any rock. After a second rappel, we were back on the ground with Emily and ready to hike back to the house. The following pictures say it all.

The Maiden is the narrow edge of rock between the two slabs in the upper left portion of the picture.

This view at the top of the first pitch was one of the best of the whole climb.

Pitch 2 was a long downclimb that led to the Crow's Nest, at the base of the summit pillar.

The third and fourth pitches traversed the exposed north side of the pillar in order to reach easier ground on the east side.

The rope is plumb, the rock is not.

Longs Blizzard

Last weekend Jake and I backpacked up to the campsites at 12,000 feet on Longs Peak with the intentions of climbing at least one route to the top over the course of two days. Late Friday night, after Jake finally arrived in Denver after missing his flight out of Portland, we drove to the trailhead, arriving at 2:00 am. On top of being dark, it was also raining, which led to us spending the night in the car rather than hiking up to meet our other two comrades already on the mountain. By 7:00, the rain became intermittent, so we began hiking. We crossed the snow line somewhere around 11,000 feet, entered a mild blizzard at about 11,500 feet, and set up our camp in a pretty good snowstorm at 13,150 feet. As soon as we had the tent set up (around 11:00 am) we crawled inside and spent the next 20 hours there. We did exit the tent for a brief period at 4:00 pm to find some water, which we had to dig down through the snow to find, but it beat melting snow with the stove. The following morning the snow had stopped, but the visibility was worse. We managed to climb up to the keyhole at 12,500 feet before turning around, packing up the tent, and heading home.

Despite the fact the we encountered what we determined to be the worst case scenario as far as weather conditions went, we had a great time camping out in a heinous storm high up on Colorado's most famous 14er.

September 05, 2006

1/2 a Road Trip

During the extended Labor Day weekend, Ashley and I flew back to Oregon (Friday night), spent time with our respective families on Saturday, attended a wedding on Sunday in Colton, OR, and drove back to Boulder after the wedding in the car that Ashley's parents so generously gave us. I have to admit, I was slightly skeptical about the car after Ashley called me to say they would be late in arriving to the wedding due to car troubles. Turns out is was just a flat tire that Ashley's dad fixed. The car drove excellently all 1300 miles back to Boulder. We stopped for a 2-hour power nap just south of Boise from 3 to 5 on Monday morning, met up with Wes and Caitlyn in Pocatello from about 10:30 to noon, and got back to Boulder by 9:00, in time to go to bed and get up for work this morning. Including our two stops, the drive took 24 hours. The Ipod performed superbly on its virgin journey.

At 5.5 months old, Caitlyn was much more entertaining than she was at 3 weeks - smiling, kicking, squawking, and this thing she does when she sticks her tongue out and blows a mixture of air and saliva out as her lips and tongue vibrate. Upon observing the smiling and laughter of her audience, this act is repeated and the smiles are returned. I wish I had a video to post as my description is undoubtedly lacking, but we didn't bring a camera on our whirlwind trip.

Coming up . . .
Jake is coming to visit us on Friday! He'll be staying through the following Thursday, so I'm sure I'll have something entertaining to write about in the near future.

September 01, 2006

Colorado has Bears!

I've heard from a variety of sources that there are black bears in Colorado, but I'd never seen any until this morning. I was running one of the many loop trails above our house when I looked ahead of me on the trail and saw a mama, followed by her cub, running away from me about 30 yards away. I watched them for a couple minutes after I was convinced they were most interested in running away from me, opposed to towards me. I love seeing black bears! It's kind of rare, and they are really cool animals - wish I had a picture.

August 20, 2006

First Flatiron

Ashley and I had so much fun on the Third Flatiron last weekend, we decided to do the classic route on the First Flatiron this weekend. The standard route on the First is slightly longer (9 pitches compared to 6) and slightly more technical (5.4-5.6 compared to 5.0 to 5.4). In preparation for this climb, I ordered some Metolius Cams from Mountain Gear. Climbing the Third with just a set of nuts was fine, but I felt with the added difficulty and sparser protection opportunities associated with the First, it would be nice to have some active protection. Ended up using them quite a bit too, so it was a good choice. We got an earlier start this time, and didn't have to wait at the start of the climb like last time. The exact route was a little more difficult to follow, and the belay stations weren't bolted as they were on the third. Although the climbing was more technical, it was still quite easy and the rock was superb. The views to be had while climbing the First were arguably better than those to be had while climbing the Third, primarily because you can see around the Front Range and into the Indian Peaks once you gain the castleated summit ridge.
The descent involved a single 100 foot rappel from the top of the First Flatiron down to a semi-popular hiking trail. As it turns out, this is the perfect distance for a 60-meter rope. We even had about 5-10 feet to spare. The hike down was on a nice trail, so we never had to battle the poison ivy. The whole trip took us about 6 hours. On the "Must Do" rating scale, Josh gives this one a "Yes".

August 13, 2006

Third Flatiron

Today Ashley and I climbed up the 3rd Flatiron. For those who don't know, the Flatirons are the rocks that jut up right from Boulder, marking the end of the rocky mountains and the beginning of the wrist-slitting flat lands that extend to the Appalachians. Anyway, there are many of these rocks all jutting into the air at the same angle. The largest one, which happens to be the one that looks most like an iron, is the known as the Third Flatiron. The standard route up it is 6-7 pitches of easy climbing. Most of the pitches have been rated 5.0, the most difficult pitch a 5.4. Despite the technical ease of this climb, the excitement came in the fact that I've never really trad climbed before (trad - short for "traditional climbing", meaning that you won't find bolts drilled into the rock every 10 feet as in Sport Climbing). There were, however, large bolts every 120 feet to be used as belay stations. I brought with me my brand new set of nuts (metal wedges that function as protection by placing them in constricting cracks) to protect the route between the belay stations. The flatirons don't have a whole lot of constricting cracks, so I had a great time searching around for some place to put my nuts. Ashley, who has also never really trad climbed, got to clean my nuts on the way up when she followed me. We were stuck behind some slow groups, so this adventure took the better part of the day. The descent from the top of the 3rd Flatiron involved 2 rappells, followed by some downclimbing through poison ivy that was sketchier than anything we climbed on the way up.

July 29, 2006

La Plata Peak

Ashley and I just got back from hiking La Plata Peak with 2 of her friends from work and their boyfriends. The Ellingwood Ridge on La Plata is a route I've been wanting to do for a while, and somehow I convinced everyone to hike the same mountain. Unable to get any of the others to join me, I started hiking shortly after 3:00 am since I knew my chosen route would take longer than the route they would be taking. The plan was to meet at the summit at 10:00 am, or as close to it as possible. I gained the 2-mile long class 3 ridge just in time to look over the other side and observe an amazing sunrise! The rest of the ridge involved a repetitive procedure of dropping below cliffs, hiking back up to the ridge, and traversing the ridge. What makes this route particularly special is that it can be made as difficult as desired. If one chose to stay on the ridge crest the entire way up, the hike quickly turns into a 2-day ordeal involving 5th class climbing and rappelling. The Ellingwood Ridge route description is for the class 3 version, and I followed this description as closely as possible, spending a bit of time playing around near the ridge crest for some added excitement. I reached the summit just before 9:00, waited for a while, got cold, and descended the route that Ashley, were ascending. I found them about 1000 feet below the summit. The entire party of 6 summited successfully, 3 or which had never climbed a 14,000 foot peak before!

July 24, 2006

No More Hockey Talk

I made it back to Boulder on Saturday night. I finished up all that I needed to do in Sudbury, so they sent me home early. Canada is great, but I won't miss every conversation revolving around Hockey. They speak too much French up there too.

I did get to see the largest coin in the world though. At 30' tall and 2' thick, this 1951 Canadian Nickel is Sudbury's claim to fame. Coincidentally, the reason Sudbury exists is becuase of mining - you guessed it - nickel.

July 20, 2006

Go Flandis!

After cracking on the final climb yesterday, Floyd Landis was 8:08 behind the leader in the Tour de France, apparently out of contention for the tour win. Today he dropped the peleton at the beginning of the first climb and finished the day almost 6 minutes ahead of the second place rider, bringing himself into 3rd place, only 30 seconds off the lead. If you get a chance to watch today's stage, do it! With only a few days of racing left and the mountain stages over, the remaining time trial is the most likely place for riders to gain or lose time. This 30 second deficit is one that Landis is very well capable of overcoming as he is known to be a better time trialist than the two riders ahead of him, Oscar Periero and Carlos Sastre. What a crazy tour!

July 16, 2006

Sudbury, Ontario

Well, I made it to Sudbury. The airport here is the smallest I've ever seen. The rental car place had 6 cars. I like Canada. As expected, my phone does not get reception here, so email will be the best way to contact me while I'm here. I've got a sweet top-story corner hotel room, but it doesn't come with OLN, so I can't watch the tour. It's a rest day tomorrow, so that'll be my project - either find a bar to visit nightly or convince the hotel to get OLN.

July 15, 2006

Mt. Evans Ride

Since I'll be missing the Mt. Evans race while I'm in Canada, Ashley and I went up there today. Ashley's training for a half marathon, so she didn't want to ruin herself by overdoing it on the ride. She rode up the hill for a little over an hour and turned around to go get the car. She passed me in the car about 10 minutes before I reached the top.

The ride itself begins in Idaho Springs at 7,555 feet and finishes 28 miles later at the Mt. Evans summit parking lot at 14,135 feet. I was hoping to complete the ride in less than 3 hours and ended up at 3:15. It's essentially one big hill with only a few minor descents on the way to the summit. Now I don't feel so bad about missing the race next weekend. It felt like about 80 degrees on the summit when we got there at 11:00. It's 104 in Boulder right now, so we're getting some of that heat that Oregon has had recently.

July 13, 2006

Business Travel

I've just been informed that I'm leaving for Sudbury, Ontario on Sunday. I'll be staying up there for 1 to 2 weeks. The reason for the trip is to learn a 3-D geotechnical modeling program that nobody in our office has ever used. We're trying to model the Uranium mine tailings disposal facility in Moab, UT so we can determine how best to move it 30 miles to the north. I'll be working with several of the Sudbury staff to develop this model as I learn the program. Should be fun, but this unfortunately means that I'll miss the Mt. Evans Hill Climb ride that I've been training for. I should have full access to e-mail and my cell phone while I'm away. Speaking of riding, Floyd Landis is in Yellow after the second day in the Pyrenees!

July 10, 2006

More Visitors!

Ashley's parents arrived in Boulder on July 4th and are staying with us until the 12th. I've been working most of the time they've been here, but we did go on a nice road trip to Ouray, CO over the weekend. We spent Friday night in Glenwood Springs, so Ashley and I rode up Glenwood Canyon on the bike path on Saturday morning before traveling to Ouray. It rained most of the time we were there, which was both good and bad - bad because we couldn't see all the peaks around the town, and good because the rain made the waterfalls more spectacular. In Ouray we went on a mine tour of the Bachelor-Syracuse Mine where we rode a small rail car 1 km into the side of the mountain, hiked up to a few different waterfalls, and ate a fantastic steak dinner.

Due to all the rain, we've resorted to Oregon strategy - stay inside and play cards. There have been some intense battles over the past few days, and I'm sure there will be a few more before Al and Karen leave.

July 05, 2006

Holy Cross Pictures

Looking up the couloir

Looking Down the couloir

At the top

Dad and Holy Cross

Last Thursday I drove to the airport to pick up Dad. He'd never been to Colorado before, so it was fun to tour him around for a few days. We did some of the standard things like the Coors Brewery Tour (Coors Tourey), Rocky Mountain National Park, and hiking in Chataqua Park. We also drove to Longmont to do some beer tasting at the Left Hand Brewery. Dad found this particularly exciting because he is left handed. Turns out the brewery is named after Chief Niwot, a local indian chief back in the day who happened to be left handed.

Argueably the best part of his visit was when the two of us hiked in to the base of Mt. of the Holy Cross in the Holy Cross Wilderness a few miles south of Vail. We hiked a few miles into camp on Friday. The plan had been for me to take off early on Saturday morning and attempt the Holy Cross Couloir route on the east side of the mountain. Meanwhile, Dad would attempt the standard Northridge route which is a vicious steep hike. All went as planned. I started at 4:20 am from 10,700 feet and navigated my way to the base of the coulour at 12,800 by 6:45. When I entered the couloir, the snow was a bit soft, but bad enough to warrent turning around. After exiting the top of the coulour at 8:30, I took about 10 steps to the summit at 14,005 feet. The Holy Cross Coulour is part of a somewhat famous formation as snow fills the coulour as well as a horizontal bench 2/3 of the way up the coulour, forming an obvious cross. There's a hut on a nearby mountain where people would pilgramage to veiw the cross that God had put there for them.

I returned to the tent at 10:40 to find Dad already back and resting. He had made it up to around 12,500 feet where he got some spectacular views before turning around. I think the Mt. of the Holy Cross is my new favorite 14er in Colorado. It is composed of more solid granite than all of it's nearby relatives, giving it a much more rugged look. Even when there's no snow, it doesn't look like a dirt pile.