January 20, 2008

Indian Peaks Backcountry

Today Ashley and I went backcountry skiing in Indian Peaks. We tagged along with Keith, Chris, Shawn, and Tyler. We were pleasantly surprised by beautiful weather after anticipating heinous winds. It was still a bit chilly (note Ashley's bundledupedness in the photo below), but at least the snow was highly variable, crusty, and nearly impossible to ski gracefully.

The evil snow conditions could not compensate for the fact that we were in the beautiful and secluded backcountry. We skied the entire day without seeing another person.

January 14, 2008

Powder is for Skiing, Ice is for Climbing

The longer I'm part of the "system", the better I seem to get at being a weekend warrior. This was the second and final weekend that Dane was in town for the winter, so we made another trip to summit county to visit him (we = Keith, Ashley, and me). Dane's parents, Becky and Sam, were both at their vacation home in Frisco all weekend and kind enough to let us stay at their beautiful home, not to mention feed us!

We spent Saturday frontcountry skiing on Mt. Baldy, near Breckenridge. After two enjoyable powder runs, we ventured over to an old cabin we knew about to see if the snow had built up enough that we could jump off the roof. It hadn't quite filled in, but with Keith's motivation and technical expertise, the situation was remedied. A few minutes later, a well-designed rooftop kicker was built.

Flying Joji - Huck number one

Flying Joji - Huck number two

Although the landing was flat, there was enough deep powder that it didn't matter. Dane landed on his head attempting his first back flip on a snowboard and laughed about it.

On Sunday, Keith, Dane and I went back to Lincoln Falls on Hoosier Pass to do a multi-pitch climb that we picked out the previous weekend.

The climb follows the main flow in the center of the photo

Keith led the first pitch and Dane led the second. The temperature when we left Dane's house was 0.3 F, which made for some good ol' fashioned Type 2 Fun. "Type 2" fun is meant to describe activities that are miserable, yet still very enjoyable. Ice climbing is inherently a Type 2 activity.

Keith leading the first pitch

Dane leading the second pitch

January 08, 2008

Climbing on Hoosier Pass

I spent last Saturday up in the mountains of Colorado near Hoosier Pass with Keith, Melanie, and Dane. Since the skiing here is a major let down after skiing in Oregon, we decided to go ice climbing. As one might imagine, water ice is one area where Colorado does beat out Oregon.

This was my first chance to use the ice tools I purchased at the end of last winter. I ended up liking them quite a bit and grew progressively more comfortable using them throughout the day.

Dane leading the first climb of the day

We all had a blast, spending nearly the entire day on two top rope climbs and one climb that Dane led.

Keith on the upper section of our second climb

Keith finishing our third and final climb

I thought this would be a good time to try out my helmet camera. It definitely takes some practice to take decent video with it. By our third climb, I was finally able to take a video where you can almost tell what's going on. It's not incredibly exciting, but there's an occasional few seconds of brilliance. At times it seems like you're playing Bond on the Nintendo and he's using the ice tools as a weapon. If you watch it with the sound on, you can hear me periodically scrape the camera against the ice, which Melanie thinks is a bit comical.

January 02, 2008

Christmas Break - Volume 1

I just returned from spending nearly two weeks with friends and family in Oregon. Ashley and I flew there together on December 20th. On our first day back, Keith, Melanie, Ashley and I went skiing at Mt. Hood Meadows. It had snowed 13 inches overnight and about 3 feet over the previous 2 days . . . oh yea, and the sky was bluebird and the winds calm to nonexistent. I've skied many days in Colorado over the past three years, and only one or two were as good as my one Oregon ski day in as many years. I'm forced to conclude that Oregon has MUCH better skiing than Colorado, primarily because it snows so much in the Cascades, and the Rocky Mountains are, sadly, in a desert.

Keith in the trees at Meadows

Just before New Year's, Jake called me to ask if Ashley and I would be able to join him and Emily on a trip into the Maiden Peak Shelter up on Willamette Pass. Ashley had plans, but I joined in on this terrific outing with wonderful fresh snow abound.

The first part of the hike in was on a road that is closed in the winter. The street sign in this photo gives a general idea of the snow depth.

The trees comprising the forest were most glorious under their burden of snow.

We woke the following morning to blue skies, six miles from the nearest road.

Maiden Peak in all its splendor.

We arrived at the cabin at the same time as three other guys who had skied in from the local ski area (we hiked in from the Gold Lake parking lot, which makes the trip longer but avoids buying a lift ticket). I'd been to the hut once before, but was happy to see a few improvements: minimal solar powered lighting both the first and second floors, and an indoor/outdoor thermometer. I heard rumors that an outhouse is next. By Oregon standards, it was quite cold that night. The thermometer backed this notion up with a reading in the middle of the night of 4 degrees F outside and 20 inside. The hut is large, with rumors floating around that as much as 35 people have spent the night there comfortably.

If Ashley feels the need to elaborate on omitted aspects of our vacation, including the New Year's Eve festivities, I'll leave that to her in "Christmas Break - Volume 2". Cheers to me for including the words glorious, terrific, wonderful, and splendor all in a single blog post!