Thursday, December 30, 2010

Storm Skiing

Well, the snow gun was turned on for us. A cold air mass has settled its way down to us wringing out every last drop of moisture in the atmosphere. 40cm + has fallen, and with snow densities so low that feathers seem heavy, the constant trickle of snow from the sky has kept pace with the slow settlement rates.

Personally, these cold storm days are my favorite. Endless face shots, so cold you stay dry, and bottomless powder. What could be better? Here is a quick video to get you psyched, because we sure are! Remember when the snow hits my helmet cam, that the cam is 6 ft off the ground...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finally, an UPDATE!

Well, climbing caught up with me and free time didn't, but let's just say the fall trip went really well for me. The hit-list including sending such classic trad lines like The Alien Roof on the Rostrum and a free attempt on Half Dome in Yosemite (12b) and the spectacular overhanging off fingers to roof of Desert Gold in Red Rocks (13a), and some sport lines up to 13a. There was also the IFMGA mountain guide meetings in Boulder, as well as a climbing trip to Moab before hand, where me and my old college best friend (also a mountain guide) Adam George got to school some europeans on Indian Creek splitters and climb scary desert towers hung over. A productive season for sure, but maybe my last in the desert SW for a few years, there is just soooo much else to climb in the world!

But now I have fully transitioned to winter and am writing this from my winter home at Valhalla Mountain Touring. Yesterday Jasmin and I battled our way 16km up the road on the snowmobiles, with the powder over the head on the sleds. Somehow the old little 340cc machine with huge new powder skis got me to the lodge and we made a shuttle trip up to bring in some basic supplies. A bit of digging and turning on the water (well almost!) was the goal of the day. The beauty of having a micro hydro electric system is that the power and heat has been on all fall so we got up the hill to some warm lodges heated with zero carbon footprint!

Now back to the water system. Every year it seems there is some little hiccup at startup that keeps me from sleeping at night. This is either my 6th or 7th winter up here, and I have almost learned about every little system up here from snowcat mechanics to micro hydro systems to septic tanks; I always joke that my job description for running this place would be a page long! This year's minor hiccup was the water. Jasmin went under the sauna building to turn the water on for that building and went under it with out a head lamp. When she got down there she just turned the only switch should could feel. We went into the lodge and tried to turn on the water with no luck at all. No water. Oh no. No flush toilets, no shower, no running water? All the little perks that make our lodge one of the comfiest around? I went through the whole system to try and figure out what was going on. The water all comes from Ruby Creek where we have a tiny dam that feeds water into a water box and to the hydro electric system. I skied up to check it out. All full. Now I had no idea except either a pipe burst or was clogged, either one was NOT going to be fixed this winter! After two stressful hours I went back under the sauna just to see the valves, and realized (with a head lamp) that there was two switches there; one for the sauna building and one for the main water line to all the buildings. Jas had turned all the water off! With a quick flip of the switch all the stress was washed away and life was good again.

Today the snowcat started right up and I even had time to bust out a quick 2,500' of the first turns of the season at VMT. And it is oh so good right now! 125cms at the lodge, with 15cm over night at -7c. That spells cold COLD FLUFFY smoke. WOW. So good to be back at it, even if it means I am working 15 hour days right now for start is oh so worth it for being able to ski 6 days a week from now until the end of April.

Enjoy this quick vid from todays 'lunch break' tour!