Archive for the 'Outside' Category

Ski Season for 06-07

This season was probably my best for skiing/snowboarding. Monika, Samuel and I had a blast whenever we went out, and we made the time to try to get up to the mountains whenever we could to slide around on the snow. Samuel learned to ski this year, and Monika’s riding just keeps improving. I switched back to skiing for the first part of the year (and whenever Samuel was with me), then snowboarded towards the end. I think I got in 20 days of riding this year, and hit most of the resorts that I wanted:

Eldora is close to home, kid-friendly and you don’t have to get on I-70. The downsides are no high-speed lifts, smaller terrain than other resorts and the season’s pass and ticket prices are about the same as larger resorts. Winter Park is great, lots of terrain, many blue runs and variations to keep it interesting. Copper is also great, the runs there are naturally segmented into beginner, intermediate and expert across the mountain. Breckenridge has a lot of good terrain over several mountains, but this makes it hard to get around if you want to ski something different. You’ll find yourself traversing back and fourth, but the upper bowls and the Imperial Express lift (highest lift in North America) make it worth it. I had my best powder day this year at Keystone, untracked knee-deep powder in the upper bowls. The downside? Hiking 1.5 miles to the bowls to access it. It felt like Keystone had some of the longer runs on the main mountain, and I had a great time riding there with Monika on easier trails, too. A-Basin is awesome, there are no high-speed lifts, but it has some great terrain, chutes and steeps. And it’s usually open through June! Great local mountain. Telluride has great views and terrain, but I was kind of put off by the McMansions all along the lower trails. Crested Butte seemed to be a great place to ride, but when I was there the snow conditions were poor and we weren’t able to access a lot of the expert terrain, something they are known for.

There are only a few other resorts I really want to hit in Colorado next year, Steamboat for the vibe, Vail for the bowls, Wolf Creek for the powder and Beaver Creek for the cookies in the lift lines.  I would also like to snowboard at Silverton, their setup seems to be a good mix between backcountry and lift-accessed riding.

Ouray Ice Park

Last week I went to Ouray in southwestern Colorado to climb at the Ouray Ice Park. The ice park is farmed by redirecting water to flow over the edge of the canyon, freezing and creating quite a few good ice climbs. There are convenient anchors to set up a toprope with, and the park itself is only a few minutes walk from town. Ice climbing is supposed to be a suffer-fest, Ouray changes that big time. Breakfast in town, climbing in the park in the morning, lunch in town, more climbing in the afternoon, soak in the hot springs at the hotel after climbing, dinner in town. You couldn’t ask for a better place to improve your climbing skills than Ouray.

Update: Andy Welter posted some more pictures of the trip on his website.

Ouray - Gazebo Wall Ouray Ice Park Ouray Ice Climbing

Arapahoe Basin

Monika, Samuel and I went up to A-Basin yesterday to get a bit of skiing in. Samuel complained a lot, but he learned how to turn and follow me down the run fairly well. I think if I try to make up some games for him he’ll do better with his endurance. He only took 2 runs, but they were pretty long since he isn’t too fast. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and even though the temps were in the 20s it felt warm. I snapped a few pictures at the top of the first lift and stitched them together to get this panorama.

Arapahoe Basin

Ice Climbing

My friend Jason Deugan and I went up to Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday to get in a bit of ice climbing. This was my first time climbing ice, and I wanted to try out my new ice tools and crampons. We hiked up to Loch Vale and found an easy toprope to climb, called Mo’ Flo’ Than Go. I climbed an easy ice/snow gully to the left of the climb to set up the toprope, then Jason and I took turns climbing the WI3 route. I had a great time, both on the hike in and climbing. We did learn several things yesterday that I’ll have to keep in mind in the future.

Rule 1: Always bring tools for your gear. We needed to adjust Jason’s crampons and didn’t have a screwdriver, so we had to improvise a screwdriver using the points of his crampons. I also bashed the freshly-sharpened pick of my ice tool on some rock and seriously dulled it. If I had a flat file I would have been able to sharpen it.
Rule 2: Bring along a thermos to keep your hot drinks hot. A Nalgene with an insulating cover doesn’t keep liquids warm when it’s 10 degrees out. We brought a stove, but it was quicker to just start hiking out and warm up that way. A thermos of coffee would have really hit the spot.
Rule 3: Remember clear-lens eyewear. I had to borrow Jason’s yellow-lens sunglasses when I was climbing, you’ll get a lot of ice in your face when setting your tools in the ice. Eye protection is always wise. Keep your helmet down over your eyebrows, too.

Both Jason and I had a great time. We hiked about 5 miles overall on a packed snow trail, postholed up 200′ to the climbs from the packed trail, and glissaded down around 100′ from the climb. On the way out we met some other climbers heading back to the trailhead who gave us some good beta on other ice areas and also showed us a shortcut back to the car. I think I’m hooked.

Holiday Greetings

This past month we were able to take advantage of some nice weather here and get some climbing, hiking and skiing in.  Samuel’s skiing is improving every time we hit the slopes, and he now prefers the chairlift to the rope tow.  Monika’s been snowboarding with her sister again at Winter Park, and I was able to get up there once, too.  I went to A-Basin today, it was a bit windy but the snow was very nice.  I found a few areas that still had a foot or two of untracked powder, definately worth getting up at 6am.

We took the family up to Chautauqua Park in Boulder to get a good Christmas picture, and made them into cards at Wal-Mart.  There are always people there taking photos, I think the Flatirons there are the most photographed place on the Front Range.  The next photo below is a view of the Indian Peaks from Green Mountain, just behind the Flatirons.  The third is a view of Boulder from the summit of the First Flatiron, I climbed it with Jason and Jessica Deugan earlier this month.  Cold day, but nice to get out and get some climbing in.

Family Flatirons Picture Indian Peaks Jason and Jess on the First

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