Wednesday, September 15, 2010

El Capitan, Sawtooth Range, Idaho

Posing with El Capitan (far right)

I celebrated my birthday weekend by attending the Idaho Summit's Fall Outing to climb El Capitan in the Sawtooth Range, Idaho. Dan, the owner/moderator of the Idaho Summits website/board started the outings in 2004. Weather cancelled two trips I tried to attend, so I didn't actually meet these guys in person until the Fall 2009 outing, which made this my third outing.

El Capitan turned out to be a perfect peak for the 12 that attended. Although it was slightly under 10K, the peak offered a pleasant scenic approach, rock hopping among snow patches, class 3+ scrambling, an exposed final approach ridge, and a rather "airy" summit. We got all 12 mountaineers on top, but it was crowded. With 800+ft drop-offs all around, maneuvering was a careful undertaking, which made it all the better.

Class III climbing

At least five other members of the group are prolific writers. So, I decided to let John P, Steve, Dan, Kris, and John F labor over their trip reports for me to link to, while I collected the group's photos to make a video trip report. (If your computer can handle it, be sure to select a higher resolution to view.)

If you don't already know why I picked the music I did, check this out.

If you'd rather not have DLR screaming at you, here is the photo album.

Check out the other trip reports for more thoughts and great photos.

Dan's Trip Report

John's Trip Report

Steve's Trip Report

Kris' Trip Report

Fadgen Family's Trip Report

Congrats and many thank yous to friends and climbing partners: Dan Robbins, John Platt, Steve Weston, Margie Ankrum, Pam Shirey, Dave Garton, Barbara Rose, Kris Franklin, Jacob Robinson, John and Dylan Fadgen.

Summit Girl on the summit

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Caught in the Moment

In my exuberance of being on my (any) bike again (it's been 1 month since "the endo"), I did something I have never done's a windless night and except for the slight pain in my wrist that indicates to me that I probably did break something in it, I am flying on my road bike. I'm coming off the "city creek road" and turning onto the old highway, by the Jehovah's Witnesses Center. traffic, I don't have to slow...Yippee...big wide sweeping turn and I'm cranking...18, 19, 21, 23, 26 mph and then the red car passes me on the RIGHT. I look down to my left and there it is...the solid YELLOW line. Gads...I am hugging the center lane...quick shoulder glance, hard drift right and I am on my way again, safely, solid WHITE line under my tires. Whew.

In the exuberance of being on my bike again.

Serengeti Flats descent, long before it was called Serengeti Flats.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Table Mountain - Party of Three

I am way behind on trip reports again. The planning-outings-for-friends experience has gone quite well this year. I've put together 7 trips for a total of 10 peaks so far. I have been getting anywhere from 3 to to 7 attendees, but sometimes you have to count the canines. Table Mountain is peak number 10 and probably the area's most classic, epic climb that is achievable with little to no mountaineering experience. Dan Kotansky, Dave Pacioretty and I enjoyed a glorious day for this outing. We started out under some questionable overcast skies that we figured might lead to donning rain coats, but after a few sprinkles we were kept under comfortable climbing conditions on the steep west face.I slept all of 2 hours the night before, so when i wasn't trying to keep up i was wondering if I'd be able to hang all the way or have to bail at the upper ridge. As we got into the mellower upper ridge meadows my faith came back and after a snack break, our final approach to the table summit went down. We completed the ascent in 3 hours.
Dan has never done it that fast (he usually takes the other route) and it's been many years since I have done it that fast. It was cool enough for long sleeves and a rather busy day on the summit block as there were probably 50+ folks that had the same idea in mind for the day. The clouds burned off, so under sunshine we headed off for the canyon descent and saw great waterfalls, wildflowers and lots of greenery. Lower in the canyon we had to cross the stream a few times. I have seen the water higher, but not faster. The guys were great at helping their cat team member get across.

I have posted the full complement of Dave and my photos on my Picasa site. Dan uses an instamatic (how funny...blogger doesn't have this word in its spelling dictionary) camera, so when he gets his film developed (oh i can't stop laughing), i was saying...when he gets his film developed, I will add his photos to the page. Here is a short summit video.

Ahhh...finally a peak over 11K this year...i feel renewed.

Trip Time: 3 hours to summit. 7hr 56 min full trip plus breaks
Elevation gain: 4009 ft.
Total Trip Distance: 10.2 miles

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Number 70 - Little Sister, Idaho Summits 2010 Spring Outing.

I have a hard time getting my mind around that fact that I have made another landmark...I've summitted 70 discrete peaks; with, at last count, another 15 repeats of a number of them. Wow, that's 85 peaks...and that is what I remembered to write down. Pretty amazing for someone who had hoped to just do one sometime during her lifetime. Maybe it is time I admit I have a climbing problem.

Little Sister was the chosen adventure for the Idaho Summits 2010 Spring Outing. Matthew Durrant and I coauthored the write ups of Little Sister and its West Ridge route on SummitPost.Org. So, I'll let you check those out there. (By the way, if you were on the team, please sign the Climber's Log)

Our group of 14 was the largest outing the Idaho Summits group has had. Little Sister's Class 2 approach, even with snow, encouraged and motivated me to recruit others, so Margie, Dave (coworker) and his son, Alex, joined me. We had a great time, became even better friends, and I got to meet even more Idaho Summits members. A great group with a common love of the mountains. Just so cool.

Since I knew I could count on at least 2-3 other online trip reports, I decided to do something different (in addition to the SummitPost articles), so I took a stab at making a photo trip report. So now I've made my first YouTube post.

And just think...there used to be a time when all you did was climb a mountain and tell a few friends about it, and there was no such thing as a camera to prove it. Amazing.

Dan's Idaho Summits Trip Report

Splattski's Trip Report

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My FaceBook Status 4-1-2010

I returned from Hawaii on Tuesday and I've been too tired to post my facebook here it is, on my blog cuz i've well exceeded the FB character limit.
Sooooooooooooooo.....11 days; 6 flights; 2 islands; 1 wedding, 1 new daughter-n-law, 4 more new family members; (1) 4,576-vert hiked summit of the tallest mountain in the world if you count the below sea level height, 1 drive-up summit, 1 road to Hana and a hillbilly detour, 1 Volcanoes National Park with no lava flowing and no Plan B for no lava flowing, 1 sea arch with huge waves crashing, 1 southernmost point of the U.S. where a professional photographer was kind enough to take our photo (always, always ask the folks with fancy cameras to please take your photo), 5 excellent body board rides, 1 I-Sure-Didn't-See-That-Wave-Coming experience, 2 scuff-ups from body board surfing against rocks, 1 aquarium, 8 zip lines/3 awesome zip line guides, 15 total hiked miles;
AND...7 beaches/1 black sand, 1 huge bamboo forest, 6 waterfalls; 1 full moon bow, 3 rainbows,1 full sunrise/sunset, 1 huge rainstorm; 13 new Hawaiian words, all public appropriate; 7 humpbacks, 1 gorgeous whale song, 3 geckos; uncountable birds, trees, flowers, 1 "home" tree (think Avatar), 1 banyan tree (different than the home tree), 1 ocean wave-swamped chihuahua still holding on to its fetch-stick;
AND...1 shopping district, 3 shopping markets, 2 supermarkets; 2 leis, 4 necklaces, 1 pair earrings, 2 Hawaiian shirts, 1 sarong, 1 shorts, 2 baseball hats, misc knick-knacks, and 1 stupid expensive sucker purchase, BUT a little less stupid expensive because...I also have 1 never-worn, outrageously-priced, ticket-still-on, one-piece swimsuit I can return to Macy's because my bikini still rocks (yes...surprised me too)
AND FINALLY...4 bars, too many Mai Tais, sake, 8 bottles of wine (1 local winery); 2 salsa dances with a tolerant and talented partner, 4 restaurants w/1 on the water, 2 condos, 1 hotel room, 1 mistaken car entry with shocked passenger sitting in the back seat; 43 videos, 372 photos; 3 new FB friends; several hilarious stories, many more memories; lots of sashimi, too many dark chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, 1 invention idea; and 1 BFF that was there every step. Whew!

So, basically, I would say my status is EXCELLENT! Mahalo.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ski Day Team Builder

I work with pretty awesome people so a team builder isn't really a necessity, but a nicety. I talked a group of alpiners from the Idaho Falls and the Pocatello BLM offices into taking a day off of work and shredding some snow on a two-fer-one day at Grand Targhee Resort. I had 12 participants to start, but they whittled to 6, with the Pocatello office rather under-represented (numberwise, not skillwise, Pacioretty represented). Regardless, it turned out to be an awesome day, though not bluebird, with 5-8 in. new fluffy snow over conditions...warm temperatures, no wind, no crowds, and oh yea...half price. I was lax on the movie taking...contacts precluded my ability to see the Sapphire controls (a problem I am remedying today)...and frankly, stopping just wasn't something I wanted to do much more than necessary.

Deena working down Chief Joseph Bowl

Break at the Lodge

What I learned about my coworkers...Patch is much better on the hill than behind a semi; Teel is tough as nails; Hill x 2 were all over it; Hill, R.D., just keeps going and going; and Kotansky is magnitudes better than his boots suggest!

This was a great beta-test for another team builder, hopefully this year.
Lessons Learned:
Radios with a group on a big mountain are a must,
Other mountains might accommodate a broader range of abilities,
Get the word out earlier.

Ski On!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Yet ANOTHER Blue Bird Day Valentine's Day 2010

Valentine's Day 2010...with the ones I love, rippin' it up on the slopes. My best friend, Margie; my son, Jeremy; and my soon to be daughter-in-law, Joni, hooked up at Beaver Mountain for a blue bird day of skiing on groomers and powder.

The Big Kahuna Snowman in the the way, this is 10 feet tall, just so you know.

On the Lift
All videos by Sapphire

Playing in Powder, something I've not done enough of

Break at the Lodge

Videos by Sapphire

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Skiing with the Fam

YET ANOTHER spring ski day. TOO early in the season for that kind-o-stuff. All I have today is a couple videos from the day; mostly for the fam. Sapphire is pretty amazing. The sound pick up and play back is astounding, but when you think about it, that probably should be a given. However, the next generation definitely needs improvements in the video department. Let's start with better lens placement, zoom capability, and a still photo option. A little place to hook a baby leash would be great too. I would use Sapphire more if I weren't in constant fear of watching her careen down a slope, disappear into the snow and/or drop through the deck. Today I figured out in the editing software how to rotate the movie if Sapphire forgets to self-rotate, which she occasionally does. Something else to fix for Gen 6.

Chair Ride

J&J Run

The Deck, Beer, Sun, Snow...Mountain life...gotta love it!

The Mom-in-Law...I prefer MIL, (notice: there is no F in that) ;-)

Videos by Sapphire

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Name That Run !!

Extra that skier...hint: too conservative, too many turns and not all that fast....

It's been too long since I've been to Pebble Creek, a gem of a ski area that we locals don't say much about, because quite frankly we don't want you to show up. 2,200 vertical on ~ 1,000 acres makes for some very sweet runs. All the advertisements say there are trails for everyone. I'm sorry, they are wrong. There's the bunny hill and then there is everything else, at least that is my opinion. You need some descent plank skills to ski here AND enjoy it. But I think everyone should try it once.

Today was a hooky day from work and in nearly spring conditions I had great runs with a work friend. It was supposed to be friends, but the other two bailed...and while I respect their decision to be responsible professionals, I am sorry for them both, for it was truly a great afternoon. Little to no wind, few to any people, good snow conditions, great views of the snow covered valley, comfy temps and enough sun shining through to get an "I've been out skiing" glow.

Things that have changed since i was there last: most all the blue runs have been re-rated to black diamonds (yipee!), the lodge is remodeled (that'll date me), there is a fancy ramp system to keep you from careening into a lodge window (gosh it was so much better with the occasional run-away snowboard shattering the glass), and because there were no wine cups upstairs I was graciously over, over, poured on my apres-ski merlot. I was set up with really sweet demos from John at Scott's for the day, which have totally ruined me and makes my current skis nothing less than anchors to me and hazards to others.

Days like today remind me why I live here, why I commute 100 mi a day to stay here, and why it's hard for me to picture ever leaving. I am blessed by getting to live here and by being surrounded with wonderful people who don't mind hanging out with me. It has been too long since I've been to Pebble Creek. It won't be that long again. Ski On!

Answer to Name That Run?

Videos by Sapphire

Sunday, January 17, 2010

No Whumph - Kelly Mountain

Snow physics is truly interesting. Yesterday, Margie and I went on the same snowshoe route that I did 2 weeks ago on Kelly Mountain. Then (see previous blog), there were several minutes when I was willing to bet Alan and I would make the local paper for starting a slide down Norm's Hill. Just this past Thursday, the northern section of southeast Idaho got hit with a warmer, heavier layer of snow...a wonderful present for the upcoming (this) holiday weekend...and a night and day difference for this area's snow conditions.

Conditions 2 weeks before.

On the way up the Moose Canyon trail, we passed a group of beginner snowshoers and wondered why their "guide" chose the route we were on as it has a steady half-hour or so steep climb. At a junction, two of the group's members decided what we were doing looked more interesting than the turnoff the leader was taking and followed behind us. Noland had maybe 15 years on us (guessing) but was steady and very talkative up the whole ascent. At the ridge, his much-younger-than-us partner had fallen way behind. We had no intention of inviting them with us on the Moose Trail variation, because of it's length and strenuousness, and because someone, who will remain nameless, stayed up too late playing scrabble with a friend the night before and delayed the trip start by 3.5 hours. Since the day was short, we suggested Noland regroup with his friend, wished him well, and took off.

The weather was close to springlike for January. Little wind, lots of sun, and comfortable-cold temperatures. While we still had to break trail a good part of the way, a base of sorts feels to have formed in the snow, and the wind in the last two weeks has done some packing and consolidating as well. We reached the igloo (our usual trip stop) in what would have been record time if we hadn't spent as much time socializing with Noland as we did.

With far less trepidation than 2 weeks prior, we started down Dora's Drop onto Norm's Hill and on an already one-person broken trail. Big difference this time, no whumphs, no cracks, no thrills, no chills. Just an uneventful quick descent. So, it was back to the car and another good day of playing in Mother Nature's gym. (Check for information about the area you are going.)

Unbelievably, I left my sapphire at home, but remembered the camera has video capabilities too. Just a short clip showing how nice a day it was.

(Make that Highway can't see I-15, but I had the direction correct.)

Gear Notes. Denali Evo Ascents: I field deployed my floats mid-trek for breaking trail. Removing them when back on packed trails required using my pole tip as a pry bar, just to help pop the set. I used the climbing bars on the steep ascent this time. Because the trail was punched already, the bars helped keep my weight directly over the teeth and kept me from backsliding. I didn't use them two weeks ago in the baseless powder. Traction was better then by having your weight closer to the ground to essentially kick and pack backsliding then either.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Whumph, Whumph. Kelly Mountain

I had been itching to get on the snowshoes and get some vertical, and finally it snowed, a lot...actually, too much. What is usually a no-never-mind conditioner at Kelly Canyon took a turn for the frightful....

My friend, Alan, and I ventured out to Kelly Canyon today, where an awesome matrix of snowshoe trails are marked. I was looking forward to a good workout; the entire full-day loop is what I selected. Because of the previous night's heavy snowfall, we had to break through a couple feet of snow, the entire way. I should say, he had to. I took my turn in front several times, but Alan, hands down, took the day's award for trail breaking.

Ridge Stop

It wasn't until we were well past the half way point on the ridge, sheltering in the igloo the boy scouts make every year, and getting ready to head down that it fully occurs to me, "You know, it snowed a lot, there isn't a base, and what we'll be going down is pretty steep. We'll have to stay close to the trees."

Igloo Stop

And so we started down. And it's going fairly well, until I hear whumph. I look around and listen, whumph. I have to get Alan's attention to get him to stop moving and listen...whumph. "That is weird, it sounds like they are blasting the hill (the nearby ski hill), but timewise it doesn't make sense...the lifts are open." I am whispering; he isn't. I suggest we stay extremely quiet. I advise keeping off the open slopes and listening carefully...when we hear it again. We continue down. Whumph. It sounds closer this time and that's when we realize it is us...and then Alan sees "it." "Look," he points, "that crack just appeared." Yike. I look around ... the slope is skiable, the slope is slide-able. This is not good, this is really not good. It's late in the afternoon, doubling back is not an option. There really is no choice other than down and out, and the sooner the better...and that's when I felt the first wave of fright. We quickly head to a tree, reach it, pause, whumph, crack, quickly move to another tree, another whumph, another crack, and the fright continued.

It's not unusual to see an occasional skier when I am on Norm's Hill, a steep, north-facing, lightly wooded, back-country ski slope. It is only 500 feet long, but there are no skiers this day...and no tracks indicating there were any all day. base, a major snowstorm, no ski tracks, and steep stupidity is in full bloom. Worst of all, this isn't news to me. Back-country conditions have been terrible all season. I've watched the Titus Ridge snow pit video, and talked with others that have been out on Teton Pass. But this isn't Titus Ridge or Glory Mountain, it's Norm's Hill for Pete's sake. I can't even process that a slide is possible, but the whumphing and cracking are unmistakable, which means we are exactly where we shouldn't be.

"I think we should head into the thicker area of trees, the more trees the better," Alan said, breaking my self-berating. No argument from me. I stay on his heels...not exactly the prescribed mode of "avalanche country" travel. You are suppose to move one person at a time. That way, if the slope releases, one person should have a better chance for survival and initiate a rescue. But the whumphs continue, we have no avalanche beacons, and staying together and moving quickly and quietly seemed most prudent, so we did. Alan was knee to thigh-high in snow, but it's amazing how fast you can move when you are motivated. Whumph, another crack, whumph, and another. We finally make it to the thicker area of trees and brush. We stop and breathe and do that nervous, relieved laugh. "Don't laugh, we're not down yet," I hush us. We continue down, and the yurt comes into view...there are no more whumphs.

We make our way to the yurt and have it to ourselves. As we warm in the shelter and stoke up the fire, we laugh, and laugh some more, because we can't stop, and I laugh so hard I start to cry, but it was because I knew better. Too greedy to get out I was. Too greedy to be in the beautiful white blanket under tall green pines, and quiet skies, no people, and little wind I was. Too greedy to show a friend one of my favorite places. Too greedy to really remember about being safe. God taught me a lesson in greed today...and even why it is called a deadly sin, because today, it could possibly have been.

Post-Scare Interview (videos by Sapphire [my Ipod])

Philippians 2:3. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but
in humility consider others better than yourselves.