Monday, March 23, 2009

Skins not Snowmobiles

While visiting Ryan, He took Kevin and I for a day of back country snowboarding on Mt. Soppris. The trail to the summit is 8 miles long, so rather than skiing in that entire way Ryan borrowed some snowmobiles from a friend. Initially we were all excited about getting to ride snowmobiles halfway up the trail then skin the rest of the way. By the end of the day all 3 of us had sworn off snowmobiles for ever. Why you ask. They are heavy! You can only control the steering adequately when you are giving it gas! To cover off-camber terrain you must counter weight like mad!  When you get them stuck it takes 3 grown men to get them out! They get stuck quite frequently! Did I mention that they weigh alot! They cost mucho deniro, and they were on loan! I ran mine into tall stands of willows and aspens quite frequently. What should have took us 30 minutes to approach took us several hours. 

Here is a pic of Kevin and Ryan before the learning that snowmobiles suck.

Regardless, we left the snowmobiles at the halfway point and skinned 2/3 the way up the peak. Some of that distance was covered by Kevin and I on foot since the splitboards didn't traverse the hardpack as well as Ryan's skis. Some of that hardpack turned into crust which involved deep postholing. The following is a pic of Kevin up to his ass in snow and sucking wind. For the record there is nothing harder than to make upward progress on a steep slope of soft snow on foot.

Ryan taking everyone to the Colorado Gunshow!

Eventually we were able to enjoy a run of partially refrozen corn with a small face of nice powder before returning to the demon-mobiles. several hours later they snowmobiles were loaded on the trailer and we were able to say good riddance off them. Then of course we went and ate a 12,000 calorie meal at a local establishment.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Yurts vs. Townhomes

Just returned from 5 days in Colorado for Bit's spring break. The first 3 days we stayed with Kevin Winters at his town home and hit the groomers at Keystone Ski resort just across the road. The slopes were relatively uncrowded for middle March, and the temps were uncharacteristically warm with mid 50's at the base of the mountain and mid 30's at the upper peaks. There had been no snow in at least a week so the trees were a mess, but the blue groomers were primo. Bit boarded Tues and Wed with Kevin and I in the afternoon, and was carving nice s-turns down the runs despite not having ridden much in the past 3 years. Here she is tearing it up on Paymaster. Wednesday Kevin and I decided to get as many vertical feet in as possible. We hit the lifts right after they opened and proceeded to do 3 different runs over and over and over and over and over and over, taking the same lift (the fastest one on the mountain with the most vertical gain).  Bit met up with us for 9 runs then we pressed out several more to hit 60,000 ft. by then the runs had frozen over and we retreated to the local mexican restuarant for a 12,000 calorie meal. Got back to Kevin's place and crashed out.

After living the ski resort life for 3 days we decided it was time for a change. I am always a fan of stark contrasts, and let me tell you that yurt life in Colorado is about as stark a contrast as you can imagine. Enter Ryan Bradley! I met Ryan in college and he taught me to rock climb the old school way. I carried all of the gear and seconded all of the climbs and we never climbed in a gym. Eventually he let me start lead climbing and before I knew it my apprenticeship was done and we were both on to bigger and better climbing adventures. Since school we have maintained our friendship, and usually get to see each other once a year for a little climbing or he takes me backcountry snowboarding. 

Ryan had been teaching at a private Jesuit High School in Denver for the past 3 years and in fall of 2008 he took a position teaching Junior High science in Basalt, Co. Ryan had graciously offered to let us come visit him and take Kevin and I backcountry. Ryan has always had the most interesting living situations. In college he lived in a 70's RV for several years parking in random locations every night. Once he got his teaching degree he would live in the RV during the summers when he was guiding on Mt. Hood and an apartment during the school year. After that he house sat for people while they were out of town, then eventually ended up renting a room from a friend of his in a big house in the far suburbs of SE Denver. Once he moved to Basalt he found the deal of a lifetime for a bachelor who loves with the mountains, a yurt. If you don't know what a yurt is click here. This beauty is perched on a mountain side 15 minutes up a steep dirt road above Basalt.  From the deck of the yurt is a breathtaking view towards the mountains to the south. His only neighbors are  junipers, aspens and his landlords. The landlords live 300 yards below the yurt in awesome mountian home that they built for the most part by themselves and used a lot of scavenged building materials. Their house is completely off the grid and powered by a minature hydroelectric  set up that they built from a stream that runs through their property 365 days a year. I am getting sidetracked here, back to the yurt.  So Ryan lives in the 24 foot diameter yurt with 2 bunk beds and one futon bed. The rest of the yurt consists of a small table, desk, chest of drawers, a sink/small kitchen, small propane fridge, and several storage racks. There is a wood burning stove with a 15 gallon pot of water on top that serves as the hot water (the sink only runs cold water). If he is feeling to lazy to run the woodburning stove he has a propane heater. He has electric which is several batteries charged by solar panels and backed up by a honda gas powered generator. Did i forget something? Oh yeah, there is no bathroom right now. For guys it is as easy as enjoying the view off the deck. Gals, squat or walk down to the landlords house during acceptable hours. 

The bottom line is that I loved the Yurt, Bit isn't quite sold on it. But if you know Ryan Bradley then it would make sense that some Mongolian 1000's of years ago knew that this portable house that they developed would one day provide a white boy on the other side of the world a cozy residence.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Break

Spring Break officially started for Bit on Friday the 13th, so my spring break started as well. Saturday i arose early donned my cycling gear and rode to Travis' for a road ride with 6 other guys. We followed the would be course for one of the stages of the Tour of Missouri. The morning started out cold and shady with flat roads to parkville then the rolling monster hills through the farmlands towards Platte City as a beautiful spring day emerged. By 1 in the afternoon i was back home with a sore ass and a ravenous apetite generated by riding somewhere near 70 miles. For snacks during the ride I made a concoction of peanut butter, honey, sweetened condensed milk, and raw oats. It was delicious, and kept me feeling pretty good for most of the ride, this will be my new standby for bike riding abd maybe even climbing. Headed to Colorado in the morning for several days of snowboarding. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Well, recently I have been slightly obsessed with reading blogs of those that I know. So I thought that it was only fitting that I start my own post. Not really any exciting events for the day. It started at 5:15 am, rising early to take the dogs on a run in a 10 degree north wind. Left for an uneventful day at work, thank goodness. I am home and doing nothin'. In the future i plan on having much more interesting posts.