18 January 2008

Happy place, Happy place

I'm tired of being sick. I'm tired of it being freezing outside. I'm just plain tired. Going to my happy place. The doorway reopened in my head again after my buddy Livingston contacted me out of the blue. the last I saw of him was dropping him off in Merced after climbing in Yosemite.

He's still guiding and guiding Pico in Mexico. If anybody ever needs a guide, let me know. I remember seeing Pico while driving to Rio Blanco in el estado de Veracruz back when we lived there. It is odd seeing a giant white snowcone in a very warm climate.

So on to my happy place. This is the sandcrawler - a wonderful sharp-as-hell boulder 15 minutes outside of Oaxaca city. The problem Livingston is on goes at V4 and is fun as hell once you get the sequence down.

This picture is on the approach to Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne - the alpine section of Yosemite Natl Park. I'm looking forward to my return trip to the Sierras this summer and to feel the reassuring touch of it's bleached granite.

17 January 2008

A justified affliction

Ah Christmas Day!! I remember it clearly; the giddiness and joy of Hannah opening up her presents, the air of familial love and congenial bonds wafting through the house. Walking up and not having a fever, a cough, aches and pains, blowing my nose or nausea.

Just when I think I turn a corner, I run into a new malady - or simply the same sickness disguised impeccably with a fancy false mustache. I went from having a cold the day after Christmas to having it just about kicked... and then the flu to having that dispensed with and my energy almost back at full reserve.... to having the flu again and, the best way to describe it, several pieces of chalk stuck at the Y junction from my esophagus to my lungs.

I know the catalyst to this latest setback. Though somebody with a medical background might expound I never truly got healthy - breaking a fever every single night for a week and a half; it does get tiresome washing one's sheets so frequently.

Sunday was a nice cold day of skiing at Breckenridge. Awaking after three hours of sleep, I somehow navigated to Steve's place without fulling being conscious. Soon we were parking in VIP parking and I was searching for my contact to interview.

While the lack of sleep and not feeling myself yet, I offered the caveat to Steve I was probably not going to get on any Blacks today. That was short lived. After a couple Blues to warm up the majority of the day was spent in Black land.

Skiers coming down the Imperial Bowl

Around midday we met up with Chad, Jen, Shawn and a couple of his friends. It was a great time to be skiing with friends. An opportunity like this doesn't present itself frequently. We aren't just talking about the conflicting schedules of adults. Throw in three kids, two mortgages and a big engineering exam looming on the horizon and a group outing like this most likely won't happen again this season.

Jen & Chad ski down a black mogul run

Keep that right shoulder forward Jen

Yesterday I headed up to Arapahoe Basin for more interviews, some photos and to get some video for the 9 pm newscast. It was cold.... very cold... so cold the camera mini DV camera wouldn't work. It would film for a few seconds and then shut off. I found out it was about -15 degrees when I was there.

Riding the lifts was painful and worst still, condensation formed on the inside of my goggles because of the warm air I was exhaling and how cold it was outside. That froze making my goggles useless and meant I skied down the Montezuma Bowl twice and back to the base of the mountain without goggles in -15 degrees.

Snowboarder making his way down the Zuma bowl

I really wouldn't call what I did skiing, with a video camera on my back and a still camera in my chest pocket, there was some snowplowing involved. And much stopping so I could try to discern the terrain through frozen, squinted eyes in very flat light. In short, when I reached the base of the ski area, I was miserable. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

I'll have to come back without the hardware. This looked fun.

No artist of the post, I prefer the oral accompaniment of my groaning for the time being.

09 January 2008

Malady aftermath

So I'm hoping the fever broke for good last night. So today is being spent bumping into things and feeling lugubrious and loopy. Have cleaned my bedding and clothes, gotten some food down and trying to feel more homo sapien sapien.

Did add a coat of polyurethane to my coffee table. Needs a light sanding and a second coat and the piece will finally be completed. Part of my wishes to take a woodworking class. I find satisfaction in building my own furniture; shaping utilitarian out of milled lumber.

I have gained a surer grasp on patience as a byproduct of the hobby and maybe this has carried over into the other facets of my life.

ARTIST OF POST - Camera Obscura. Mellow indie Scottish band.

07 January 2008

It's all in the advertising

Apparently I didn't get the memo that this weekend was the designated time to get either lost or buried in the mountains. Oh wait! I did get it; it's called the weather & avalanche forecast.

Now I know that time on this realm is finite and I do things many would consider to be risky, such as climb, backcountry ski solo and watch Kenneth Branagh films. However when a storm arrives in the Rockies and decides to sit around for tea and an after-dinner cigar while dumping 3 feet of snow in areas, even I have the common sense to decide, "Maybe I'll sit this one out".

So far we have had two skiers jump the gate at Wolf Creek Ski Area - where it did get 3 feet of snow in 24 hours - and are missing (read: buried); a family of six snowmobiliers in southern Colorado who were found today after missing for two days; a slide near Aspen (where an avy warning was issued) that just missed some backcountry skiers; and two guys who went missing at St. Mary's (a common stomping ground of mine) before walking into Nederland - a town a good 20 miles away as the crow flies, and he wouldn't have been if he had some wits about him.

Now I don't know where those two hikers were heading, but if you have a compass, it's pretty hard to get disoriented enough to end up in Nederland. The worst that can happen is you could drop down the wrong drainage near Alice and have to hoof it back 6 or so miles uphill to your ride. They did manage to stay warm overnight with a fire - a good reminder for me to start carrying a firestarter kit with me.

So with that in mind I went for the subalpine Sunday and went snowshoeing to Maxwell Falls with Tasha. We had been there once before during the summer and actually ran the last bit to our car as a hail storm blew in. It was our first time from the upper trailhead, which shaves off over two miles of the approach to the afore-mentioned falls.

Actually it was ridiculously close to the trailhead.

We were both startled somewhat by the sign as we didn't hear a torrent of water, disrupting the arboreal tranquility with it's cascading cadence.

It wasn't even that there was no falls - it is winter after all - as much as we couldn't even see where there would be falls.

So after the anti-climatic interlude we continued on our journey past some broken-up granite walls, across a stream and up a slope where I remembered we could gain a ridge that would foster some views and some exploratory options. Shaving off some distance, I broke trail up a pristine wooded slope.

Tasha reaching the top of the slope

We found a nice pine to sit under and munch on some lunch before continuing on to what would lead to a saddle between two points. It was pleasant in the muted forest even if views were scarce.

We returned back to our lunch point and down the same slope again where I confirmed my suspicions; this would make a nice tree ski area.

We returned to the stream crossing and went up a trail that would put us atop the granite walls. The outcrops provided a good look back to where we went.

We reached the saddle between the two bumps in the upper center of the photo

The area hosts a myriad of bouldering problems and I expect a pilgrimage back come spring with my crashpad.

Who's that shmuck ruining the photo?

ARTIST OF POST - Incubus. Really enjoy the song and am impressed how every album by this band contains a different flavor than that which was it's predecessor.