Skiing spring snow

Posted by on April 18th, 2020  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

I’ve been out backcountry skiing twice in the last week. Friday I drove up to Dan’s and slept in his driveway. I could have gone in but we are trying to maintain social distancing.

Paradise is closed so Saturday morning Lisa and I drove up to the pass through Morton. It was lovely spring corn. She had her dog on the first run. It did great, but got tired on the last hill. We left it in the car and did another run with lighter loads, but didn’t make the summit. J was supposed to meet me there that night, or in the morning but he bailed. I decided not to paint the next day and drove home.

Thursday Sue and I skied there again and this time I skinned up to the summit twice. Both times the spring corn was uber awesome. On the second trip up, I saw no one at all for the last mile, place was deserted. Not a good time or place to get hurt. I am a careful skier, and even more so when I know I’m totally alone. I called Sue from the last hill, with the summit in sight, letting her know I was half an hour from the top, and then probably 30 minutes down to the car.

I got to the car right on schedule. The turns on the last slope above the road were amazing. On perfect spring corn like that I was able to find my groove. I turn downhill, allow my skis to accelerate straight down, then weight the outside ski. When most of my weight is on that ski, it naturally finds the concave curve on the side of the ski and begins to turn. As it carves, I gently slide my inside ski alongside it, weighting the back ever so slightly. There is a beautiful symmetry that happens in a perfect parallel turn.

I was explaining it to Sue, or trying to, and I think she got it as well. I watched her pull through some smooth turns. She’s been itching to get out of the city. We saw a couple dozen other people up there and everyone was really excited to be outside. Cabin fever is a real thing.

As far as the new ‘stay home, stay safe’ rules. We broke a few of them on those two trips. We made them as safe as possible…using hand sanitizer before and after getting gas (in Tacoma), not stopping anywhere on the way, and we carried all our own food. We didn’t want to  expose or be exposed to any more danger than necessary.

It was super nice to get out and be normal for a while.

Work is good. Zoom seems to work ok.

The pandemic

Posted by on April 18th, 2020  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

I don’t even know where to start. March 14th I saw a note online from my buddy J. He asked online if anyone wanted to head for the hills to get away from the on rushing pandemic. I dismissed it at the time because I thought I might have a chance at a part time job with the Census. But that dried up and I realized I’d soon be back at my normal job. If I was going to take a road trip, it was now or wait until July.

We left the 17th and climbed for 6 days at Smith. On Monday, the 23rd, Smith closed for the duration and we drove home. On Saturday parking was a mess. I’ve never seen the parking lot at Smith that crowded. It was like Black Friday at Nordstroms. The climbing wasn’t that bad, but the hikers were out in hoards. By Sunday it was back to normal, and on Monday it was deserted. We climbed all the usual warmups and even climbed the easy routes at Cinnamon. By Sunday I was beginning to remember Smith and got up Honey Pot and Outsiders cleanly.

I almost got Cry Baby clean but took a right instead of left and had to hang.  I’d followed Outsiders earlier in the week and could not have led it cleanly. But Sunday it felt so much easier. Those foot holds through the crux are wide and plentiful. Honey Pot felt the same.

We also did the Fridays Jinx to Spiderman link up. Must remember to take the uphill trail away from Jinx, not the downhill. That was Sunday and all the talk was about Oregon shutting down all the parks. Now I’m home, remembering all the good times. J led Teddy Bears picnic. That route is what I call trad bolting. Run out on some very steep tiny pebble pinching. I guess if you were in the zone and totally dialed in to Smith style climbing it would be ok. I was scared following it. Just thinking about the runout J led made me nervous. Those pebbles are barely the width of a small finger at the crux…and the fall would be a 30 footer or more…on a less than vertical wall covered with small pebbles. A guy with some 5.12 kids said he whipped at that exact spot and tore his Achilles tendon when his toe caught on a nubbin.

I saw some other Tacoma climbers down there. We immediately started teasing each other about how we should have stayed home. That was the main topic all the climbers were talking about. And then all the parks started closing. I wonder where all the vanlife people are going. Everything is closed and traveling is getting more and more restricted. In two weeks it could be even worse. This is going to be a crazy spring.