Banff Mountain Film Festival

Last night, I went to see the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s world tour showing at the Paramount Theater in downtown Denver. Unfortunately I had to leave before the final film to get Amy to the airport, but what I saw was pretty enjoyable. The films for tonight’s showing are different, but I doubt I’ll make it, especially since I’m dropping off my bike for some work tonight and parking downtown is a bit of a disaster.

It started off with The Red Helmet, which was a short (6 minute) film of various action sports, with a loose story of a young kid overcoming his fears by finding a red helmet in the film, and putting the helmet on results in an awesome blast of climbing, kayaking, jumping, and mountain biking. Great start to get amped up for the rest of the set of films.

Immediately following was “Silent Snow,” a snooze-fest about how all the pesticides in the world flow to Greenland, melt the ice, and poison people. The only information was provided by two teenage girls who I had a hard time finding credible. Yawn.

There was also a film about a cool caving and kayaking expedition to find the underground source of a huge river in Papua New Guinea. Very interesting.

Another film was about traveling to The Heavenly Pit, a HUDGE cave/pit in central China, and BASE jumping from a cable that stretches across the center of it. Very cool story of the travel, and an incredibly intense jump.

The last film I saw was a short about the patrol director and the park coordinator for Aspen (different people). Interesting and enjoyable. Sadly I had to leave afterwards, but the next film about climbing sounded awesome.

A great show, I’ll definitely be seeing it next year.


Rainier officially postponed

After learning some things about one prospective partner for the planned March climb of Rainier, I have decided to cancel. Certain specifics: he attempted to ski an extremely committing line, in February, under considerable avalanche danger, on his own. He triggered a 300′ wide avalanche that ran 1,400′. This isn’t the first time SAR has been called for him either. It was a no-brainer.

I will be departing on Friday, May 1 with a competent partner, and I can’t wait.

Bluebird at Beaver Creek

This past weekend, I went to Beaver Creek with Nate and Andrew for a little bit of bluebird skiing, despite it having been dry for a few days (although BC had 9″ in the past week). We pulled into the lot at the same time, geared up, and took the shuttle to the first lift. The views in the Gore are amazing.

Ace proceeded to take us through a shortcut that he said was NFS land and thus no problem to ski through. A patroller at the bottom disagreed, but was nice enough to simply inform us rather than pull our passes for the week, as it was an honest mistake (which won’t be repeated). Feeling lucky, we headed towards Stone Creek so Andrew could steeze it up off some small cliffs.

Count it! Oh wait, no, don’t. Picture of the day:

Air to double-eject.


After a couple laps there, we made our way out one of the backcountry gates at the top of a lift (which is right next to a patrol shack) for a short hike. As we turned on our beacons, a couple patrollers commended us for having all the proper gear, saying that most who head out the gates go without any of it. I’ve never been chastised or commended by patrol before, and to have both in the same day was a little ironic.

The elusive point, captured in the wild (I missed a simultaneous double-point while still inbounds. It was amazing!):

Ace, contemplating his next drop:
Here we go!
Count it!
No, don’t count it. My buffer filled before the landing (due to shooting in RAW at 5fps) but like the first one, it was not successfully landed. A couple runs later and it was off to the bar for a couple beers:
Where this little guy was hanging out and being photogenic for me:
All in all, a great day. I can’t wait to do it again.

Driving is lame

I had to drive in to work today for the 3rd time this year. It was not a result of time, energy, scheduling, weather, or anything like that. It’s because I installed the new 9-speed Ultegra cassette (rear gear pack, this one ranges from 12-27 teeth as opposed to 13-21 of the old one) on my bike last night, and the chain is incompatible. Dismayed, I updated the spreadsheet that I track my bike to work schedule, and this single day took me from 93% biking down to 89%. I never realized how good it feels to start the day off with some exercise until I was forced to miss it. I need to get this taken care of post-haste. The search for a chain begins…

Belated Valentine’s Day on Quandary Peak

Amy and I planned to go climb her first winter 14er on Sunday, but Valentine’s Day spilled over and we never made it. This turned out to be a good thing, as the weather was reportedly cloudy on Saturday (though forecast to be sunny), and it turned out to be sunny on Sunday (despite the forecast calling for clouds and snow).

I crawled out of bed at 4:45 yesterday morning not entirely psyched to be up that early, but not too bothered since bedtime came at 8:45 the night before. I dressed, ate, filled up some cups and a thermos with coffee, threw my stuff in the car, and it was off to Amy’s. There, Amy dressed and got stuff together, I ate more, carried her stuff to the car, and we hit the road around 6:30. Right at 8am, we pulled into the parking area for the trailhead. “Was I supposed to bring my poles?” “…seriously?”

Amy looking like a runway model.

As we were getting ready, the legendary Horton the Quandary Dog ran across the street to greet us. He waited impatiently for us to start going by attacking trees.

8:15 and we’re off, with one pole a piece.

Snowshoeing and skinning up with only one pole turned out to be pretty reasonable, despite my expectations.
This photo was taken at our first of several rest breaks. Horton had stuck with us so far, rarely venturing more than a few feet away. I was astonished. He again got impatient as we rested, so he attacked some more trees. I found the carnage from this incident still covering the entire trail on our way out.
A couple snickers later (as well as Horton demanding some food) and we were back to the races.
Amy and Horton, out for a hike on a beautiful February day.
I was having gear issues here, and Amy took advantage of the opportunity to put some distance between us. This may have been where I strapped my skis to my back and started booting it, but I’m not sure. Skiing back through here was not an option, as the wind stripped all the snow in the foreground of this picture by the time we got back down.
This is the best scenic I took of the day, in my mind. Polarizers are amazing for getting deep blue skies like this. The trail follows the ridgeline all the way up. Here’s Amy, pointing out the rest of the way up. We were both getting pretty tired here, and the sails on our backs certainly weren’t helping us through the strong winds, but we kept moving as best we could.
There were many moments when it looked like we weren’t going to make it. A couple other people who caught up to us dropped out and turned around due to exhaustion. Amy eventually started counting out 25 steps at a time between breaks. I decided to go with her, as I was moving pretty slowly at this point as well. The number moved up to 30 steps before long.

Nearing the top, she asked out many more times she’d have to take 30 steps. “Five” was the answer. “Five” turned out to be roughly half of reality, and roughly 300 steps later, we made it.

The way down was exhausting, and we both just wanted to be out of there. No extreme radgnar skiing photos, as it was bulletproof sastrugi most of the way down. I’m sure Horton wanted to go home ASAP so he could down a huge bowl of food, but he stuck with us the entire time. I’m amazed that he took such a liking to us, and never went off with anyone else who passed us or who we passed.
It was a huge relief to finally see the car again after seven and a half hours on the mountain. When we got back and were unpacking, Horton stopped briefly to say goodbye, and walked back home. As I was packing my stuff into the car, I noticed something that would’ve been great to have up top in the cold: a full thermos of coffee, still warm.