Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ibapah Peak

A new blog post? Partially writing this to assist anyone that wants to go ski out there.

Skiing Ibapah Peak in the Deep Creek Range, West Desert Utah. We picked a day to go do it in April, during a nice weather weekend and after a recent storm--we thought we'd be able to ski to and from the car. Ha ha!  It is a bit of a drive from SLC. We left really early and got back in the evening, so it was a day trip, but a long one. We parked the car in Granite Creek Canyon, walked for an hour to get to consistent snow, then skinned for a couple more to make the summit. The view at the top was tremendous. A really really neat day on a peak that sees very little wintertime action.

Finally on snow and still a long way to go! Ian in front of Ibapah Peak.
My fingers and the run that we skied off the top. At this point we were still on the approach.
Ian skiing near the summit with the beautiful Red Top Mountain on the other side of Granite Creek Canyon.

My glove and Jon Middlemiss.

I think this is me. The skiing off the top was crusty, but soon turned into 2 feet of spring powder. So rad! I'm still bummed that we didn't ski Red Top across the way. Another excuse to drive out there?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Zion Canyoneering--Imlay & Heaps

During the winter, I had planned to visit my brother in New Zealand for a little adventure. Well, that didn't materialize so as a consolation I planned a little trip to Zion NP. Utahns often call it Zions obviously confusing its riches with the local banking branch.

Planning is rarely easy these days, what with work schedules, etc.  but we put it in the calendar far enough ahead of time that our family, Annie's family were able to make it for the long weekend. Keith (Annie's husband) and Dave (other bro-in-law) were game and able for the canyon stuff. I've had a few fine adventures with these boys over the years and we were hoping to add another one or two by descending Imlay and Heaps canyons. I'd done a few canyons, and Dave and Keith hadn't done any, but all of us have done a fair amount of climbing at some point in our lives. We figured we were in a little over our heads but we watched the youtubes to figure out how to do a biner block, pack toss, etc. The youtubes were very helpful. Hooking we already knew.

As a warmup on Friday, we took the kids to my favorite Zion swimming hole and worked on our tans.

We woke at 4a on Saturday, drove to lava point and walked the 5 mile approach to Potato Hollow in the dark and early morning light. After a little routefinding, we found the first rap, and dropped in. Contrary to some of the reports that we had read on the internets, mostly from the bluu gnome guy, the upper part of Imlay is actually really rad, with a couple of fun raps and some beautiful canyon to see, and with very little bushwacking. We made the last rap out of Imlay about 10 hrs after we left Lava Point, stripped of the rubber clothes,  and followed the hoards with the funny shoes and rented sticks down to the bus. I highly recommend doing Imlay from the top--it was well worth it and I think maybe the sneak route, although still cool, misses some beautiful terrain. It was also fun to follow the full water course from the tippy top to the end. We had to hook out of a few holes, do a guided rappel, and a pack toss or two.

Some say that canyons are for failed rock climbers, and Keith said a couple of times that the "climb better be amazing because this approach is heinous!" ha ha. Wait, the canyon is all approach and no climbing? Canyons are a little different but very fun in their own way.

We hung out with the fams on Sunday, Dave flew home, and Keith and I and got ready for Monday. We sorta hated the car shuttle to lava point so we started Heaps from the Grotto at around 4a. In our family Keith has done enough interesting things that he has a reputation. At scout lookout, still in the dark, a woman from another canyoneering group approached and asked "Are you Keith Card?" Even in the dark in the middle of nowhere, his legend preceded him. One of the most random things ever. Turns out it was Keith's cousin who lives in Springdale and works at the backcountry desk for the NPS and she saw that he had a permit. Small world. The water sections in Heaps were totally full, and we swam over the top of a few of the keeper holes. Full also means cold! My 4/3mm suit was pretty cold at times.

Heaps was so beautiful from the pristine and rarely visited Phantom Valley at the top, to the beautiful sandy corridors, the cold swims, to the bowel-content-emptying 300' free-hanging last rappel on a 9mm cord. Both Keith and I thought Heaps to be amazing, and the water MUCH MUCH colder than anything we had on Imlay. Car to car was 14 hrs. with a couple of snack breaks, and trying to dry out a little before the last 3 stage rap, and taking our time on the last raps. They're big.  I ruined my phone in the water and my go pro card was full, so I have no pictures of Heaps. D-word. I'll add some later if I get some from Keith.
Middle of the big raps on upper Imlay.

Dave is visible on the skyline on his way down.

Upper Imlay.

We had a great time swimming through nasty cold water.

Lots of little obstacles all day long.

The Gobi Desert.

Dave about to get wet.

Imlay narrows

Lots of little drops.

Rubber onesies made it nice.

We had to hook out of a few holes, the hooking was on chipped holds and pretty easy.


Corridor. (Keith Card collection)

Beauty. (Keith Card collection)

Close to the end. (Keith Card collection)
Mandatory jumper. (Keith Card collection)
Chamber of fear. (Keith Card collection)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

12/18/2013--First Proper Tour of the Year

Today was my first "proper" tour, meaning I skied something not at a resort. The snow coverage here hasn't been great, and furthermore, the snow has been fairly sketchy, so I've done lots of resort walking so far with nothing really to speak of. That changed today when I met Andy, Teague and Josh for a run up Red Baldy. The plan was to take pow skis. Teague and Josh apparently don't own any and both showed up with Alien boots and 170cm skinny skis. It was a super fun day and left me wanting more. Normally I couldn't hold Andy or Teague's jockstraps but the pace was pretty mellow all day--I think the citizen series race made them tired.

We wanted to ascend the run to assess. Teague and Andy.

Splitter day! I've wanted to ski the Lake Peak couloir many times. Hopefully I will soon.

The snow got firm and sparse near the top so we switched to booting. SLC valley somewhere under the soup in the background.

A Wasatch Sasquatch sighting! (Teague Holmes collection)

What, who doesn't wear their wife's glasses? (Teague Holmes collection)

Me descending. (Teague Holmes collection). I believe this couloir is Rock n' Roll.


Wasatch Skimo Citizen Series #3 Recap

December 17 was the third iteration of this winter's Wasatch Skimo Citizen Series. I didn't get a full headcount, but the list of members is over 100 people now and I'm pretty confident most of them showed up last night--it was incredible! We've had alot of people sign up at utahskimo.org and coming out to the races.

The beautiful thing about these races is the range of equipment used--From lycra suits, carbon boots and twig skis to splitboards and powder rigs. Regardless of gear, the races are a chance to be introduced to skimo racing and a good excuse to go ski with friends on a Tuesday night. I'd take skiing intervals over intervals of eating chips while watching the Kardashians anytime.

I was in charge of setting the course last night and it gave me a lot of respect for that task--It takes a while and you have to schlep all the flags up and down the course, setup, tear down, etc. It takes much longer than you'd think and it made me appreciate the effort that goes into this each race.

Several sponsors have been supporting the series with raffle prizes from Voile, Black Diamond, skimo.co, Gear:30, La Sportiva, Camp, Gnarly Nutrition, Kate's Bars, backcountry.com among others.

The race division raced a course of 3 laps, with others completing two laps. Each lap consisted of two ~400 foot climbs and two ski descents. The suits finished in around 45 minutes with everyone else finishing in 60-70 minutes of racing before heading over to Molly's.
Tom off the front right from the get go.

The crowd descended on Molly Green's after for raffle prizes and food.
The proginator of many Wasatch skimo racers, Joey Dempster.

Transitions make or break it in the suits race. ~60 seconds for an uphill transition and ~30 seconds for a downhill transition.

The viking.

Monday, September 9, 2013

2013 Wasatch 100. DNF.

This is a long post, and is for myself--I needed the therapy! Feel free to skip it and read the short version.

Short Version: I dropped out at Big Water in Millcreek due to being a wuss.

Pretty much sums up my day!

Long Version:

It's taken me several hours to digest what happened. As I write this I am still flooded with a myriad of emotions, mostly disappointment for not toughing it out to the end; and gratitude for family and friends that loved and supported me unconditionally despite myself. Going into this race I told my wife that I felt like this was going to be a life event. Like getting married, going into the MTC, moving to California, I knew that my life would be altered forever from that experience. I had the feeling that Wasatch would be one of those experiences. It was an experience to say the least.

Happier times at the start line.
I ran the first 20 miles at what I felt was a very conservative pace. I was at the Francis maintenance sheds at 4:25 and feeling fine. I got slimed by a sweaty runner who looked like ZZ Top during this section which was gross. Heading up to the Bountiful B Aid Station, my quads started to cramp on uphills. I also had shallow breathing which I hadn't experienced before in training and my left ear was clogged--maybe a remnant of a little cold/allergies for the last couple weeks?

Pulling into BB AS, Rick Robinson greeted me, filled my bottles, gave me a popsicle and a bag of fruit. I've seen Rick out with his dog several times when training for this race. Rick--I owe you. All of the volunteers were the same--I owe all of you.  From Sessions lift-off I ran with Steve Newman, which was great. We've run many miles together and it felt good to have a friendly face nearby. He kept nerding on his time compared to last year, his heartrate, etc. We both commented on the heat and the wind that felt like a hair dryer. Steve stopped to make a call and we split up. In hindsight, I think I should have waited for Steve, because I started to really cramp and battle demons into Big Mountain at mile 39. I would limp the ups, and slow run the downs. I wasn't moving real well and I passed a sign dropping into BM AS that said something like "Before you give up, remember why you signed up." Look, I realize I'm a grown man doing a race for fun, but I shed a tear or two right there. I had some dark moments going into the aid station. Immediately when I got there Jami and Ben hooted and hollered, encouraged, and set me up in a chair with a vanilla coke, chips and other food. They kept asking how I was feeling, etc. I couldn't respond for several minutes for fear of just completely having a bawl-fest. I had trained all year, sacrificed time away from family to do this and it was turning into a disaster!

I was prepared to drop right there--I didn't think my legs would allow me to continue. After some deliberating, Jami (you're the best Jami) got my butt out of the chair and we started out. I made it about 2 minutes before I had to sit down because of the quad cramps. According to Jami this continued every .1 of a mile for several miles. I'd stop and sit, the cramps would subside, then they'd start again when I stood back up. Frustrating--I've never had anything like this in any other run I've done. I must have gotten passed by 100 people during this section as we sat, walked, sat, walked; cramped, waited, cramped, waited.

I kept telling Jami that I was dropping at Lamb's, that she was a great support and I love her, but I'm dropping at Lamb's. 6+ hours after leaving Big Mountain we rolled into Lamb's. I weighed in and I was down 8 lbs. from my starting weight. Wow. I could eat stuff even though I didn't want to, but I think I'd mentally mailed it in and stopped eating because I was dropping at Lamb's. My brother Jeff flew up from Tucson to be here to help, and Greg Reynolds drove up from Ogden to pace, Kelsey and Matt drove from Provo, and Ben missed ComiCon to help out too. I had a great support team. They were all so supportive and it was great to see them. I sat and ate for about an hour. Greg tried to get me to go. Jeff tried to get me to go. I felt so terrible about his flying up here to help that I finally got up and we walked out of Lamb's with Jeff. I couldn't believe they got me to walk out of there. I said I would drop at Big Water Aid Station and Jeff said "Well, we'll have to agree to disagree for a little while."

Jeff was awesome. We talked about the ER he works in, football, inside jokes, and listened to Metallica, Daft Punk (I can only see Stephen Colbert dancing when I hear that song) and Justin Beiber. My legs had really started to come around. My stomach was still touchy and GU chomps were the best. I had a tootsie pop and it took me half and hour to eat it. We passed several people on this section and I was able to run the downhill and felt okay. Mentally I was such a wimp that I did end up dropping at Big Water. I was anguished and said no mas like a prizefighter failing to answer the bell at the start of the next round.

So, a couple of days removed from the experience, I've learned a few things about myself, some of which I'm not happy about. I gave up too easily I think. Physically I think I could have continued, albeit at a slow pace, to further down the trail. I was worried about Desolation because you can't drop out there, so I quit at Big Water. Sometimes you can train and do everything to prepare, but it comes down to race day, and I didn't have it on race day. I still feel like I let several people down by not finishing, but the sting has already faded some as optimism for next time has replaced some of the anguish.

Lessons learned:

#1 Listen to your pacers. My group was so encouraging and positive. I was wrapped in self-pity because of my legs and couldn't step back and see myself objectively. Maybe my legs would have given out for real further down the road, but I should have let them decide on that and not me. I've read about relying on pacers, but until you get to that point in the race, you don't understand it. Now I do.
#2 Embrace the suck. When it gets sucky if I can laugh at myself and my sorry state that goes along way to making me feel like it is tolerable.
#3. Train a little better maybe? This is a hard one because I felt I did about as much as I could while still being there for my job, wife and kids. I think I should do a few harder runs than I did so I can glimpse what I'll have to go through to finish the 100 distance.

Running is still fun. I can't wait to get at it some more.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spring Skiing in the Pipeline Couloir 5/30/13

A few email messages were exchanged and plans were made to go check out the new snow and see if we could have any fun. The AF twin peaks are the highest peaks in the central Wasatch (BCC, LCC, Millcreek) and the third highest in the range behind Mt. Nebo and Mt. Timpanogos. We decided to go up there and ski the pipeline couloir now that Snowbird is closed.
Rendezvous time! Reminds me of winter.

We had an interesting group what with Mike and his drifters and airbag, me in race boots and lycra pants, and Jon on his split board. Mike says "big skis are for big fun." 

Low on the Pipeline.

Pretty windy with lots of spindrifts--several sections were really firm and I was glad to have double whippets on the ascent. My innards are still afraid of impailment when I descend.
Jon and crew close to topping out.

Gad Valley from atop American Fork Twin Peaks.

This was both the warmest and also one of the coldest tours of the year. Rivers and ponds down low, and a good wind chill up high. This was the only time I got the screaming barfies all winter and it happened on 5/30! Selfie from the summit.

Mike having big fun dropping in.

Split boarders are people too. Jon rips on his.