Saturday, January 16, 2010

C'mon Ullr!

It's mid January. Where are you Ullr?

Despite the lack of snow the past 7-10 days, the reason why I love ski touring: powder turns a week after a storm. Farmington Canyon isn't exactly the best for ski touring, but has some fun terrain if you know where to look. I made a couple of quick runs off the ridge that drains down to deep creek up Farmington Canyon. The bushes on the hillside made some pillows there were fun skiing. A steep skin track out, back down to Farmington Creek, then back to the car.

Still some soft fresh snow to be had if you're willing to sweat a bit.

It was pretty warm up there. My thermometer measured 37 at 4 pm. It is nice to get out of the soupy valley air and up in the clean mountain air during these inversions. For 1/16, the snowpack is really meager though. Just enough to ski at 8,000 feet. Sorta brushy, but no rocks and some soft protected powder.

Brushy, but fun.

Blech. We have to live in that soup.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Targhee Rando Race Report

I don't know why I've gained an interest in randonee racing the past year and a half, but there is something about it that is just...awesome. Despite my heavy stuff
and lack of physical aptitude towards the activity.

I've really been looking forward to the Grand Targhee Ski Mountaineering Classic. For a while this last week I didn't think I was going to make the trip. Then, on a whim, I asked a guy (Jared aka SLC Samurai) I didn't personally know, but whose blog I read, if I could catch a ride with him up to the race. He was super cool and said yes.

On the drive to Driggs Friday night the temperature was fluctuating between 0-5 degrees F and had been in the negative teens earlier in the week. Luckily, for the race we had bluebird skies and temps in the + teens & twenties all day. Couldn't ask for better weather for a race.

I raced the heavy metal category (reserved for heavy ski setups) with about 15 other guys. The race category looked pretty serious with many $3k (or more) ski setups. Those guys are really fast too.

From the start of the race, the race category guys basically ran out of the start while all of us HM guys started plodding away. The first climb basically goes right up a groomer all the way to the top--no switchbacks and a few steep sections that tested the skins pretty good. I felt great on the first climb. I tried not to overcook it on the first 2k vertical of the 5k vert that we would climb during the race. I made it to the first transition with about 6-7 other HM dudes, ripped skins and tried to hustle down the first descent as quickly as I could. I think I need more practice on DH skiing because my quads were toast at the bottom. Another transition to put skins on and climbed up to 9,800 feet again and amazing views of Les Tetons behind the resort.

A short bootpack put us up on top of Peaked Mountain and Pete Swenson and Brandon French (top 2 finishers) came cruising down while I was making my way up. Jealousy and envy set in. Targhee had a bunch of snow during the week, and I had a couple of powder turns at the top of the run, and lots of thigh burning chowder turns down the 35+ degree lower section of the downhill. I wish I could say I made it down without stopping to give my wimpy legs a rest, but I can't. It was challenging skiing! After the transition at the bottom I almost instantly started feeling like my legs were wading in mud. I couldn't get a very quick turnover or steady cadence going and really suffered on the last uphill section. I lost a basket on my pole too, so that didn't help. I did manage to repass a few people though, so apparently, some were hurting worse that I was. We kinda had a death march going on up there for a bit. Or maybe it was the view to my right that was distracting me:

At last I gained the ridge again, locked down the hills and tried to hustle to my cheesburger and Mtn Dew that were waiting at the finish. And chips. And water. And candy. I finished in 3:00:10. 45 minutes behind the heavy metal winner, and 1:23 behind the race winner. Not impressive but someone needs to bring up the rear right? That is an important job.

Cripes that was hard. Awesome race though and a great experience. Kevin, Nate, Mike, Greg and anyone else that has AT gear, you all should sign up for one of the 2 Utah races this March. My weekend companions Jared and Joey rocked it and Jared took 7th overall. All of the other racers were super cool and it was a fun event to be involved in. In hindsight, I wish that I would have tried to push on the last climb a bit more. Even though I passed a few people there, I felt like I also lost alot of time. All well. 5k vert in 3 hours would be good any other day of the year, but in that race, doesn't seem that good. So some disappointment, some success, and an awesome day.