Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pikes Peak Blows

Yesterday Mary and I attempted to climb Pikes Peak. Although there is a road to the top, if I am going to end up climbing all the 14ers in Colorado, I probably am not allowed to cheat. So we set out Monday morning from the Crags Campground on the west side of the peak at about 8:00 am on Monday morning. We were a little worried about the accessibility to the trailhead, as I had read previous reports saying that the road was only plowed to the Mennonite campground, a whole 1.5 miles below the Crags Trailhead. To our great fortune, it was actually plowed clear past the Crags Trailhead, and we were able to get a better start than previously anticipated.

Mary and I donned our snowshoes and took off up the mountain at a pretty considerable pace. We covered the first two miles in about an hour, which is pretty good with 20 inch conglomerations of plastic and aluminum fastened to your feet. Next, however, we had to climb the main headwall up to the Devils Playground, which would lead us to the summit ridge. This became slow going as we consistently sunk to our waists in the deep, snowblown powder. We continued up the slope, trying our best to avoid the dangerous avalanche terrain. At one point, a shooting crack appeared for about 20 feet, but to our relief, it didn't slide. We eventually trudged our way up the 1000 vertical feet to the Devil's Playground.

At this point, the wind picked up considerably. We had observed from the bottom of the climb that the clouds were moving quite rapidly over the top of the mountain, but once we were in the middle of that quagmire of snow, ice and other precipitation, it was much more difficult to navigate. It was probably the most miserable wind I have ever experienced, and after the climb I learned from the summit weather station that the winds were in excess of 60 miles per hour, with additional gusts faster than that. Mary and I weren't able to appreciate the beauty of the rock formations surrounding us, as we hunkered down behind a large rock to provide us with shelter. We discussed the possibilities of continuing for several minutes, but eventually decided to turn around. It was a good decision too, as when we reached the bottom of the climb, the summit became engulfed in a large storm which surely would have disoriented us.

We had a good time, and Mary proved to me yet again that she was born to climb. That badass bit of beauty and muscle will soon be summiting the hardest 14ers in Colorado. Hopefully next time we will be blessed with less wind, and more sun. Plans are already in the making for another trip up a TBD peak on February 3rd. I'll keep it posted.

(sorry for the lack of pictures, it was too cold in the 60mph winds to take my gloves off and dig out my camera. Lithium batteries have a minimum operating temperature, and on these 14er outings, you have to keep the camera insulated in a jacket or something to maintain battery life.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Slacklining on 9 news

I forgot to put this on back when it was aired, and I ran across it today on slackline.com and figured I should include it. I host slackline parties regularly, and for our August 2007 party, we had 9 news come out and film a brief segment about it. The script is really cheesy, but we are getting the word out and getting slacklining introduced to the general public, which is a really good thing. The more people come to know, accept and embrace slacklining, the better this world will be :)

Here's the Video

(Note that you can only view the video in internet explorer, Firefox doesn't like it)

I'm now one of the main content writers for Slackline.com and editor for the site. I'll be publishing some work there soon, and am working on an article about the history of slacklining in the US, and a brochure/booklet about slacklining for trade shows, conferences and climbing events. Gotta love the slackline!

(Chilling on a 160' line at the Boulder Mountain Park)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fun in the snow: no avalanches involved

I've been trying to get out into the snow as much as possible before school starts back up again, because I know it will be a rough semester with my large credit load. So last thursday Mary and I went out and did some skiing in the backcountry near Brainard lake. It was about a 7 mile trip and the wind was blowing very considerably. We had a blast though, and got some good exercise. Here we are at the lake:

Yesterday, James S, James Mc, Mark and I went to go climb Quandary Pk. in the tenmile range of Colorado. We got there at about 7:00am, but the wrong pulloff was marked and we started going up the wrong gully for about 5 minutes before I decided that something wasn't right, and that we weren't going the right direction (I've climbed it in the summer about 8 years ago so I had a vague memory of what the trailhead looked like. We finally found the right location once the sun had risen and we could see the mountains better, and got going at about 7:45. It was slightly overcast and snowing a small amount, but the sun expelled most of the cloudcover and the only thing in the air was blowing snow with the high winds. At about 10:00 we had made it to about 12,800 feet and had hiked 2.0 miles when James S decided that the wind was too much and that he needed to turn around. I don't think he had a down jacket or very good gloves, and his hands were quite cold. I didn't blame him, as the wind chill was predicted to be nearly -26 or something like that. James elected to go back with James so that we wouldn't be split up unevenly, and Mark and I continued. It was slow going due to the wind, snow and the altitude, as I hadn't been up a 14er since September. We managed to make it to the top at noon, and enjoyed a brief snack before heading back down. It was still very windy and cold. The wind would pick up drifts of snow and blow them in circles around us, encompassing us with snow from all directions. These spurts of wind would last for a few seconds, and then it would become calm again and we could see nearly 30 miles into the south park valley. Then the wind would pick up again and it would be back to 50 feet of visibility. Mark and I managed to get off the summit and follow the faint outline of our tracks all the way back to treeline, and then got back to the car at 1:50. On their way down, James and James made a snowman for us to enjoy. We got some grub at Beaujos in Idaho Springs, and then got back to Boulder at about 5:30 or 6. It was a very fun and exhausting day.

I'm thinking about going down to Co Springs this next weekend with the crew to try climbing Pikes Peak via the Crag's trail. We'll see how that goes. This weekend Mary and I are competing in "The Gun Show", a bouldering competition at The Spot. It should be fun.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

It has been a fun year of adventures, and they have gone from mild to wild as the year has progressed. From the cross country skiing, to the climbing, to the 14ers, to the skydiving, to the highlining, to the kite flying, to meeting and spending time with my wonderful girlfriend Mary, everything has been absolutely fantastic. The capacity of man to enjoy himself is amazing, as I have thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout the last 12 months. But now it is time to look towards the next 12 months, and the days which will surely hold more incredible and delightful adventures. I have many goals for 2oo8, and amazing as 2007 has been, this new year will surely be filled to the brim of fun and adventure. Here are a few of my goals for this year:

  • Design and build a line of power kites

  • Finish the 13 remaining Colorado 14ers on my list

  • Climb 5 14ers in the remainder of the winter

  • Reach 100 skydives, or maybe even 200

  • Walk the lost arrow spire highline in Yosemite

  • Rig 5 new highlines in Colorado

  • Begin writing a book

  • Get a job with an engineering company

  • Help Mary train to climb 5.12

  • Climb Castleton Tower

  • Rig and walk 3 highlines in Moab, UT

  • Teach myself to kite-ski

  • Get published

Hopefully these things will keep me busy throughout the year, and I will keep everyone posted on the progress of these events. Wish me luck on accomplishing these dangerous feats and daring adventures.