Friday, February 29, 2008

The Y (do I keep getting up this early) Couloir

Got out for another gal's only dawn patrol session this AM. Booted to the top of the stellar 3000+" "Y" Couloir and skied some pretty reasonable snow back down to the car. Another great sunny Wasatch morning, with fantastic views up and down Little Cottonwood, as well as south towards the Coalpit Headwall.

Trusty Verdicts


Endless bootpack

Almost there!

View across the canyon

On the ridge

Little Cottonwood View

The fun part

Tele madness

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Got out for an early morning ski with some great friends this morning. Skied one lap in 2 hours and managed to get 3000' and a lot of great powder turns in, and I was still back at my computer at 9:00. You gotta love that. It was a really beautiful morning, calm, cold, clear and a blanket of new snow covering the multitude of old tracks.

The funny thing about the early morning sessions is that it all seems so crazy when your alarm goes off a ridiculously long time before the sun is even approaching the horizon. When I am dragging myself out of bed I can come up with all sorts of excuses, which is why it is a really good idea to dawn patrol with other people, so you can't back out at the last minute.
I find it helps to have everything ready the night before... I prepack my pack, preload the coffee maker, and even have my beacon and ski clothes stacked beside the bed. Planning on minimal brain activity before 6 AM is usually prudent.

Once I am out though, it almost always feels more than worth the discomfort of the early rise. When I am with people, conversation and company distracts me from my sleepiness or non-cooperative body. Today I got the full run down on randonnee rally racing techniques from a friend who has competed a number of times in the Wasatch Powder Keg, a race I am entering in
a few weeks; a first for me. I bombarded him with questions as we raced up the uptrack, hoping that if I kept him talking I might be able to keep up.

We got to the top, and paused just long enough to take in gorgeous views of sun drenched snowy peaks and noted a few distant ski tracks made by other dawn patrollers. Then we ripped the skins and enjoyed 3000' of primo Wasatch fluff all the way to the car.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

WMS Level 1 Avalanche Course, The Canyons, UT

Spent the weekend teaching a Level 1 avalanche course for Exum as part of the Wilderness Medical Society's Wilderness and Mountain Medicine Conference. In addition to various lectures on avalanche safety, rescue, snow science, etc. on Friday evening and on Saturday and Sunday, we spent both Saturday and Sunday out in the field in the near-piste backcountry of The Canyons resort. Saturday's outdoor session was devoted to practicing beacon searches, avalanche rescue scenarios and constructing snow profiles and performing stability tests. Sunday was a bit of an unpleasant day, with super high winds, graupel up to 4 cm per hour and even a lightning storm complete with loud thunder claps while we were on the ridge. All in a days work! We still managed to get in a short tour and practice weather observation, route finding, tracksetting and on-the go style stability observations. It was a great weekend and a good reminder that even a hack like me has a little something to offer to highly qualified and successful doctors.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dawn Patrol

Hit up the best run in the Wasatch (NOT) for a dawn patrol session with some of the aforementioned wonderful wasatch women. Meeting at 5:30 seemed like insanity, but it felt so great to watch it slowly get light as we huffed it up the old skin track. A few cms of fluff covered things just enough to keep it from seeming really grim. The skiing wasn't terrible, but we weren't drooling for a second lap. I guess sometimes it's OK when you can't stay out all day.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Living the life of a grad student, Salt Lake City style

I've gotta say, although I am a BC (British Columbia) girl at heart, Salt Lake City, where I live right now has some major benefits. I am attending grad school full time, and although in past semesters the "full time" really could be in quotes because the only thing that the time I was spending on campus was full of was surfing the internet and being generally useless, this semester my nose is to the grindstone because I see the completion of my thesis in sight and am running towards it like a hungry horse towards the barn. Although, unlike a horse that only has hay on the brain, I tend to be distracted by all the things I love to do that don't involve school. Which is why Salt Lake City is so gosh-heck great.

My week began on Sunday, with a girl's day out skiing God's Lawnmower in Big Cottonwood Canyon. It was so great. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and we pranced uphill at around 3000' per hour while my ski partners chatted and giggled. These Wasatch Women are hardcore. One of them had done the Wasatch 100, a brutal ultramarathon and the other had completed an iron man triathalon.

Monday began with an early morning bouldering session at the climbing gym. Sips of coffee between burns and my ipod pumping obnoxious hip hop into my ears kept me motivated for a few hours. Then it was off to the lab to run samples on Big Dog, the resident Mass Spectrometer in the lab I do most of my research in.

Tuesday AM with low avi danger and clear skies saw me at the base of Argenta, a 3000' long slide path in Big Cottonwood Canyon for some solo uphill training. I am hoping to do the Wasatch Powderkeg, a Randonnee Rally race in March so am trying to be able to complete 5500' of uphill and downhill in under 3 hours. On this fine morning, after 2 laps on Argenta, I squeeked in at 2:59 minutes, but am convinced that the horrible quality of the snow slowed me down on the downhill sections. A combination of windcrust, suncrust and old tracks made quite the cocktail for tired quads after what was, for me, a brutal uphill pace.

Wednesday I had a date with Big Dog all day. In fact, my schedule involved injecting a CO2 samlple into Big Dog's greedy chops every 200 seconds. Imagine, having to do the same simple, 20 second task every three minutes for an entire 12 hour day. Not really enough time to eat, go to the bathroom, or even get into a good web surfing or emailing session. Just enough time to stare off into space and get really, really bored. I hit the climbing gym for a late night session to mellow out... it was great. The guy working the desk put on loud music, the crowds dissipated, and I finished off the day with a great bouldering session.

Thursday is today. I am spending quality time with Big Dog and it's snowing outside which means my dawn patrol ski session with the hardcore Women of the Wasatch club tomorrow morning is going to be great!

Sometimes I focus on all the adventures I am missing because I have chosen to go to grad school. But when it comes right down to it, although the adventures might be on more of an hourly scale than when I am climbing or skiing for weeks on end, it's not just size that matters, right?