10.28.2004

Life in 1918

In honor of the Red Sox breaking their 86 year drought, I thought I would share some facts with you about life in 1918:

Government:
Women did not yet have the right to vote.
The 18th Amendment (Commonly known as “Prohibition”) was voted on and passed by Congress.
Woodrow Wilson was the President.
Airmail was first begun using 6 decommissioned planes from WWI.

World News:
World War I ended in November.
The Bolshevik’s killed Tsar Nicholas II along with his empress and 5 children, ushering in the beginning of The Soviet Union.
Poland was not yet a country.
Ireland was still a single country.

Health:
Antibiotics had not yet been discovered, Penicillin was discovered in 1928.
Jonas Salk, the man who would go on to create the Polio Vaccine, was only 4 years old.

Pop Culture:
Movies were still “silent”, and would remain so until 1927. Charlie Chaplin was one of the most popular stars.
There were no national radio stations, and baseball would not be broadcast on radio until 1923.
Television was not invented yet.
Raggedy Ann was first produced.
The first Fortune Cookie was produced.
The New York Times began home delivery service.
“Gray’s Anatomy” was first published.
Traffic Lights did not yet exist.

Economics:
A newspaper cost about 2 cents.
The Dow Jones Index averaged about 75 points that year (it now regular tops 10,000).

Famous Births:Spiro Agnew, Ted Williams, Ann Landers, Betty Ford, Joey Bishop, William Holden, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sam Walton

Sports:
The NFL, NBA, and NHL did not exist.
Boston beat the Cubs in 6 games for the World Series, with Babe Ruth pitching a shutout for Boston in Game 1.
Wrigley Field was only 4 years old, and Fenway Park was only 6.
The Winter Olympics had never occurred, they started in 1924.

Hopefully the Cubs will win next year, and I can come up with a similar list for 1908!

PS- It’s snowing here right now :)

10.23.2004

Changing Seasons

Today I did something I have never had the opportunity to do before, at least not in October anyway, go skiing. Ski resort number 2 opened in the state yesterday, Arapahoe Basin. It too only opened one run, and one chairlift, but hey, the 700 plus vertical feet of skiing was still a longer run than anything at Devil’s Head or Alpine Valley in Wisconsin. It was a popular activity for the day, the lift line took over 20 minutes each time and the trail was pretty crowded. I only stayed until about 2pm, but managed to get in 12 runs in that time. One of the guys I work with was there with his roommates too, so we got to hang out for a little while. They didn’t arrive until the afternoon, though. The run that was open was a “blue square”, which stands for intermediate for those unfamiliar with the sport’s trail map designations. The one open at Loveland is only a beginner run, so this was a little more worthwhile in my opinion. It was a great opportunity to shake the rust off and get back into skiing shape. By the time the resorts’ terrain are all fully open in Mid-December, I will hopefully be in mid-season form and having a great time exploring my new local “hills” of Beaver Creek and Vail.

Its definitely starting to swing towards winter here, there are no leaves on the trees anymore, the temperatures drop below freezing pretty much every night, and snow is falling even in the valleys. Friday we got a light snow of about an inch or two in the valley, a little more in the higher elevations, and there are snow showers forecasted Sunday evening through Tuesday with maybe a storm system arriving Wednesday. I know for you all back home you think its “too early”, but with two resorts open, and more on the way, we are all getting really excited for winter and skiing up here in the mountains! The snow we got in the valley all melted under the sun today, so if the weather looks good tomorrow afternoon, I can go head out for a bike ride. It’s a great time of year that way, you can ski, hike or ride your bike depending on what altitude you are at.

Also, earlier in the week I got to head down to Crested Butte again to see the project I am working on under construction. They are moving along nicely, and have almost all of the footing work done, with 2/3 of the foundation walls and elevator cores already up. They have also started the steel, and are almost finished with one of the buildings. All together there are 3 buildings, totaling 44 luxury condominiums right at the base of the Peachtree Lift and T-Bar with stunning views of the Crested Butte itself. They anticipate finishing the next building worth of steel by December 1 if the snows don’t hold them up too much. At least they will have all of the foundations done, waterproofed, and backfilled before too long, so I guess down in Crested Butte at least, we’d like the big snows to hold off for a few more weeks.

10.17.2004

Ski Season Begins!

Okay, so there is only one ski area that is open (Loveland), and they only have one lift and one run open so far, and its only open because of snowmaking… but still, its officially ski season! When I first heard they were opening on Friday, I was very excited to head over there this weekend, but when I checked out their “Run Status” page on their website, I decided that one beginner run covered in man-made snow was probably not worth it. This week we have snow showers in the forecast almost everyday, with highs in the valley struggling to get out of the 40’s most of the week. I figure this will bode well for the ski areas, and next Friday Arapahoe Basin is scheduled to open as well. Next Saturday will all likelihood be the first day of skiing for me, a week before its even Halloween! I was actually up on Loveland Pass yesterday hiking around, and the views from there of the upper parts of Loveland and Arapahoe Basin are great, it looks like there is a lot of snow up there, and I’m sure if the snow gets good enough towards the middle and bottom, they will have top-to-bottom skiing soon. That doesn’t stop people from hitting the backcountry of course. Loveland Pass had a good number of people skiing and snowboarding from it. There is a large north-facing bowl of snow just east of the pass that feeds down to a switchback in the road below. People bring 2 cars, and park one at the bottom and drive to the top to hike the ridge and ski down. The pass is also popular as a hiking spot, albeit brief hikes for most. Tourists flock to the pass, at 11,990 feet above sea level and above the trees on the Continental Divide to get their picture taken with the sign, and to take short hikes along the ridge to get a better view of the peaks surrounding them.

Seeing as its hunting season and I don’t want to get shot, I decided to not go hiking in a wooded area yesterday. At Loveland Pass the only shooting you would have to worry about would be getting caught in the crosshairs of a tourist’s camera, and mounted in their photo album. I hiked out along the divide from the pass to a point that is at 12,915 feet. From here there are a few ranked thirteeners that one can access, Sniktau to the north, and Cupid and Grizzly to the south. In fact if you continue past Grizzly along the Divide, the next two peak are Torreys and Grays, to fourteeners that I climbed last year on vacation from Chicago. I chose to head toward the 13,234 foot Mt Sniktau. This is a pretty short hike, especially when you consider the starting point is already almost 12,000 feet. It took only about an hour to reach the summit. It was really cold, and terribly windy though. It felt like a winter climb, there was a lot of snow on the ridge, and over the leeward side were huge cornices of snow. By staying below the ridge you could avoid the deeper snow, but that meant you were on the windy side. At the summit I could finally seek some shelter from the wind by climbing down part of the east slopes and sitting on some rocks that were sticking out of the snow. It was nice to get one more peak in, and it gave me some great views of the two ski areas that I will have to choose from next week, and they are looking good!

10.10.2004

"Indian Summer"

The weather here had a brief warm up, just in time for the weekend. Thursday I was scraping frost from the car, and Saturday and Sunday it was sunny and in the low 60’s. We have to enjoy it while it lasts though, low temperatures are going to drop into the 20’s, and it might snow Tuesday…

I did climb another mountain, but I wasn’t really intending too. In fact when I got home to look up its ranking, it turns out that it is way down on the list at "only" 613th. Why would I climb a peak so low in ranking, when there are so many centennial peaks left on my list? I’ll get to that in a little bit, but first the hike that led me there. Today after lunch I headed off to East Vail to hike the Deluge Lake trail, a steep 4 mile trail that leads through aspen and pine forests to a little lake tucked away above treeline. The trail is pretty demanding, but the views of the Gore Range peaks, towering right above the lake, and to the Sawatch Range in the distance makes it well worth it. The routes up the peaks above the lake looked pretty serious, but the northeast slopes of one just north of the lake looked really good, and I had the time to go for it. In looking at my topo map, I found that this peak was an unnamed 13er at an elevation of 13,041 feet. It also looked to be one that I have had my eyes on all year, but I wouldn’t be sure until I was on the summit. There are two peaks that dominate the view as you travel eastbound on I-70 through Vail, they are the most recognizable in the entire Gore Range to the locals and visitors alike. I have always wondered how to get to them, and their west faces look pretty serious. Much to my delight, the peak I climbed today from the east (and much more gentle) side, turned out to be the southeastern of the pair, as when I got to the summit I had a clear on axis view straight down the highway. I had finally found the peak that had been staring me in the face every time I drove to Vail! The views from the summit were great; you could see the whole town and front side ski runs of Vail, and several 13,000 foot plus peaks of the Gore Range beyond to the north. So even though there are more than 600 peaks in the state that are taller, this “little” guy made for quite the rewarding climb in its own right.

10.02.2004

Back in The Mountains

Sorry I haven’t updated for a couple of weeks. Last week I was back home, and couldn't update, and I got to see most of you when I was there. I had a great time, and I hope you all did too. It was nice to be back, a little weird to be a ‘visitor’, but nice none the less. You have much warmer weather out there than we have here, even though it is “above normal” here this weekend at 60 degrees. It is definitely fall, and even a few tastes of winter here and there. We have had a couple of rainy days the last two weeks, and the snow levels have varied from 7,000 – 10,000 feet. Above about 11,000 feet there is snow on the ground that may just stay there until next spring with the cooler temperatures rolling in. The fall colors are looking good, but beginning to go past peak in some areas, especially East Vail. We had a meeting at the job site in Crested Butte on Wednesday, and the drive there was in prime fall-color season. The drive goes through the largest Aspen stand in the world, and it was about 80% yellow and orange for miles and miles. It was incredible, all of that color mixed in with some green pine trees in the background, and snow capped peaks beyond. Its no wonder we saw close to 2 dozen people with tripods along the 28 mile stretch of road. The project is moving along nicely, they have 2/3 of the footings done, about 1/4 of the precast foundation walls. Steel will be arriving in about a week. Not sure how frequently we will have to make the trip out there, but probably about twice a month.

Today, despite the snow in the high country, I decided to climb another peak. The snow is not deep at all, just an inch or two with some deeper drifts. The hike was almost entirely over snow covered fields and rocks, and was very cold and windy. I got my usual early start, so the sun had not had its chance to warm things up yet. The air temperature on the mountain was probably in the mid 20’s, but with wind chills close to zero at times. It felt like winter, but the sky was clear, and the snowy peaks made for some excellent views along the way. I climbed Mt. Silverheels, the 96th tallest in the state at 13,822 feet, and the 18th in the top 100 for me. It is just south of Hoosier Pass and only a few miles to the east of the fourteeners Lincoln and Bross. The climb is pretty easy, about 3 1/2 miles one way with an altitude gain of just under 3,000 feet. The route climbs a gentle grassy ridge with a few rocky sections, and the summit is visible most of the way, so you always know just how much further you need to go. The summit was the coldest and windiest part of the trip, and I didn’t spend much time there. The summit, like most, has a pile of rocks wrapping the summit to form a sort of shelter, but the entire thing was filled with wind swept snow, no escape from the wind for me, and no chance to sign the summit register which was buried in a 3 foot snow drift. The trip was pretty quick, overall it was just under 4 hours round trip and I was back at the car at about noon. The highlight was on the climb, however, when a herd of elk crossed the trail just a few hundred feet in front of me. There were close to two dozen of them, I watched them cross the slopes, drop across a ravine and then over the next ridge a mile away. It was great, they moved so fast, it was incredible to see how fast they got across to the next ridge, it didn't even take them 10 minutes. There was one elk out ahead of the others, I guess as a sort of scout, then the rest were all packed together in line about 2-3 elk wide with the bull in the middle. All in all it was a great climb, and despite being cold, the gentle slopes were easy to climb even with the light covering of snow. Maybe there will be time for another climb this season, hey Wells, what do you say? You up for it?