11.29.2005

Burning Those Calories

It was nice to have a 4-day weekend, and I definitely filled it up with lots of outdoor activities. Unfortunately the majority of my friends were out of town, so it was solo Thanksgiving for me. I went up to Beaver Creek for the morning and skied, they had some good stuff open in the Rose Bowl, but they definitely did not have as much of a base as Vail did the week before. After skiing I came back and made myself a bit of turkey dinner. I didn't go for a whole turkey, seeing as I was by myself and wasn't interested in 3 months of leftovers! I just got a turkey breast and made some potatoes and veggies for sides. For Friday I decided to burn off the calories with a nice ridge hike over near Loveland Pass. Back in April I got snowed off of my attempt at Grizzly and thought with the clear skies now would be the time to re-try. The pass is paved, and is at 11,990' providing easy year round access. The area is popular with backcountry skiers, and I even played "ski lift" to a group of skiers that had skied down. Most of the people up at the pass were either skiing or taking pictures, but there were a few people on the ridge ahead of me headed toward my same goal. The ridge crest itself didn't have much snow, it was windblown and not too deep. It was a bit windy and cold though, but I was dressed for it and with such a clear day the weather was not a problem at all. I had to also climb "Cupid Point", my turnaround point back in April and another ranked peak before reaching the 13,427 foot summit of Grizzly Peak where the other climbers I had seen were having a snack. Turns out they were from out of town, visiting family nearby for the holidays. All in all it was a great day to climb, considering it is November!

Saturday it was back to the slopes, this time to Vail where the conditions kept getting better as the day went on. It startd snowing around 11am, and by the afternoon it was snowing hard with low visibility and driving winds. This was making everyone on the slopes turn into a popsicle, and most of the tourists decided to call it quits after lunch. Die-hards like me, however, were rewarded with fresh snow and some great conditions, especially in the trees. The wind blew all the snow into the trees and there were fresh tracks to be had, even at 2pm! Also the trees helped with visibility and blocked some of the wind. It turned out to be a great day, despite my frozen state. I finally melted out on the shuttle back to the car and had a late lunch before relaxing at home the rest of the evening. The snows continued overnight, and Sunday morning there was more great skiing to be had. Of course everyone came out of the woodwork to ski and it was tracked out by 10. Once again the trees held some good snow, and once again a lot of the people cleared out after lunch. I guess they had to give themselves some extra time on the roads for all the snow. There were several accidents and closures over the weekend, and all of the blowing and drifting snows caused problems even after the flakes stop falling. In fact the highway was still closed Monday near the Kansas border because of the winds. Weekends like these defintely give me a reason to "give thanks" for living up here, especially seeing as I didn't have to drive through the blizzard to get home! Hope you all had a great weekend too.

11.22.2005

Adventure filled weekend

Well Vail certainly opened with a bang this year! Last year they had one run, but all the recent snow allowed them to open with 72 runs, 11 chairlifts and a total of 1015 acres! For Vail that is only 20% open, but that acreage is more than 3/4 of the resorts in the US even have available. They have a lot of great runs on the front side open, including a couple of the steeper runs like the North Rim and Prima. Even some of the cliff areas were open, which at this time of year to have enough snow to open cliffs is a lot of snow. I didn't go over any myself, but there were a couple of good small rock jumps. Some areas had stumps and rocks exposed, but for the most part the snow was really good, and there was a lot of variety of terrain to spread everyone out across. A lot of the other resorts opened a lot of terrain this weekend for the first time all year, and things are already getting close to where they were mid-December last year. Lets just hope that we can keep getting snow to reinforce the base we already have!

Sunday was looking like a good day to climb, and I had been talking to some people on the climbing forum I belong to about getting together for a November hike. One woman, Tracy, and I had been emailing back and forth about ideas, and ended up planning a trip to a Centennial Peak neither of us had climbed before. We headed towards Mt Ouray, which is a 13,971' gentle giant of a peak about 100 miles south of me. Down in that part of the state there certainly was a lot less snow, and neither of us even used snowshoes for the hike. Unfortunately the snow covered much of the trail and route finding was a little tedious. It took us close to 4 hours to get 3 miles and 3,100' of climbing in, a pretty serious climb, but not enough to summit. We still were a mile away and another 1200 feet from the summit. The size of this peak was deceiving from the trailhead and we ended up having to turn around due to time. It was 1pm already and she was hoping to get back to Denver by 6 to pick up her kids. It was nice to have someone to climb with for sure, and especially at this time of year its safer to have a partner than to wander up by yourself. Unlike the summer when some peaks see over 50 people a day, winter conditions tend to keep most people either at home, or skiing. A lot of people think its too cold, but with our warm sun as long as it is a relatively calm day it can feel as warm as summer with the right clothes. In fact, with proper planning it can be safer in winter than summer as long as you know which routes are safe from avalanches because there are no thunderstorms to worry about, and all the loose rock is covered in snow!

11.14.2005

Let it snow...

It turned out to be quite the snowy weekend up here. Originally it was supposed to snow overnight Friday, and start to clear up as Saturday progressed before giving way to a sunny Sunday. Instead it pretty much just snowed the whole weekend, and in fact we are still under a winter weather advisory until 5pm on Monday. Most of it in the valley has been light, but it has been more consistent in the higher elevations. It was opening weekend for a couple of ski resorts, Keystone and Breckenridge; and with Vail opening next Friday the snow is truly welcome. A few of my friends and I made it up to Keystone this weekend to enjoy this new snow. On Saturday we got a late start and didn’t leave until after having lunch here in town. We only got in about 2 hours on the slopes before they closed, but for a first outing of the season it was fine. They had only some of the upper slopes open, and in fact we had to downride the gondola at the end of the day because there were no trails open to the base. Even with all of the new snow, the warmer temperatures earlier in the week slowed down their snowmaking efforts at the lower elevations. The upper slopes did include the upper sections of a couple of intermediate runs, and one beginner run back to the lift. It was cold and snowy all weekend though, and they were continuing to make snow all day Saturday while we were there in hopes to open more terrain soon. We drove back over the pass in a good amount of snow, and headed to back to my friends’ house for some chicken on the barbeque grille. Nothing quite like grilling in a snowstorm! As the snows kept flying, we slowly decided that we should head back up on Sunday, and I told them to call me in the morning when they were leaving and I would join them too. We left around 11am, and we were on the slopes in time to enjoy almost a half a day worth of skiing back at Keystone. The snows overnight definitely helped them out, and this time they had the intermediate runs open all the way, and even added two more that were not open Saturday. Still no runs open to the base, but at least there was some good fresh snow, and a couple of new runs to explore that had not been open the day before. It snowed all day, despite the forecast for sun, and even the entire drive home was in the snow. Vail Pass was getting some good heavy snow, and it was snowing in my town too. The snow carried overnight and for a brief period on Monday afternoon it was really going full blast. We could barely see out the windows at work as blizzard like conditions pounded us. It cleared up in town before it was time to go home, but it was severe enough to shut down 68 miles worth of highway, from just east of Vail all the way to Idaho Springs! Rough night to be out driving, but luckily I only had to go from work to home, which is about a mile. Vail opens on Friday, and it looks like all this snow will at least be good for something!

11.06.2005

Winter Blast

It snowed again this weekend, this time the snow levels dropped a little bit lower, low enough in fact to get some accumulation in my town. Technically we did already see some snow in town in October, but only flurries, just a dusting really. This storm was much more significant; officially my town recorded 5 inches overnight Friday. During the day on Saturday we got a couple of more brief showers, and above 10,000’ it supposedly was quite a storm. In fact there were several accidents along I-70, and the road over Loveland Pass was closed a good portion of the day. Bad news for drivers, but with the major resorts starting to open (Copper’s first day was the 4th); it was definitely welcome on the slopes. Next week I should be getting my ski pass, and will probably start hitting the slopes next weekend, hard to believe isn’t it? With Saturday not being a good day to hike, white-outs on the trail aren’t exactly the most desirable of conditions, I decided to take care of a couple of home projects. First, I wanted to replace my kitchen faucet and add a water purifier line. It turned out to be pretty easy and straightforward, but it was a little difficult attaching the faucets to the sink deck. Between the sink bowl and the wall, and with all of the plumbing, it was just a tight work area. I also needed to add some new kick base, seeing as there was none under one of my cabinets. One other thing I was looking to do was to add a new light fixture. The one there was just too outdated, and was probably the original fixture in the place from when it was built 20 years ago. The new one looks great, compliments the other work I have done well, and is a lot brighter. I was very happy with my home improvements for the day. Today was a much sunnier day, and a lot of the snow we got in town melted off. What remains will probably melt tomorrow before the next predicted storms roll in on Tuesday. I still didn’t really get out today, just a few errands and to go out to lunch. All in all I guess it was a sort of lazy weekend, but I did at least get some things accomplished at home. There is still some more things I would like to do to my place, but that will have to wait until I have some more money!