March 27, 2005

Solitude and Park City

Utah gets snow. Lots and lots of it. This week Alta saw 80” and where we were got around 60”. This is great for skiers, which we got to be on Tuesday, but not so great for outdoor laborers, which we were the rest of the week. Tuesday we skied Solitude, which was very nice. We found a tree run that we nicknamed etch-a-sketch because due to wind loading it was fresh untracked powder every time we hit it.


Me, waist deep.

Solitude has some fantastic groomers.

The Solitude base area.

Tuesday night we arrived in Park City and moved into the plush Deer Valley condo that would be our home for the next five nights. Again we got to work with our friend Peggy and this time we got to make a new friend, Cookie. Cookie kept us in stitches all week. Peggy offered us more work next weekend and we couldn’t resist the chance to hang with her and Cookie again. Also the carney jobs dry up when ski season ends so we figure we ought to work while we can.

Our Jeep course.

The youngest competitor in our Rail Jam competition.

All this working has allowed us to up our budget to $50 per day, and we have enough money to travel beyond our June 30th end date. Who knows if we can keep picking up carney work, maybe we could travel forever ;)

This weekend’s event was another Warren Miller film showing, Rail Jam and RC car course for Jeep. We scaled the course down a bit from the behemoth we built in Tahoe, but it was no less fun for us. The inch an hour snowfall made everything more challenging, and made us wish for unemployment when we saw all of the blissfully happy skiers enjoying hot chocolate and reliving their day’s runs. Finally, Saturday we got to ski Park City and enjoy a night off in the condo.

Today we began our trip to Ahhhhspen, where we will be attending the Pro-Patrol party. This promises to be a drunken and debaucherous couple of days. At the party, patrols from different Colorado ski areas compete in avalanche beacon drills, ski races and toboggan hauling events. Some take these competitions very seriously. Wolf Creek sets its sights on the coveted “spirit award” each year. This is really a “who makes the biggest fools out of themselves by dressing in outlandish costumes and consuming the most alcohol”, kind of award. Dan and the Wolf Creek boys will be defending their two year title.

But for now we are camped alongside the Green River in Green River, Utah. We enjoyed a campfire and the mild temperatures here tonight. Both of us are longing for warm weather camping again. Winter in the camper is much harder than summer. I’ll write more in detail about winter camping later, but for now know that we can’t wait to turn off our heaters, fill our water tanks and trade the down coats for surf trunks. However, that will all have to wait, because there are still three weeks left to ski season.

March 21, 2005

Durango, Colorado Again

Due to a bout of employment this last week we have no real posting for today. Dan spent the week hauling spring breakers off of Wolf creek and I sold them sunscreen and obnoxious hats from here in Durango. We did get to enjoy a fantastic day of riding yesterday, Wolf Creek got about 12” which made for yet another one of those epic Wolf Creek powder days. While in Durango we got to visit with our dear friends and Dan’s family who always make it so hard for us to leave this place.

With Dan in Pagosa and me here in Durango, we were seperated for a week. This is the most time we have been apart in nine months. We both survived although our mounting co-dependency is becoming more and more obvious.

Today we leave for Utah for another Warren Miller event and a few days of free skiing. This job makes for much more interesting story telling and photos, so I promise to post later this week/weekend with tales of our Utah antics.

Feel free to drop us an email We love hearing from you all. Cheers and check back soon.

March 13, 2005

Colorado Cool Down

We spent last Sunday in Moab, visiting Brother Pat their parents. It was Dan’s father’s birthday. From there we went back to Crested Butte. Last time we were there our friends Alan and Liz were out of town and we had promised to return when they’d be around.

Alan is the Gunnison County Avalanche Forecaster as well as a very experienced backcountry guide. We decided to utilize his expertise for our first real backcountry tour of the winter. I got to try a split board for the first time ever, a split board is a snowboard which splits in half to be used like skis for skinning.

I have never skied. I learned to snowboard at 16 and never got around to learning to ski. This is a disadvantage in the backcountry where often skinning (skiing with a skin on the bottom of your ski to allow you to go uphill) is the best method. Prior to this day I had always snowshoed when riding in the backcountry.

Dan skiing the coullier.

Our line.

Me at the bottom.

There was a definite learning curve associated with the split board, and having my legs be able to operate independently of one another was a bit unnerving at first. But, once we got to the top it was all worth it. We found ourselves atop a nice 42 degree pitch with a 100-yard coullier in the middle opening up to a large gladed powder field.

The next day we skied at the area with Liz and our other Crested Butte friend Andreas, who is a welder/ artist. The day was cloudy and flurries fell from time to time. Still we had a blast. We got to see our buddy Eddy while we were there as well. Eddy was very busy, his paper just won a bunch awards and he won one for best editorial writer.

Dan, Alan and Liz.

Before we left on Wednesday, Dan, Alan and Liz hiked up another peak to get some spring skiing in.

Alan skiing Carbon, in the Crested Butte backcountry.

From there we stopped over at the Orvis Hot Springs. Orvis is a clothing option hot spring so no pictures are allowed. Trust me you wouldn’t want to see most of their patrons in the buff anyway. Orvis is very camper friendly. A night there is $24/ person, but this allows you two day’s worth of soaking and since a day pass is $12, it is like free camping.

Then it was back to Telluride to visit Eric and Jamie for a few days. This turned out to be a very expensive visit. You see Jamie and Eric, along with 3 of our other friends had been planning a trip to a foreign, warm, exotic place complete with surf waves right in front of their hotel. Since they are going somewhere we have never been and have always wanted to go to, we were easily persuaded to join them. Retirement is hard work, we think we've earned a vacation from vacation ;). So in late April we will leave behind our camper and fly off for a week in…. Well you’ll just have to wait and see.

Also while in T-ride we got to get our blood pumping, and Dan got to hone his firefighter skills when Jamie and Eric’s water heater caught fire just as we were getting ready for dinner. Thanks to the quick thinking of all involved the fire was contained to just the wood below the heater and since it was in the garage the smoke damage was negligible. We were all immensely thankful that we were home, and that we caught the fire really early, otherwise it could have been very bad. Sometimes you are reminded how truly small and fragile we can all be.

Now we are back in Durango for a few days. Dan will be working at Wolf Creek, helping out during the spring break rush, and I’ll be peddling ski equipment at The Ski Barn here in Durango. We gotta pay for this vacation some how.

Special note of thanks: The banner ads below help us to generate a small bit of income. They only pay us once we have earned over $100 in a month. Thanks to all of you we did that for the first time in February. We had thought we’d earn a few gas tanks worth, but since our earnings equal almost exactly the cost of a day of cat skiing we have decided that is a better use for the unexpected cash. We have been telling our buddy Marc (from Cerritos, Mexico fame) that we would have him guide us skiing for about three years now. So, on April 9th we will embark on our first ever “Reader/ Ad Clicker Appreciation Day” and get to go ski somewhere we have never been before, with some of our best friends. Many, many thanks to all of you who support us by supporting our sponsors.

March 03, 2005

Lake Tahoe Powder

Last shot from Heavenly. This is Mott Canyon.

This might be a good time for me to describe for you what kind of riders we are so you can decide for yourself how to interpret our "reviews". Dan has been skiing forever; he competed in down hills in his youth (although he was always about 50lbs short of being a contender). He coached downhill and has ski patrolled for eight years. He can ski anything. Additionally he snowboards, and much to my chagrin is also really proficient at that.

I grew up in Ohio, snowboarded for the first time at 16 and that doesn't really count because it was on a blue ice covered, converted, land fill. At 18 I moved to Colorado and started really riding. I am proficient and can make it down anything that Dan drags me out to, my signature move is the double black diamond falling leaf (for those who don't know this is not a good thing, this is a cheaters way down runs that are too steep for them).

Given our choice we would both always ski powder filled bowls and tree runs. We like going into terrain parks on non-powdery days when other runs are hard and unforgiving. Neither of us would draw any ohhs, or ahhs in the half-pipe and rails with kinks in them make my butt hurt just looking at them. But give us a jump with a soft landing and watch us go.

I suppose you could best sum up our style as backcountry like in-bounds skiers. We like natural terrain features, steep powder filled glades and even the occasional balls to the wall groomer race. That ought to do it, now on to the areas.


On Tuesday we drove around the lake to Homewood. Homewood is a fabulous place. It has lots of easily accessed backcountry-like terrain, fun groomers, amazing views and during the week you can get tickets for $22. We went there because a couple of blog readers wrote us to say that it was the best kept secret on the lake, and I'd have to agree with them.

View of the lake from Homewood.

Homewood has some great tree skiing.


Lodging is pricy in North Tahoe so we opted to spend a night at Harrah's Casino in Reno. For $35 we got a four star rated room, not too shabby for the likes of us.

This picture is blurry and I think that about sums up our time in Reno.

In South Lake Tahoe there are plenty of $30-40/ night motels, the campgrounds charge $25 and the showers don't work at the one we chose, so forking over another $5-10 is pretty easy to justify.

Alpine Meadows

Dan really wanted to visit Alpine, it is less known than its neighbor Squaw, but everyone we talked to recommended it, so we had to go. Once again we were not disappointed. We woke up in Reno to learn that Alpine had received 10" of fresh; Dan started twitching, as he is prone to do in anticipation of skiing powder.

Alpine has amazing bowls, cliffs and super craggy faces. It has terrain that could challenge even the most seasoned riders. It is not crowded and we were able to get fresh tracks all day long. Riding all of these different places is so much fun. I feel really challenged and for the first time in years I feel like I am actually getting better at riding.

Dan dropping a chute off of the Sherwood Cliffs.

Here's a picture of our tracks in The Promise Land at Alpine Meadows.

Dan jumping the cornice on Expert Shortcut.

Sierra at Tahoe
First off I must give a big blog shout-out to Brook, Brent and Bonnie for hooking us up with free tickets to Sierra- Thanks you guys. We had a great day. We missed the storm by one day, so the in-bounds terrain was best on groomers and in the north facing trees. Sierra has SIX terrain parks and a half pipe. SIX!! We like it out here because all of the areas designate their parks as small, medium and large, small being our personal favorite.

On our first chair ride, we met a very nice ski Patroller named Mitch, who took us on a backcountry tour just out of bounds. Here's Mitch and a friend picking their lines.

The view from the top of the backcountry bowl. It is a bit intimidating because you have a drop to get into the bowl and you cannot see your landing.

And from the bottom if you look closely you can see Mitch standing in the middle. It was a fantastic run and only about a 20 minute hike.

The lake from the deck of the Grandview Lodge.

Since we went backcountry today, and have some plans to go out of bounds in Colorado next week, we decided to practice with our transceivers. We took turns burying a transceiver while the other one located it. Dan is fantastic at finding the transceivers, I feel very safe. I on the other hand take a bit longer than he does, so if you are my partner you might invest in an avilung :)

For those of you who have no idea what any of that means, I'll break it down. Since there is avalanche danger in some of the places we go, we have avalanche transceivers. We wear them incase one of us should get caught in a slide and buried. The other can use their receiver to locate the buried person. Transceivers take practice to use, so a few times a winter we try to do these drills. Once you have an idea of where the buried person is you use your probe (an 8' rod, a lot like a tent pole) to test the snow for the person, then you use your shovel to dig them out. All of this can be easily carried into the backcountry, in avy-gear specific packs. If I am your partner you might wear a vest with a special air chamber and tube built in to buy you some more air/ time.

Sierra has a fantastic program where for $25 you can get a guided tour back into the area we rode today. You get a backcountry safety lecture, and transceiver lesson. All of the gear is included and your guide is a ski patroller. Avalanche awareness classes can be pricy, but are a must if you intend to ski the backcountry. This is a great way to get introduced to this kind of terrain in a controlled and non-intimidating way.

Dan playing with his transceiver.


For our last day in Cali we skied Kirkwood. We had to because we've heard so many great things about it and because it is the sister resort of Durango Mountain Resort. We weren't super motivated though, so we had a very leisurely morning and hit the slopes promptly at 1pm. Kirkwood is awesome. it has cliffs, chutes, bowls and plenty of scare yourself terrain. The people were all very friendly and the resort is beautiful.

After our afternoon of skiing we met a guy from Berkley who clued us in on the Snow Parks, we keep seeing along the roads. Seems the Snow Parks access backcountry skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing etc. For $25 you buy an annual fee and these areas make for excellent boondocking. Wish we'd met him before we paid $25, but such is life.

Top of Kirkwood.

Rachel contemplating her bump line.

Look closely, see the lift in the distance?? It accesses some incredible terrain.

Our time in Cali has been spectacular. Where else can you find the views of Tahoe and a place with so many skiing options? We will be back for sure. But for now Colorado is calling. Time to bonsai it back.