Shredding Summer Bowls

-It was at that moment that I decided he was a lunatic, but decided to follow him up the mountain anyways. He then made a face and pushed his broken foot painfully into the stiff racing ski boots he used in the backcountry.
-It was at that moment that I decided he was a lunatic, but decided to follow him up the mountain anyways. He then made a face and pushed his broken foot painfully into the stiff racing ski boots he used in the backcountry.

Ever since hiking my first fourteener (14000 foot mountain) I have always wanted to ski one. Steep colliers, looming cliffs and opens snowy bowls are not only scenic to look at, but also full of awesome, very skiable terrain. This spring, the avalanche rating was low enough for me to actually ski one.
At 4 o’clock in the morning, I rolled out of bed just enough to reach my phone and make the beeping stop, and then rolled happily back under the warmth of my comforter to fall back asleep. A few seconds later my second alarm started going off, and I reached around the edge of my bed blindly trying to silence it, only to find that it was just slightly out of reach. Silently damning myself for knowing the best plan to wake myself up at four in the morning, I rolled out of bed to silence my alarm and get ready.

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Standing in the elevator, I groggily tried to make sure that I had everything. My ski boots were slung over my shoulder, skis and poles in my right hand, medium sized backpack on my back with skiing skins (used to walk up the mountain with skis on), a shovel, avalanche beacon, and a pair of crampons that would clang against my ice ax; but most importantly, I had my morning coffee in my left hand. I walked out of the elevator to meet my friend Jake by his Chevy Avalanche pickup truck. “Are you ready” he asked me. Through a pair of bleary eyes I told him, “No, but lets go anyways.”

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Jake is an ex ski racer, and experienced backcountry skier. He’s typically the guy you see at a ski resort going off a huge cliff, or the guy you get a glimpse of weaving quickly through the trees on a gladded run. He is also an ex photo journalist, now turned full time student. He’s a good skier, and a good guy. Jake also has a cop radar, so we made good time driving, stopping only once for some bagels and chocolate milk.
Parking at the base of the mountain was surprisingly crowded for a backcountry day. There were 15 cars park in the lot, as opposed to 2 (seeing another person in the backcountry is generally considered to be a crowded day). Warm days, and low avalanche danger typically bring the reluctant rose backcountry skiers away from the chair lifts to earn their turns (myself being one of them).
As if climbing a 14er and skiing down the other side wasn’t enough, I found out that Jake had broken his foot earlier that season, while we were putting our ski boots on. The only thing he had to say about it was, “Its fine as long as I can get my foot into the ski boot.” It was at that moment that I decided he was a lunatic, but decided to follow him up the mountain anyways. He then made a face and pushed his broken foot painfully into the stiff racing ski boots he used in the backcountry. With Jake’s broken foot now comfortably in his boot, we tested out avalanche beacons, put skins on our skis, and began our ascent of Mt. Quandry, which loomed auspiciously overhead.

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The morning was already warm, as the sun slowly started shining intensely on the base of our climb. In a matter of minutes I had stripped my coat off and was stepping over tree roots in a t-shirt and sunglasses. The snow was firm under our skis. Each step we made sounded like a laser gun shot from Star Wars, as our skis slid up the hill, and then went silent as the skins caught the ski under foot for us to continue walking up the hill. It as almost easier than hiking up the hill in the summer, as we made our way through slowly thinning forest, and cleared the tree line.
The world was open to us as we cleared the tree line. As far as the eye could see, the Rocky Mountains were covered in snow, and shining brightly under a perfectly clear morning sun. Below us, small birds chirped in the evergreen trees, happy that summer was finally on its way. I would have smiled if I wasn’t breathing so hard.

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Air is something that I wish was available in a drink at high altitude. Difficult hiking combined with the thin air of high altitude combines to make breathing surprisingly difficult. I felt my body slowly degenerating into crazy amounts of fatigue, and my easy going pace slowly devolved into tiny labored steps. Eventually though, we made it to the top.
Below us were a variety of massive cliffs, gnarly couloirs and chutes leading to an ice covered lake on the left side of our perch. An afternoon snowstorm was approaching in the distance, whiting out the mountains to the east of us. We did not want to get caught in this storm, so rather than drinking a beer at the top, we began our descent.

The skiing began at an angle above 45 degrees. As I slid down the slope after Jake, I realized that the snow had a thin layer of icy crust above the softer snow underneath. Jump turning on a 45 degree plus angle slope covered in crusty snow gets the adrenaline pumping. We had chosen to descend a couloir, and our trail was bordered with rock gardens. I followed Jake to the rolling ridge just below the top of our mountain’s summit, and saw the slope laid out before us.
A massive blanket of crusty white snow was laid perfectly from the top of the run, to the bottom. In between were small cliffs, rocky islands, and hills that rose like the humps of a camels back.
As Jake and I took turns leading the descent, we kicked off small piles of sluff that followed our descent like sea foam from a wave. Sluff is caused by the spray of snow skiers and snowboarders kick off in each of their turns, and can get grow into small avalanche like waves. We weaved in and our of our sluff piles until we reached the bottom of the 14er.
Finally at the bottom, we stood at the base of an ice-covered lake, and at the edge of a forest. In front of us was a service road that led back to the car, warmth, and some delicious BBQ in Idaho Springs. It was kind of hard to believe that we had just climbed and descended one of the largest mountains in the United States, but we had. And even though we didn’t get to drink a beer at the top, we did get to slide down on a pair of skis, rather than walk the entire distance.

Drinking Beer in Mormon Country: Hiking to the Top of Moab National Park

 

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With new snow falling in Colorado, the avalanche danger has been too high for any sort of backcountry skiing (you’re welcome mom). Instead, I have managed to find a new job, finish my semester, and hit as many graduation parties as possible. This post is a kickback to my spring break trip earlier this semester when I went to Utah and as you can imagine, things persisted to get exciting in a pretty moderately extreme way:
Moab is one of my favorite places because every time I think that I know all of the best parts of the park, I find out that there is something surprisingly better. My friend Pierce knew of an area an area where we could hike to the top of Moab, do some fun scrambling on the sticky sandstone, and instead of hiking to the bottom again we would just repel over some 80 foot cliffs. He didn’t have to twist my arm.
The hike was named Elephant Buttress, and it isn’t on any of the park maps. Our guidebook (very important) led us to the Garden of Eden area, which is as pretty as it sounds. A forest of red Desert Towers dominated the area. They were easy to walk through, and started the beginning of a very unforgettable hike.

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We made our way past the desert towers, and into a deep canyon that had cliffs hundreds of feet high, and were perfectly vertical. The sunlight reflected off the sides of the canyon, surrounding us in a red glow. It was so pretty that it was distracting. We took a ton of breaks for pictures, and to eat trail mix. It was awesome until we reached a fork in the road that we couldn’t figure out.
Our trail came to a small basin, with two very difficult climbs that led into different areas. On the side of one climb was the repel that would lead us further along the trail. We tried to climb the first section of rock, believing that the trail was on the other side for twenty minutes, before finding out that we were completely wrong.
Mountian Project is a website that I believe everybody should use. If we didn’t have our phones, and access to the mountain project, we would still be trying to figure out which way to go (not literally). The website had everything lined out on a map that somebody had drawn, and we were lucky enough to have service to find it. It clearly pointed to the area on the right, which made sense almost immediately, as it was much easier to climb.

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We did our repel, and then hiked the rest of the way to the top of Moab. The entire park was layed out before us. On the right side were the elegantly magnificent Windows Arches, which attract a lot of the park’s attention. In front of us were the Lasalle Mountains, which dominate the eastern view of most of Utah. Their snowy peaks were contrasted against the deep red of Moab’s red desert. These were the most prominent features.

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Finally, under the dim light of the setting sun, we made our way back to the cars, through an 80 foot repel. It was way easier than actually hiking down the whole way, and its something I recommend to anybody who knows how to use a rope and a harness. I cant wait to go back and do it again (with some hot women).

The Semester Is Over: Time To Drink Beer, and Write Blog Posts!

 

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Its May and most people are thinking about the warm sandy beaches of summer, but I still cant get snow off of my mind. The late spring is the best time for backcountry skiing, because of the low possibility for avalanches. Living in Boulder Colorado, with Rocky Mountain National Park’s heavy snow pack still visible when I roll down my windows and drive to the grocery store, I am constantly reminded that the ski season is not over.

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Dragon’s tail is one of Colorado’s classic couloirs, and something my friends and I have been trying to tick off of our checklist. We had attempted the peak the week before, but had to turn back. Our avalanche beacons had mysteriously died sometime during the spring, and being the responsible backcountry enthusiasts that we were, we decided that the dragons tail hopefully wasn’t going anywhere in the next few weeks (you never know what the rest of the dragon is planning to do).
So this weekend, a few of my more experienced friends and myself are planning to return to that spot to finish ski the deep snow that can still be seen from town, and knock one of the classics off our list. Keep your eyes peeled for some sunny, skiing photos, steep descents, and no doubt an exciting story.

What Do You Mean By Terrifyingly Fun?

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Its 2 oclock in the afternoon. A cold wind is winding through the curves of the canyon, humming through the juniper treetops behind me and tossing the hair around my forehead. I try and relax with my hands and feet pasted to the side of a cliff. Hundreds of feet below me the boulder creek continues on its way towards boulder, foaming into white water and filling the canyon with a crashing white noise that is relaxing. I take a moment to warm my hands up by blowing into my fist, and thinking about how the peaceful canyon is clashing paradoxically with how fucking scared I feel.

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For pretty obvious reasons, I cannot stop thinking about falling. Questions like, “well how do I know this equipment really works?” pop into my mind, as I think about moving further up the cliff. This is in spite of the fact that everything I have is new, and that I have already taken some pretty big falls on it without any problem. I’m being overwhelmed by my natural instinct which is telling me to be afraid of heights.
In spite of the description I just stated above, I actually enjoy climbing. It is one of my favorite things to do outdoors, and oddly enough I enjoy it because I get scared. Reading the description will probably have you thinking, “climbing doesn’t sound very fun at all” and in a way you are right
Climbing is an oxymoron. It’s terrifyingly enjoyable. I think that most people would be lying to you if they said that there was no instinctual fear running through their head when they reach the top of an 80 foot cliff and go about setting the top anchor. The idea of being able to fall (even if its just 5 feet) to the last quickdrawed bolt is scary as hell when you’re 80 feet above the ground.dsc8105

 

But when you finally reach the top of that cliff. The final layer of protection is set. You lean back to enjoy a birds eye view of the canyon you are climbing in. An elated feeling of knowing that you overcame the voice in your head supercharges your body. It makes you feel like you can do anything. Or at that you could least climb possibly an even harder cliff.

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With this in mind, I did not finish the climb that day. I passed it off to a friend who was feeling more confident than I was at the time. Sometimes its just a little bit too scary, and there is no shame in backing down on something you don’t want to do. That wouldn’t be a very moderately extreme, and as you might have noticed this whole website is dedicated to being moderately extreme. Yeah I like to get a route and push my limits, but I don’t actually want to hurt myself. Rock climbing is dangerous and scary, and sometimes I like my comfort zones.

 

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Where Do Online Casino Games Get Their Inspiration From?

The past years have experienced a number of interesting innovations in the universe of interactive entertainment, or video games. The first thing is that games have evolved from being essentially basic platforms to titles with Hollywood-style productions. The second innovation is actually being considered an evolutionary step back, since these games have been reduced to their simplest game play presentation and structure, focusing on quick amusements that are easy to pick-up-and-play. These “casual games” are primarily made for an audience that seldom or rarely play video games, such as casino players. They play with replicas of the table games and slot machines, with some unique designs which make them works of art and not just amusement machines. Let us look at the places that encouraged the designs of some popular online casino games.

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Egypt for “Cleopatra II”

Mystical, powerful and beautiful, Cleopatra blended guile and grace while ruling over Ancient Egypt, and casino players who accept her challenge in this game have to keep themselves from getting distracted by her gaze. The country that this game represents is filled with culture, architecture and art. This is the region that has provided us with centuries of rich history, the Sphinx Petfinder, and the pyramids.

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Siberia, for “Siberian Storm”

According to the GeoRef, database, Russia is considered the biggest country on Earth, and it is likely to have a lot of unexplored areas because of its size. Siberia is a huge component of this region, engulfing most of north-eastern Asia. It is able to reach the Ural Mountains and Pacific Ocean to the East, and the Arctic Ocean to the borders of Mongolia and China and the north-central Kazakhstan hillside to the south. With all of these credentials, it is no wonder adventurous casino players think of Siberia as the perfect place for travelers who want to discover uncharted territories. This is why IGT, a Reno-based gaming company, captured the chilly atmosphere of the Siberian region with castlejackpot.com Siberian Storm, which is a good test of character for people who want to conquer it.

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Sumatra, for “Sumatran Storm”

In 2008, the Sumatran Tourism Board reported that the total number of tourists who visited the Indonesian island of Sumatra saw an increase from 180,000 in 2007 to 260,000. Because of the island’s pristine mountain lakes, beaches with dark sand, and intense volcanic movement, Sumatra becomes increasingly prominent among people looking for a tropical escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Agoda provides tourists with travel packages to see the Parapat luxury resort near Lake Toba and the tombs and royal palace of Samosir island, while casino enthusiasts can take a trip on the wild side by playing “Sumatran Storm”.
These casual mobile games may lack the aural and visual flair of the ones in the brick-and-mortar casinos, but they still offer players with a fun time.

Highlander: A Journey to the top of Aspen’s Highlands

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Aspen is famous for its highlands bowl. It dominates the skyline from the city, and towers above the highest chairlift. On a powder day, there is nowhere else in aspen you would rather go, and as I found out by the line of people trying to hike to the top, it was also true on an icy day.
Because so many people hike to the top of highlands, there are steps worn into the ice for your boots. I don’t know how possible the hike would have been without them, because hiking ice in ski boots is a slippery fall waiting to happen.

-It was at that moment that I decided he was a lunatic, but decided to follow him up the mountain anyways. He then made a face and pushed his broken foot painfully into the stiff racing ski boots he used in the backcountry.

But it was worth it when I finally made it to the top. The iconic Maroon Bells were standing off in the snowy distance, and all of the people were essentially partying at the top. Tibetan prayer flags were fluttering in the light breezes of the fair day that surrounded us, and everybody was talking excitedly about the X-Games.

Snowless Backcountry Skiing?

This has to be one of the craziest backcountry skiing videos I’ve ever seen, for the main reason being that there is barely any snow in most of the footage, and they still launch huge cliffs! Most of the world is stuck in an unfortunate snow drought. The typical powder capitals of the world, like the Alps and Utah, are getting barely enough snow to keep their slopes open. Its been bad enough in some places for the resorts to simply not open.
So like the video says, “You can stay in a bar and get drunk” or you can ski. These guys are the gnarliest skiiers I’ve ever seen. I hope you enjoy the video.

Rock Climbing Interrupted by a Blizzard

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If I were to tell you it is fun to rock climb in winter, you would probably laugh at me. Who would want to take off their gloves and snow stuff, slip into a pair of shorts and long sleeve shirt, and cling to the side of what could only be imagined as an icy cold cliff? I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to tell me that this seemed to be a bit more than a moderately extreme activity. But then you wouldn’t know why Boulder is considered to be the climbing Mecca of America.
Boulder Colorado is a place notorious for cheating on it’s seasons. In Boulder, it can snow in the middle of June, and get downright balmy in the middle of January. Last weekend the area of Boulder decided it needed a break from winter, and decided to spend the weekend with summer. The temperature got up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I called my friend Pierce, because it would have been irresponsible for us to not take this window of opportunity to climb in the middle of January. I guess that way I could write a blog post about it, and then hopefully you would all think I was cool enough to visit my page.
As uniquely moderately extreme as I thought we were being, it turned out that tons of other Boulderians experience similarly moderately extreme tendencies. It didn’t take us long to realize that our warm, isolated day on a sunny piece of rock was going to be moved by the crowds into the shady, and colder side of the canyon.

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We would spend the day climbing at a place called the Cascade Wall, a 15 minute drive up the canyon from town. One of my favorite features of this wall is the single cable tyrolean traverse, which every climber has to pull themselves across to reach the other side of the river. Connecting a carabeaner from the loop of my harness to the wire of the tyrolean, I pulled myself into the middle of the creek.
Today was special for me because it was going to be my first time doing a lead climb. We were climbing a route rated as a 5.9, which isn’t too crazy if you know rock climbing, but I’m a beginner, and as a beginner it felt a little like I was about to climb Everest, and doing so in a frosty pair of athletic shorts. Luckily I wasn’t going first.

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Pierce scaled the route first, setting quickdraws into bolts that had been drilled into the side of the cliff as he went, and bringing the rope with him all the way from the bottom of the cliff, to the top. He was doing what is called setting the route. It is the hardest, and most dangerous part of climbing. Now that he was finished, it was my turn. I reluctantly started to take off my hat and puffy winter jacket.
Many climbers don’t like lead climbing because you can still fall and get hurt. With both ends of the rope on the ground, the climber has to begin the climb unsupported from the bottom, and anchor the rope to different carabineers that he attaches to the cliff on the way to the top. When they finally reach the top, the lead climber creates an anchoring system of locking carabeaners, or quick draws, before repelling back down to the bottom of the cliff.
The reason why this is a little dangerous, is because the climber can still fall as far as the last bolt they set, before finally creating the anchors at the top of the route. Lead climbers can fall as little as 5 feet, but also as much as 15 and above.

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Notice How the rope is being pulled up in my hand, and not above me.

I was considering why I had chosen to lead climb this route rather than top rope it, when Pierce finished pulling the rope down from the top of the cliff. He handed me one of the ends, and said, “Your turn.” and handed me one end of the rope to tie in.
When everything was ready I approached the wall, dipping my cold, sweaty hands into the chalk bag hanging over my butt as I went. The world felt as though it was going slowly silent around me. I slid my hand into the first hold and moved my feet off the ground and onto the cliff wall.
Though it was a pretty warm day for January, it was still the middle of winter and the wind had a biting chill in it. I had to alternate between holding onto the wall with my hands, and blowing into them to keep warm. I was starting to get cold and thinking of turning back around, when I reached the second clip and looked down. I was now far enough that I could fall and hurt myself. Then the adrenaline began kicking in.
Full of adrenaline, my hands and feet started to warm up. My mind was clear. The chalk I kept liberally applying to my hands made it easier to grip the rock, which helped my confidence.
Everything was going so smoothly that it felt kind of like I was cheating. I never have good luck when I first go into uncomfortable situations. So, as it were to be expected, things started to go wrong fast. Winter was about to find out that Boulder had been cheating on her with Its summer mistress.

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Almost at the top of the wall, a snow flurry with gusting winds blew over the ridge and into our side of the canyon. The winds were now howling past me, whipping the rope that dangled between my legs to the left and right in a very, non-reassuring way. Little flecks of snow started peppering my hands, making them cold and uncomfortable.
I had reached a turning point moment, where it would have been fine for me to be lowered down by Pierce, or I could continue climbing until I reached the top. As the people standing below me seemed to be miserably cold enough, I decided that it was for the good of everybody if I continued.
The scariest part of lead climbing for a beginning climber, is at the top. The lead climber has to attach themselves to the wall with strings of webbing, untie themselves from the rope (the same rope which had been saving your life), and then pull that rope through a set of anchors to prepare for a repel. As I was doing all of this for the first time, it was snowing and cold. There was no time to enjoy the beautiful view that a 100 foot cliff has to offer a climber.
After everything was set up, I rappelled down almost immediately, jumping into my coat, hat, and gloves at the bottom of the cliff. Pierce and I discussed leaving because of the snow, but as we were wrapping the rope up to put away, our little flurry blew over a mountain ridge to the north, and it was like summer again. Whatever argument Boulder had been having with winter ended with the snow leaving, and summer returning once again.
Pierce and I walked a little further down the wall to find some different routes. Our day of climbing had just begun.