Sunday, January 28, 2007

Avalanche Clinic

Two Saturdays ago I attended an avalanche clinic. Work worked it with the Utah Avalanche Center to provide a two-day avalanche clinic for employees of Thursday night was the classroom session where we spent 3 hours learning some basics on avalanches. Our instructor was incredibly enthusiastic. He is one person that you can tell is very passionate and loves his job. I have been to a few classroom discussions that covered the same material but this guy made it extremely enjoyable.

Saturday was field day at The Canyons. The entire group of us, about 40 or so plus 8 guides (most of whom are all avalanche educators), met just before 8:00 and caught a pre-opening gondola ride up to mid-mountain. From there we split into four predetermined groups. The day was going to be made up of four mini-clinics with each group rotating through each clinic.

The day started off for my group with a rescue scenario. We ducked out-of-bounds and skinned partway up a ridge to catch a few turns to where the rescue scenario would begin. The rescue scenario was this: "We had just skied into an area where an avalanche just happened. There were some bystanders who saw the slide. They said there were two people buried. One with a beacon and one without." We took stock of the situation and broke into two groups. One group doing a beacon search and the rest of use forming a probe line to find the victim who didn't have a beacon. We were a little rusty getting started, but it was most of our first time doing any kind of rescue scenarios. All in all it wasn't too bad. It took the beacon searchers about 5 minutes to find the first victim and it took us about 20 minutes to find the second victim (without a beacon). All in all it wasn't too bad for our first time. We then regrouped at the top of the "slide path" and recapped what happened. We discussed what went well, what could have been improved, and what didn't go well. It was very informative and helpful to finally put some knowledge to the test.

Second up for the day was beacon drills. The instructor took us through the fundamentals of how beacons work. We then did a test to see the effective working range and maximum search range of our individual beacons. Then we went through the basics of doing a beacon search. We then did drills where we had to go find beacons that were buried. We did single burials and multiple burials. Once again this was extremely informative. I had previously done some drills for single beacon searches, but never anything for multiple burials.

Third was snowpits. We ducked out-of-bounds again and made a short skin up a ridge. We reconvened at the top and discussed various things that can affect snow. We also talked about some basic steps in determining if you are in dangerous terrain. We then ducked off the ridge and started digging pits. The instructor for this portion was Bruce Tremper. Bruce is the head of the Utah Avalanche Center and is one of the foremost avalanche educators in the country. We went through the basics of how to dig an effective snow pit. Once we had our pits dug Bruce explained various tests to check snow stability. There was a test that I learned that is relatively new and is very effective. I also was able to participate in a ruschtblock test. I had read about this test previously but I haven't ever done one.

Yours truly in green and Bruce in red.

Fourth was safe travel through avalanche terrain. This was also informative but it was very hard to pay attention. It was the end of the day and I was tired. The weather had also changed from sunny and quite pleasant to cloudy, windy, and snowy. I had a hard time paying attention as I was just trying to stay warm.

It was a very informative day. I liked it because it covered many of the basics I had previously learned and also presented some new information that is extremely valuable.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Games Are Fun

We went to Brigham City today to visit my mom, brother, and grandparents. While we were there we played this great game that my aunt gave my grandparents for Christmas. The game is called Blokus. It was a ton of fun. You have a bunch of pieces that are all different shapes. The point of the game is to get as many of your pieces onto the board as you can. When you place a piece it has to be touching the corner of another one of your pieces, but the sides can't touch. It is fun and gets funner once all of the paths begin to cross and you have to start strategizing where your pieces will go. I recommend it.

Right now we are watching Friends. It just so happens that Jess got a haircut yesterday. Just now she asked me "does my hair look like Monica's?" My response was (as a joke) "Do you like her hair?" I figured it would help me answer correctly. I really said it as a joke, although Jess keeps saying "Yeah whatever". It is a true story though, it was a joke.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Skiing is good

I forgot to post last week about my first big tour of the year. It was Saturday morning and my friend Matt and I headed up Little Cottonwood Canyon to go tour up Grizzly Gulch. I was excited for a number of reasons. 1-the first big tour of year 2-to actually be skiing 3-to be outside 4-to test out my wicked nice new softshell jacket. I've read about the benefits of softshells for years and it was my first chance to try it and see what all of the hype was about. The tour started out interestingly enough. We started up the skin track and about 15 minutes into it we realized we were on the wrong skin track as we saw people a couple hundred feet above us on the skin track where we wanted to be. After a few minutes of traversing sun-crusted snow we got on the right track. Our destination was Davenport Hill (10,120). After about two hours we reached a ridge just below Davenport Hill. Our initial plan was to drop off the backside into Days Fork and then back up and down to the parking lot. As we rounded the hill onto the ridge we got blasted with the wind. It was ripping up Days Fork and the snow on the other was wind-ripped. So we modified our plan and headed towards the Honeycomb Cliffs (10,479) just south of where we were. We couldn't actually see the skin track to get over there so Matt started breaking trail and we figured we'd run into the skin track soon enough. Our trailblazing took us across some small questionable slopes of sun-crust that made slight fractures as we crossed. About this time some people had followed our trail for a ways and then started breaking their own up. As we worked our way up the mountain we converged with these other people and found the actual track that went to where we wanted to go. Once on top of the Honeycomb Cliffs we had some great views. It is incredible how close all of the canyons and resorts are. From where we were we could see the backside of Solitude, the backside of Brighton, and the top of the Canyons over in Park City. Everything is very close. There is actually a tour you can do where you ski Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude, the Canyons, Park City, and Deer Valley in one day. It is a long tour and you have to be in wicked good shape to do it, but it can be done.

We had reached the top after about 3 hours of somewhat leisurely skinning. We didn't waste anytime packing up skins and stepping in for the ride down. It was a great run of about 2400 vertical feet of skiing. We took it in chunks (avalanche safety). Although there were quite a few tracks already we found some great turns and even hit a few small, soft, untracked shots. It made me realize how much I don't miss skiing the resorts. Almost the whole time we were skinning and skiing we could see Alta. The place was completely packed and tracked out. I'll definitely take one powder run that I worked for as opposed to riding a chair all day for tracked out snow.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Exciting First Times!!!

Ever since Penelope was born I have looked forward to feeding her with a bottle, especially after seeing how her and Jess bond while Jess is breastfeeding.

The last few days we have been trying to get Penelope to take a bottle. Everytime I'd try Penelope would cry and push the bottle out of her mouth with her tongue and then cry even harder.

Tonight I tried again and Penelope kept pushing the bottle away and crying. I would calm her down and then try to give her the bottle and she still wouldn't take it. Then one time after I had her on her side and calm I held the bottle in her open mouth for awhile and then she finally bit down and started sucking! I am very excited that I finally got to feed her with a bottle! Hopefully she will continue to take bottles. It opens up a whole new set of possibilities. Now we are that much closer to being able to leave Penelope with people (like Grandma) so we can go ski for a couple of hours or go on a date.

Feeding Penelope for the first time.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Fun Stuff With the Baby

It's been awhile since I posted, but that seems to be the norm for blogging around the holidays. We had a good Christmas. We stayed here in Utah and visited my family on Christmas day and then Jessi's family was just down here over this past weekend.

We had a good Christmas as got some fun stuff. One of the best presents we got was a Baby Bjorn Carrier". So what did we do? We took Penelope hiking on the 26th. It was awesome. It was Jess' first time out being active since Penelope was born. We went up Millcreek Canyon. It was a beautiful sunny day and it wasn't very cold. Both Jess and Penelope did really well. I loved being outside with Jess again. I have definitely missed being able to do stuff with her. I am very excited that she isn't pregnant anymore so we can start doing stuff again.

Hiking up Millcreek

Just the other day we went to the climbing gym. It was awesome to watch Jess climb again. She was very excited to get back on the rock. She is amazing and I really have missed recreating with her.