Spring Gracie

2015-05-02_25285.jpgApril and May 2015

This is going to be a some what atypical post, but I guess when posts are infrequent the typicalness of them tends to go down anyway.  I decided to take the big camera out a bit and take a few pictures of the fur factory that occupies the house.  As you’ll see it is a tough life for a cat around these parts.

Utah Weather Update

April 14-16, 2015

The afternoon of April 14 we had a cold front move through the state and generate some pretty crazy weather.  Dust from the many large dry lake beds was whipped up in the winds which gusted to 90 mph in some of the canyons.  Because of the crappy air quality in the winter we have air quality sensors around the state and the one in SLC spiked to almost 300 micrograms per m^3.  This is described as “Hazardous” by the EPA, or in other words: “This would trigger health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population will most likely be affected.”.  Luckily this warning is based on a 24 hour average and the spike was only a few hours long, but it was impossible to see the mountains or more than about 1/2 mile.

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Particulate matter (dust) in the air before the cold front moved through.  During the worst inversions we get about half of this value.

 

 

After the front the temperature dropped, precipitously about 20+ degrees in 10 minutes and continued to fall after that as it began to snow.  Keep in mind the max temp at the SLC airport was 75 degrees on April 14.

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My backyard at about 7:00 am on April 15.  I think this was the most accumulation we had all winter in the valley.

 

So what does one do when it snows in Utah?  Go skiing of course!

Skied this morning at the Bird.  Conditions were…awesome compared to a normal East Coast winter…good compared to a normal Utah winter…very good for this Utah winter.  I did get 1.5 clean shots into Mineral Basin as the roped dropped.  Best turns all year for sure.  Last night after work was apparently the holy grail as we had some wind overnight and today adversely affecting the snow.  The guys that dusk patrolled last night said it was the deepest they’d ever skied and they are not fresh off the bunny slope types.  All said and done:  Snowbird 45″ and Brighton 22″.  Solitude, Canyons, PCMR, Deer Valley, Snow Basin all already closed for the season so who cares?  They did get much less due to the magic vortex of snow generation that is Little Cottonwood Canyon.

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This is what happens to people in Utah on a weekday after a big storm during still the lowest snow total year on record in the Wasatch.

 

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Its a shame Road to Provo (terrain below the rocky peak) wasn’t open. It doesn’t matter any more though as you’ll see.

 

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Mineral Basin did open and I was fortunate enough to hit it. After all the riff-raff snowboarders got swamped in the massive drifts along the untouched traverse it was me and and 14 other skiers that got to shoot some bottomless untouched white gold. After this shot my next was still exceptionally good but not totally clear of tracks.

 

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Fast forward to the same afternoon. I went home in a t-shirt, the yard is clear, grass is even greener than before, and I’m thinking I might need to mow this weekend. Even as I was leaving the resort a little more than a hour after my best turns of the year the snow was starting to get wet and heavy due to the powerful sun. Any unopened terrain at Snowbird probably will be punchy crust tomorrow.

 

Here's the 5 day temperature readings at the airport.
Here’s the 5 day temperature readings at the airport.  Pretty easy to see when the cold front came through.

 

 

 

 

 

San Rafael Swell Late Spring Trip 2015

Enjoying the "Little Grand Canyon" view.
Enjoying the “Little Grand Canyon” view.

 

April 11-12, 2015

Carly and I have been super busy and haven’t been able to get away for a weekend of climbing in quite a long time.  We thought about it and we haven’t camped since early November at least–very disappointing.  Well finally we were able to get away over the weekend and went down to the San Rafael Swell in the desert.  It was a great time with our friends Eric and Aleisha and their new pup, Bella.  Weather was a hot in the sun and cold in the shade, typical desert weather.  I felt good climbing and I’m looking forward to ramping up into a climbing specific training plan.

Website Update

It’s been a long time since I posted anything here.  Busy work schedule, trying to get into a training schedule for alpine and rock climbing this summer, and to top it off a buggy website workflow for posting stuff has keep things sparse here.  I’ve been able to find a workaround for the website issue but the work thing could always rear up again.  Need to get my G12 fixed as well for on-route pictures.  I’ve got some good trips planned for the summer so hopefully I can post them up here in a more timely fashion.

Winter and Autumn

Early October snow up at Guardsman Pass.
Early October snow up at Guardsman Pass.

October 5, 2013

Winter and autumn have been cominginling here in Utah for the last couple of weeks.  We got snow up in the mountains in late September and just about every week or so since we’ve gotten a little more.  The result is some wintery looking conditions up at Guardsman Pass.  Carly was in town for an interview and we took a ride up there to see first hand.  There were plenty of people getting after it and making the first tracks of the season on the the grassy slopes.

Grand Traverse Turned City of Rocks

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While at Castle Rocks we didn’t see another soul, so nice.

August 23-27, 2013

A couple weeks back I headed to the Tetons with Aaron and Mark to try and do the granddaddy of the all Tetons climbing, the Grand Traverse.  The Traverse is a roughly 14 mile jaunt through the most of the major peaks in the range.  While similar to the Presidential Traverse in theory it is significantly more committing, difficult, and tiring.  Much of the terrain is 3rd and 4th class scrambling, with a 50 Classic Climb thrown in the middle.  Oh and most of it is above 10,000′.  The plan was to break it into two pieces over two days, still an ambitious task.  In the words of the famous alpinist, Jack Tackle, “you’ll be rock stars if you can on-sight it in two days.”  Well turns out the roadies never even unpacked the van.

We drove up in Aaron’s sweet Westie on Friday morning.  Throughout the day clouds built in the sky.  As we reached Jackson it was nearly all cloudy.  Any not the high overcast that you can still confidently charge into the wilderness with, it was the layered, 3D clouds that you know are going to dump.  Turns out that it did as we got to the trailhead for our rest before the 12am start we had planned.  Over the afternoon and evening it rained and we decided to postpone our departure by 24 hours.  Saturday as we killed time we headed to the Ranger station at Jenny Lake and learned that it had snowed up on the Grand overnight.  Our plans were dashed.  The timeline we had planned needed good, dry weather.  The conditions were anything but.  So what is any good climber to do?  Head to where the conditions are good.  Luckily being in this neck of the woods we drove to the City of Rocks in Idaho.

The City was a good time, though our ambitions, mainly Aaron’s and mine, were deflated and we didn’t have much drive to lead.  Rope gun Mark did much of the leading.  We camped on BLM land, enjoyed an amazing evening thunderstorm and wonderful rainbow.  It goes without saying that some beers were consumed, perhaps 1-2 more than necessary.  The Grand Traverse will have to wait for another day…

Grand Mesa with Dave and Phyli

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While the gathering clouds heralded precipation we had no idea what was in store.

August 2-4, 2013

Over the weekend I took a drive out to Grand Mesa, a large plateau around 10,000′ to visit Dave and Phyli.  They drove out from Denver and we all headed up to the mesa to get out of the heat.  We certainly did that.

On my way out through the Utah desert, I saw far in the distance a storm moving through.  Unlike the East Coast the wide open landscape allows you to see storms from miles and miles away.  This storm looked to be traveling right over the highway I would be traveling.  As I got closer it was clear I’d be driving through it.  The sun set prematurely as I drove under the ominous black clouds.  When the rain started coming I had to slow from 70mph to 40mph to be safe.  As I pulled through the other side the storm was backlit by the setting sun and clouds.  Lighting shot across the sky and into the ground.  Perhaps the most amazing storm I’ve ever seen.  When I got what I thought was far enough away from the lighting I took some pictures.  I haven’t shot lightning before so I put a polarizing filter on the lens and used the lowest ISO to get a long exposure.  The long exposure gave me the best chance of catching a bolt in action.  I was able to catch a few and this one turned out pretty good.  I found it really difficult to capture how beautiful the scene was.

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One the way out to Grand Mesa I had the good fortune to drive through the most amazing thunderstorm I’ve ever seen. I could see the rain and lightning for miles before I actually hit it. The rain was brutally intense when I did..

The wild weather continued Saturday when we headed out for a hike.  There was a chance of thunderstorms and it was mostly cloudy.  Dave’s knee was acting up so we took the mostly flat and short portion of a nice hike in the area.  About halfway into the hike we hear thunder and it started to drizzle.  Then it started to hail.  This was fairly novel at first, hiking in the hail.  It grew more steady as we walked.  Eventually it was coming down furiously and the size of a blueberry.  This kind of hurts by the way.  We ducked into some not exactly sheltering trees until there was a lull.  We continued on again ducking under trees from time to time.  Hail storms usually only last a few minutes but this didn’t quit.  We finished our hike in a melee and with an inch on the ground.  After jumping in the car we headed back to the campsite and the sound of the hail hitting the car was deafening.  It eventually accumulated 1-2″ making driving quite slick.  We headed to the 1 bar in the town and waited out the storm.

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Dave trying to get the fire started again while another round of hail started.

Once back at camp we started the fire and not long after it started to hail again!  Luckily this time it didn’t last more than 10 minutes or so.  Ultimately the hail stuck around well into the next day and we left with it still on the ground.  A very strange experience indeed to have winter conditions in August.