February 27, 2011

Beartrap Fork Powder Day

Andrea enjoying some powder turns in Beartrap Fork

After yesterday's 15K race (where Andrea took home $100 for another first-place finish and we both ran PRs), today was all about skiing! Between Thursday and Saturday we got another 3 feet of snow, so ski conditions were outstanding, and to make things even better, the skies cleared and we had a perfect blue sky day.

We spent the day skiing in Beartrap Fork... our first time exploring this area. Lots of great safer terrain for skiing when the avalanche danger is somewhat elevated. I'm just going to let the photos do the talking... its obvious that we had a really, really awesome day!

Skintrack stoke

A little scramble up to the first highpoint of the day

Mt Raymond (left) and Gobbler's Knob (right) looking nice

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Pro photo-man Alecs Barton took this shot of me skiing above the clouds on our first run

And here we go... Andrea ripping it...

...skiing under a very bright sun

Farming some turns

I like it when the snow is nice and light

Honeycomb Canyon backdrop

Andrea skinning up for another lap

I'm following behind

Andrea leaving a trail of cold smoke

My turn

Another scenic

Andrea and I before our last lap

And she brings it home against a picture-perfect blue sky...

...One more for the road... doesn't get much better than this!

More pictures on my picasa site

GPS track - 5 laps, 5560 feet climbed

February 26, 2011

SLC Track Club 15K

This morning we ran a 15K road race, part of the SLC Track Club's winter series. The course was a flat out and back near the Great Salt Lake. It was snowing pretty hard when we woke up, which made us worried the course might be slippery, but the roads were clear by the start and we had excellent (a bit chilly) weather for the run.

Neither of us have been doing much (any) speed training, so we didn't come into this one with super-high expectations, but we both ended up racing really well and were pleased with our performances...

For the second time this month, Andrea took home a first-place finish! She ran 58:25, which was a big PR! Her increased mileage is really paying off.

I finished in 3rd place (edged out at the line in a sprint for 2nd), but also ran a 15K personal best, coming in at 50:29. I was really happy with that time, considering I didn't taper a bit for this one (104 miles in the 5 days before the race, including a 33 mile day earlier this week). My strategy was to run negative splits, and I did just that... mile splits were: 5:35.0, 5:34.3, 5:34.8, 5:35.2, 5:26.3, 5:21.4, 5:22.1, 5:17.0, 5:11.1, 1:31.5 (last 0.3mi).

We are probably both in the best shape of our lives right now, from an aerobic perspective. After Antelope Island (4 weeks away), we're going to focus on running some more shorter races and hopefully crushing some more PRs!

Oh, and not only did Andrea run a great race, but she also agreed to head up to the mountains after the race to do a little backcountry skiing with me (a quick 2500 ft tour to stretch the legs out). She gets MVP of the day for that! :-)

This is where the race started: The Saltair Palace (which has a very interesting history... check out its Wikipedia page)

Here's what it looks like in nicer weather

Andrea and I before the start

Only in Utah... a few hours later, this is what we were doing!

She had a great all-around day!

Yeah, we've gotten a bit of snow over the past 10 days!

February 20, 2011

President's Day Powder

Andrea, in her new pink bombshell jacket, tearing through some powder off the Pink Pine ridge

Winter has returned in a big way! In the middle of the week, upper LCC received about 18" of snow, and so far this weekend, we've gotten 25-30" more! We forgot how fun powder skiing is!

On Saturday Andrea and I opted for a later start (we've been running a lot this week, more on that in a minute*) and headed up the Pink Pine ridge. We skied 3 awesome laps off the ridge in boot deep snow. We broke out the camera for a few action shots, but it was hard to get great pictures because the snow just didn't let up... by the time we woke up on Sunday morning (6am) the resorts were reporting 15" overnight, and the UAC had issued an avalanche warning. So we busted out a quick run, then headed up BCC to ski our 2nd day of the season at Solitude. The snow was RIDICULOUS! First few laps were knee deep all the way, no exaggeration. The whole day was an absolute blast... it was so good that we didn't even stop to take one single picture!

*Training update: I cranked out 145 miles this week with a long run of 3 hrs 11 mins. Andrea ran ~60 miles with lots of cross training, and 5K PR (on a training run). She also really helped me out by pacing me for 2 hrs of my super-long run on Wednesday. We're going to run a 15K next weekend as one last tune up for Antelope Island, assuming the weather is decent.

I have tomorrow off from work, but Andrea doesn't. Originally, my plan was to shoot for a 15-20,000 foot vertical climbing day, but the avalanche forecast is a bit sketchy right now, so I don't know what I'm doing yet. [Tuesday Update: Due to the avalanche warning, lack of partners, and other circumstances, I ended up not skiing on Monday... instead I managed to log my biggest running mileage day ever (32.7 miles, of which Andrea ran 17.5 with me) and ate 4 bowls of ice cream... I'd call that a successful "day off." The 2-day storm total ended up being nearly 4 feet!]

Now for some pictures from Pink Pine on Saturday:

Busting through a cloud of cold smoke

Andrea is all smiles when the snow is this good

My turn again

And a few more of Andrea... you can tell the snow is really coming down

So this is how good it was on Saturday... add 15-20" to this, and that is how deep the snow was on Sunday. You can use your imagination... it was amazing!

Our GPS route on Saturday. 3 laps off the ridge.

The only picture from Sunday... a screenshot of Solitude telling us that we were in for a bigtime powder day!

I turned on my GPS while we were skiing at Solitude. Kinda fun to see all the laps we did.

February 13, 2011

Lone Peak and Bighorn Peak ski descents

Lone Peak on the left, Bighorn Peak on the right, viewed from the town of Alpine

On Saturday (Feb 12, 2011) we went out looking for an adventure and ended up having another perfect day in the mountains. Early in the week, with warm & sunny weather in the forecast, Andrea suggested that we take a shot at skiing Lone Peak. That was an offer I couldn't turn down! :-) I stare at that mountain every single day and have been itching to climb/ski it since moving to SLC. I see it from work (so does Andrea; here's the view from her office), on the drive home, and from home. It beckons to us every day! Its often considered the hardest Wasatch 11,000 foot peak, simply because there is no short, easy way to get to it. On this outing, we ended up climbing 7,929 feet!

We parked my jeep in a McMansion subdivision (elevation 5,400 feet) in the small town of Alpine, Utah, and with our skis A-framed on our backpacks, started walking up a dirt road at 7:30am. After gaining just over 1,000 feet, we put on our boots and started skinning. The approach was long, but the weather was warm (almost to the point of being downright HOT once we got above 8,000 feet and the sun was beating down!). By noon we were standing on the south summit of Lone Peak (~11,250 feet). Lone Peak has 3 summits - the north summit is slightly higher than the south summit, but it requires a really sketchy traverse with double exposure (and not just minor exposure, we're talking thousand foot sheer cliffs. To give you an idea, here's what it looks like from the west. We were standing on the high point in the center of that picture.). After hanging out on the summit for a half hour, we skied several thousand feet down the south face. Then we decided "What the heck, we're already up here, so we might as well climb/ski Bighorn Peak too!" So we started climbing again, up 2000 more feet to the summit of Bighorn. From the top of Bighorn Peak, we skied about 4500 feet (my quads were burning!) until the snow started to thin out and we decided to carry the skis back to the car. We made it back before 5pm, and drove straight to Smith's to get some much-needed and well-deserved ice cream! From the valley below, we could see our ski tracks 6000 feet above us, which was really, really cool, and was a fitting end to a great day.

Enough text... lets get to the pictures...

Skinning the old jeep road

Lone and Bighorn look really far off

Long approaches and obstacles like this = you don't see anyone when you ski in the Southern Wasatch

Andrea doing a little "aid" skinning

The south face of Bighorn, hanging over the cliffs. We'd ski that later. First we headed to the left, up the giant snowfield which is called "Heaven's Halfpipe"

Andrea near the top. Big vertical relief (~6500 feet) down to the valley

Working the summit ridge. The south face of Bighorn is behind me, above the cliffs. Its an aesthetic peak, and its easy to see why we wanted to ski that one as well!

Andrea on the summit

My summit shot

Here's a 360 deep zoom panoramic I took from the top. About 30 pictures stitched together. Its really cool!

Mt Timpanogos. The cold fusion couloir is looking sweet.

Looking West from the summit. Don't slip here, because you would die.

Andrea relaxing on the top with a Diet Dew

Looking east... lots of ski possibilities

About to ski the south face

Andrea skiing the gigantic South face of Lone Peak

Cutting off the south face, and into the "Heaven's Halfpipe"

Andrea skiing under Bighorn Peak's western cliffs

A couple thousand feet of nonstop turns. Easy to see why this is called Heaven's Halfpipe.

Our tracks in the halfpipe. You can't even see Lone Peak's summit from here.

Transitioning back to uphill mode for the climb to Bighorn

Box Elder Peak. We'll be back for this one.

On the summit of Bighorn, with Box Elder and Timpanogos behind me

Andrea on the summit, ready to grip it and rip it

One last scenic from the top. I couldn't get over the vertical relief. You feel so far above the world up here.

Andrea ripping it down the south face of Bighorn

My turn. Lone Peak is the high point in the background.

It was getting hot outside... the snow was turning to rollerballs on the steeper aspects, which means its time to head home

Andrea skiing... still several thousand more feet of skiing to go

Linking some turns on corn snow. It felt more like June than February.

A look back from the meadow at 8,000 feet. You can see our tracks all the way down.

Walking out the last stretch back to the jeep

Back at the jeep... hard to believe we just skied those two peaks, they look so far away from here.

Lone Peak (left), Heaven's Halfpipe (center), Bighorn Peak (right). If you look close, you can see our tracks.

Zoomed-in view of Bighorn, with our tracks clearly visible. I took this photo from the town of Alpine, 6000 feet below. We could see our tracks from the supermarket, miles away in the valley.

Here's the GPS track of our route. Red = up, Green = down.

The elevation profile

The next day (another warm, blue sky day) we opted to stretch out the legs with a short tour from Alta. Basically, we just wanted to be in the sunshine and the mountains for a few hours. We skied 2 southern facing laps off the Emma Ridge (a quick & easy 3000 feet) and called it a day.

From the parking lot at Alta... the two peaks we skied on Sunday

Andrea traversing on the Emma Ridge

I love summer! (Wait, its February? Its 50 degrees outside!)

Our route on Sunday. Easy breezy.

More Pictures (92 total) in my Picasa Gallery.

Another awesome weekend. As I was writing this blog, I started wondering about how many females are climbing and skiing at the level that Andrea is? Not many, I presume. She's been killing it this season (her first of backcountry skiing)! Quite impressive, to say the least. :-)