October Snow

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It snowed about a foot yesterday and, with a few inches under that from the week before, Ben and I decided to have a gander at the skiing opportunity in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Most slopes are still grass and rock, but we found some good turns on some of the more favored slopes at Alta. Continue reading

Bikeaneering

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“I scouted out a new ridge ride,” said Tom. Upon hiking our bikes to the top of the little summit, I asked “So, where’s this trail?” “Oh. There’s no trail. It’s just a ridge ride,” said Tom. Uh huh… Continue reading

Orizaba Ramblers

Orizaba, Mexico Summit to Sea Traverse

Steve Fassbinder watches Mehl play in the surf

Windmilling his kayak paddle into the breeze, Luc Mehl, 34, pulls onto the sandbar at the mouth of Mexico’s Rio Antigua and squints at the novelty of a seascape horizon in the hazy afternoon glare.  Two days of sleepless dysentery have drained Mehl’s prodigious vigor and his hands are blanched and clammy as we high-five. Still, he’s grinning with accomplishment in the salt air.

Eleven days earlier we’d set out pedaling bikes strapped with mountaineering and whitewater paddling gear in Cholula de Rivadavia, a ciudad sixty miles east of Mexico City. Without ever having visited Mexico before, Mehl composed a 220-mile bike/hike/packraft triathlon first to Pico de Orizaba (18,491 ft) and then descending through rainforest hamlets to a whitewater river. Now at sea level, we stand at the end of Mehl’s line. Continue reading

Fast Grass

Utah has gotten wallopped with its first big snowstorm around this week each of the six autumns I’ve lived here.  This week it began snowing in the mountains on a Monday night and after seeing facebook pictures of trail breaking in deep powder Noah Howell, Ben Peters, John and I decided to check it out.  With most of the NWS’s remote snow-sensing stations still decomissioned from summer we hoped that we’d find as much snow in Little Cottonwood Canyon as we’d heard had fallen in the mountains outside of Ogden.
Noah Howell skis the first snow at Alta UT Continue reading

Box Death Canyon Wilderness Backpacking

 

For a week each of the last 14 or so years, my dad, Jeff Harris, and I take a backpacking trip together.  Usually we wait until the last minute to decide on an exact destination, following favorable weather.  This year the forecast in Utah called for snow in the mountains and rain in the desert.  It was a big enough storm that we’d have to spend a full day driving north or south to avoid it.  Rather than do that, we packed rain gear and headed to one of Utah’s many wild deserts. Continue reading

Capitol Reef Traverse

My dad and I parked the car at the north end of Capitol Reef National Park and began heading south, unsure if our hypothetical route would work.  We had a few hangups where vertical canyon walls forced us to backtrack and a few other places where I think my dad was surprised to find himself climbing 5th class terrain, but we found a route through nonetheless.   At the end of the week a retired couple in a luxury sedan give us a lift back to our car.

For a whole bunch more pics… Continue reading

Antarctica

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First, I want to give a huge thanks to Doug at Iceaxe.tv and SuperG at Smith Optics.  Thanks so much guys!

The term “trip of a lifetime” gets thrown around a lot with a jaunt like this and while the phrase hints at how special the trip is, I don’t like it because it insinuates that I might never go back.  It was hard to get pulled away from a lifetime-worth of aesthetic alpine lines after only a handful of days.  Shoot, a lifetime wouldn’t be near enough time to ski all the best lines on the Antarctic Peninsula.  Doug Stoup clearly feels the same because he has already begun organizing the 2013 trip. Continue reading

The Trail’s End

While riding in the Uintas this week we came across an aspen tree with “The Trails End” carved into the bark.  The graffiti was dated 1936.  That spot is no longer the trail’s end (apostrophies having been less popular 75 years ago) and we continued the grind up to the ridge.

the trail's end aspen carving graffiti

 

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Summer is in it’s death spasms here and the trees’ chlorophyll has gone south leaving the leaves to their annual pyrotechnics.  The maples have a clear jump on the transformation with the aspens trailing a week or two behind.  Still, in the high country, aspens are far enough along to prompt Frank to reitterate the phrase “lemon-lime” about a dozen times on yesterday’s ride.  Here’s photos from a few recent rides.

 

 

PC Pedaling

Allison pedaling the local trails this weekJenn Berg on riding a quick lap after work the other nightAllison riding Link trail in Park City

 

 

Grand Teton Scramble

At about 4am yesterday, Davide and I left our trailhead bivy spot and began the climb up the Grand Teton.

Sometime around midnight the sky began clouding over and what began as a cool, crisp night was warm and muggy when we started walking. Continue reading

August Skiing

We scampered up Alta this morning to make some August turns.  It was a quicker hike than I expected – just over an hour to the top.  Little patches of snow in the shade were frozen hard on the way up, but the chute catches the sun early and was pleasantly soft by 8am.

Allison and I had last skied the chute about a month ago, when we were able to ski all the way to the parking lot.  Not so today.  It’s just about a 2500′ climb and we were able to ski down 1000′ of that before we hit the road.  

Grom stopped to watch us ski the apron then let us hop in the truck for a ride back to the base, making the “Alta Ski Lifts Company” name truthful even in August.

More photos:

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Slip ‘n Slide


Davide and I headed out earlyish today, hoping we’d beat the forecasted storms.  We didn’t.

About an hour in it began raining lightly.  We posted up under thick trees and wondered if we should keep climbing.  When it began raining a little harder, then a little harder still, we decided to pull the plug and head downhill. 

My glasses were fogging when it was still dry due to a steamy first day of August.  Then they were totally hosed once it got even wetter.  Slithering downhill looked like footage from Monet’s helmet cam.  I achieved a level of soaked-muddiness where the first thing I did when I got home was go to the backyard and hose off my sopping shoes, socks and shorts while still in them.  Minutes later trail-colored water was swirling around the bottom of the shower.

Super Tack

Allison and I shuttled up Guardsman’s Pass around 6am today for a pre-work Crest Trail ride.  It’d rained hard last night and tire tracks from previous riders had been replaced by smooth singletrack dimpled with texture from the torrential thunderstorm.  Only a few minutes into the ride we ran into an F250-sized bull moose grazing from the trail.  Waving and yelling did little to relocate the unflappable moose so we backtracked and pedaled the old trail over Scotts Hill.

For those who don’t mountain bike, just-barely-damp trails (aka tacky) are about as good as it gets for maximum traction.  Even my tired old tires pull around corners like they are mounted to roller-coaster rails.  A week ago I could feel both tires drifting sideways across some of the dustier, higher speed turns. Not today.  For trails like the Crest that have few bermed turns, riding on a morning like today allows you to pull about as many G’s around the corners as you’ll ever will.

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