Thursday, August 27, 2009

UAE - The other Matt, & Paul do... The Shield Part Doux!

Another UAE (Unofficial AAS Event)

I thought this little jaunty was worthy of a post, so here it is! I wanted to try out my new glacier harness before winter and get in a little rope work so I convinced Matt from RhinoCorps to join me on Sandia Peak's Shield. He had never been on it before and I jumped at the chance to do it again.

We decided to add a little more drama to the day by rappelling back down the face and hiking out of Waterfall Canyon. Man! what a Bushwack THAT was! After a 2 hour hike in on Rincon trail to the base we summited in about 1.5 hours without roping up. We didn't rope up as usual on the "W" because when we were on it I thought "that couldn't be it" because I remembered it being more dramatic than that, so I kept thinking it was higher! Anyway...

After traversing about .25mi South we found a way down to a Rap point on the face and began a 5 pitch (with 2 60m ropes) Rap down! It was great and thrilling to say the least ;-)

Then we started in on what would turn out to be a 4 hour Bushwack from hell! It was hot, no trails, tones of cactus and thorn trees, etc... The only saving grace was a spring I found coming out of a huge crack in the wall that refreshed us and refilled our water supply..... All in all it was a hard 14, yes 14 hour day... Enjoy ;-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dan Get's Hitched!

Our DannyBoy got hitched a couple of weeks ago and I finally got the tame part of the bachelor party video cut together! When he asked what we were doing all I told him was to bring a large jar of Vaseline and rubber gloves ;-) We actually were taking him glider flying! We all survived and had a great time.... we followed it up with a BBQ and waaaaaay too much Tequila at Kirk's pad.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

AAS Family Camping!

The AAS finally put together a little family camping adventure to Great Sand Dunes National Park! Hopefully next year Eric and Matt won't be so busy ;-) We all had a great time and look forward to doing it again...

I removed the video for privacy reasons ;-) If you were part of the AAS family you already saw it! Needless to say, we all had a great time and and will put another one on the schedule in a few years!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bluebird Day in Nambe Chutes

U.A.E. (Unofficial AAS Event)
Another Ski-Nut John and I hit the mountain above the Santa Fe ski area last month and I thought I'd post this little clip...


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fear and Loathing on Sandia Peak

Last week after a nice dump in Albuquerque...... Dan and I put aside our inner fears about slides and hidden obstacles and headed up to Sandia Peak around 8:00pm. We left one car at the ski area parking lot (knowing we may never see it again) and parked at the top. It was blowing hard, foggy and still snowing... We put renewed fears aside, strapped on beacons, shovels and probes and headed out into the void...

We made it to the "Meadow" and as I lead the downhill into the blackness, I heard a scrape, Dan saw sparks and I was down in a whiteout! Dan came to my rescue guided by my screams of pain.... it was only a skinned knee, but the mood was set and we were spooked.

We had to retreat to the treeline to find our way over to the gravel pit and a huge jump left by thoughtless snowboarders. I couldn't help myself and took the jump and barely held on to the landing. We finally arrived at the top of a run, assessed the situation and took these pictures with Dan's phone in case they were our last:

The moon was full but obscured by clouds so we started down first run in the dark... Trouble soon followed and as I stopped to rest Dan stopped just uphill from me and created a slide that partially buried some of the top of one of my skis! He went for his beacon but I dug myself out and instead we dug some brandy out of my pack to calm our nerves...

It didn't let up from there either... With no other options, we continued on periodically checking conditions, avoiding more slides, cliffs and probably a Yeti from what we could make out. More brandy and more bravado and we finally made it to the thick yet safe snow at the bottom of the ski area. Thank GOD!

All in all, one of the most dangerous and scary nights we ever had in the wild.... Truly an AAS event to remember ;-)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

2009 Annual Adventure Summit! - Crested Butte, CO.

Team AAS got together for the annual AAS Summit in Crested Butte Colorado this year. This was the first time every member of the AAS made it to the annual summit!

Mattius led the push to rent a very cushy place right at the ski area instead of a long cold one in a snow cave or trying to sleep on a 60 year old mattress in a dive motel... So indeed we rented a 3 story luxury condo that even had a remote control fireplace! Here's a little clip of the inside: (so what if we had 7 laptops for 8 dudes!)

Is the AAS getting soft? perhaps.....NOT! We have drank the wine of luxury and we did like it..... but we all yearn for the hard side of nature and are already planning next years AAS summit and were thinking of something a bit more primitive, like a Yert in the middle of nowhere!

Thanks to Brian for putting together this smokin' little video:

2009 - AAS Productions

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

UAE - Nambe Chutes, Santa Fe

Un-Official AAS Event: - 1/25/09

I just wanted to share a few cool photos of me and 2 other BC Ski nuts in the Nambe Chutes bowl above the Santa Fe ski area last Sunday. I still can't believe how wintery is was up there! We have had no new snow in about 2 weeks and it was so warm at my house on Saturday, I had to remove my sweat shirt while changing my oil.

On arrival at the SF ski area Sunday, it was about 26deg with little wind. I made my now favorite purchase of an $18.00 2 ride ticket and headed up to the very top with Joel and John. (I met them both while trolling for BC partners on a local BC ski forum, yes disgusting I know...)

We were greeted by about 6in. of rime on the entire top of the mountain. There was about 8 to 10in. of new snow and rime that had blown into the bowl.
We dug a quick pit and all decided it was stable and we agreed to do a run one-at-a-time hiding behind rock outcroppings to check it out. We helped ourselves to a steep descent into a widening 30 to 40deg. couloir first. Here's me ripping it up and trying not to over-cook it!

We had a quick snack at the bottom and started the skin/climb back up. The snow was too soft in areas and left us swimming back up a 35deg. slope in waist deep snow... not fun at times ;-) For our second run we chose a wider run and let'er rip! The conditions were indeed stable with about 6 t0 8in. of good snow on top.

Here's Joel at the top of the chutes area proper (no it's not Alaska, it's Santa Fe, man I love this state)

Here's a great shot taken by John of me and Joel climbing out with Snow Science data added for perspective.

We were going to return via the Winsor trail after another run, but as I was getting sick all week I was really feeling tired (as I told my partners, my "Inner Man" was asleep on the couch) So we did the right thing and pulled the plug and traversed the ridge exploring more opportunities for next time. The sun was baking the south facing slopes we used to descend back into the ski area. I fell at least 3 times and got stuck in tree wells because I was getting so fried... After a beer at the mid-way bar we finished the run and I treated my friends to a crash under the beginner lift on the bunny slope because I couldn't even keep an edge any longer! Awesome!

That effort was enough to kick my cold into high gear and today I'm home sick for the second day in a row........ but I'm still grinning like a fool.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wahatoya: Scree of Vengeance

On West Spanish Peak, no one can hear you scree....

In December 2007, the AAS made a fateful decision to go to Plan B when a raging snowstorm blanketed our favorite ski resort in nearly seven feet of powder. What was Plan A? An ascent of one or both of the Spanish Peaks, sensuously shaped twin peaks towering nearly 7,000 feet above the plains of Colorado half way between Pueblo and the New Mexico border. Wahatoya is the Ute name, roughly translated to mean "breasts of the world" for their shape and the frequent summer thunderstorms that gather at their peaks, bringing rain to the plains that fed the tribes. We vowed we would return, and on November 21, 2008, Paul, Dan, Kirk, and Brian did.

This is what we wished they looked like. West Spanish Peak is on the right.

Usually by November, the taller peaks on the Front Range have a frosting of snow, enough to fill in the nooks and crannies, making climbing a little easier on a carefully-chosen route. From a distance and from the thin route descriptions we could find for West Spanish Peak, we didn't expect much of a challenge in terms of terrain, though snow cover was unseasonably thin. The AAS AAS-embeled at the Wahatoya Trail trailhead after some sleuthing to find it. We began our climb to AAS Base Camp well after sunset, traveling by headlamp under a moonless sky. On the climb, in thin patches of snow that hugged the daytime shadows, we spotted fresh bear tracks, and passed numerous piles of fresh scat -- something we didn't expect to see in late November, but the unseasonably warm weather had probably kept this one from hibernating.

We chose a ready-made campsite at the pass between East and West Spanish Peaks, with ample snow and a pile of dry wood thoughtfully placed by some previous benefactors. The next morning dawned cold but clear, and having gone to bed late after melting snow to refill our water containers, we took our time getting on the trail.

We soon found our way to a ridgeline that we decided we would follow for four steadily climbing miles to the summit, and set ourselves to the task. Below treeline we walked on thin snow cover and forest loam...but as we passed from Spruce forest to open Bristlecone Pine groves at treeline, we emerged into a scree field as far as the eye could see. Hope remained, however, as we simply assumed we'd find a use trail as we climbed higher, or we'd see firm, windpacked snow that we could walk on. It was not to be.

Hopping from ankle-twisting rock to knee-wrenching rock, ranging in size from softballs to small appliances, is hard work. One step is solid, but the next step could have you flailing to stay upright as a hundred pounds of rock slides tinkling from under your weighted boot. We left ABC shortly after 9am, and by noon, we estimated we'd climbed only half way to the summit -- there were nearly 1,500 feet and about 2 miles left. A brief sighting of a small flock of hearty Colorado Bighorn Sheep led by a giant full-curl ram gave us another boost, watching them fairly glide over the loose slopes, but we began to suspect our summit hopes had been dashed. We hiked another mile or so in two hours, and being out of water, searched for a patch of snow to refill from. Here's a collection of videos from Paul taken as we hiked, and after. Walking uphill on scree is hard enough...none of us wanted to walk downhill in the dark, so with a quote on Ed Viesturs' climbing philosophy in our heads, we began our retreat...but not before allowing Eric to partake in a taste of high-altitude camraderie via cell phone.

We finished our trip enjoying a roaring campfire, mountain meals, and spirits while we pondered a return, with skis and snowboards, in spring conditions when firm snow underfoot and longer days above would give us ample time to summit and enjoy the descent as only the AAS can.