Archive for the ‘Life News’ Category

Flobots in Aspen

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

I have been back up in the Roaring Fork Valley for that past 24 hours.  I did a little riding on Ajax, but discovered that only a few inches of snow had fallen on some very solidly hardpack that had developed from the past two weeks of sunshine.  There was a strange phenomenon on top of the mountain.  It was 38 degrees and foggy.  The snow that was falling had such a wet consistensy that it built up right on the outside lense of my goggles.

I packed it in by noon, but just as I was unstrapping my bindings at the base of the gondola, I was surrounded by a concert crew setting up a stage and railings, with a sign that said “FLOBOTS – 5:30 PM”

I had wanted to see this band since my friend had been so inspired by a grassroots show at the DNC this past August in Denver, so I stuck around town, mingling in and out of various establishments.

Checked out what used to be the Cooper Street Tavern.  Now it is called “Bad Billys”, but surprise-surprise: it looks exactly the same inside.  I even saw X Games Silver Medalist Tanner Hall drinking some beers with his entourage.

Flobots put on a good show on a very small stage.  I had gotten there just before they started their set, and there was less than 100 people there.  By the end of the show, the crowd had built up to a large mass that crawled up the face of the mountain, and enveloped the Gondola plaza.

After the show, I went back to a friends house but was locked out.  So instead of waiting I bought a ticket to see Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.  I’m a huge fan of these movies and love the storyline.  The third installmant was a true prequel to the first too, but much more intense.  Althought it could be considered a love story, the violence and gore was off the charts.  My dad would love it.  My girlfriend probably wouldn’t.

During a preview, I noticed something odd that I’ve never seen before.  The title of an upcoming disaster movie was “2012″.  At the end of the preview, when they usually show some text telling you when the movie will come out, it said Google Search: 2012.  I almost laughed out loud.  The moviemakers have thrown all subtlety out the window by either instructing viewers how to go about finding out more about the movie, using Google.

I plan to hang around up here for a bit more and snowboard.  My original plan was to start heading west through Utah towards the West Coast, but the forecast is calling for a lot of rain.  That type of weather would make for a miserable time when camping in flash flood territory.

Nabbed!!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

They got me!  Very rarely do I ever disobey the all-governing “Rules of the Road”.  I’m one of the “one-percenters” that log thousands of miles on the highway and reads, comprehends, and obeys the big white signs with the numbers that read: SPEED LIMIT.  In fact, it really amazes me how truly ignorant our society has become that one of most easily-interpreted LAWS of the land is carelessly and intentionally disobeyed by 9 out of 10 vehicles that I encounter on the road.  Those are the people who threaten my safety, along with yours, your children, and your mom.

Regardless, at local Denver intersection that I’ve crossed hundreds of times before, I took a slight chance at making a quick left turn just as the light had gone red.  I knew I’d have no problem completing my operations long before the column of stopped traffic would lurch forward to my position.

FLASH!  “What the hell was that?”  I asked.

They took your picture. “My passenger responded.”

Caught.  That’s when I knew my dire circumstances .  Big Brother had me by the balls.  There was nothing I could do but accept defeat and wait for the whipping by authorities.

I got the fine in the mail.  A nice fat demand for $75 accompanied by a video of the whole scene, and a photo of one handsome looking criminal!

Recent Splitboarding Sessions

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Arg!  Enough of the political blogs.  Although I like to publish my opinion on all the crazyness in the world, I was quickly reminded by my estranged heterosexual life partner: “I don’t give a damn about your political beliefs!  I want to see some mountains and powder.”

Well here you go, fans.  I present to you my first turns, all earned without the use of mechanical power and rewarded by the splitboard.

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Sunday, November 23rd — Aspen Mountain

Aspen was not yet open for business at this time, but snowmaking crews crews had been working day and night to build the racecourse for the annual opening event of the Women’s World Cup competition.  Naturally, I just had to get up extra early before the crews started and skinned up the course for some fresh corduroy…my first ride of the year.

Looking past the snowmaking machines towards the upper racecourse.

I started skinning up the course just after dawn, passing many snowmaking machines that had been running all night long.

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View of the jobsite from up on Aspen Mountain

As the sun began to rise, I had a great view of the town below.  In the middle of the photo, with plastic on the roof, is the building that I’ve been working on all year long.  It is almost to completion and looks amazing.

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About to head down

Having climbed nearly 1,000 feet up, I decided to put the snowboard on and make some turns.  Here, right before the descent.  It was an incredibly fast racecourse, and I had a little taste of what the professionals were about to compete on in a few days.
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Sunday, Dec 21, 2008 — Backcountry near Ashcroft, CO

This weekend I took an AIARE Level 1 Certification Course.  On the final day of class, my group of 7 were charged with putting together a short tour, where we evaluated the terrain and snowpack and practice safe decision making.

The avy class crew heading up the skin track

I met some cool people in the class. Here, the whole crew is heading up the mountain.
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Across the valley, we observed the crown of a large avalanche that had occured a few days earlier.  (The crown is visible in the shady area in the middle of the photo)
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Lunch in view of the elk range

After hiking a few miles and a few 1,000 feet up Devaney Creek, we stopped for lunch.  To our south, the Castle Creek valley spreads out across the horizon.
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snow pitcompression testcompression testcompression test compression testcompression test

After lunch, we found a safe spot to dig a pit and analyze the snowpack.  Here, Brian demonstrates a compression test.  It took over 20 taps for the column to fail, but it failed all the way down to the lowest layer of depth hoar.  Not a good sign for avalanche safety in the area.
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Paul\'s first runIanDave

Having made a collective decision on the danger level, we agreed to play it safe and ski in the low-angled trees.  The payoff was some incredible untracked powder, and well worth the work.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009 — Mt. Evans

Today Vanessa and I took a very short trip from Denver to a “secret stash” near the Mt. Evans road.  I’ve had some good conditions in years past, when the front range saw above-average snowfall.  This year, prospects were not as good.

Vanessa heading up

Vanessa hiking up through the trees south of the road.  We could see rocks and deadfall.  This caused us to be discouraged of actually snowboarding down.
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Mt. Evans road

Usually, if conditions in the trees are not ready, we could snowboard down the road.  Unfortunately, too little snow in the front range left us hiking all the way back down.

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looking down the route

I did a little scouting to find a good descent line, but after just having spent $100 on repairs to my splitboard, I didn’t think it was worth it to try to ride down with such little snowcover.

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Sunday, January 4, 2008 — Berthoud Pass

Discouraged but not defeated, V and I paired up with a Josh, a bud from splitboard.com, and headed up to the ever-popular Berthoud Pass.  We had an early start, and it was a sunny, blue-sky day.

a train of skiers heading up Berthoud Pass is easily one of the most popular backcountry ski areas in the state.  An alliance of enthusiasts has done an excellent job in making improvements to the old ski area.  While all the chairlifts are gone, there is an expanded parking lot and hut complete with multiple composting toilets.  Here, a train of skiers heads up the established skin track to the west of Highway 40.

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view from the west side of the pass

From the top of the west side of the pass, we had an excellent view of the surrounding terrain.  Avalanche danger was considerable near treeline today, so we took some very conservative lines.  Still, my mind wandered in awe at the extreme couloirs at the headwall across the valley.

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Vanessa Vanessa Vanessa On the descent, we found a few inches of powder over some hard crust.  Still, we made some good turns.  Here, Vanessa shows how it is done.

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JoshJoshJoshJosh is rocking the custom splitboard.

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Vanessa Another great pic of my stellar girlfriend!

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JoshJosh got some great blasts of front-range pow.

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Vanessa taking a coffee breakAfter a good 2000′ of vertical, we rode right to the highway and stuck our thumbs out.  Hitchiking is the standard practice on Berthoud Pass, and anyone with an empty truck bed would be wise to pick up skiers.  With multiple slide paths the threaten highway travellers here, good karma  is well respected.

It was a cold day up there (my thermometer was reading single digits).  Fortunately, we took a coffee break before heading out for a second run.

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That’s all for now!

The first month of splitboarding has had its ups and downs.  January looks promising, and I have some trips to Vail Pass and Rocky Mountain National Park in the works…. STAY TUNED!

Laid off…

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Some big changes have happened to me in the past week.  My last day of work was last Friday the 19th.  This is the first time I’ve ever been “laid off”, but I had been expecting it for some time now.  Our project had been drawing towards a close, and with no new work starting up, the “last on, first off” rule applies…to me.  Fortunately, I am ready for it.  I am burnt out of the commercial construction industry, at least for now.  The hours are brutal, and as I look around at many of the other people here who have sacrificed family time for an unrewarding job, I said to myself “not me!”

I will be moving back to Denver shortly, to be with Vanessa.  The past year has put a strain on our relationship, but it has survived.  Something that special cannot be lost.

But first thing is first: snowboarding!  I’ve already logged four legit powder days at Keystone, Steamboat, Aspen Highlands, and Vail in the month of December alone.  I’ve got all my equipment and ski passes ready to go, and plan to get in as many more with my time off.

What else to do?  Well, obviously construction jobs will be hard to come by, even if I wanted one.  I think I may look for something in writing or journalism.  In the mean time, maybe write a book about my travels in the Colorful State.

In January, I may head out with the truck on a “Southwest Road Trip”.  I’ve always wanted to see the Grand Canyon.  In addition, visit some friends in Vegas, Huntington Beach, and Tijuana.

In February, Vanessa and I are planning on a “Ski vacation” to the San Juan Mountains, staying for a few nights in Telluride.  I am really excited just to plan it out!

Did you forget?

Friday, September 12th, 2008

I woke up hella late this morning.  It was the most rainy mountain morning I’ve experienced in a few months.  As I tuned into the Fox News headz on Sirius, they were talking about a 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon.  I was surprised, because I hadn’t heard about such memorial ever before this morning.  Why today, out of nowhere?

Then the morning show newsman informed me “…as we spend today, 7 years after 9/11.”

Oh yeah.  After all, yesterday I was so happy to be celebrating 10 months with Vanessa, as we laughed about going at it for “double digits”.  I didn’t think about connecting September tenth to September eleventh, until now. I have to admit that I feel ashamed.

I DO remember that day.  I was living in room 21 of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity house at 919 Greenbrier Rd.  It was the third week of classes, in my Junior year, and I had an 8:30 chemistry class to go to.  Naturally, I slept in.  When I finally stirred near 9:00, I heard a commotion outside my room.  Then a knock.
“Reiner?!” my brother Obed said.  “What are you doing?  Are you awake?  Its world war three, man.”

I still remember those words.  I called my mother.  “Are you watching TV?  What’s going on?”  I asked.

“I don’t know, Adam, but whoever did is filled with a lot of hate.”  Her voice was comforting but trembling.

I spent the rest of the day at the fraternity house, sad, scared, and confused.  I feel blessed to have had the comforts of my friends and family on that day.

As I drove upvalley on this rainy morning, I silently listened to the readings of the names of the victims.  I learned something new this morning, that in addition to all the Americans that perished that day, citizens of 90 countries also died.  During the name readings, every single county was represented by a friend of family member of the victims.  (I had heard Colombia and Hong Kong).

Then I listened to a little bit of President Bush’s speech.  He reinforced his prime responsibility: to prevent another attack on American soil.  Say what you will about his attempts to capture Bin Laden, but he has so far succeeded in keeping us safe.  I give him props for that.

I was also happy to see the two campaignes cease fire for the day.  It is a good thing for the country.  However, it did not stop the pundits from referencing the event.  In the morning, I read an article by Keith Olbermann, and later listened to commentary by Glenn Beck and, separately, Sean Hannity.  Even the metal station on Sirius was paying tribute with classic songs about heroes.

What about you?  Did you remember this morning? If so, good for you.  If not, don’t feel bad.  We are only human, but we can give thanks to others for reminding us never to forget September 11,  2001.

Many of the video and images used to remember this day have been criticized as being too sensitive or controversial.  I have chosen an image that cannot be argued to be anything but positive and a fitting tribute.

firefighters on 9/11