Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ski mountaineers, alpinists, rock jocks, nordic racers, backpackers, downhill skiers ... are we paying enough attention to climate change?

I think not!  I will try and cover news and views more faithfully in this blog moving forward. It seems that these groups should be in the forefront of climate change activism ... I fear that is not the case. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Easy run at dusk on the Old Mountain Road

The 22nd annual Mountainfest ...

Many thanks to the Mountaineer store in Keene Valley for bringing back Steve House. His Saturday slide show was awesome, and although I have seen it before, this nine minute video of his solo of Repentance and Remission is never dull. Both routes were on my list in the late 1970s, although it's obvious from the video, they will obviously have to wait until my next reincarnation. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Skiing the toll road

Well below freezing when we started, it was probably a balmy 3 degrees when we headed back down.

Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association nordic races ... a.k.a ... College Carnivals start today

Yesterday's 5k classic was cancelled, as the temperatures in Maine did not drop until late in the day, and so it was not firm enough for grooming. Today's race is a 5k freestyle, using three laps of their 1.7k sprint course. It is an interval start, with racers going out in the order of their USSA points. Lucy is ranked 13th of the 90 racers. (Tough field, as four gals just got back from Anchorage, and were named to the U23 World Championship Team later in the season. Then of course, there are also two hot-shots from Europe.) The picture below is from a December race in Canada where Lucy was on the podium.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

BLAST FROM THE PAST ... retreat from the West Rib of Denali

What else can you say about our first trip to Alaska in 1979 except it was a debacle: Don (NPS mandated foursome) was a whimp and slow so the Cassin was out; we got a bad batch of blazo for our stoves in Talkeetna; the white gas leaked and tainted our four week supply of fruitcake; the stove blew up; never mix and match snowshoes and skis in the same expedition.

There was some good news though: three of us have remained friends; the green puffy parka that I lent Mike when his sleeping bag burned up still warms me on belays; it is clear that if you have enough single malt stashed on the kahiltna glacier you can trade for almost anything (except a stove).

Friday, January 12, 2018

Skiing the highest peak in each western state

A fun little video; it reminds me that you do not need a permit to Nepal, a flight to Patagonia, or Alaska to go on an expedition ... hop in your car and just go ... in my case head out the back door and run the 130 mile Northville-Lake Placid Trail or its equivalent.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Yesterday a nice tour and today yuck ...

Blow my mind, a few days ago it was -29 degrees and today it is 47 degrees! Please, please, please let's not lose all our snow.


In the mountains they are often dangerous, a pain in the ass, and something to be avoided, definitely not admired. However, this short video, shot in Chamonix, shows them as an integral part of the sublime mountain landscape around Mont Blanc.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

QUOTE OF THE WEEK ... michael kennedy

"All mountain landscapes hold stories: the ones we read, the ones we dream, and the ones we create."

I found this gem in FREEDOM CLIMBERS by Bernadette Malcolm.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The historic Thunderbolt Trail on Mount Greylock

Gary and his son James skinned up this trail built in the 1930s by the CCC. It was one of the Class A race trails on par with the Nosedive at Stowe.

Norway started the great skiing explosion in the mid 1800s

World Junior Team Trials

One race was cancelled because the high temperature of that day was -15 degrees. She made the team, and the day this picture was taken, the temperature was a balmy -3 degrees. Unfortunately, she will probably decline this opportunity to ski in Estonia, as her big goal is a top 15 at the NCAA championships, which start a day or two after the World Juniors. Hopefully, in the upcoming years she will have other great biathlon opportunities.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

At -25° I cancelled my Sunday morning sauna ...

however it is going up to a balmy +6 degrees this afternoon so I may take a sauna then.

Easy tour with -40 degree wind chill

Fifty minutes breaking trail in wind blown snow using AT gear.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Freedom Climbers

As a slightly fanatic climber in the 1970s and 1980s I certainly followed some of the exploits of these top Polish Climbers. I also heard stories about them from Brits that I climbed with in the Alps in the 1970s. I even had a two degrees of separation experience with them in the early 1980s. 

The first encounter with these truly hard men of Poland, came in 1975 which was my first summer climbing in the Tetons. Staying at the Climber's Ranch I had a few short term partners that I hooked up with, before I met Petr, a recent immigrant who was a mathematics professor at the University of New Mexico.  We climbed together several weeks, and aside from the language difficult, our other challenge was that we had to carry two separate racks, as he had pitons and refused to climb with those "new things" (stoppers and hexcentrics). I have never climbed with anyone who ran out as much rope as he did. Being young, relatively inexperienced, and stupid, and also not knowing what a factor 2 fall was, I used to marvel at him running out 100 feet from the belay before he pounded his first pin.

Then again, in the late 1970s Jonathan Waterman introduced me, and I occasionally climbed with an ex-patriot Glaswegian named John Thackray.  John lived in Manhattan, wrote for the Economist magazine, and eventually was also the editor for the American Alpine Club Journal.  He seemed to know everybody ... and on one ice climbing trip in the early 1980s to New Hampshire, or more probably, the Adirondacks he talked about joining up with some Polish hard men in the Himalayas.  He wanted to know if I fancied coming along!  The deal was the two of us would provide the greenbacks (something like $2000 each) and the Poles would drive overland with gear and food. This all sounded quite nice until I asked about the objective; "oh, a four person, alpine-style ascent of the South Face of Annapurna."  Well, I had read Bonington's account and knew I was in way over my head.

The Poles put up two routes on Annapurna in the 1980s. The link below is from a nice review of Bernadette MacDonald's FREEDOM CLIMBERS. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

BLAST FROM THE PAST ... snow physics at NCS

Larry, our earth science teacher, is starting his first day of the snow physics unit. Essentially this six week course is the equivalent of an Avy 2 level seminar. His introductory slide, is a scan of an 8x11 student handout I made 30+ years ago when I designed the course. Needless to say, he is both a far better teacher, and the technological tools are far better today.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: from Elisabeth Coxhead

Elizabeth Coxhead's rationale for climbing: "A sport is advanced by the handful of people who do it brilliantly, but it is kept sweet and sane by the great numbers of the mediocrewho do it for fun."

Her novel, set in the 1950s, ONE GREEN BOTTLE was the best climbing novel I have ever read. This link to an article about Elizabeth Coxhead on the website Footless Crow is well worth exploring.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Robinson Jeffers poems as a lens to view what's happening today

An engaging essay, although how many people can manage the epiphany of a retreat in the Pyrenees, to manage this insight?  It does make me want to stoke the fire in the Fossil Cabin and dig out the collected works of Jeffers! 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ski tour at -8 degrees

Guatemalan friends - NCS alumni - were visiting and wanted to ski despite the chill in the air. So, we headed out the back pasture of the farm on to the Olympic Trails ... after an hour we finished at the cabin with hot chocolate and schnapps. Mount Van Hoevenberg is in the background, with the bob run just out of view.

Lucy named to the World Junior Team

Friday, December 29, 2017

Just finished an easy run on Old Mountain Road ... it has warmed up to -13 degrees

Walking the dog

Skiing 1k laps in our pasture at -9 degrees with our dog Stash. I was wearing an expedition parka I got at the big yearly EMS sale in 1972. As I recall, my college buddies and I slept out on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, so we could get the pick of the litter in the store. This coat has kept me toasty on West Rib of Denali, so despite the windchill, all was good yesterday.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pitchoff Left (NEI 3)

Burr, burr, burr ... -5 degrees but thankfully no wind. After Gary's lead, we did multiple laps. He likes his new cassin tools, but he may need to carry a third tool to chip them out when he has embedded them too deeply! (He had to down climb and borrow one of my tools.)

Annapurna III

A beautiful line; a beautiful short video, but an attempt that despite helicoptering (?) to basecamp did not get too far. 

Monday, December 25, 2017


Showing little Jon my biathlon rifle, in our house on Spruce Hill in Keene.

Merry Christmas

This year we have a Charlie Brown tree from our farm. Lucy seems to have gotten over the flu, tonight it's going to be brutally cold, and tomorrow we head down to Granby Connecticut to see Jon, Amanda, and Amelie.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Our dogs enjoying the holidays

When bad and unexpected things happen in the mountains ...

I am always willing to take a look at what alpinists and ski mountaineers put in their repair or first aid kit. Here are the latest suggestions that I read about. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

All Of The 50k Olympic Nordic Trails Are Open

I skied for just over an hour on wet, slow snow. Nevertheless great to get out on the Ladies Five. Still scratchy on the holler sections.

Getting ready for a winter bivy

No problem if you are one of Selden's clun forest sheep. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Putting in the skin track

1k laps in the pasture for Stash to get some exercise. The fat boards make a nice trench for him to run in.

Conditions rapidly improving at Mount Van Hoevenberg

I did some laps on Main Street, Flatland, Campground loop, and beginnings of the Ladies Five. The stadium is well covered with man-made snow, and although everything has been rolled, it is still scratchy in spots.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

BLAST FROM THE PAST ... bretton woods 50k

A particularly tough race in 1983, having missed the wax, I struggled mightily. Maybe when I retire I will grow that bushy bear again!