Sunday, August 04, 2013


Yes, I have drank the Kool-Aid. I am now using Facebook for short updates. I will continue to post lengthy  entries here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Digging Snow Pits

Finally getting some snow up here.  Yesterday we went up to Monarch Pass to dig a few snow pits to look at the different layers and assess avalanche potential.

The day was bright and clear when we showed up, but the forecast called for snow starting at around 11am.

Monarch would have a good day as the lot had 6 vehicles in it when we arrived, but by 2 pm it was jammed with overflow parking from the ski area about a mile down the pass to the north.

It was going to be careful selection as to where to go once we were up there as the Avalanche Forecast was in the "considerable to high" range in all aspects. Only one rating high and that is "extreme". As I mention later that area above the road sign on the right side of the picture slide later in the day.

After talking through it we decided to head up to a ridge line running SE to NE on the west side of Highway 50. Thats is going from the center of this picture to the right.

There had been about 2 feet of new snow, so the walk up would be a slog, but we needed to stay out of the obvious danger areas as much as possible.

In fact when we came down about 2pm the banks above Marlys head and next to the highway in the background had slide.

By the way that is not bad focus on Mt. Shavano & Tabegauche in the background, that is snow being blown off by the winds.

We had a number of "whoops" near the top of the ridge which are caused when an underlying layer collapses, very bad sign.

We stuck to protected areas except for on 50' traverse about 100' up from the highway. Very much a one person at a time with a look out. BTW that is Marlys right in the middle of the traverse.

The pits where about 4 feet deep, to reach ground. We dug a couple to try some different tests (Isolated Column and Rutschblock) ICT slid at the layer just above Craig's head (guy in the middle using a magnifier to look at the snow). The propagation test needed two people to trigger (25 degree slope), but went right to the ground.

These pits were quite a bit shallower then the 9' pit from 2 years ago. Didn't even know there were trees  here when we started to dig the pit. That's me in the red.

The snow started as forecast at 11am and we got about 4" by the time we made it back to vehicles at 2:45pm. Lucky for us we weren't in the wind that was observable on the mountains around us as it was forecast to be in the 20-30mph range with gusts to 60mph. Again that area to the left of the highway between the two trees in the foreground slide during the day.

For those of you who have been through Monarch Pass that is the cafe/tourist store under the snow just above the cars in the lot. Needless to say it isn't open in the winter and in heavy snow years it kinda disappears completely.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Rebooting the Kitchen Sink Faucet

Recently, we replaced the kitchen sink faucet. We replaced it with a Moen MotionSense, which has been real nice in that you only need to wave your hand over the top or put a glass under the spout and it turns on and off.

Well, with every step forward there, especially when computers are concerned, there is technology cross over, which in this case meant the dreaded "lock up".

In this case the motion eyes stopped turning the water on and off.

We had to re-boot the control unit that is installed under the sink, by unplugging and then re-plugging it in. I guess this is considered a cold re-boot.

The blue LED on the faucet blinked as it re-initialized and everything was back to the new normal.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Ice Ice Baby

Missed out last month on a day of alpine climbing due to the pre-holiday search for a missing Christmas Tree harvester  But last weekend finally made it out, but this was to go ice climbing. Never done it before, never quite understood the draw, but needed to get out in the cold, and I got an offer to go.

Saturday Marlys and I spent most of the day either in the car driving to and from the Colorado Search and Rescue Board annual meeting at the Alpine Rescue "Shack" up in Evergreen. Just walking around "The Shack" and looking at the memorabilia on the walls is worth the trip. The history and items from places around the world makes for a high degree of envy.

We made the drive home and got into a traffic stop on Cty RD 2, due to a vehicle accident at the gravel pit pass. A Super Duty was hanging back half in the air over the edge and a Sub that was the other party to this dance was in the inside ditch. Luckily, they got a front-end loader from one of the local folks to anchor the front of the truck and bring back all of the SD to terra firma.

Up at 4am on Sunday to get things packed for the trip to Agnes Valle over in the Collegiate's on the south-side of Mt. Princeton. Met up with the other guys at 5:30am and headed for Salida and then the Hot Springs area on the road to St. Elmos.

Hit the trail-head at about 7:30 to find all of the toilets locked for the season, at about the same time the coffee and Diet Coke had loosened everything up.

Not a lot of snow at the trail-head, but we packed in the snowshoes just in case. Even though I had lightened the pack, by the time ropes, harness, axes/tools, crampons and everything else was loaded I had a 50#'er.

Hiking 1/2 mile in to the water fall/ice smear didn't take long, but walking in plastic boots on uncovered ice, carrying a load warmed me up fast. Once the canyon came out of shadow the day was a dreamer, off came the layers on went the SPF 50.

The ice was still early season with the ice still filling in and the area near the edge of the drop at the top looked pretty thin, in fact it would melt out mid-day.

Found some spots in the rock to gear up and then Craig headed up to set an anchor. As the day warmed a few of the rocks rolled down, so were on the look out. Doesn't take much of one to ruin a day.

We belayed from the bottom until we had all been up and down a couple of times. Then we all went up (top belay) to get a picture from above.

By the time we had gotten everyone down and removed the protection (ice screws), anchors and stuffed ropes it was 2:30 by the time we headed down.

The rope I carried up now seemed to weight twice as much.

Sun was still on the trail-head when we got there, but getting gear sorted and packed in to the Jeep seemed to take a long time.

We hit three spots in Salida to get designer coffees and none were open, ended up at the local MacDonald's barrista, I opted for a Diet Coke.

Spent most of the time during the ride back reading Will Gadd's mixed climbing book, right up until I heard a "whoa" from the front seat, saw some debris fly out on the road and what looked like smoke.

Got around the debris to find a SUV sideways against a rock wall. Out we popped and into SAR mode. SUV had a Dad, infant and two small children in it. Got them all out, folks were stopping and Mom who was in another car got turned around and came running up.

I checked out Dad who had blood on the side of his head. The kids came through it very well... because everyone had on there seat-belts.

Infant was put in to another car, still in the seat, to stay warm, Craig held the little girl in his arms, and the little boy latched on to Mom. By the time help arrived the kids were in Mom's care playing games on the iPad and iPhone, baby was asleep in a pickup, Dad was losing his adrenaline buzz and Mom was hugging folks that stopped to help.

First to arrive was Deputy Sanger who we work closely with on search and rescue. As he was releasing us, he said that we were due for a mission, since it had been almost a month.

Got home, collapsed on the couch. Got into the sack about 10pm, as I finally fell a sleep the phone rang, Caller - "Hey, what you doing?", ME-"Sleeping", Caller - "Remember what I said this afternoon".

BTW: This is not the first time Steve Sanger has had pre-cognition on a mission. He did this to me once before last summer.

We have a missing person over in the foot hills of the Wet's.

Up at 3am, briefing at 7:30, in the field at 8:30. Found him at 3:30pm. By the time Marlys and I got home it was 7:30pm.

A long weekend.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tough Weekend

We finally got some snow on Friday...not much, but it heralded heavier amounts near the divide, which is what the ski areas need and we will need when it melts next spring/summer.

Things looked to be good.

Saturday we were going alpine climbing. That night we had a couple of XMAS parties, and of course it was Marlys and my birthday's. Those were not so much celebrated as survived.

Then the shooting at Newtown hit the Internet and TV. Took some time for the impact of it to become known, but we couldn't stop watching, thinking about the parents, kids, etc. and trying to understand why someone would kill little kids.

The snow stopped.

We turned in that night knowing that it would be an early call to meet up with the other at Falls Gulch to practice belays, rappels, protection placement and removal.

10:48 PM the phone range.

A neighboring county needs help. A father when out to cut down a XMAS tree and didn't come home.

The morning just got earlier. Sleep escaped us, thinking about someone out on a "new snow" night in an area forecasting hurricane force winds the next day.

Turned out at 0330. Met up with the short team that was heading out in Canon.

Rondezvoued with the other Team at a general store in the Wet Mountains. People there included the missing persons friend, wife and children.

We headed up to the search area with the family following.

Marlys, another team member and I were stopped and told to turn the family around...their husband/father/friend had been found.

He did not make it.

We needed to keep the family back at the store, but we could not tell them he had been found.

We did this for about an hour. Then the family was told of finding him and their loss.

It was a very sad time after that.

Hard to celebrate the season that evening, knowing that there were families across the country that will always associate the season with the loss of their family members.

Forecast for bigger snows starting tomorrow. It will make it "look" bright, fresh and "".

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Snow Sky?

We need moisture! 

Hopefully the reflection of the "red sky at morning" really is forecasting some snow today and an even larger chance on Saturday and Sunday.

Yesterday it was close to 60 up here. Really doesn't have that pre-Christmas feel.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Monarch's Open House...The snow WILL show up.

Looking northeast out of the new tunnel @ the lot
We went up to Monarch yesterday afternoon for the open house celebrating their base lodge expansion. Monarch is very much a small gem here in Colorado and the feel is more family like then then the mega resorts.

Got up there about 3 pm and the lot had a good crowd of vehicles. The mountains are majestic...but pretty much bare and these are some of the highest 14ers in the state. Monarch is one of the highest ski areas with a base at 10,790"

Although the lodge is larger it still has the feel of the ski areas of the mid-west mainly Minnesota and the UP. 

In the corner, where the crowd is there was an assortment of local micro brewers, distillers and wineries.

The beers from Eddyline, Elevation and Amica were great as always. In fact Eddyline's Boaters Beer was my go to brew during the summer. 

The brandy from Deerhammer Distillers (Buena Vista) is very good and is distilled from wine made in Salida...very local. Didn't try their whiskey, a white whiskey (moonshine craze) don't know if it measures up to the shine from under the counter in a previous post on shopping in Salida.

Looking into the new tunnel from slope side
The expansion and tunnel will make moving around the through the base much more convenient.

But we need snow. Monarch got 13" last weekend, but have had to delay their opening which was originally scheduled for next Wednesday.
Looks like beyond the snow, everything is ready to go for a great year.

Family is coming in for Thanksgiving, so Marlys is going to set up the XMAS decorations  This is a multi-day challenge to accomplish.

Many furniture projects underway. A new maple/cherry tabletop, a chair made from a old plywood backboard and crutches, many bottle openers from the scapes of wood collected over the summer.

Marlys is also refurbing (polish off the rust) the old kerosene lanterns we have acquired or have been acquired for us.

We may also work in a trip to the "Peg" (Winnipeg). I know its the wrong way to go during the winter.