Thursday, June 23, 2011

South Teton Summer Surfing - Skiing

South Teton Summer Surfing – Skiing June 22, 2011

The Teton range from summit of South Teton
The summer solstice greeted us June 21, 2011 and with the Solstice came the sunshine. I believe I read in the local Jackson Hole paper that the average temperature in May was 46 degrees. The early part of June followed the same weather pattern – a lot of clouds and rain with not much sunshine. This weather has helped the snow pack remain intact in the high country of the Tetons and other local mountain ranges.
The alarm was set for and I woke about 15 minutes before the chime sounded. I looked out the window and walked outside to check the weather and get a feel for the temperature in the darkness. It was cold enough and the skies were clear for a summit attempt and ski. With the longest day of the year being two days ago, I knew the sun would be rising early over the Gros Ventre range and spreading warmth on the peaks of the Tetons.
Morning light over Jacksons' valley of green
I knew the day could be a long one, so I ate a big breakfast and made a cup of coffee for the 25 mile drive to the trailhead in Grand Teton National Park. Driving north to Lupine Meadows, the usual characters were mulling around in the darkness – Elk. As I entered the Park, I tried to sneak a look at my objective in the mountains, but the abundance of elk just off the side of the road had my attention. Elk cows weigh from 450 – 600 pounds while the bulls weigh in at 800 – 1,000 pounds. I always enjoy seeing them early in the morning and focused not to take my eye off of the road.

Ice Cream Cone and South Teton


Upper Garnet Canyon

I started into Garnet Canyon solo. I had called one friend the day before to see if he was interested in joining me, but found out he was in Colorado guiding. I moved at a steady pace and soon saw evidence of people ahead of me. Fresh foot prints in the trail and wet rocks assured me there were people ahead of me. As I reached the Meadows of Garnet Canyon I saw 3 separate groups of skiers. Two groups were already heading up the South fork, the direction I was headed. The other group watched as I approached quickly. A friendly voice asked a few questions and asked my name – we had crossed paths ski mountaineering before and he is a well known strong ski mountaineer. He was leading a group up towards the Lower Saddle in Garnet north fork. We agreed it should be a nice day and we set off in different directions at the canyon fork. I pushed the pace up a little to see if I could catch the others ahead of me. After an hour, I had made contact and we exchanged greetings, then I was skinning out ahead, but I was tired. I arrived on the summit of the South Teton a few minutes after alone. There are three peaks that are central to the range – The Grand Teton, Middle Teton, and South Teton. This was my 51st summit between the three of them and the 15th  summit of the South Teton.
South Tetons' East Ridge (on Right) and corn skiing below
The views from the top were spectacular. The views towards the valley 6,000 feet below showed a wild Snake River approaching high water levels. The valley was green and the peaks across the range were still well covered with snow. Looking towards the West I could see far across Idaho. I soaked in the views for awhile as I prepared for a summer ski from the summit. I choose to ski the East Ridge off the summit towards the Ice Cream Cone notch. The ski off the summit is steep and I was focused on my skiing. After reaching the col between the South Teton and the Ice Cream Cone the steepness backed off and I continued on down the north glacier. The ski off the summit of the fifth highest peak in the Tetons was another great day in the mountains.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sun Valley 1/2 Marathon

Sun Valley Half Marathon
Ketchum, Idaho  June 4, 2011
A look at my 2011 calendar kept reminding me that the Sun Valley Half Marathon was approaching fast. I had never run a half marathon, marathon, or long road run for a race. I prefer the trail runs or mountain hill climbs. I rarely run on the road, but do occasional runs on the local bike path to time accurate mileage. Otherwise, I prefer the softer grounds of trails, dirt, or grass assuming a level route.
Race Start/Finish
I had participated in a ski race event a week earlier and was now going to try a running race. The joys of spring offer a multitude of outdoor adventures in which to consume. It is certainly the time of year to mix your sports. I have been skiing, biking, and some running. A friend of mine was going to the race and said there was room in the car. I signed up a few days before the race, studied the course, and took the spot in the car. It looked like a fun race – a quick trip to Sun Valley, my first half marathon, no great expectations for a podium, and scenic location.
I had spent a short time preparing for this race with a few small and moderate size runs. I was mainly relying on strength from ski season. So, I knew it was going to offer new muscle groups a challenge. I had no real plans for a strategy except, ‘run a good race’. I knew there were ‘runners’ here and I was entering as a ‘ski mountaineer’. The race Start is at approximately 5,920 feet. The race course involved two small hill climbs, some rolling terrain, and a few straight sections.
Race Start, evening before race


Bald Mountain and Final Mile


Sun Valley is home to the world’s first chairlifts which were installed in 1936. Sun Valley is also home to Olympic Gold medalist Picabo Street. Bald Mountain looms over the Wood River Valley with snow and ski runs still very prevalent.
Race day dawned perfect and the start was great and allowed for plenty of time to prepare final adjustments. The pavilion at Sun Valley was full of smiles, runners, sunshine and people ready to race. The gun sounded and a new race had begun. I finished the course in a time of which was good enough for ninth place overall. I had a great visit to Sun Valley and hope to explore more of the surrounding trails and peaks in the near future.

Division award and Hydration

Relaxing after race


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ski to Sea

Ski to Sea 2011
 Sunday May 29th, 2011  Mt. Baker to Bellingham, Washington

Kayak salad

One hundred years ago, 14 brave souls threw caution to the wind, braved snowstorms, and risked their lives to compete in what has been labeled the first endurance race in American history – the Mount Baker Marathon.

Mt. Shuksan from Mt. Baker ski start area

The marathon lasted from 1911 – 1913 and was the forerunner to today’s Ski to Sea.
The original competitors choose either automobile or train to access the base of Mt. Baker. The 116 mile race of mud, snow, sweat, and glory was short lived due to numerous hazards. Two different routes to the summit were viable. The races’ only rules were to start from Bellingham, Washington and summit 10,781 foot Mt. Baker and finish back in Bellingham. The competition consisted of loggers, coal miners, farmers, students, postman, and attracted a few professional marathoner runners and Olympians. The 1911 race was won by Joe Galbraith. In 1911 a U.S. postage stamp was 2 cents, the Median U.S. Income was $983 per year (U.S. Census Bureau) and the average price of gasoline of gas was 25 cents. It would be 60 years before the spirit of the Mt. Baker Marathon would be resurrected to the event that is known today as the Ski to Sea.

Max Taam, Jordan Hart, Me

Runners take 3rd leg down Mt.

 In 1973 Ski to Sea had fifty-two teams enter for a new relay race featuring downhill skiing, biking, and canoeing. The 2011 race has 7 different legs and is 100 miles in length. The race consists of an uphill/downhill alpine ski, cross country ski, run, bike, canoe, mt. bike, and kayak leg. The race is capped at 500 teams which quickly calculate to 3,500 racers.
I received a phone call one afternoon and was asked by Tony Velasco to join a Team in the Ski to Sea. I accepted the fully sponsored trip. The trip to Bellingham enabled me to enjoy a great event while meeting many super athletes and catch up with some ski mountaineering friends. I knew that Max Taam was going and heard rumors of Greg Ruckman and Brandon French attending – all great athletes. It looked like good fun, the price was right, and I was able to get another ski mountaineering race in for the year.

keep moving or the Moss might start growing on you

Both Max Taam and I were among athletes staying in a cabin arranged by our Team Captain Tony Velasco near the base of Mt. Baker. Max was on the Boss Construction 1 Team and I was on R.B. Wick’s Masters Gentlemen Team. Gulp, it was my first Master’s event. The team I (Alpine Ski Uphill/DH) was on consisted of Chris Humbert (XC Ski), Shaun Marshall-Pryde (Run), Aaron M. Berntson (Bike), Darryl Spencer and Tinh Vu (Canoe), Todd Gallaher (Mt. Bike) and Kirk Christensen (Kayak).

R.B.Wick, Aaron Berntson, Me, Kirk Christensen, Chris Humbert, Shaun Marshall-Pride

The racing resumes of these athletes were off the charts. I was amongst people of great passion, talent, and inspiration. I was honored to join these ‘Gentlemen’. I met many great people including Jordan Hart and R.B.Wick. The Ski to Sea was a great race to participate in and then cheer on my own team-mates as they race off the mountain of snow and down to the waters of Bellingham. The Overall race wining time was 6 hours 11minutes and 22seconds. Our team finished 10th overall out of 500 teams in .

For results