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RVDude's Blog

1,543,919 vertical feet - The 2012 Ski Season

If the frame does not appear below click here: The 2012 ski season

1,268,493 vertical feet - The 2011 Ski Season

A positively EPIC ski season for snow and for me!

More details, more commentary, and more video including Google Earth tracks for the 2011 season at http://www.rvdude.com/datapages/fixedpages_skivideos2011.htm.

For a day-by-day breakdown and even more Google Earth tracks choose the "Ski 2011" map from the pull-down menu on my home page OR just click here: http://www.rvdude.com/index.htm?markers_SKI2011



My thanks and gratitude especially to Capt Spike and Capt. Kathy and to their Snowshoe, WV ski patrol friends and connections for all their relentless coaching which helped me achieve this epic skill transition from last year. Doing the Beav's signature EX terrain - Stone Creek Chutes - formerly labeled by me as "not in my lifetime" - was a real thrill. Yes, I still need excellent snow conditions on the most extreme terrain to soften my errors, but I can actually ski them now, and do so eagerly. It's a thrill to actually be able to "ski" this terrain instead of just "getting down" it or skipping it altogether! Even my (not so smart solo) side country and back country runs (like Vail's West and Blue Sky out of bounds gates) and having to do my own route finding - again during reasonably decent conditions - turned out to be well within my new found skills. These accomplishments are really epic for me to achieve.

Don't get me wrong, I still very much enjoy a mellow sightseeing cruise down greenies like Schoolmarm (best sunset views and night time too) and lapping all the groomer cruisers for kicks and giggles. The difference now, from 3-4 years back, is that I can now actually ski the ENTIRE mountain on or off piste and in or out of bounds with confidence meaning I can ALWAYS find interesting and fun new things to do every ski day. Previously, some days could get boring running the same on-piste runs.

Yet another new set of sticks, fatties of course, and finally new boots also complemented my improvement as I was better able to actually use the capabilities the new technology provides. Make no mistake, I still need even more improvement in technique and knowledge. I know this. That gives me a template to work on for next season, if there is one.

This year's improvement was a monumental achievement for me and afforded me some of my most exhilarating runs ever. Some downright scary. Scoring 1,268,493 vertical feet and skiing everything at 7 different resorts over 81 on mountain days is, well, simply huge.

The privilege of being able to ski everyday is amazing and humbling. Thanks again to Cuz Jim and Sheryl for the RV site. I also opted for the Copper Ski Pass as well this year giving me access to that gem of a resort. I really like Copper as it is a mountain that has truly at least one of every type of terrain to ski, handles crowds well, and has superb free parking.

Yep, an epic ski year for me and wishing happy skiing - or whatever you enjoy - to all and to all a good night!

The 2010 Ski Season

Well, the 2010 ski season is now ending. Though the year was problematic on other fronts, the skiing skills showed improvement this year. Possibly due to my new skis - it does seem I was simply overpowering my old set. I now have the confidence and some rudimentary ability to tackle basically any on-piste terrain on any mountain (no cliff jumping please). The new skies taught me a lot as they are far less forgiving, but when treated right perform like rails.

Bowls, single and some double diamond runs are no longer feared, though my ability to properly "ski" as opposed to just "getting down" them is still in need of improvement. Some EX Terrain and glade running are now fun, though I prefer 10ft tree separation and limited excess steepness. I just can't jump turn fast enough to go narrow gauge or super steep. Moguls, if spaced far enough or on less steep terrain are a now a regular part of my routine - though style and form still needs lots of help. Speed has definitely increased significantly on the new sleds, not a desired trait, but something that comes with the equipment. Full 360 spins are now taking shape too. I still can't really jump, which also shows in my inability to do the quick jump turns.

I've now explored practically all on-piste areas of all the VR (Vail Resort's -Vail, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and sort of A-Basin) resorts and even had a day at Copper this year on the Swinger Pass they offered. Some back-country runs that I know about (like the Minturn Mile) are potentially looking doable in the future, if there is one.

Keystone still holds first place on my fave list this year, Breck is still at the bottom. Keystone has the best on-piste lapping and the longest fall line terrain of all the resorts, and I like to do that. With my personal record of some 47,000 vertical feet in one day, that should explain my reasoning completely. Besides, Keystone has the best parking - especially the Hunki Dori gondola parking lot becoming unattended at 1:30. Easy parking combined with night skiing makes for a consistently wonderful day here. On North Peak and Outback the views of my little mountain home are unsurpassed. Practically all of Summit County is viewable from up there.

Beaver Creek, a.k.a. the Beav or the Country Club, is still the overall prettiest resort with the Aspen trees throughout and the ultra-long range magnificent mountain views. The housing development there is exceedingly well integrated with the mountain too. Red Tail Camp is just a remarkable place to take it all in. Beav parking and bus shuttle are also first rate, especially thanks to the BC Landing access (my favorite lift of all). Unlike Vail, the skiers at the Country Club really must have money because the lift conversations are unpretentious and enjoyable.

Vail always wins in the variety of terrain category with their endless bowls. Vail always loses because of the horrendous or expensive parking. I tend to avoid Vail - because of the parking situation there. They probably appreciate that I do that too. The snob factor there is far too great too as are the endless cat-tracks to get anywhere and everywhere. Blue Sky Basin (as well as its famed BBQs for public use) used to be a little secret and unspoiled area. Now, you can't even get at the BBQs at any time of the week or day, let alone the massive crowds bumbling around back there. Everyone has now heard about Blue Sky and has to get there just to say they did - including all the greenies and gapers who somehow manage to stumble back there and just crowd it up when they really shouldn't be there at all.. There is nothing green about the terrain back here, only the one cat-track access road that can be taken to get here. Vail should close that route off. 

The Legend, A-Basin or Arapahoe Basin for those who don't know the slanguage, is simply the most fun place to be: the beach, the vibe, the simple fact that the only people that frequent The Legend simply want to be here and no where else. No TSSP this year, or I missed it (it's never advertised and just happens). Gaper Day happened as usual. And yes, the spring water tap in the mountainside is still flowing beautifully as always. Ahhh...

Breck, well. what can I say. The closet resort to me at only a couple miles, it's my least favorite. Its by far the smallest of the VR resorts too. Too many flat spots on every run - no continuous fall lines here. The 3 day a year vacation skiers like that I suppose. Although the Imperial lift and upper bowls can be fun with enough snow, they tend to be wind blown and frigid - they don't call it "BreckenFridge" or "BlowinRidge" for nothing. Did I say lack of snow this year too? Breck is the place to go if you don't ski every day and can't do a long run without stopping every couple hundred feet. The lifts are chaotically arranged at all sorts of angles to the slope. Seemingly, every lift faces directly into the oncoming wind. Go figure. I still can't figure out the lifts. The parking shuttle always seems long and requiring excessive effort. My first season, 2008, I got exceedingly spoiled by parking 50ft from the gondola for free every day starting at noon. That alone made up for most failings. No more free gondola parking that early anymore! It's now 2pm and therefore worthless with a 4pm close time. They don't even add ski time after the now earlier daylight savings time. The Beav does! With the gondola also now directly serving Peak 7, that little hideaway peak is now packed to the gills all the time. It used to be so difficult to get to Peak 7 few folks ventured there. For all it's foibles, Breck still has Wirepatch my comfort food of runs at this resort. Funny, the 1.6 million skier visits a year makes Breck one of the most popular resorts. I can understand the occasional ski vacationer rationale; I also say those folks just don't know any better!

Copper, I only skied once on the $39 Swinger Pass. From my long ago visits here, I had always liked this hill for its simple organization and beautiful tree dotted pistes. Copper is a jewel. With the opening of their massive back terrain and bowls this could be one of my top picks, once I get to know it better and am more able to ski it all. Maybe, someday, I'll be able to have a pass here too. Copper Village is also my fave for entertainment and the like. They just seems to have the stuff I enjoy here. Most of all, Copper is its own little ski oasis and is so unpretentious it is downright refreshing. Hopefully the new owners, Powdr Corporation (yes spelled correctly), will step up. Many owners here I talked too are not too happy about Powdr's first year as owners. IntraWest, a subsidiary of Fortress (FIG) sold Copper to Powdr Corp. and by most accounts folks are glad to see IntraWest go.

All in all, after a tumultuous and very delayed season start (and that's AFTER the mid-Atlantic snow battering at Christmas time, my original departure date), it turned out to be a decent personal skiing improvement season for me. Certainly my most improved of the three seasons so far. Snow was lousy by its absence until basically April. Running about 70% average snow-pack until then and closing out the year at about 85% average snow-pack. Of course, my first season, 2008, is my benchmark for snow and that was a near record season, some 130%++ average snow-pack. Go figure, the snow has been hugely downhill since 2008 - my first season here. Hmm, another parallel?

For the 2008 season, Keystone ran full front-side lighting until 10pm and 2 lifts (Summit Ex all night and Montezuma until 6) plus the gondola. For 2009, and 2010 they lit about half the front side until 8pm and ran only the gondola (not skier friendly) and sometimes if busy enough the Summit Ex lift. Breck, who in 2008 opened their paid parking for free at noon, now attends their parking lot until 2pm. Also in 2008 they did not offer gondola access to Peak 7 keeping it remote and uncrowded. So, my over-the-top banner first year set the bar extremely high on these items as well as some personal items. A friend once told me that to have no expectations minimizes disappointment. I need to heed her advice.

With that, there is no question that to be here and to be able to ski whenever I want to is a real privilege, regardless of any other limitations or self imposed expectations. I have to thank Cuz Jim and his lovely wife Sheryl for this privilege as well!. The VR Colorado Pass at some $400 odd dollars is also and unprecedented value too.

ENJOY! (I sure did!)

Albuquerque Balloon Festival

Turns out this is a must do event. The magnitude of the balloon launches (600+) in the first day Mass Ascention is overly dramatic. The details for the festival are here. The early morning shots in the dark are of the "Dawn Patrol" where a dozen balloons go up with lights into the darkness. This determines wind speed and direction. This is followed by a continues mass ascention of balloons (launching all 600+) over the next two hours or so. It is non-stop balloon-a-monium. If the Albuquerque Balloon Festival is not on your "bucket list" it really should be! Make sure to see the anatomically correct flying cow, Smokey The Bear, Darth Vader, and the monstrous Cathedral balloon in the shots below!

The Greatest Failure of this Economic Crises? It's NOT Wall Street!

Frankly, the most appalling revelation during this economic crises is the abysmal lack of knowledge of capital markets displayed by our elected leaders in Washington (i.e. Congressmen and Senators). Clearly, most of the elected officials in Congress who were questioning Paulson and Bernanke positively have no understanding of the relationship of "main street" to "wall street" through the capital markets. They have little understanding of finance or even money. Yet WE elected them. And, they sure can talk - that is babble. Sadly, these will be the very people who will vote on the only plan that will save our ability to obtain our children's college loans and our next car loan. Yep, cash in the ATM, our credit cards, and every loan we try to obtain - or already have - are ALL created from the capital markets that are currently in dire straits. Do we want to lose our homes, our cars, our credit?

Folks, it's NOT a bailout in any manner. This is an investment in the United States of America and in our continued financial leadership in the world. The capital markets are in total disarray right now. That means our own money is also in disarray. That's the way capital markets work. It's a fact of life. As painful as it is, let's worry about blame later - there are far more pressing issues right now - most notably, economic survival.

Our future rides on the passage of the Paulson plan. This is a plan that simply provides the time for natural market forces to re-establish a fair value to all those complex financial terms (CDO, CDS, MBS, etc) that few, if any, really completely understand. All of the money we use to live on is "created" from those financial instruments - the capital markets. Truth is, in the end, our Government is likely to make lots of money in the Paulson plan.

Nope, not a wall street bailout, it's a main street savior. The Paulson plan is our "of this world" savior. And please, let's NOT pork it up! Congress, let's stick to the root issue, not the politics - I know, it'll be hard for you - it's times like these to show your leadership resolve not your political prowess.

Presidential Candidates – Show us your leadership skills, not your debate team skills. We are all watching, I certainly am. My vote this fall will be based on demonstrated leadership, not spoken leadership.

I hope that we all take some time to learn a little about how money really works. We have plenty of time to polish our rhetoric later.

-----

OK, so now it's a couple days later. The day Congress first votes on the Paulson Plan - now known as TARP - Troubled Asset Relief Program.

So, what profoundly egregious behaviors our elected leaders in Congress presented to the world today - Monday, 29Sept2008 - during the failure of the House to either ratify or offer an alternative to our economic crises.

He said, she said, he did it, they did it, how do I look, is my hair combed, oh heck with the patient, the doctors are going to take their holiday tonight. No offense to those elected leaders bowing out to celebrate Rosh Hashana, but what if your surgeon decided to take a holiday while YOU were on the operating table?

Listen to what our representatives had to say today – shameful children. Look at how the GOP played politics "in order to get re-elected" at the expense of the entire global economy. Businesses already are unable to get credit to meet payroll. It's just a matter of time – a week or two – before everyone of us feel the fall out directly, if you haven't already. And our Washington LEADERS did not LEAD – they COWERED. Where are our representatives in trying to educate us on exactly what is going on? No offense folks, but this situation is exceedingly COMPLEX. It is NOT in any way "main street" vs "wall street." Let's be frank, the average person DOES NOT understand what is really happening. Heck, I have an MIT and Sloan School master's degree and I barely grasp but a sliver of the complexity. Make NO MISTAKE this crises is very REAL. You and I lost $1TRILLION dollars - many of our retirement 401k accounts - in the market today alone. Thank you Congress.

This Plan is NOT a Wall Street bailout, it is NOT a fat cat bailout. It is all about MAIN STREET. Main Street is fueled, fed, and enabled by these credit and capital markets – not the other way around. The Plan is all about freeing up money in these credit markets so WE on main street can get PAID, so WE can use our charge cards, so WE can get money out of the ATM machine. After main street is re-fueled with the capital that this plan frees up, everything else FOLLOWS, automatically. Folks it is NOT A BAILOUT. It is a mechanism to free up the capital markets that make the entire world work. Study it. Learn about it. It is frighteningly real.

OUR duty is to learn and not complain until we UNDERSTAND. OUR duty is also to elect LEADERS not children. This stalwart Republican cannot vote the elephant any longer after their abdication of their responsibility to protect we, the citizens who elected them. And they did it solely along party lines.

I am ashamed for the United States of America and profoundly embarrassed for the actions and frankly, inaction, of those we elected.

I will do my part to change that.

Peak 6 of Tenmile Range Summit

Did a little hike up and around Peak 6 of the Tenmile Range. I am on the Copper side of this range. On the other side is Breckenridge Ski Resort and Frisco. Yep, you can see it all from up on this range. Not that tall at some 12,600ft, but a rather brutal 10.5 mile (+-4,000 ft) hike over a large portion of non-existent trails. So, there's a lot of steep scramble action. The real problem is that all the USGS topo maps and even a double check of the imagery on Google Earth seems to show trails all around, yeah right, a bunch of this trek, especially on the ridgeline and  back down there wee NO trails, just lots of painful bushwhacking!

Google Earth kmz file is here.

Topo! file is here.

Here we see the other side of the Tenmile Range including the town of Breckenridge, the slopes of Breck, we can even see Keystone's North Peak and just off screen is The Outback. Off in the far distance is the double 14'er saddle of Grays and Torreys and nestled in the corner of one shot is Tiger Run RV Resort, where I seem to be spending my winters. Rounding out the shots I look back over to Copper Mountain and "my" little parking lot in the lower right corner. I am right next to the soccer field.



Here's the summit pano shot. Look carefully, you'll see Copper Mtn, I70 up to Vail Pass, Breck Ski chutes, Town of Breck, Lake Dillon, In the background are Keystone's North Peak and The Outback, and the Grays & Torreys 14'er saddle summit is also visible.

Here's the actual pano pic stiched from several photos.


And another pano from the top.

Here's the actual pano pic stiched from several photos.


And here's a pano from a lower peak near Peak 6 showing Peak 6 and a better shot of the Copper Mtn. parking lot I am in.

Here's the actual pano pic stiched from several photos.


Leadville Trail Race Across the Sky - Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong enters the grand-daddy of all mountain bike races, the Leadville 100. Yep, 100 miles of trail riding. He was obviously well prepared as he smashed the course record set just last year by some 10 mins at 6:47. But, the hometown favorite and perennial winner Dave Wiens smashed his own record of last year pulling in with an amazing 6:45 winning the race again and putting Lance in 2nd.  I suspect having Lance on his tail just 2 mins behind was quite a motivator! Lance has said that mountain biking is closer to marathon running than road biking, and one would suspect he's right. All his recent marathon action must have paid off in The Race Across The Sky!

After Lance and Dave chatted and split the scene - some 30 mins later - third place finally arrived further emphasizing the incredible caliber of those two riders.

Here's the Leadville 100 web site

Here's the kmz of the race and the ultra-marathon

Mayflower Gulch Bushwhack to the Summit

Not a high summit but half the trail is bushwhacking. A good trainer for the big one over peak6. A lot of fun too.
Here's the Google Earth kmz of the trail.

pano in Gulch - Mayflower Hill is from left the first little bump w/ tiny snow speck near top. The traverse was across the face of the wide bump in the middle of shot basically skimming the green/bolder line (from right to left starting at the cabin) and then over the backside and up on Mayflower from its right. Then basically down the left side ridgeline to the parking lot basically in the bottom of the valley.

Here's the actual pano pic stiched from several photos.


pano from summit - the tallest pointy most peak is Pacific Peak, Crystal Peak is the double looking one to the left of Pacific and far behind. I see Pacific and Crystal from my camper parking lot. The gulch is behind the peak to the right of Pacific.

Here's the actual pano pic stiched from several photos.


180 pano on way down. Car is parked at the Y looking roads at right and the gulch is left - the big mountains behind the bump far left. Initial approach is up the road along the bigger tree line in the middle from right to left.

Here's the actual pano pic stiched from several photos.


This photo is the ridgeline approach to Mayflower - pretty skinny and straight drop on both sides and all scramble! The descent is straight out the back along the ridgeline


See www.RVDude.com for my antics

Since I seldom blog, your best bet is to follow all the fully interactive Google mapping of where I am and what I am doing over on www.RVDude.com

Enjoy!

Indy500

The premier one day sporting event in the world. The Indy500. Many thanks to my (new) friends in Indy for this opportunity! Seats right at the start of on turn 2. The beast parked way over on the other side outside of turn 4. The track is huge. Yep, just one among 300,000 of my best friends.


Here's the actual pano pic stitched from several photos.


And the rest of the photos



Click for the high res photo and sound file it's only 42mb