25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! For those of you traveling near and far (and high and low) be safe! Hoping you find many adventures in 2013!

p.s. Totally just realized I said the EXACT same thing on last year's card. Note to self: come up with a new catch phrase for 2013.

21 December 2012

Climbing in El Potrero Chico, MX

For Thanksgiving 2012, THE GROUP and I headed down to El Potrero Chico, Mexico, an amazing sport climbing area 26 miles northwest of Monterrey, Mexico, just outside the small town of Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon. The canyon features hundreds of beautiful limestone routes ranging from 5.7 to 5.14. The main draw of Potrero Chico is the large number of excellent sport multi-pitch climbs, many of which go at 5.10. The most well-known route is a 23-pitch climb called Timewave Zero 

We discovered this climbing mecca because it's a favourite of my good friend Hexar, who has spent the better part of 6-months living down there. You can find more El Potrero stories on his blog here, and this post about climbing the spires at night to spin fire balls on the top is a good place to start to give you a taste of the general level of shenanigan that goes on down there (especially since I have now climbed the spires, and I found that 2-pitch 5.7/5.9 route to be one of the spiciest climbs I've done in recent memory). 

Rock Pose in front of the ROCKS!

The group consisted of 7-Seattlelites, a couple from Austin, and a dude-bro out of Boulder. We flew down on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and woke up at the crack of 10am on Thanksgiving Day to get our climb on. What? We had a late flight! We left on Sunday afternoon, but got 4 fantastic days of climbing in during our time there.

To get to most climbs, we walked about a mile from where we camped at La Posada (where we rented a fantastic and super reasonable Casita (house-ish) for 7 of us). The walk to get there is all along paved roads and takes you through an area that feels like a long-since-abandoned state park.

The "Hike" to climb

As mentioned, some of the routes are SUPER long! One classic route takes you along the ridge below:


One of the best parts of climbing down there is the community of people who camp. El Potrero attracts sport climbing enthusiasts from all over the globe, many of whom stay in La Posada. I met people from Germany, Canada, 'Merica (of course), Switzerland, and Chile. On Thanksgiving Night, most everyone opted to eat at the La Posada restuarant, where they whipped up a surprisingly authentic and definitely delicous traditional Thanksgiving meal. Even Grandpa Max was impressed, and he's a picky eater!

Traditional Thanksgiving Fare (plus a Caguamo [giant beer])

After dinner, everyone adjourned to the fire pit, where we built a raging inferno and chatted about, what else? Climbing!

The following three days in El Potrero were fantastico! More to come, but I'll leave you with these scenic shots that should be drool inducing (if you like rocks, that is).

p.s. I pre-wrote this post to publish on 12/21/12....so if you're an alien and the human race got wiped out because of the stupid Mayan's....learn from this blog and take up climbing. You're welcome.

07 December 2012

Mexican Route Names

In climbing, the first person to set a route gets to name it. The names of routes can tell you almost as much about the area as about the climb. In some cases, they are related. "Blocky Bimbo" for example could be used as the name for a juggy, blocky route. Other times the names aren't related - "Show Me On the Doll Where He Touched You" - yeah probably has nothing to do with the route. Most often though, the names are dirty or crude or offer a play on words. They are coined by climbers after all.

A taste of El Potrero

Certain routes and certain places speak to me when I climb, and I instantly fell in love with El Potrero Chico, MX, while there over Thanksgiving. The Routes have been set by two men primarily, and I had the luck of meeting Magic Ed while I was down there (and Rachel and I even made his blog!). Their consistency in naming routes is apparent, as they all seem to have the same "theme", although what that theme is exactly I can't really say. I can tell you I loved all of the routes there, and was happy to cap the trip off with my first ever lead of a 10c! More on that in a later blog.

Unique to El Potrero were these fantastic hand-carved plaques to mark the more notable climbs. Here's a little taste:

With three climbing guides to choose from and countless long routes to climb, I'm very much looking forward to getting back to El Potrero and checking more fun routes off the list! See you in Dec 2013 Mexico!

Who puts a picture of beer in a climbing guide? Oh wait, that's right, Climbers do!

04 December 2012

Abuelo Max's Mexcellente Adventuro!

Grandpa Max came with me to El Potrero Chico, Mexico, to get his climb on. We had a Mexcellent time. More posts to come, but for now, here is something a little different: a slideshow of Grandpa's adventure! (turn on captions in the lower left hand corner for added fun!)

30 November 2012

Turns All Year - November!

In October I hit my goal of skiing in 12 consecutive months! Why stop there though, when the skiing is just getting good?

For November turns, I headed up to the Mt. Baker backcountry with two fellow snow enthusiasts I met at a NWAC event. NWAC is basically the bible for backcountry skiing and I was happy to help with their fundraising events - who knew I'd meet so many awesome skiers there too?

The crew assembled at 5:30am on November 18, and we were skiing by 8:30. We skinned up into the Blueberry Chutes and found stellar conditions, especially considering it's only November. Lighting was pretty terrible (what, with it dumping snow to the tune of 6" in 5 hours), so we dug a pit and found a weak layer (not visible, but definitely present) and therefore chose a more conservative line form our planned descent. 

After navigating a dicey chute, we skied 4 laps in the trees where we enjoyed plenty of pow, good coverage, and no rocks! All in all, a really fantastic day! Now if only I can find gloves that don't soak through, I'll be a happy skier!

Andrew Face Shot

So much snow! My legs are tired!

Doug pole planting like a champ

See you in December! Hoping to get a lot of skiing in with my week off for Christmas! Let me know if you're around and want to share in my adventures!

19 November 2012

I'll Get You My Pretties

I have been wanting to see the musical Wicked for YEARS! Really ever since I decided I was in love with Kristin Chenowith. I mean, did you see her in Pushing Daisies? So cute. So dainty. So talented. Plus her name is only one letter short of MY name. Yes, we're basically the same - proof:

Kristina + Kristin = Same Same

Okay, FINE, we don't look that much alike. We're both blonde and short and that's about it, but in my mind we are the same. And we're best friends. Forever.

Annnnnyyyyhoodle....the point? Oh yes. Kristin is also a very talented singer and Tony Award Winner. She played the original Glinda in Wicked, and the role was actually written with her in mind. Naturally, I have been obsessively watching youtube clips of her singing in Wicked ever since I can remember, SO when the show came to town I was overjoyed to see it! I had been wanting to see it for so long, in fact, that it was something that made my 30 Before 30 list! Convenient for me that the traveling cast came to Seattle!

I regret not taking a photo of my fabulous, dressed up friends who joined me for the evening at the Theatre, but I do have this lovely shot of Denise and I:

Theatre Chic

I definitely enjoyed the show and was surprised by how well it integrated into the story of the Wizard of Oz. It really does give you a glimpse into the "Untold Story of Oz" as advertised. It's gone from Seattle now, but if you ever have a chance to check it out in your city, I recommend Wicked, even without my gal Kristin as Glinda.

06 November 2012


As you all know I'm pretty BIG on countdowns and marking important milestones. And as luck would have it, today is exactly ONE YEAR from when I did this to my face:

Face, Meet Pavement: A Bicycle Tale

Obviously this is notable enough. However when you also take into account that in December, only 11 months prior, I gave myself a black eye on the other side it's an even bigger accomplishment to have made it through a year.

Punching Whistler With My Face
I was really hoping two black eyes meant I was done - I have two eyes, I blackened both of them in one year, I should be good to go, right??? But the saying goes that bad things come in 3's, so I felt the curse would only be lifted if I could make it a full year without suffering another catastrophic faceplant (as my Dad says, "Stop leading with your face!")!

*Knock on wood* that I get through the rest of today, but I'm pretty sure I've weathered this storm. The same cannot be said, however, for my fabulous coworker and friend Shanon. As proof that I am clearly a bad influence on myself and those around me, Shanon seems to have inherited my knack for accidental self-harm. Over the weekend she fell off the top of a bunk bed (volunteering at a Girl Scout Camp no less!) and broke her foot.

In three places.

According to the doctors the bones are just...floating around in there.

Gross? Absolutely! Here see for yourself!

Is that a foot, or a giant purple squid with toes?

Please join me in wishing Shanon a quick and relatively pain-free recovery!

03 November 2012

Turns All Year - October!

This October I completed another one of my 30 Before 30 goals - to ski 12 consecutive months! The weather was....wet....and the skiing was....wet....but we got 'er done.

I went up with my potluck buddy Johnny, who posted an official trip report here and took the photos I'm sharing with you (I opted to leave the camera in the car to avoid soakage). His recap is fantastic and a must-read for more in-depth analysis of our weather/day, but here is my less technical recap of for you:

We left Seattle around 7:50am and arrived at Longmire (a camp within Rainier National Park) around 9:30am to find the gate to Paradise (the official launch point for Muir trips)  closed. We knew it had dumped snow and the parks' personnel were anticipating the snow level to be about 6,000' (Paradise is at 4500', meaning we'd have to hike for 1500' to get out of the rain) but it had dipped down to 4,000' overnight, catching the plow crew unprepared. This meant they were still plowing when we arrived, so about 20 unhappy skiers waited at Longmire for over 2 hours while they plowed.

This turned out to be a real shame, because while we were waiting the snow level was rising, meaning we were literally chasing the snow up the mountain. If we had been at Paradise at 9:30 as expected, the rain would have been chasing us up the mountain. Then we would have only had to ski down in rain, vs. up AND down in rain. Hope that makes sense.

When we finally arrived in Paradise (5th car baby!) it was raining. Hard. And not like Seattle hard, but Oh-My-God-Who-Turned-On-The-Firehose?-Hard!

Me skinning in the rain. No amount of Goretex could keep you dry. You can see the poor visibility.

We started skinning as fast as we could, but the rain never stopped. It only got worse the higher we went. And then the wind picked up, which also only got worse the higher we went. Visibility also started going to crap, and in keeping with the theme, only got worse the higher we went.

Skin Track through the boulders - thanks for laying that in!

We were soaked and visibility was deteriorating, so we turned around at 7100' on Panorama. After wringing water out of my second pair of gloves for the day, we were off. The skiing was...fine. Well, pretty terrible, wet and heavy actually, but we were skiing.

Johnny self portrait. You can see the waterlogged sensor in the camera.

All told we were in the rain for two hours and gained 1660' on our ascent. We reviewed the weather data on the drive home and confirmed our decision to turn back. The freezing level was rising as we were climbing, and even if we had made it to Muir (at 10,000') we still wouldn't have found snow falling on our heads. BUT it's skiing in October AND I'm officially a NorthWesterner, having braved the worst of our elements.

It's a week later and my gloves are still on the drying rack but The Stoke is building again. Who's ready to head back out???

28 October 2012

More Baker Photos & Video

I stumbled across more Baker photos that were taken by Owen and thought they were worth sharing, along with this video of what it looks like to cross a crevasse. Skerred!

Camp at sunset. Those tents should have been in a Mountain Hardware commercial!

Roped up and ready to go

Ryan and I cresting the Pumice Ridge. Neat perspective.

Looking down the headwall

And now looking up! Steep!!!

Cresting the summit. I'm last in line and getting HANGRY!

Wide load

Such a pretty hike down. If only it were 10 minutes long instead of 3 hours.
Do you see the ghost? How about now? Smiley faces in nature for the win! (and Happy almost Halloween!)

26 October 2012

Leavenworth Wedding

I recently attended a vineyard wedding in Leavenworth, WA: home of the Bavarian-ophiles dream come true. The scenery was idyllic, the wine was plentiful and I got to wear a pretty pink dress. What more could a girl ask for? Well - since you asked - we also happened to be staying at a cabin I've stayed in before....so I also had a lovely reunion with an old friend - Mr. Kris Kringle himself!

Here are my fave pics from the weekend:

Southern Style house and lawn setting. Heels came off almost  immediately

Smokey clouds made for a pretty sunset

A photographer with a sense of humor

I heart Dahlias


Kris Kringle, where have you been all my life???

23 October 2012

September Turns on Rainier

One of the things on my 30 Before 30 list is to ski for 12 consecutive months of the year. September marked month number ELEVEN. It also marked the most miserable skiing to date, as Luke and I battled sun-baked, late summer snow conditions and hallacious winds just to make a few turns. In fact, for 5+ hours of driving and 5+ hours of hiking, we only got about 12 minutes of pretty terrible skiing. But it's all about the journey right? RIGHT?

John Muir, so wise

Finding a good weather window was not a challenge this summer. With record breaking sunshine, Seattle only had one rainy day in three months. I've never seen so many Tan Seattlelies!

While our day was sunny it was also mired in smoke. Seattle, like much of the country, suffered from ongoing forest fires all summer long. You can see the haze in all of the photos below.

If you don't believe in global warming, you will now. Shrinking glacier!
Destination Camp Muir

Ants moving up hill

Our hike began around 10am and we traveled 3 hours up onto the Muir Snowfield. The wind picked up when we hit the moon rocks at 8,000 feet. We endeavored on before turning around at 8,500, when we met another skier hiking down because the ski conditions were so bad. We were planning to stop about 9000' due to crevasses opening above anyway, and I was glad to move the skis from my back to my feet and head down. Not that it (the skiing) was pretty.

Luke busting a move

Three turns in and my quads are already SCREAMING to stop

As you can see from the photos, the snow was really dirty and had been decimated by suncups: cup-shaped indents into the snow, usually between 2 and 20 inches in depth (closer to 12 inches in our case). Skiing around these divets is difficult and they cause inconsistent snow conditions, which "grab" at skies causing you to jerk forward as your skis stop, and your upper body continues with it's downward momentum.

But hey, that Coors Light sure did taste good when we finished! Thanks for a fun adventure Luke! Who's ready for October turns?!?!? It's snowing in the mountains already.