31 January 2013

Keith's Hut, BC - New Year's Adventure

Much to my family's chagrin, I didn't go home to Montana for Christmas this year (sorry Mom!). In fact, I didn't go anywhere. For the first time ever I stayed in Seattle. On Christmas Day I enjoyed a super soggy run, took in a movie, and ate a fantastic Christmas meal complete with the singing of 12 Days of Christmas (with matching plates, to tell you which part to sing, of course).

To make up for my slackery at Christmas, I went on a 4-day ski-in trip up to Keith's Hut in British Columbia over New Years! North of Pemberton, which is 40 minutes north of Whistler, Keith's Hut is one of many first-come-first-served self-service huts in Canada.

Three of us drove up together on December 29th to meet five other friends who had arrived the previous day. We were greeted by an overflowing parking lot and overcast skies.

Our destination is in the distant right mountains


After the requisite hour-packing-at-the-car, we were ready for our two hour skin to the hut. To say my PiggyBackPack was heavy would be an understatement. I *may* have brought more than I needed...but this being my first backcountry hut trip, I just wasn't so sure I'd only need one pair of long johns. I should have listened to those that are wiser than me. I essentially brought an extra bag of clothes. Definitely could have used that space for something more wine-like. Next time.

Yes. It looks ridiculous. Yes. It was heavy.

The approach was mostly easy skinning (as easy as it can be with 40lbs on your back). We encountered a log bridge crossing right at the start, which I understand gets to be really dicey as more snow piles up. As the snow gets deeper it gets thinner at the top, causing it to only be one ski wide towards the end of the season. The crossing had ropes at two heights to hold onto as the bridge height increases. With my lopsided bag, I was very happy to have an easy crossing.

Alice showing off her "log" skills
We climbed for a while before leveling out in a flat glade where we got our first glimpse of Mt. Mattier, which was projecting an impressive cloud shadow.

Taking in the view
Peak of Mt. Mattier closeup, projecting a mountain shadow into the clouds

Just as we were getting tuckered out, we came to a steep section that led to the cabin - a very welcome sight! We dumped our bags, but a bit too hastily, and I'm sorry to say that we lost an entire 5th of Knob Creek to the Mountain Gods. It was a huge sacrifice (especially after carrying it for 2+ hours) and we had a moment of silence for the spilled Whiskey. Believe me when I tell you it was a heartbreaking loss.

Keith's Hut
We unloaded gear and quickly realized that the hut was FULL! Packed, in fact. We had no choice but to pitch our tent and spend the first night outside.

It was 7 degrees.

Yes, 7° Fahrenheit.

For those of you who use Celcius, that's below freezing. A lot below freezing.

I woke up in the middle of the night and was so cold that my eyeballs felt like they were going to freeze. Needless to say, the first thing I did in the morning was secure a space in the Hut when people left!

Oh, and I made lots of time to enjoy the amazing view!

Mt. Mattier hiding left, Joffre Peak at right

I've got lots and lots and lots of pictures of our two full days of skiing, as well as a fun hut game for all of you to play in the future when you forget the cards in the car, but those will have to wait till the next update. Now, for your viewing pleasure, is my very favourite rainbow picture I've ever taken. And those of you who know me know that's saying something, because I've taken a LOT of these =)


16 January 2013


The Seattle ski scene hasn't had much in the way of precip lately, so I skipped skiing this weekend and opted to bike instead. The weather was clear, cold, and sunny, making for a lovely little ride. I went out to Alki and would like to note that I did NOT fall of my face. Go me.

Seattle, from Alki

Panoramic on the way home

13 January 2013

2012 Year in Review

Last year I put together a 2011 Year in Review where I listed all of the things I had accomplished and laid out some goals I hoped to achieve for 2012. As it's the season of 'Lists' I feel inspired to do it again. So now for your reading "pleasure", my 2012 Year In Review!

It's kind of funny really: I often find myself wishing for a little time machine - I always want to know what will happen in just 3 months, 6 month, a year. Where will I be? WHO will I be? What will I be doing? Will I be happy??? Turns out, I know myself better than I thought. It would seem I'm pretty good at predicting where my life will take me (or at following my predictions, you decide).

Here are my 2012 goals in last year's post:
  • Run at least 10 miles a week with the goal of hitting 600 miles this year
  • Lead a 10c/d outside, and cleanly top-rope an 12a inside
  • Travel to a new international destination (to maintain my streak starting in 2005)
  • Read 23 books
  • Move to Boulder

And these are other goals that, at the time, had not made the blog:
  • Take up a new sport
  • Buy a car and/or move to a new place
  • Find a job that I love

How did I do? Here are the 2012 accomplishments!
  • Ran 756.63 miles over 159 days for a total of over 133 hours spent running (That's nearly 5 full days!) My average run length was 4.66 miles and I took 72 laps around Greenlake!
  • Completed my first marathon! I also set a new PR for the half distance in my fifth half marathon!
  • Lead first 10c outside. Cleanly TR'd an 11b inside.
El Potrero
  • Traveled to MEXICO! Got my new country and upheld my 8 year streak! I also posted too many blogs about El Potrero Chico, MX, for a short five-day trip, but it's my life and I'll write about it if I want to dammit! Here are parts one, twothree, AND four
  • Read 13 books. Yeah, definitely didn't come close to this goal. Wah wah. My excuse? I no longer bus commute, so I've got less designated time to read per day. I am hoping to right this in 2013 and read more.
  • I also didn't move to Boulder, but we know why. In case you missed my emotional journey to choose to stay in Seattle, here are parts one and two.  

As for the other goals?
  • I took up Backcountry Skiing and have absolutely fallen in love with it. In case you can't tell. Which means this is the first blog of mine you've ever read, because seriously I have not been able to shut up about it! 
  • It's hard to pick a fave BC day, so here are a few fun posts: Baker SummitAdams Summit, (also where I got my Christmas Card photo this year), Little DevilSlot Coulior, and Helen's Birthday Ski!
Teaser photo from New Year's BC Ski Trip to Keith's Hut. Photo courtesy of Andrew Sullivan.

Regarding a new car/new apartment - I opted to save my pennies for travels and am sticking with Layla for now, but I did find a new apartment which is decidedly more sunny than my last location. And let's be honest, when you live in SAD inducing Seattle, the more sunshine in your life, the better.

So what's left? And what's next??? As you may have seen in a few of my blogs, I was inspired to create a 30 Before 30 list and I've been working on that basically since my 28th Birthday in May. I have a few items I'll only announce when I'm all done, but so far I've:
  • Skied from summit of 2 volcanoes (Helen's, Adams) - also summitted Baker, but only skied from 7k feet. That means I need to ski from the summit of either Hood, Baker or Rainier.
  • Ran a Marathon
  • Paid off student loans
  • Hiked Mt. Si
  • Traveled (twice!) for Mumford and Son's Show
  • Ran 100 Miles in one month - 116 miles in September
  • Completed a 30-day alcohol-free cleanse
  • Skied 12 (now 15) consecutive months!

And last but not least - the highlights of what's left to accomplish on the 30 Before 30 List:
  • Ride the STP
  • Participate in the Fremont Solstice Parade
  • Ride an Elephant
  • Lead an 11a outside
  • Kayak in Lake Union
  • Hike the Enchantments
  • Try Standup Paddleboarding
  • Publish 200 blogs (This is lucky #162 baby!)
  • Try every restaurant on Greenwood near my new home
  • Throw a kick-ass Thirtieth Birthday Party!

Thank you all for your encouragement and participation in this journey called life. I appreciate everyone single one of my adventure buddies (and of course my blog readers - if you made it to the end, kudos to you)! If you spot something on here that looks fun for you - let me know! Let's make it happen! And I hope this might inspire some of you to make your own lists! Life is for the living. Go! DO. BE.  

07 January 2013

Sending Kelso's Way - My First 10c!

One of my goals for 2012 was to cleanly lead a 10c outside. Since my fall a few years ago I've been a hesitant leader, but thanks to my great new climbing buddy Rachel, I've quickly improved my "lead head" We traveled to El Potrero at the end of November, so it was really my last chance to go for it!

Our first day out, The Group went to The Sense of Religion Walls and put up a BUNCH of fun routes. I got to climb on a 10c, which I flashed on top rope. From then on my objective was set: Kelso's Way or the highway.

Limestone is such interesting rock
Our final day in El Potrero was gorgeous - sunny and splendid. After a few warm up routes (5.8 and 10a) I approached Kelso's to have my Way with it. I consulted the book for beta, but it said, "You'll find the crux in the thin crack at the top of the pitch." Yeaaaaaah, not super helpful. So I geared up with 14 draws and an anchor, and I was off...errr...up!

The climbing was really stellar, just as I had remembered, and after mastering the crux I was home free! I anchored in and breathed a sigh of relief, happy to have accomplished the lead clean! I used every one of those 14 draws and nearly an entire half rope length of a 70 meter rope too!

Super Stoked Face
A big thanks to my awesome and competent belayer Rachel, without whom this particular goal probably would not have happened. Thanks for inspiring me to get out of my head and get after it!

Rachel and I with the Spires in the background!
I also want to thank all the other friends on this trip! It was ridiculously fun and I really can't wait to get back there! Here are my favourite pictures of other climbering from the weekend!

Hexar reminding us why we call him Flexy.

Nicole dodging the flora and fauna

Sasha's disgusting feet - not really bloody, just red from his shoes. But trust me, they did not smell good.

Sasha (and Allen, not pictured) at the top of a 3-Pitcher

Rachel working her way up a flake

See you all next Christmas/Nicole's Birthday!!!! I hope to get a few weeks off next time! There's so much more for us to do and see!

04 January 2013

Must-Do's In El Potrero Chico

For those of you considering a trip to El Potrero Chico (and really, why haven't you just bought your tickets already???), here is a list of MUST DO's while you are down there!

First and foremost put together an awesome crew. Make sure they are awesome and aren't just faking it. You can assure this by packing all of them into a small sedan and going for a literal test drive. Yes, someone will need to be in the trunk. Don't worry, it's Mexico. It'll all work out.

Rent a car. Be aware the bumper might come off when you drive over los topes grandes (the giant speed bumps). This will be uncomfortable for the person in the trunk. Feed them beer. They'll get over it.

Use the car to drive to the store in Hildalgo (5 mins from La Posada, where you should stay). At the store, buy cans of beer. They will put it in a bag with ice for you. Try not to spill ice all over the trunk.

Enjoy the beer around a campfire with lots of other climbering folk from around the globe. Enjoy the standard conversation: Where are you from? How long are you here for? What are you climbing/what have you climbed?

Wake up and go Climbing. Make a sweet "backpack" out of the climbing rope, and take care not to trip on it because you are short and you did a poor job of flaking the rope to an appropriate length.

Take the car into town again for more beer (you're climbers, of course you already ran out). Purchase muchas Caguamas!

....enjoy una Caguama in the car. It's Mexico, it's legal. But remember, safety first!

While you're at it, pick up some Animalitos as well! They go great with caguamas, AND it's just a fun word to say. Seriously, say it. "Animalitoooooos!!!!" Try not to smile. Yeah, that's what I thought.

Go climbing some more in the Virgin Canyon. Take artistic photos so you can feel cool later.

You're hungry. Head back into town and eat hamburguesa gigante. It will cost $4 and you will have to split it with someone.

Head back to camp to play with your Action Figure Mascot. He's feeling rejected. Extra style points for rocking sweet shades inside.

Make sure you recycle. Think of the sad little baby birdies.

Enjoy one more day of climbing. Take in the scenery. Check out unusual insects (stick bugs). Don't touch the purple centipedes. They can literally kill you.

Enjoy a final trip into town to hit up the Bebidas stand (this is not your first time here, so you know to order a Tequila SuNrise, not a Tequila Surise).

Stand in line forever waiting for your EXTRA LARGE Margarita to go. You will think it's the best thing you've ever imbibed in your life. For $2.50, it will be.

Take a ridiculous picture. In fact, take a whole bunch of them.

By the way, this advice pretty much goes for any trip. Happy Travels friends!