29 December 2016

Happy New Year!

The holidays are a complicated time. While some people enjoy huge celebrations with loving families, many spend them alone with little fanfare. I was one of the lucky ones. I grew up decorating locally-acquired, "Charlie Brown" Christmas trees, hanging stockings on the mantel, and leaving cookies and milk for Santa. On Christmas Eve, my twin sisters and I were allowed to open one present each, then we'd pile into my room and squeeze our eyes shut trying to force the sleep that would never come. When the sun rose, so did we, and rushed to the living room to greedily devour the gifts under the tree.

As we got older, the one-room slumber parties went by the wayside, as did much of the excitement around Christmastime that predictably dissipates with age. The magic wasn't gone, but it wasn't everywhere either. We started sleeping so late our mom would have to wake us. We'd go skiing instead of opening presents. I left for college.

After I graduated, I took a trip to Patagonia and decided I was done with Christmas presents. I couldn't afford both the trip and gifts, so I decreed to everyone that I wasn't doing gifts and therefore didn't want to expect any in return. And for the most part, I still don't give gifts 10-years later.

I want to be clear though that I do still CELEBRATE Christmas. I love everything about it. Spending time with those you love. Sparkling lights everywhere. An endless supply of fattening sweets. COSTUMERY! Yes please.

I've designed my own traditions to replace the presents under the tree. I like to travel internationally or have an orphan's dinner with my friends. This year I was happy to stay close to home to make new traditions in the new home I share with my boyfriend. One thing has remained the same though: creating and sending holiday cards. I love sending cards.

Collections are fun, so here's a look at my holiday cards back back to when the tradition started. In 2013 I started sending New Years cards, and personally I think that's when I really came into my own :) It's fun to see how much the designs have evolved over the years.  

Want a card next year? Awesome! I'd love to send you one! Let me know and I'll add you to my list, but you have to send me one too! I'll show you mine if you show me yours :)









2008. I hadn't yet discovered text overlay...

22 December 2016

Why We Go

I recently joined the board of the Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC) - our local avalanche forecast and education center - and I'm really excited to learn more about the nonprofit and its mission. When I started backcountry skiing 5-years ago, I had no idea of the places it would take me or the people I would meet along the way. The journey has been incredible, and I'm so grateful to NWAC for being a great resource for our community of winter adventurers. I'm humbled and happy to support its future.

Like any nonprofit, NWAC relies on donations to fulfill its mission based initiatives. Following the basic premise that people will act on behalf of something they love, and that people love what they know, we feel it's important to identify reasons 'why we go'. Other board members have been sharing inspiring stories around what motivates them individually, and I've now spent a good deal of time thinking about this very question myself.

Why do we go?

Why do we risk our lives to spend time in the backcountry? Why do we climb on rocks and huck off cliffs and dive down deep and fall out of the sky? Is it the adrenaline? Is it the adventure? Is it so we can get cool shots in the hopes of one day becoming Insta-famous?

A lot of folks outside of the outdoor community think it's for those reasons, but for me it's because spending time outside makes my heart feel full. When I was a little kid I desperately longed for an outdoor escape of my own. When I was upset about something, I always found myself outside, searching for respite. Set on a 1/2 acre, our property had plenty of shrubbery and yet none of the foliage was befitting of a fort. Occasionally I'd duck across the street to play on stacks and stacks of hay bales which lived year round under a big pavilion, but I was so scared of getting getting in trouble that those visits were few and far between.

As a little kid I dind't ask why. I didn't wonder what propelled me to put on shoes and a coat, open the door, and get lost in my own backyard for hours at a time. I just went, and was happy. Even at a young age, my body took me where my soul needed to go.

But now we're old and we have to attribute our actions to reasons. So here's another one for you: I go outside to feel in control and to restore the balance in my life. You all do too. Our actions are so common we have a phrase for it: "All work and no play make you a dull boy/girl."

Erroneously, people accuse us all of being "adrenaline junkies", when really that's not the point. Scientific research actually backs me up on this one. According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the type of person who is drawn to slow and methodical - albeit dangerous - activities like mountaineering are individuals seeking more emotional control in their lives (we are all emotionally inept nincompoops, apparently). And individuals who do things like skydiving may be "sensation-seeking", but still do so with a strong motivation to gain control in their lives. In short: we do it for the challenge. 

Every time I venture into the backcountry I learn something new about myself. I overcome challenges. I hone my communications skills. I uncover a new trick that makes me faster/better/stronger/mightier. I discover my resiliency and endeavor on, problem solving to get through obstacles. Most importantly, I connect with my tribe of adventurers, make safe decisions, and come home alive to go out another day. We are a community, and we must take care of ourselves, each other, and our outdoor playgrounds to preserve these experiences we hold most dear for the betterment of us all.

15 December 2016

Colors of The Mountain

My friend is a real Dick. I had the audacity to post a photo of me with "Rollercoaster Face" in the mountains, and he decided to respond with a rewrite of "Colors of the Wind" from the not-at-all racist, highly popular Disney film Pocahontas. I loved it. I made some minor tweaks to the language and am pleased to now represent his masterpiece to you here.

Written by Dick McManus and Kristina Ciari. Illustrated by Disney, with assistance from Craig Hull Rididulous Photoshop.

You think I'm a frivolous skier
And you've been so many resorts
I guess it must be so
But still I cannot see
If the silly one is me
How can there be so much that you don't know
You don't know

You think you own whatever hill you ski on
The piste is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every slope and ridge and aspect
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

You think the only skiers who are skiers
Are the skiers who look and think like you
But if you wear the tutu of a stranger
You'll learn things you never knew, you never knew

Have you ever seen a crevasse crack through the new fallen snow
Or asked the toothless skibum why he smiled
Can you ski with all the shredders in the mountains
Can you play with all the tutus in the wild
Can you play with all the tutus in the wild

Come race the hidden tree runs of the forest
Come taste the local ciders in the lodge
Come play in all the powder all around you
And for once, try to leave your ego at home

The snowstorm and the whiteout are my brothers
The headlamp and hot tub are my friends
And we are all connected to each other
On a mountain, in a season that never ends

How deep is the powder snow
If you pack it down, then you'll never know
And you'll never hear the silence of the new fallen snow
For whether we're on piste or backcountry
We need to revel in the the winter all around you
We need to enjoy every last turn we ever ski

You can own the slopes and still
All you'll own is snow until
You can ski with all the tutus of the wild

08 December 2016

Turns All Year: Month 61

For November turns this year - the first official turns of the season - I revisited the place from October and wow, did it look different! I went with the Sippel Sisters, a pair of real-life twins and the born-into owners of one of the best potential band names of all times. You've all heard about Theresa, but her twin Trisha just moved to the PNW and I was stoked to get out with both of them. I also had some strange flashbacks to my childhood spend skiing with my twin sisters...but I digress.

We left Seattle super early and drove up to Naches Peak, just outside of Mt. Rainier National Park. We were skinning by 8:45am, at the top by 10am, at the top of our second lap by 11:15am, and back at the car driving home by noon. Can we count that as dawn patrol?

When you adventure with twins, everything is the same same, but different.

Theresa forgot her tutu, but luckily Trisha had the green on lock down.

Trying to find a way around the creek...

Skinning into the abyss.

Trying to see zee mountain. Visibility was even worse than it looks.

Theresa stoked to drop in for our first lap!

The snow was light and fluffy in the morning, crusting up as it warmed later in the day. Remarkably good coverage considering the low snow depth.

Trisha may or may not have fallen right after this was taken....

Goodnight Owly. Thanks for joining.

Our friends were around the day before and left us a smiley. We love skiers.

01 December 2016

My First Selfie

Going through a box of old pictures the other day, I came across what I believe is my first selfie. Based on the glasses (and the teeth and the bangs and the seersucker shirt), this is roughly 1992, and I am 8. We had the 1989 GMC Safari van for at least 12 more years. I remember because I passed my drivers test in it. I was too scared to drive my yellow, 1970 Beetle named Lola. She's a manual, and I was afraid of stalling out.

Looking back, I really understand what people meant when they said I'd "grow into my teeth". I also can't believe I lived in that shirt... and the matching pair of rose-print shorts. I have no shame about my beloved neon pink, purple, and teal jacket sticking out of the back of the Safari though, that thing was a solid piece of art. I wore that a lot too. This must be after I learned to ask my Dad to cut my bangs - my mom hated doing it so much she'd cut them super short until I finally stopped asking her.

We took great road trips in that van. My mom in the front seat, my twin-sisters in the middle, and me in the back. My dad bought a top-of-the-line 13" TV with built in VHS player that plugged into the cigarette lighter and we'd watch Aladdin and The Lion King on full blast, my parents plugging their ears and us begging it to be turned up louder because the speakers were off the back of the unit. He still had that thing until a few years ago.

My dad kept the van after my parents' divorce, and when I was 11 we took a long road trip down to Disneyland. We pulled the middle seat out, and I relinquished my solitude in the back, instead taking the spot in the front next to Popi (as I had re-branded him) while trying to learn how to read a stupid road map. Driving through the night, we'd sleep on the over-hearted floor of the van with a thick blanket under us to keep from burning up. Popi would drink a lot of water and drive until 3am, using a full bladder to keep him awake.

The California trip was the first time I can ever remember wearing seatbelts. No one had a car seat. My sad would smoke his cigarette while driving down the road, using the smoke to teach us about the physics of wind and aerodynamics with the windows cracked at different distances.

Those were different times. Gone are the days where you let kids steer the car when they're 5 or move the shifter when they're 7. No more sleeping on the floor or going without a seatbelt. No more manual cars or reading physical maps or VHS movies or cigarette lighters with actual lighters that get hot enough to actually light a cigarette.

I'm not so much sad about these changes as nostalgic for the past. I think kids should learn how to drive a manual. I'm still not a great navigator but dammit, I did eventually learn how to read a map. And while science lessons by cigarette are not the best for you, they're certainly easy to understand.

My niece is 10, and she'll never know what it's like to take a photo and not be able to see it instantly. I'm sure in 20-years she'll look back on today nostalgic about a different set of things, but for now I'm a little sad for her that she'll never experience the surprise of finding her very first accidental selfie.