Spring Skiing: Citadel Peak

Springtime is the season for long walks with your skis. The snowpack is generally more stable and you can hit big alpine lines. A couple weeks ago, I went on two long walks with skis.

I first tried to get to Flattop Gully with my old roommate, forgetting how far back Flattop goes. We didn’t quite make it all the way to the gully but skied a fun north slope I’d assume doesn’t get skied very often because of how long the walk is. The exit is one of my least favorite I’ve done, second probably to Silver Couloir on Buffalo Peak.

Bindu Pomeroy, of Vail, and I had been trying to get out since we met at Outdoor Retailer. Three days before the Loveland Pass area received somewhere around 20 inches of new snow, and he thought Citadel Peak would still be good. I haven’t skied too much in that area, so was open to skiing something new.

I left my house at 2:30am to be at the trailhead at 4am. Bindu and his fellow split-boarder, Jon Adgate, show up a few minutes after me. We shuttle a car to the Herman Gulch Trailhead, where we’ll finish, and drive to the gate at Dry Gulch.

The moon, while not full, was bright enough that we didn’t need headlamps for the start of our skin. You follow a low angle road for about a mile before turning uphill, pulling up your heal risers, and walking up the steep creek – hearing the water running under the thin snow cover.  We had to traverse under a face that I would not want to be under in unstable snow conditions, then go straight up to the saddle between Hagar and a few false summits from Bethel.

I figured out with my Fritschi Ttecton binding, if I partially took it out of walk-mode the brakes would drop, which allowed me to walk almost straight up the hard-frozen steep face. I also found that this technique stops working when the sun warms up the snow, you just slide back down, the brakes sliding through like butter.

Bindu puts on his crampons for the final push, to the top of the rocky peak behind him

We walk the ridge and skirt to the northwest of the Citadel to find someone had oh-so-kindly already put in a boot pack up the steep snow slog. As we gained the summit ridge, we were finding the snow was softening up very quickly.

Looking to the northeast to Pettingell Peak

By the time we are set to go, a few wet slides and pilling are going off on east facing slopes. Bindu and Jon (carving in the photo above) choose the left route down the couloir (which looks far less steep at super-wide angle in the photo than it is in reality). After both of them are out of slide danger, I pick the shoulder on the right. It took me maybe 10 minutes to finish shooting and get set to ski and in that time the snow had warmed up considerably. I made a couple jump turns and set off a wet slide that pulled the top layer off the rest of couloir. I wait for it to settle before straightlinging out to the major slope. The east facing snow was some of the strangest I’ve ever skied in, both soft and crunchy, grabby and super fast. My skis sunk to ankle deep or so and the snow grabbed my tails, making it almost impossible to turn. I could make large sweeping turns which were not sufficient to control my speed. I’m not sure if I didn’t fully clip into my binding, but about halfway down the slope my right ski took off on its own. It took me too long to retreive it, wallowing in the wet snow in avalanche danger area. Getting my ski back on, I made it over to Bindu’s position, “Damn, it feels like I’ve never skied before!”. I hate that feeling. The snowboarders didn’t seem to have the same problem, claiming the snow was great for carving. I’m going to attribute it to their greater surface area and not sinking into the grabby mess (and not my lack of abilities…).

The ski out is 4 miles of generally downhill but very low angle skiing that goes by pretty quickly, except for the dirt patches you have to gingerly walk across. The last quarter mile or so we had to put the skis on the packs and awkwardly walk with ski boots (I guess the snowboarders less awkwardly walked in their more comfortable boots). High alpine adventures are fun, but I think I’m about ready to hang up my skis for the summer. It’s rock climbing and mountain biking season!

Carson City Off-Road

After a great week exploring Yosemite, I stopped in Reno for a few days to spend time with my sister. I had been wanting to shoot a new truck in an off-road scenario for a while, and my sister’s friend, Chris, had a 2016 GMC Canyon that was perfect. We went to the Washoe Boulders above Carson City just before sunset and got exactly what I was looking for.

Spring Snow Day

Saturday morning Boulder woke up to almost a foot of snow. Spring storms happen every year, but it’s a bit of shock after 70º pre-summer bluebird days. I made my adventure soul happy skiing two feet of powder at Berthoud Pass, but on the drive home I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera. I dropped off my buddy, and picked up my girlfriend and camera, hoping the light, snow, and fog would not change too much by the time I got back to the scenes I drove past on the way home.

I drive past this tree every time I go to my girlfriend’s house, and I think, “I should take a photo of that some day.” So, it was a natural first stop.

If you have followed me for a while, you know I have a favorite tree on the drive down CO 93 to Golden. I couldn’t help but capture it in beautiful fog and snow.

We drove a new road home, winding our way through the rolling hills southeast of Boulder. We found ourselves looking at a giant horse statue wearing hazmat suit and gas mask, which memorializes the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Production Plant. You can see the horse on my Instagram.

Across the road was this perfect abandoned Country Store overlooking the former site of the Nuclear Weapons Plant.

I have a bad habit of not shooting enough around where I live. I like breaking through that habit and exploring with a freshly inspired eye, seeing what stands out to me. Snow always helps with this inspiration.

Pajar Icepick Women’s Waterproof Snow Boot

Boulder just got one of our spring snow storms where it snows a fair amount and it’s completely gone the next day. Melissa had recently bought a pair of Pajar Icepicks and I wanted to shoot them. I didn’t want a static studio shot, so I took her out into Boulder Canyon and Nederland to shoot some product lifestyle. We confirmed that they boots are, in fact, waterproof.

Canon 85mm f/1.8 on Canon 5DMKIII, mostly at 1.8. 

Skiing Lake Tahoe

I went to Reno for my birthday to see my sister and my mom, and mostly to ski! I got connected with a few great athletes, Kenzie Morris, Riley Bathurst, Brandon Craddock, and Kelsey Hyche, who showed me around. I spent Sunday skiing with my sister and nephew at the locals’ (and the Japanese tourists’) resort, Mt Rose – impressively fun and steep terrain!

I met up with Kenzie, Riley and Brandon at the Mt Rose Pass parking lot, and we went for a quick afternoon tour. It had been warm, it was definitely spring skiing conditions.

0327-RoseRidge-0033 0327-RoseRidge-0042 0327-RoseRidge-0063 0327-RoseRidge-0069 0327-RoseRidge-0084

Kinzie smiling despite her new boots killing her.


Brandon taking the first crack at the cornice


Kinzie carving down a short spine




Brandon hiking the ridge line for the ‘enth time.

0327-RoseRidge-0299 0327-RoseRidge-0286

The backcountry was warm, the snow thick, and we got out a little too late in the day, but it was still fun. It was nice skinning at 9,000 ft feeling super fit (I’m used to skinning at 11,000 ft and dragging.) The ski out on the west side, towards lake Tahoe was just the right mixture of soft and flowy to be fun spring skiing. I hitch hiked back to Reno

I hitch hiked back to Reno, and got picked up by a couple of Bolivian Catholic missionaries. It was Easter, and it provided for some…interesting…conversation. I was glad when they pulled into the Starbucks parking lot, just after the man started talking about a prophet that he follows that’s predicting the end times is happening now.

That night it snowed over a foot in Reno. My sister drove me up to Sqauw Valley to meet up with Brandon Craddock and Kelsey Hyche. Squaw got somewhere between 4-6 inches, and made for some great turns, just enough to smooth over the sun crust of the past few days.

0328-Squaw-0316 0328-Squaw-0331

Brandon enjoying the white room

0328-Squaw-0360 0328-Squaw-0383 0328-Squaw-0394

Brandon gave me the gift of my very own white room!

0328-Squaw-0423 0328-Squaw-0512 0328-Squaw-0517 0328-Squaw-0525

Brandon climbs some sketchy snow to get the shot.


Definitely worth the effort

0328-Squaw-05290328-Squaw-0611 0328-Squaw-0635 0328-Squaw-0658 0328-Squaw-0670 0328-Squaw-0678 0328-Squaw-0687 0328-Squaw-0708

At times, the snow was super heavy and made autofocus next to impossible.


Brandon stood at the top of the rockslide, contemplating. “You really don’t have to do this!” I yelled up to him. “I’m doing it!” came the reply.
“I hope you got that. I’m not doing it again.”


I spent my birthday hanging out with some awesome people and playing cards against humanity. If I have to be away from my friends for my birthday, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it.

For day two, Kelsey wanted to show me around Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley’s sister resort.


Brandon getting sendy early.


0329-Squaw-0735 0329-Squaw-0744 0329-Squaw-0777 0329-Squaw-0781

Brandon had to go to work, so Kelsey took me on a hike to ski an area called Cartoonland. Pretty accurate name, if you think of a cartoon version of perfect mountains.


0329-Squaw-0785 0329-Squaw-0799 0329-Squaw-0803 0329-Squaw-0817-HDR 0329-Squaw-0890 0329-Squaw-0996-HDR 0329-Squaw-1008 0329-Squaw-0925 0329-Squaw-1019

The sidecountry off of Alpine was some of my favorite, so many awesome zones. It kicks you out into a residential area where we had to carefully make our way back to the road, where a resort shuttle picked us up.

0329-Squaw-1024 0329-Squaw-1028 0329-Squaw-1030 0329-Squaw-1032 0329-Squaw-1033


Squaw and Alpine quickly became two of my favorite resorts in the country. I’m definitely excited to go back next year! It was great working with Kelsey and Brandon inbounds, and getting shown all their secret stashes. I think I improved my skiing just by the necessity of keeping up with these two.

Thinking in Black & White

Since winter has returned to Colorado and snow is covering much of the landscape I’ve really started thinking in black and white. It helps that on overcast, snowy days, the landscape tends to be a bit monochromatic.

It seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve tried to really intentionally create art. I love the action photography that I do, but it’s not always…art. With my tiny Sony A6000 and my new Rokinon 12mm F/2 lens (super sharp! I’m really excited I bought it) I’ve been inspired to carry my camera more places. The saying is true, the most valuable camera is the camera you have with you.

A couple weekends ago I went on a solo tour of East Portal. It was right before new snow was coming into Colorado and I wanted to go up higher toward the Continental Divide than I’d been before to try and see a couloir a buddy skied a few days earlier.  I don’t go out solo often, but I had a great tour and took some time to take photographs.

The couloir Eric skied was somewhere in that cloud. 

The highpoint of my tour

 After my ski tour I had some time before I had to be back in Boulder, so I made a concious effort to stop and take photos along the road.

I drive passed this old school house every time I go skiing at East Portal. I finally stopped to capture it in a snowstorm.  And of course, with the bright yellow, I had to present it in color. 

Boulder Creek had some very interesting shapes after the new snow. 

I tried this one in black and white, and it seems so much stronger in color. What do you think? 

I stopped on the Colorado University campus that was beautiful in the dumping snow.

The next day I went snowshoeing with my friend Greta up near Nederland. Boulder Canyon was closed because a semi had jackknifed, so we took Coal Creek Canyon. It was a great choice.

Greta enjoying snowshoeing. 

Then some random black & whites from the last few months.

The Brainard Lake zone has some fantastic skiing, but a long approach. 

I skied the couloir in the center-left of this image with Eric Poore on an extremely warm June-ary 

A tree being blasted by the wind, the shoreline of the Barker Reservoir encased in ice from the spray off the waves, near Nederland, CO.

I hope you enjoyed my new work. Most of these will be available for print on my printshop at FineArtAmerica.com 

Happy Holidays!

I guess it’s a bit late for that, but what the hell. It’s been a great year and I had a great holidays. I spent the week surrounding New Years ice climbing and skiing around Ouray (your-A), Colorado. It was an awesome vacation with some great friends. But I’m always excited to return to Boulder (I take that as a good sign I’m supposed to be here).

I took a short hike with a friend yesterday just outside of Boulder, on the north side. For some reason I rarely go to that side of town, but it’s quite beautiful.

It’s Snowing in Boulder!

Winter has finally arrived and hopefully it’s here. I’m in full on winter mode. Ice climbing Sunday, skiing and snowboarding Thursday, and I shot mixed climbing in Vail yesterday! So psyched for this season!

Driving to Golden as the sun came up Thursday, the Flatirons were on grand display.

On the way home the conditions were a bit less sunny.

I’ve lived in Boulder now for almost 3 years. I drive past this tree multiple times a month and I’ve wanted to photograph since I saw it the first time. I finally didn’t have to be back in Boulder for anything specific and took the time to stop. So glad I did!

And I stopped at the pull-off to photograph the Flatirons again.

I love having my Sony A6000 with me, I’m definitely more apt to use it since I carry it more often than my 5dMkiii.

If you’re interested any of these are available for print. I will be announcing my new Print Shop soon, but in the meantime, I will fill you in by email. 

Back from the Fury of Outdoor Retailer

For the record, when I refer to OR I’m usually talking about Outdoor Retailer not Oregon. Sorry Oregon, I really do want to talk about you / come explore your wonders. Several of my friends in Oregon thought I was coming to see them and friends ask me, “How was Oregon” when I got back from Salt Lake City. Outdoor Retailer is a tradeshow where the entire outdoor industry is in one place showing off it’s goods. I go to network with all of the marketing departments and scrounge up future work.

Another OR is over. I rushed to get my new portfolio magazine (take a look!) prepared for the show and skimped on setting up meetings, but the show went well despite my lack of preparation. It was a slow show, so many companies had more time to talk with me. (Many are hurting because of the lack of snow in much of the country).

Now the real work begins, the constant contact after the show. Get companies engaged and make them think of you first when they have photography needs. It’s a balance between not contacting them too soon when they’re swamped with all the other inquiries and not too long when they forget about you.

So…I have work to do. And I leave you with a random photo from last month.

The Crested Butte backcountry on Mt Evans last month when I was out with Donny Roth for Dynafit

Sometimes It’s Not Perfect

The last couple of months have been great for my adventure needs; I’ve gotten out and done something adventurous every weekend since the end of October! This summer I had been feeling, well, adventureless. I know, I went to Peru and had an epic, but besides that I don’t feel like I did anything really awesome. I got out and climbed around Colorado, and I did get to raft the South Platte river which lightened my spirit quite a bit, but all  of that wasn’t enough. Spending two consecutive weekends on Long’s Peak was a great start to what I hope will continue to be an adventurous year.

Last weekend I got out for my dose of adventure, but both jaunts into the wild were less than ideal – I’d even say disappointing.

Besides climbing Dreamweaver at the beginning of November, with zero ice on the route, I haven’t gotten out to ice climb yet this year. Disappointing. Friday I finally got out with Matt Lloyd, excited to get into some good water ice in Vail, but we decided to go to Officer’s Gulch instead, mostly because it’s slightly closer. You can see the Shroud from I-70 and it usually looks quite fat. The approach is a ten minute walk on a flat bike path, about as easy as it gets in Colorado without rapping into the Ouray Ice Park. 

The Shroud was not looking particularly fat as we approached. What is usually one very solid slab of blue water ice was nearly two separate pillars of dripping chandelier ice. Dripping. The temperature is flirting with 0ºF and the ice is dripping! Not a little but showering you as you climb, making it almost impossible to look up, soaking your climbing gloves making your fingers unusable, and finally freezing to every part of your outer shell making you an icy coat of armor. You start an ice screw into the chandelier ice and feel it sink hollowly in with little resistance, not inspiring confidence in it’s ability to catch you if you fall. Hanging off your tools with hands that are beyond numb, forearms unbelievably pumped, and feet slipping off the featureless ice you will yourself to continue. It’s easier to go up.

On top of the first vertical section snow gathers on the low angle shelf, your ice tools tear through a layer of unconsolidated ice that starts to avalanche on top of you. You push that aside and get a solid foot, relaxing a bit as you make your way to the second tier of vertical ice. This time, as you swing your ax into the ice it shatters all around, breaking off and exposing the granite beneath. You lightly pick at the ice to create a hole strong enough to hold you but not too deep, but your tool is dull from dry tooling, refusing to sink into the hole. You inch higher, kicking your crampons into columns of ice you could reach both hands around. Your last ice screw is full of ice and won’t start. It’s useless. You have to just push through to the anchors. As you lower back down what you just ascended you think to yourself, “man, I love ice climbing!”

Suffice to say, the conditions of the ice on the Shroud were less than optimal. Matt and I did a couple of laps each, I ran up a mixed route to practice dry tooling, and we headed home. Not a lot of climbing for the hour and half drive.

Lee pulls off the skins from his splitboard, preparing to ride down what looked like great snow

Sunday I head out with my buddy, Lee France, to check out Hoosier Pass for some backcountry skiing. We picked it because we could get there without getting on I-70, which is always choked with traffic on the weekend. Hoosier Pass is just south of Breckenridge on highway 9, and surrounded by 14ers, Lincoln and Quandary. It’s been snowing a decent amount this early season so we thought that in the least it would be skiable. We skin up the trail for two hours debating where to ski. Do we drop over the north side into the bowl or stay below the treeline and ski down to the reservoir on the south side? Lee is a cartographer for National Geographic, and he created a map showing the angles of the faces that would be susceptible to avalanches. The danger above the treeline was considerable so we elected to ski down to the reservoir in the trees. We take two turns in moderately good powder (woo…) and the mountain says, “That’s all you get!” We’re stopped. The snow on low angle will barely slide under my skis. We wallow over to the a steeper gully and every turn is greeted by the equivalent of nails raking down a chalk board: rocks. There’s little more than a couple of inches over some of them. At one point I just am sliding down a granite slab with less than an inch of snow under me. We’ve been beaten. Reluctantly I take my skis off. I believed longer than Lee, he was already stumbling down the mountain, falling in the scree, with his snowboard in his hands. The snow hides the inconsistencies of the route you choose, one step you’re on a rock, your knee against your chest, the next  you sink to your waist and fall over. Every step comes with a curse under your breath. This. is. awful.

We put our skins on at the bottom and ready ourselves for another two hour trip back up the mountain to where we started. We’re on residential roads, passing empty, expensive summer cabins. A couple cars pass us. I wanted to stick my thumb out, but I didn’t. This is why we get our right? For the exercise? I think about how heavy my skis and boots are and how badly I want a much lighter Dynafit set up. Every step I take, with each foot I’m dragging an extra 12.5 pounds. I think about how many steps I’ve taken. How much does that mean I’ve lifted today? I don’t want to be – I want to be a machine – but I’m a baby when it comes to carrying weight uphill. I’ll blame it on the 26 years of living at the grand elevation of 900ft or less. I just keep repeating to myself, “this is training. I’m getting fit. This is training. How the hell am I supposed to keep up with the athletes I’m shooting?”

Not every adventure is grand, and not every one is a success. This day was definitely not a success. But on to the next! Also, pray for snow! Do the snow dance. Do something. I want amazeball snow. Maybe I shouldn’t expect that in Colorado. 

Early Season Wolf Creek Powder Day

It was one of my best powder days in a resort (sad I know, I need to get out more), and it was in mid November!

Saturday morning: “Wolf creek has more than 10″ and more is on the way! They’re expecting close to 20″! We’re heading down tonight if you want to go.”

Thomas doesn’t give me much of a choice. Eric Thomson and Patrick Shehan fill out the car. We camp just outside South Fork on BLM land which gets us less than 15 minutes from Wolf Creek Ski Area in the morning (instead of a 4.5 hour drive the morning of).

The snow conditions are great, but when we get on the lift we can hear the ski patrol is still blasting the backside for avalanches.

We’re in the first wave of skiers on the lift and our first several trips down the mountain give us great powder runs. But the backside remained closed and the frontside quickly gets cut up. We did have an advantage that Patrick lived in Durango for years and knows all the secret stashes of the mountain and took us on some great runs.

Skiing powder is magical. It feels like you’re floating, and it’s impossible to not have a shit-eating grin on your face the whole time. But when in-bounds powder gets chopped up, it makes for a very bouncy, unfriendly ride. Finally, just after noon we hear Alberta is running.

We rush past the newly opened gates eager to explore. The trees off of the Alberta lift give us fantastic fresh tracks every run.

Thomas Woodson slashing through the powder off of Alberta

Eric Thomson hitting a burm. 

The terrain on the backside is great and varied. The perfectly spaced trees get steep and then mellow out to really fun glades. The steeps have a line of cliffs that Patrick is psyched to jump.

Patrick Shehan hucking a cliff 

We hike from the top of the Alberta lift to Alberta peak, up past windblown trees plastered with ice in whiteout conditions. At the peak the sun moves in and out of the clouds.

White out conditions on the hike up Alberta Peak

At the peak
Even on this trip up Alberta Lift the ski patrol is still blasting around the mountain for avalanches. We look in vain to see where the blasts are located. When we traverse over from the peak of Alberta we hit an avalanche crown two feet deep that continues as far as I can see (which isn’t far in the near whiteout conditions). I make my way over the crown and ski tentatively across the debris field which takes me pretty much back to the cat track. That hike was not worth the effort. You win some, you lose some.

Thomas working his way over a two foot crown 

But overall the day was a great success. Thomson ends the day being ejected from his skis for no apparent reason and superman-ing into a snowbank. At least he got a portrait out of it.

Eric’s snow beard

I had skied Wolf Creek when I was in high school, with my dad, but I don’t remember the conditions. These conditions were incredible. Now, half a week later, I look at all the snow reports for Summit County and none of them even come close to the conditions we had at Wolf Creek, and in November! I’m looking forward to a great season. 

Climbing the Dreamweaver Couloir

“Want to go do some mixed climbing in the Park (RMNP) Saturday?”
“For sure! When do we leave?” I say.
I have a Halloween party at my house Friday night…I can make it work. 
“Yeah! I can do that.”
When Tristan Hobson hit me up for an adventure I was psyched to get out with him. He had pretty grand plans for climbing Alexander’s Chimney, up through the Notch, and summiting Longs Peak. I was just down for an adventure. 
I sleep for roughly an hour and half after the party before meeting up with Tristan at 3am in the dark parking lot. I groggily grab my bag and jump in his Toyota truck. The road to Longs from Lyons was still closed from the floods so we had to take the Peak to Peak Highway through Nederland. Just as we got on the Peak to Peak I remembered I’d forgotten something crucial.
“You’re going to hate me…I forgot my harness in my car.” 
We sat for a little bit contemplating what to do, then drove the 30 minutes back to my car. 
“It’s almost 4am. Do you still want to go out?” 
“I’m up, I’m psyched to do something.”
Tristan didn’t think we had enough time to accomplish his original objective, so we decided to climb the Dreamweaver couloir on Mt Meeker, next to the Flying Buttress. 
Almost an hour later than we had planned we pull in to a full parking lot, as if it were still summer instead of a cold October morning. 

The five mile approach takes you from roughly 9,000 feet above sea level to 12,000 feet above sea level. We start in the dark with only the light of our headlamps leading us through the woods, but before long the sky starts to brighten with the first signs of the sun. The sunrise comes up over the city of Lyons, beyond a few peaks to the east, and filters through the trees just below tree line. The trees get much shorter and scragglier as we keep trudging up hill.

Finally the Diamond comes into view, soaking in the alpenglow.

  From the Chasm Junction, Dreamweaver looks to be in quite nicely. Ahead of us, the Smear of Fear is in pretty fat, but our original objective, the Notch, looks pretty thin.

I’m glad we picked to go up on Meeker, since you don’t have to do the traverse across a not-quite-frozen Chasm lake.

We finally reach the base of the Dreamweaver Couloir. The snow up to it was a little soft, but still firm enough to walk comfortably. But as we get higher into the couloir the snow gets softer and softer.

I start crossing into a small snow field below the first crux of the route and the snow seems a bit unstable, so we make an anchor and I tie in, just in case. The crux itself looks pretty easy, so I don’t plan on doing it as a lead, but as a free solo. I keep the rope on me so I can belay Tristan across the snowfield after I’m above the crux.

“Do you want some cams and nuts?” Tristan asks before I take off.
“Sure, I’ll use them to make an anchor at the top, just in case.”

In the constriction the snow just collapses beneath me, dropping me below my ice tools that are stuck in the rock. I manage to climb back up to my tools, just wallowing in the snow. I can’t count on any support for my feet from the snow at all. I pull myself up to my tools and press my crampons into nonexistent holds.

‹side note› One of the things I love about ice climbing is when you sink your tools you know without a shadow of a doubt, because of the combination of sight, sound, and feel, that they are going to stick and be able to support your weight. Dry tooling (using your ice tools on dry rock), on the other hand, is incredibly unstable. Never does a placement feel 100% secure; anything could pop at any moment. You pull up praying that each tool holds long enough for you to place the next one. Your crampon-ed feet scrape their way up the rock face, alway potentially slipping. You would give anything to be using the sticky rubber of rock climbing shoes that will stick on the smallest pebble. ‹/side note›

With my feet pressuring off opposite sides of the constriction and my tools finding whatever small crack to pull on I inch my way up, miraculously finding a frozen fixed sling left by someone else for protection. I quickly clip in, incredibly thankful to have some form of protection on this unexpectedly hard climb. Though, I was only using one 7.8mm rope that are meant to be used in pairs. The route had looked easy so because snow filled up the constriction, but now the snow offered absolutely no assistance in my climb and was more of an enemy of forward movement. With every move I had to use one tool to clear off the foot of powder that hid the rock below. Each time I reached above another rock I tried desperately to stick my tool blindly into what lay beneath the snow, mostly to no avail. I would either hit featureless slab and my tool would just scrape down or small loose rocks. The only firm holds I had were generally on my left in a small crack system. And my feet felt as if they were dangling helplessly below me.

As I cleared off more of the powder I uncover two more slings spaced out every ten feet or so, each time temporarily boosting my confidence. I ran out the pitch a ways before coming to the last bit of the crux section. I find a small crack that I’m able to fit a nut into and clip in. I pull on it, and it feels to be quite secure. Two moves later I bump the stem of the nut with my knee and the draw + nut go zipping down the rope. But I can see the relief! Only one more hard move till the constriction opens up and I can stand up on slightly lower angle snow. Instead of wasting more time trying to find another placement I pull over the last bulge and make an anchor. I had unintentionally lead my first “mixed” pitch, and it was scary as hell.

Tristan blindly searches through the snow for a purchase on the last bulge of the first crux. 

Wallowing in waist deep powder the ice tools do little more than put useless holes in the snow. 

Climbing on lower angle, more featured rock is way easier than wallowing in snow and/or climbing vertical rock with no feet. 

The last crux section had much better feet and tool placement options.

We free soloed the rest of the route, trying to avoid wallowing in the powder as much as possible. Thankfully there was lower angle rock with lots of features on the right side of the couloir. The last crux of the lower have of Dreamweaver went much more smoothly than the first. I was able to use the constriction more like a chimney and pressure both feet off of the opposing walls and there were many more solid tool placements for both hands.

We reached the top of the buttress, the end of the first half of Dreamweaver. The second half that takes you close to the summit of Meeker looked to be more of the same powdered mess that we just had come up, and it was getting late in the day so we decided to cut the climb short. We ate some food then down climbed to the Dark Star couloir which provided us an easier way down.

When we reached the basin floor my body decides it was time to shut down. It doesn’t care that I have a five mile hike ahead of me. Maybe for epics on Longs I should get more than an hour and half of sleep. I’ll keep that in mind for next time. Besides terrible climbing conditions, it was an incredible day adventuring. You always forget the pain and remember the awesome. 

Photo A Day Challenge?

Your mom is usually your biggest fan no matter what you do. Well, my mom just challenged me to start doing a photo a day on here. So lets see how this goes.

In my work I take a lot of photos, and I don’t always know what to do with all of them. Sometimes they just don’t fit into any category, but you still love them. There’s no real place for them on your website, you don’t want to just post to Facebook. ok. Photo-A-Day is a great way to show off some of this work.

I love this photo, but have never found a place for it. I took it during the Ice&Fog series on my website, but I love the orange rim in color. 
And thus starts my Photo-A-Day challenge on my blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Finally Some Snow!

Last week it finally snowed in the Front Range. We’ve been looking at bare mountains for most of the winter, sourly remembering last year’s terrible snow cover. We keep doing the snow dance and praying to the snow gods, but mostly to know avail. We hear about Utah, Washington, and even Southern Colorado getting pounded by beautifully large storms, but nothing seems to come our way. But Wednesday and Thursday brought a decent amount of snow.

My buddy Leigh is out visiting to snowboard, so thursday I decided to snowboard with him and Thomas Moore. I usually ski, and I didn’t really pay attention to the snow report, so I was very unprepared for the amount of powder at Keystone. I actually hadn’t been on a snowboard in over 5 years, but it came back quite easily, though I had never been in powder before. Leigh, Tom and I stuck mainly to the woods, trying to make the most of the fresh.

Thomas Moore 

I really want to do more skiing and snowboarding photography, but I always dread bringing my full camera set up with me, mostly because of the weight. I shot all of these with my point and shoot, Canon Powershot G10. I really want to find a nice mirrorless camera to fill in the gap, something that is super light weight and can easily sit inside my jacket, but has high enough quality that people want to buy the photos. AND usability. The G10 shoots painfully slow. On burst mode it takes 1 photo every 1.5 seconds. The new Sony Alpha NEX-7 I’m looking at shoots 10 frames per second and has a shutter lag of only .02 seconds (not even mentioning the list of other great features it has). Sorry, I got distracted.

Late in the day the weather toyed with being Bluebird, but it continued to snow all morning long. Over the previous 24 hours there was maybe 8″ of fresh snow which was awesome in the trees. Tom and I decide to hike over to the South Bowl, where apparently a ton of snow from elsewhere on the mountain was getting blown. I got stuck.

Tom sitting waist deep in fresh powder. 

I got really stuck. So stuck on my snowboard that I could not move without removing the snowboard and crawling inch by inch through the powder till I got to a slope that was steep enough that gravity could overcome the resistance of the snow. I was kicking myself for not bringing my skis. Maneuvering into place to get a shot was more difficult. Enjoying the abundance of snow was more difficult. I was exhausted at the end of the day.  

But we got to enjoy the new snow.


View from my usual position….on my back.