I have been up and down. East and west.  I will get to all of it, but as a result of it all I have to play some catch up.  So, with that said, this particular day I want to share happened some two weeks ago by now.  As always, I am on the search for unique experiences, but every once in a while they find me.  

^My trusty tour partner, Ben Geiger and I were out for another typical excursion in Ogden, Utah.  However, near the end of a long day of skin laps and political arguments we were graced with an alpenglow finale.  Alpenglow is the glow of a sunset in the high alpine terrain.  If you've never seen it, then it is something that should go on your bucket list.    

^Some alpenglow events are better then others.  Like the northern lights, though, when you see a good one it takes your breath away.  This one snuck up on us due to the aspect we were on.  We were on the Wasatch back with a predominant eastern orientation so the sunset was out of our view. 

 ^Until the alpenglow show began, we had no idea what would be in store for us.  It came in fast, and just as we were de-skinning for our descent.  Ben looked up and gave me a holler, "Dude! Alpenglow!" I looked up from my gear up business, and was astounded with a, "Damn! When did that happen?" Both of us dropped what we were doing and were captivated by the energy of the event.  Something about that glow creates an atmosphere of humbled awe.

 ^From inside a pair of goggles with a red lens the show gets even more interesting.  We got our gear in order quickly so that we could ski powder amidst the pink glow.  It is like another world in a space that you've occupied a million times. Very surreal.

^The ski down provided more surprises with views of surrounding terrain showing symptoms of the phenomenon.  The energy of these moments was positively charged, and Ben and I were soaking it up and transferring it into our turns like a prism with light.  It was gone as fast as it came, but the timing and circumstance was so well placed for Ben and I that we felt like it was a gift just for us on our last run of a classic day.

all over the show...

Lately, I have kind of been all over the show.  The first holiday of the season has come and gone, and the early season skiing has been better then it has in years.  The storms have been lining up in succession, which has also been keeping me very busy and very late at the airport.  Having moved into deicing season I take on a whole new role at the airport.  Also, a nice surprise fell into my lap in the form of court side tickets with Christine to a Utah Jazz game.  Although I did not choose the corporate life for myself, you will never hear me deny that it does come with many benefits, and I am fortunate that Christine was able to share this one with me.  I also found some time to make good on a bit of catch up to try to get all of our ski gear in step with the speed of the early season snowpack.  Busy as a bee, but no complaints, not a one.

^The early season snowpack has been doing really well.  Ben Geiger and I made it down to Snowbird to take advantage of it before the last wave came in.  It had been a few days since snow at the time, but the Bird was holding up well and some fresh openings played into our favor.  I spoke on the phone with VI's Alaska based photographer, Jon Gurry, just prior to our ski day.  Jon confessed jealousy over my day of " early season Geiger session at Snowbird, beeboppin it all over.  Hell yeah!" Ben loves to do the hop around early season at the Bird, and I must confess that I like it as well.  Tight little mini chutes and bump runs are the name of the game, and Ben plays it as well as anyone.  A game of follow the leader through Ben's lineup of techy combos is perfect early season training.  

^Ben is always quicker to the gun then I am, and here he can't resist his urge to take a little huck out of Silver Fox despite my attempts to cool off his famously contagious stoke.  In the end, he knows the line and landing well.  He even dragged me into some action.  Of course, I played the line with the caution of a recently broken man, but I still let Ben push me enough to get the blood moving and build some confidence.  It is not just muscle that I need to build right now.  

^Naturally, after a day of pushing my limits with my old buddy Ben, I was sore as all get out. I figured it would be a good day to catch up with the snowpack and get some of the household ski gear in working order.  I had something like five pairs of skis to mount between Christine and I and a couple to get ready for sale.  A portion of the pro skier income is selling the gear that we have acquired from the season before as the new stuff comes in.  I had a lot to do, but a nice day and a new outdoor workshop to get it all done in.

^I was wrapping up the last of my ski mounts when I got a text from Christine that made my day.  The partner seats at the Energy Solutions Arena made their way down the ladder to Christine, and she needed a reply "ASAP" as to my status of being able to attend on a short notice.  A quick tapping of "I'm in!" and she was scooping me up and we were on our way.  I just barely picked the last of the burned P-tex off my fingers when I was shaking hands with Deliotte & Touche partner, Mark Faas, thanking him and his lovely wife Tamara for inviting us.  Dinner and drinks in the clubhouse and court side seats was a real treat for me.  I am a huge basketball fan, and as some may well know I ate, slept and breathed basketball for a long time in my younger days.  I may not have been the best company during the game as I was silently glued to the action on the court.  I was all in, listening to the player speak, trying to hear in on all the little communication nuances, and trying to pick up off the ball player movements that you don't get to see unless you are this close to the live action.  Big cheers to Mark and Tamara for this one. Also, a big thanks to Christine for all the hard work to deserve the gesture.       

^Feeling rested and grateful, I went into the Delta work week ready for the weather on the horizon.  The weather has been volatile in the Wasatch.  The storms have kept coming in with good succession, and the latest was quite a show.  "Life Threatening Conditions!" touted the weather man on television in the break room of the deice shack.  Of course, I put in my two cents that they were"...over hyping the storm in order to sell hotel rooms in Park City".  The sunset pictured above from that night was no indication of what was to come at sunset the following evening.   

 ^Just before dusk the storm made it's way across the lake from the northwest.  As a result, the mayhem began to ensue for me and three dozen of my coworkers on the deice team at Salt Lake City International Airport.  The front end of the storm hit like a sledge hammer with heavy wind and white out snowfall.  At one point, the control tower threw in the towel.  The whole airport shutdown for a couple hours.  Flights were cancelled all over the show.  Snug in the operator's seat inside my enclosed spray bucket I was sheltered, yet my driver and I sat in radio silence in awe of the power of the storm.  As well as at the sight of the diligence of the snowplow crews struggling to scratch a path into the blinding whiteness.  Eventually the storm let up some just as I predicted(I am patting myself on the back as you read this, pat...pat...pat...).  Tower made the call to get the runways back open, and my driver and I were snapped back out of our trance and into the shit.  With flight schedules now in the crapper, pretty much anything goes and we just have to clean them up as they come. And come they did, all night long and into the early morning hours.  The money is good so you won't hear me do too much complaining, but it was one hell of a night.

 ^However, one hell of a night deicing is always followed by one hell of a day skiing.  Thanksgiving Day, Christine and I got after it up at Snowbasin.  The big storm hit them pretty hard and finally got the terrain set up.  The snowpack is still thin, but it is just thick enough to be getting off trail and finding some sheltered powder.  Obviously, I am pretty good at finding the goods at my stomping grounds and we got fresh floater turns for two straight days.  Pictured above Christine is putting in the little bit of work needed to get to the leftover stashes.  Early season legs are still a factor, but we sure had a lot of fun getting them worked out in some smooth duty.

^Down there is Christine getting in deep in a little stash my crew nicknamed "Juan" a long time ago.  Usually a small double huck or straight line move entrance, "Juan" is a beautiful little stash that stays hidden in plain sight most of the time.  The gnarly entrance was far too boned out so Christine and I were slipping in through a rocky little side slip traverse and getting it from a quarter in.  It was well worth the pick through.  We were throwing high fives like kids after this pitch.  With blogging being and overall organized retrospective endeavor I think I will take the opportunity to throw a metaphorical high five for this particular space in time.

Shaping up...

Things are shaping up in the Wasatch, as well as in my body.  Intermittent storms have been sliding across the Great Salt Lake into the East and West running Cottonwood Canyons in near perfect succession.  As a result, the snow pack is shaping up better then we have seen in a few years.  With any luck, this will carry through and really set the season up well.  The tiny little back straps running down either side of my spine in my lower back are starting to take shape as well.  I have been pushing those little slabs of bacon to the brink to try to fatten them up again with a steady diet of raw protein and early season skin path slogs.  My longtime tour partner, Ben Geiger, had an itch to get up to Cardiac Ridge in "Was Angeles" just north of Little Cottonwood Canyon's famous Mt. Superior.  However, he wanted to do the approach from what I think is called Mill D. Regardless, what is important is that it is one hell of a good long slog for me in my current condition and timing within the season.  In reality, it is probably good for me. A bit much, but good.

^(L to R) Two longtime friends of mine Rob Harris and Paul Wright, and then the spearhead of the day, Ben.  We took our sweet ass time on the tour up.  It is more about jaw jacking, telling lies, and catching up on what has gone down since we saw each other last winter.  Plenty of breaks and carb loading to try to manage our early season legs.
^Follow the yellow brick road to never never land or the other side of the rainbow or something like that.

^This particular long mellow tour rolls right past an old mining structure that is a really cool surprise when you come out into this clearing. The tour is littered with evidence of the once booming mining industry that thrived in these mountains.  

^I pulled up to this cool little stream and decided that it was as good a spot as any for some lunch with a creek trickle soundtrack.  I love that sound.

^At the bottom of Cardiac Ridge Ben gave me a nice little look back so I could snap a pic of him on our last approach before the ski. Of course, the end is always the steepest, but digging deep for the last push is all part of the sacrifice.  

^Lake affect snow was lingering in the air even as the bluebird skies broke out for us.  Ben is pictured in the lower right hand corner of the frame about half way up the last pitch of the tour.  You can see some tracks right next to the kick turn.  Damn that looks good.  We were all kicking it into high gear and pushing each other to finish strong.

^Giving the last of his legs to the final pitch of the skin Rob managed to lay down some smooth powder turns for the big payoff.  The smile on his face indicates that he was glad he went inside himself and found the inner strength to push his early season legs to the brink.

^Framing the right side of the picture is telemark legend and mentor to my own backcountry skiing career, Paul Wright.  Paul was a big reason I made the switch to telemark so many years ago.  He just made it look so damn good.  Also, over the years he has taught me and my crew at Snowbasin gobs of local knowledge and avalanche mitigation skills.  I always enjoy touring with people I respect and feel like I can learn from.  Paul has a lot of years in the mountains and I for one will eat up any of that wisdom he wants to share. In this picture Paul is shooting the breeze with another ski party at the base of our ski while a stranger milks the last few turns of his own descent.  Paul has been working like a dog these days selling the shit out of some mountain luxury home components so he was granted first in for our party.  Early in the day I had convinced myself that I was only going to make parallel alpine style turns on the descent. However, when Paul dropped in first and laid down some silky high speed freeheel wonders, I could not resist.  My first telemark turns of the year felt just like home, and I even laid way back on a few and dipped an uphill hand down into the goodness. We were all pleasantly surprised with the depth of the snowpack and the quality of the skiing for such an early date on the calendar. As usual, I played the healthy skeptic to Ben's famously over the top enthusiasm at the onset of the tour that morning.  However, I was quick to eat my words and give him a big huge high five for this one.  One hell of a day for early November.  

don't call it a comeback...

Never before have I been so nervous for a low angle glade loaded with new snow.  I stood quietly for a moment above the mellow line I had chosen to be my first turns of the season.  It was my first mental challenge coming back from my most severe injury.  My mother will testify to the fact that I have been crashing and burning my whole life.  The local clinic probably thought my parents were beating me up because of the frequency of our visits.  I've broken over a baker's dozen bones, countless muscle and tendon injuries, knock outs and concussions to boot.  Needless to say, I have always bounced back, and I intend to do more of the same this winter.  Everything felt significant from my morning pack up, to the drive, to the skin ascent, and then just before the drop in.

^My own little tailgate party.  There were a good amount of folks getting out and getting after it.  Alta looked like it had been open all morning with Collins chair running.  It was good to see.
^This was a nice "winter is here" moment.  We have a little more precipitation coming Saturday that will hopefully be snow up high.  Last I heard it could be warm.  Temperatures are forecasted to pick up next week as well, but it is hard to believe that we will loose this snowpack.  

^On the skin up it was looking better and better.  It was a game of balancing snow depth, aspect, and a the rockiness of the underlying terrain.  I chose a little northy in Grizzly Gulch with an additional factor in mind, my health and strength.  I took my "half that" strategy for rehabing. In this strategy I ask myself what I feel like I can do today, and then I do half that.  So far it is serving me well.

^Looks good, huh?

^Then I did it. It was a great walk, and a good test of my strength of body and mind.  Once I got my head right and I got in, all things faded away.  I was back in the moment.  This top section was a bit rocky, and I took it real slow.  Where the turns disappear the slope rolls over more north into an open clearing that delivered me to the float.  Those few deep weightless powder turns in that clearing were transcendent.  I was so happy to be back in the saddle, that I turned into the mad man laughing at the trees.  I did one more lap, and then called it a day.  I think I will go ahead and call it a "good" day.

dramatic seasonal shift, welcome...

It certainly seems that winter has arrived in dramatic fashion in the Wasatch. The change happened fast. At least as far as any snow rider is concerned, winter is here. I have been itching for it for a while. Now I find myself trying to suppress my urges.  The salty older dog in me is trying to hold down the urges to get out in it. He knows that this needs time to settle out and fill in the cracks.  Besides it was still fall just a couple days ago.  

^It was just a few days ago that Murphy and I were up scouting new terrain for the season that we were looking forward to. It was warm enough for Murphy to want to be playing in the creek. She was getting after it that day. Maybe she knew something I didn't.

^Even up at like 9,500 feet the weather was still pretty warm. I was scouting a zone up in this bowl that will receive killer morning light. There are cabins down in the basin of this bowl. Would love to gain this from the doorstep of one of those cabins on a cold clear morning for first light turns. 

^I was fortunate enough to have good luck in timing. As I arrived to work on Saturday I was able to snap this pick of Old Man Winter arriving in Utah. This was the front of the first storm to arrive in this series of waves of precipitation smashing into the Wasatch. I felt blessed to be witness to his arrival. I found myself sitting outside in the weather in full rain gear on my airplane gate.

^This morning the clouds lifted for a little while and the foothills showed us what they've been up to.  The snow line here is probably around 5,000 feet or so. It got pretty cold last night so the line dropped down quite a bit. This is a pretty dramatic one. The resorts could see 20-40 inches by Wednesday morning. I have yet to get up in it to check out the composition of this stuff. Hopefully it is some good basal snow for the setup of a spectacular winter. It certainly feels that way from where I am. However, my emotional bias should be accounted for. Feels so good it hurts.

more scouting terrain...

I have been scouting this area for two years in the off season, and I have been telling my oldest tour partner, Ben Geiger, about this area for just as long. I still have not gotten up to explore it in the winter, but this is the year. Ben and I are flirting with going without a season pass this winter, and simply earning our turns all year. If we did that this area would prove more and more valuable. This zone has skiable terrain for any type of day. Even the gnarly high danger days could be mitigated out in this zone. I probably will get a weekday pass, but it is good to scout with no pass in mind.  I am pumped to finally put all this scouting to work and make this zone our private ski resort. Pretty much.

^Here is Ben pointing out a route that we both agreed would be a good place to start in exploring this area. It is a lot of walking, but the long shots are money. There is an endless supply of fantastic skiing out here. We were like kids in a candy store going from bowl to bowl and ridge to ridge.

^The views from the top of the most prominent peak are spectacular. I can only imagine the shots and photos we will be able to get from this zone. The sunsets over the great Salt Lake from this zone will be so good looking that I have no doubts that we can get some work done up here.

^Our friend here decided to come see what we were up to. I think she was a bit irritated that we were scoping her zone. Murphy was giving her the what for from the back of the truck as well. Get'er Murph. 

^A sneak peek at one of the zones in our new playground. This is a East and Northeast facing bowl on the East face of the range that we have been looking at. There are five or six bowls just like this one that litter the eastern slope of this range. We could ski this range for decades and never get to it all.

^Now this is the South Southeast face that rounds out the other side of the bowl pictured above. These lines would blow up pink in the sunrise and make for some killer photos and film. I could make a whole career up here and never get the same shots twice. That is what I am talking about.

^Ben and Murphy are taking in the finer aspects of life from a perch like this. I could never get paid a dime and still be a happy man doing my work in places like this. I guess that is why they don't pay us very much money to lead this lifestyle. I get bonus checks in the form of this. Oh well, I'll take it.

^Murphy likes it too. 

^More views of the lake and the sunset potential up here. I know the photographers I work with would be salivating over this zone. I know there are very few skiers up here, and even less photographers and filmers if any have done much shooting up here. That is what is so nice about the area. Snowmobilers get out here a good amount, but they are not getting into the same terrain that we are, and we have the benefit of the access that the machines can provide. Sounds like win/win to me.

working planes...

Been putting in plenty of time at the airport these days with my night job at Delta Airlines. Still getting back into the swing of things. I will be heading back out to the De-ice crew again soon. This year I am gonna make it through the whole season though. It is nice to align the seasons a little by moving out to De-ice. I am a weather watching maniac come about October or so anyways. De-ice work is pretty well aligned with all of that as well. Trying to find beauty in everything still, and here are some of the views from my airport life.

^Sunset on the B-gates offers a pretty nice view of the city, and the Wasatch Range. A little Skywest Brazalia propellor plane cruises past as we wait for our jet to arrive.

^On the other side you get a whole different look. The sun sets on a CRJ regional jet. The views are much better from here then from inside the bin.

^As night sets in the whole scene changes a bit. With the way that a jet reflects light the whole place lights up differently. Keeps things interesting. I spend a lot of hours out there so keeping it interesting is a challenge all on its own. With the move to De-ice I will be going back into a more freshman type of role with plenty of learning situations. It is good for me. More hours, but more money as well. Also, it still interferes little with skiing every day. Love it. I will be busy again, as usual, but that is good for me also.

Just One Sunrise

Vertical Integration just put this short edit up on their website of my good friends Zach Houston and Justin Allen getting some nice surfing. The music is good, the surfing is good, and the scenery is great.  Gotta love the beach. As much as I live for the snow. I do love the beach. I am not a great surfer, but I certainly enjoy it. The lifestyle is similar to my own, and surfers and I seem to see eye to eye on a lot of things.  Anyway, great vid and entertaining. Winter is not here just yet, so enjoy the last days of summer.

Here is a list of some full length surf movies that you can buy to feed the need some more. Just click on them and take one home. I have seen a couple of these and I can tell you that they are sweet.
Step into LiquidStep into Liquid
The Encyclopedia of SurfingThe Encyclopedia of Surfing
Riding Giants (Special Edition)Riding Giants 
Billabong OdysseyBillabong Odyssey
Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave  Kook