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.