Monday, February 14, 2011

31 days of skiing, over 300,000 vertical ft. and an airline napkin

Its been longer than I intended since the last time I wrote something, its not that I wasn't up to anything interesting, rather that I just didn't find that time to sit down and write anything, so I'll do my best to recap the highlights of what I've been doing since I last wrote.

First of all, today has been my first day without skiing for about two and a half weeks, and thats only because my airport shuttle came before they opened the lifts.
In those two weeks I have actually done a whole lot of cool stuff, here is a short clip that I took skiing at keystone and it gives an idea of what the area I've been staying in looks like. You can also see Damian, the nice Polish American guy that I met earlier that day and spent a couple good hours skiing with.


Ever since I started talking about coming to Colorado this winter my friend Jess who is living in Aspen has been working really hard to make sure that I would come out to Aspen to visit her during my stay, and just as it was starting to look like it wouldn't happen, Josh lent me his car for a day and a half and I started my last week rush to get in all the good things I had been talking about doing but wasn't sure I would figure out how this trip. So Thursday night I drove out to Aspen, that would be 2.5 hrs away, no thanks to Jess for assuring me it should be just over an hour and a half, only to admit later that she knew it was really a 2.5 hour drive, good thing I get bought cheap with a couple of beers.

Highlands bowl viewed from the top of Aspen mountain (Ajax)


Just before leaving Aspen, I checked my mail and saw a message from a guy who was looking to hike and ski Mt. Elbert that next day, Mt. Elbert is the highest peak in the lower 48 states standing in at 14,440 ft (4401meters for us normal folk) and more importantly, we would have to get up really early and hike all day to accomplish this. Any other day of the year I would have taken a raincheck, but I knew that this would be my only chance to stand on a decent summit this trip so I couldn't pass it up.
I shoved all of my stuff in the car and started driving back towards Frisco, on the way, Jess and I had an amazing meal in Carbondale at a place called 682 or something like that, they have a fixed menu for 26.82 that is a three course gourmet meal and the best food I have had in well over a month, highly recomended if you are roaming around in the Aspen/Glenwood/Roaring fork area!

After talking to Robert and finalizing the details on the phone, I set my alarm from 5:00 AM and went to bed, got up, made breakfast and loaded the car, drove 45 minutes up to Leadville and after wasting some time over a second breakfast with at the Leaville super 8 motel we finally made it to the trailhead and started hiking at 7:45 am.

Robert making his way up to what is a 4wd road in the summer but closed in the winter,
thus adding 1.8 miles each way to the trip
Elbert was a LONG slug up a pretty boring hill, when I responded to Roberts post on a couple of days earlier I had told him that I would like to join him on the hike as long as it wasn't going to end up a brutally windy day. So much for that as you can see from the short clip I attempted to shoot during the ascent. I shot this while sitting down for a minute to stop battling the crazy winds that were knocking us in all directions while we were hiking with are skis on our packs, and they were affectively working like sails in the wind.


Better late than never, the luxury of hauling skis up a hill with you is that you can afford to make it to the summit later that you would if you had to descend on foot. I made to to the summit around 14:35 after climbing roughly 5,000 vertical feet in just under six hours and Robert joined me on top about ten minutes later. The skiing on the way down was complete and total survival skiing, bullet proof windblown faces faceted with 1-2 foot deep wind lips that would catch a ski tip and send you flying if you got caught under one, so needless to say it took us a while to get back down to the car.
All in all it was an 8 hour round trip deal splitting 75% - 25% for the way up versus the way down.
Great day, I'm glad I was up there, and I'm glad I got Mt. Elbert ticked off my list so that I don't need to head back up there anytime again soon!

Me and my skis on the summit of MT. Elbert

Finally, this morning I left Frisco in a haste, my shuttle was booked for 7:15 this morning to take me from the mountains to the airport in Denver and I stupidly forgot to check when I set my alarm on my 12hr format cell phone (why can't anything be done the normal way here?) if it said am or pm, luckily, I opened my eyes when I noticed some light coming into the bedroom and realized it was already a few minutes after 7:00!!!! Woke Josh (who so nicely agreed last night to take me to the other side of town early in the morning on his first day of unemployment that he would otherwise be using to sleep in no doubt) up and shoved all my leftover stuff into my bags, racing out the door, flew into the car and brushed my teeth without toothpaste during the 3 minute drive to the pickup station. I managed to get on the shuttle and made it into New York just a couple of hours ago. While on the plane I was doing what I usually do while on an airplane, SLEEPING! until I noticed out of the corner of my eye that one of the flight attendants was pushing the drink cart in my direction, so I opened my eyes to ask for some juice and with the cup I was handed a napkin and I'm not sure why but I decided to read what  it said on it....
The corner of the napkin said two words that just had me thinking, hmm, how funny life can be?! A year and a half without climbing rocks, two days after standing on the  highest point in the lower 48 states and on my way to see level... This has got to be aimed at me!

The corner of the above mentioned airline napkin
The first part of my trip has come to a close, I left all my ski gear in CO, knowing that I will be back there next January to watch my father receive his "smicha" and become an ordained Rabbi (WOW)!
Later this week I will take the bus down to DC to start putting together my bike for phase two of this trip which begins in two weeks when I fly with my  bike to Cancun, Mexico and start pedaling my way from there down the Yucatan peninsula and into Guatemala!

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  1. this post made me thing about the differences between our favorite sports:

    your favorite sport is adventure - be it a 14er or something steeper

    my favorite sport is creatively (or less creatively)cursing you out while huffing and puffing trying to follow you up one of your adventures (ok, usually more of a hill than a 14er, but still)

    miss you buddy boy


  2. Keep climbing!
    That's a good one :)

    I'm heading out to Jerusalem today. Do you think that means I'll be in Colorado in 2 months?

    Can't wait to get back to your time zone and hear more details about that windy climb!



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