Sunday, March 23, 2008

Europe

On Friday I bought a plane ticket to London. I'm going with my friend John B after I'm done with my internship in August. We're flying to London and then visiting France, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland. I'm pretty excited for the trip (but not the consequent crater in my wallet).

If you have suggestions of where to visit or things to do in those countries, I'd love to hear them. I'm a novice at this whole travel thing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Arches National Park

This weekend I went camping with the BYU Outdoor Adventure Club to the Moab area. We drove down on Friday night and camped on some barren BLM land outside of Arches National Park on Friday night. I slept under the stars, which were beautiful and bright against the dark desert sky.

On Saturday we went into the park and hiked through the Fiery Furnace with a ranger named Clay, who taught us the importance of cryptobiotic soil and the rare Canyonlands Biscuitroot. He also made sure that we didn't wander more than 10 feet away or jump off anything taller than 6 inches. I felt like I was in first grade.

Fin canyons in the Fiery Furnace

Everybody suck it in!

Skull Arch

Surprise Arch


After our guided hike we had only about an hour before we had to head back to Provo, but we really wanted to see the world famous Delicate Arch—after all, we were only a mile or so away. The park guide showed that it was a short drive away, with a three-mile round-trip hike to get to the arch. We decided to go as fast as we could.


We ran most of the way to the arch, whizzing by startled tourists on our way there. I got to the arch a little before the others, and it was amazing! The last little bit of the trail parallels a high sandstone wall, so you can't see the arch until you're right there.


After taking lots of pictures, we ran all the way back to the car. We made the whole round trip, including over 10 minutes of picture taking, in about 50 minutes. When we got back to the car we read in the park guide that it takes "2–3 hours". Maybe we should tell them to revise it to "1–3 hours" :).

We made great time back to Provo (3h20m from Arches NP to BYU campus). As we drove, the weather turned from a sunny 65ยบ to a heavy snowstorm. My t-shirt and sandals felt pretty chilly when I stepped out of the car at home.

The trip was a lot of fun. I'm glad I went. As usual, I took lots of pictures.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

World Superpipe Championships

Yesterday I went with my roommate Tyler to the World Superpipe Championships at Park City, where the world's best freestyle halfpipe riders compete. We watched the skiing competition. It was amazing.

Mount Olympus and Everest Ridge

On President's Day I did a solo hike of Mount Olympus (up by Salt Lake). The trail was really well packed, and the weather was great. Here are a few pictures from the picture gallery:




Last Saturday my friend Ben and I made an attempt on the Everest Ridge route up Mount Timpanogos. Everest Ridge gets its name from an early 1990's team that used it to train for Everest. It starts from the saddle between Big Baldy and Timp and continues on a ridge up the west face of Timp. The first 3000 feet are spaced out over 3 miles; the second, very steep 3000 feet cover only 1.5 miles.

I picked up Ben around midnight on Friday night, and we left the trailhead at 12:45 a.m. We started super early so that we could travel when the snow was the coldest—and thus the hardest. The goal was to be on the summit around sunrise. The route we were on can be prone to avalanches under bad conditions, so we wanted to travel when the danger was the lowest. We also wanted to have hard snow for our crampons to bite into on the steep slopes. I was a little worried about the snow conditions because it's been so warm here for the past few days. The weather forecast said that the temperature was going to barely drop below freezing.

We brought snowshoes, but when we got to the trailhead the snow seemed pretty hard, so I decided to leave them in the car. That turned out to be a bad move later.

We made it to the saddle in about three hours. We took a little break, and then we got down to business: climbing the steep ridge. We put on our crampons as the snow got steeper and harder. Our first obstacle was a cliff band. On the right was a steep avalanche chute; on the left were unclimbable cliffs. We chose to make our way up on a steep band of snow that cut through the middle.

The route soon became even steeper and more rugged. We came to another cliff that we could pass only on a thin tounge of snow. As we approached it, I could feel each time I plunged the shaft of my ice ax into the snow that the snow as becoming less solid. At the base of the cliff I dug a mini snowpit and did a shear test. The results were concerning. There was a four-inch sun crust on top of several inches of sugar snow—the makings of a a classic slab avalanche. Rather than risk it, we decided to turn around.

It was only around 4 a.m. at this point, so we had lots of time left. We decided to descend a little way onto more stable snow and then do some self-arrest practice. After sliding down the steep slopes a few times, we talked about hiking to the summit of Big Baldy or waiting around for the sunrise. We were both tired, so we just decided to head back down. Ben had hauled his snowboard up, so he made a lot better time than I did. :)

When the trees got too dense for riding, Ben took off his board and we used it as a sled. He would sit on the front, and I would kneel on the back, and we would rocket down the trail. It was a lot of fun, and it saved me from post-holeing in the softening snow. The trail formed kind of a ditch, so it felt a little like we were bobsledding. Woo hoo!

After the trail became too twisty and narrow, we started hiking again. A little was down, I realized that I didn't have my camera anymore. (I probably lost it in one of our many bobsled crashes.) Ben was back on his snowboard at this point in a great natural halfpipe. I called out to him and told him I'd hike back alone to find it. After about half an hour of pretty intense hiking, I found my camera lying in the middle of the trail. Fifteen minutes later I was back to Ben, and we finished the hike out.

Here are a few pictures from the picture gallery: