Everybody loves to complain about the weather — the one thing you certainly can’t control. Perhaps this says something about our world: People feel out of control.
In the wilderness, success usually involves having luck with the weather, and being both lucky and smart is even better. If you think about it, the weather is usually responsible for most failures in the backcountry. Being diligent about how the weather develops helps lead to success and safety in all your backcountry endeavors. And, maybe you won’t even end up getting wet….
Got out for a tour with Cory Reppenhagen a couple week ago and he put together a little story that ran last night on the 10pm news. Thanks for a fun tour Cory, looking forward to getting out again; maybe for some powder next time. Bring on winter please. Oh and the skiing actually happened on 7/19/16 so people get a sense of the coverage.
For the bulk of the spring and summer I have lived in these shoes. I love them and they love me back. I decided on this shoe based on a couple of factors. They struck a nice balance between a low-top approach shoe with sticky rubber and a high-top hiking boot designed rugged for backpacking. This shoe is both and the Gore-Tex makes it so much more.
I’m pretty hard on my feet and they are one of my weaknesses. I have metatarsalgia and a neuroma so finding comfy shoes/boots is usually a challenge. I use foot beds pretty much all the time. Pain may be in your head but when the feet hurt everything hurts. Once I got the boots I put my footbeds in them and walked around the city for a while, just short walks at first to get the feet used to them and get the boots used to my feet. The lacing pattern helped set the heel well. After a few weeks the heel cup had molded to my heel enough. The boots were ready for action; and they saw a lot of action. I used them on my fast and light spring days, though I never go that light with all the camera gear I use to document the lines in my books. I used them on my early summer ski backpacking trips as well; they offered plenty of support while carrying upwards of sixty pounds. They were light enough to do both very well.
Let’s start from the ground up; a boot is all about its tread. The bulk of the sole is Vibram rubber. This is really all you need hiking but when the going gets tough it’s nice to have some climbing rubber. This boot has a pad of sticky rubber at the toe. Talus hoping is fun again. I keep my poles at my side and just hop on thru the trickiest terrain with confidence. The toe however doesn’t have reinforcement so care around loose rock should be used. Traction is great in almost all conditions save for loose dry downhills. Perhaps a slightly more aggressive tread pattern would help this.
The upper is a complex beast. At its base is a mash zone reinforced with rubber. This minimizes weight and breathability. The Gore-Tex wrap is awesome and really keeps the water out. However if you happen to post hole a lot and get water in the top, the boots will stay wet a long time; just don’t let the water in from the top. All the riveting survived and the laces even stood up to the test.
I love how a good pair of boots makes getting to your destination and back all the more enjoyable. This isn’t a trail runner and it doesn’t try to be. It is a great boot that blurs the lines between approach shoe and backpacking boot. Which trail should we do next?
I have to admit that it has finally happened: summer has arrived. The ski outings lately have been more about the approach than the skiing — I’ve always been in shoes. The water levels in the rivers have maxed out, barring a giant rainstorm. The Indian paintbrush and columbines can be seen high in the hills. It’s a completely different world out there, with completely different activities to enjoy before the first big dump of winter…
With the weather finally clearing and more of the same in the forecast we wheeled up Coney Flats Road again. Made it to the upper trailhead again but decided to forgo the water crossing after hitting the differential the last time I went thru. Found a sweet campsite and played around with the tripod, shooting the stars.
We found heinous willows above Coney Lake and bailed on the idea of Algonquin. Instead we headed for the line we could see on Sawtooth and a break from wallowing.
After 4 days of crappy weather and no viz up high the weather broke and I found myself in Wildernest. Seemed like a good idea to go to Breckenridge for the summer classic. We drove to the snowbank above the chairlifts on Peak 9 and started hiking from there. When I first did this route some 23 years ago I think I saw 4 other people that day. Times they have changed in these parts, now there were over 100 people getting the classic route done. It was a trip seeing so many people in the backcountry and its always nice to run into friends on the hill. Great seeing you Reid and Rob.
The snow was bumped out and a little thin at the upper choke but it was soft and forgiving.
Afterwards we went to Carter Park to hang with friends racing in the Firecracker 50
The day after skiing Apache and Navajo lines I went up to try Paiute. That didn’t go very well as I had a zipper failure on my pack. Not wanting to have my gear strewn across the face I bailed and got a new setup. 9 mile training walk I guess. With the new BCA Stash 30 in hand I went back up and beat my time from the previous attempt by almost an hour. Pics are from both days as I wasn’t messing with the camera much the second go around. This is a fun line with some gaping crevasses/moats and its twisting nature over some big cliffs makes it cool too. Not too steep I’d say it maxes out around 48 degrees.
The summit of Paiute is really cool and takes a little work to get to.
You just gotta keep showing up and some days it works out perfectly. I made great time to the base of Queens Way and Apache Peak after having to walk around Brainard Lake. It seems that there’s no financial benefit to opening the upper trailheads at Brainard so the road around the lake is closed. I made great time up the couloir and on to the summit. I had the pleasure of talking to my boys on the top of the hill.
Back at the snow I strapped in and had such a fun descent of Queens Way. I think I skied it in about a minute. Perfect corn. At the bottom I headed over to the base of Navajo Snowfield. The steps were already in place but they were icy so I made my own. This line skied really well too and with the lack of clouds building I decided to go for Apache Couloir.
Apache Couloir is another great line and it was barely complete. More fast skiing on the RMU La Cabra. Such a perfect ski for couloir skiing.
After North Arapaho it seemed like a good idea to save on gas and just stay put and stay in position to get East Jasper and another line that I skied part of when I skied Jasper’s Snow Leopard. I got up nice and early and headed up the trail to the Diamond Lake Trail junction. I took Diamond Lake Trail and should have taken it all the way to the bridge. Instead I bushwhacked up the valley and had a very cold and refreshing stream crossing. If I’d taken the bridge I could have avoided the water; at least I didn’t swim. I made my way up to the basin below the Northeast bowl and admired the lake. While going around the lake I saw some airplane wreckage. It wasn’t until I got to the other side of the lake that it dawned on me that someone probably died there. I took a moment to ponder that.
At the top I dropped in and skied the bowl. After a quick cut I got the snow to move a little bit in the thin choke area. The thicker areas were fine. The mid 30 degree line was fun to ski fast. I snapped a couple pics and moved on down the ridge to “Diamond Hill”. That’s my name for it as it’s above Diamond Lake. I skied the lower section of it when I got Jasper before but the tops was worth going back for and the line is worthy of inclusion. The lower section tightens up through some treed chutes. This time I found the Diamond Lake trail and had an easier tie getting out.