Monday, March 29, 2010

More Pictures from the JH Backcountry

Thought I'd post up a few more photos from the weekend that David took with his camera. Sweet shots for sure. It's also cool to show that I snowboard too :)

Me gettin stoked to hike Cody!

Amy on the hike to Cody
On the hike to Cody, looking back at the Grand Teton.

Amy on top of Powder 8s
Getting ready to shred Powder 8's.

Scope the line
Me, standing at the top of our line down Granite Canyon.

Amy gets the goods
Some of the deepest snow I've ridden this season!

Pillow Line
David's view from the top of a pillow line.

Yo dude
Conor's shapin' up to get rad.

Pillow Field
Me on the peaceful part of the hike out of Granite Canyon.

Don't Care Anymore.
Dirt is the new powder...didn't ya hear?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Backcountry Madness!!

Looking back on this weekend while nursing sore muscles makes me smile. It was one of the most incredible weekends I've had in a long time, resulting in some of the best snowboarding I've ever had. Where to begin?

Thursday was a good day to explore. David, me & Anna headed out to go up Cody Peak. Cody Peak lies just south of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort boundary. It is a taunting peak with large cornices and steep lines. It is every backcountry snowboarder's dream. Unfortunately, there are only a few days when it is safe to ride Cody. It's steep slopes are extremely prone to avalanches and bad weather results in no visibility. Therefore, conditions must be perfect before hiking up the ridge. Much to all of our dismay, it appeared that a storm was rolling in by the time we reached the bootpack. We decided to go for Four Pines instead. All of us were disappointed, but to our surprise, the north side provided amazing powder turns! It turned out to be a pretty great day afterall.

Friday was another surprise. I rolled out of bed and sleepy-eyed looked at my computer screen to see the snow report. What?? Six new inches of snow overnight? Where did this come from? I quickly got ready and hopped on the bus. It was nice to get a whole bunch of lift-access powder and get to ride the upper mountain again. I rode the afternoon with David and his parents and we spent the evening wining and dining at the Rustic Inn, topping off the night with swimming and hot-tubbing under the stars.

Saturday was hands-down one of the best days I've ever had snowboarding. David and I got up semi-early, ate a big breakfast, and headed out to the resort to hopefully hit up Four Pines. Another four inches of snow had fallen overnight and we were excited for more pow turns. When we got to the top of the tram, we realized that it was the perfect day to hike Cody Peak. We raced out of the backcountry gate and arrived at the hike, Cody Peak just waiting to be shredded.

Destination: Cody Peak

First Hike up the Ridge
First part of the hike.

Cody & Powder 8's
Powder 8's is the left slope. Cody Peak is on the right.

The first part of the hike is probably the scariest part. At some points you are standing on top of a knife-edge ridge, realizing that one wrong step could send you plunging down the side of a steep slope, or worse yet, over cliffs and rocks. Yikes. Luckily that part was over quickly and we were on our way up the second leg of the hike.

Hiking up Cody
The ridge up to Cody.

Ridge Hike to the Top
David on his way up the second part of the hike.

As we neared the upper ridgeline of Cody Peak and the top of where we were going to drop in, I realized that this line was going to be nothing to mess with. The recent wind had created huge cornices that lined the entire top of the bowl. I know I'm a good snowboarder but I don't regularly throw myself off the edges of a cornice. I knew this was going to be tough. We reached the top of No Shadows (the line were were going to take) and I was practically shaking with nerves. The cornices were a lot bigger from close up. I watched a couple of other people drop in, including David, and realized that there was no other way to get down this thing.

Cody Up Close
Cody up close.

Off the Edge of the Cornice
Staring down. Scared to death.

David dropping in!

With my heart pounding, I strapped on my board, not even thinking about it, and dropped right in. I knew I'd probably fall on my butt, but I also think that's a better choice then tumbling down the whole thing. I was stoked to be in, and ripped down the rest of the line with confidence and excitement. I had finally dropped Cody! I met up with David at the bottom where a bunch of people were hanging out before hiking Powder 8's. We all shared in the excitement of the day and then started the next leg of the tour.

Cody Bowl
Looking back up at the line.

Powder 8's
No wonder they call it Powder 8's!

Powder 8's was awesome! The short hike up led to some super sweet powder turns. When we were at the top of it we had some spectacular views of No Name, and people skiing it. We considered going out there, but the traverse under the huge cliffs looked like a little too sketchy to handle. Hugging the side of a rock while staring down at a huge steep face just ready to avalanche doesn't seem like my cup of tea.

No Name
No Name Peak.

After we finished with that we headed out to the old familiar Four Pines. It was just as good as we hoped for, with untouched powder turns dropping off the north side into Green River. We went home that night, again enjoying some hot-tubbing, and fell asleep with powder turns on our minds.

Today was my last day off work for the weekend. We got to the resort and contemplated on what backcountry destination would bring us the best snow. Granite Canyon. Granite is another area that I'd never been to but always wanted to check off the list. It's a steep canyon that comes off the back of the resort. It extends all the way from Apres Vous Mountain to the backside of the Cody Peak hike. It's huge. There are a few downsides to Granite Canyon: 1) It's a major avalanche zone. It's usually too dangerous to ski, although today seemed perfect. Avalanche predictions were low and stuff was pretty stable on north facing aspects. 2) If you ride a snowboard, getting out of Granite can be absolute hell. It's a long traverse with ups and downs, and it's really really long. 3) You have to know where you're going. Granite is full of chutes and cliffs, major steeps, and some very dangerous features. Just looking at an aerial photo can make you queezy. Aside from those setbacks, I was always told that Granite Canyon holds some of the best snow outside of the JH backcountry gates. A must-do.

David called his buddy Conor, who knows Granite well, and the trip was on. Conor is a skier, but didn't mind taking snowboarders back there. What a nice guy. He was stoked to have partners to go with too. The rest of the story ends with cliff drops and deep powder that I never imagined I'd be riding in March this year. I won't say where we came down because I'd like to keep it untouched. Thanks Conor for showing us your secret! Here are a few photos from the descent though.

Pillow Drop in Granite Canyon
David enjoying a sweet pillow line.

Stoked on Deep March Pow
Super deep snow!!

Milelong Couloir
Looking up Milelong Couloir, a popular place to come down, but not where we went down!

Conor Scopes out the Pow
Conor, checking out the next few pow turns.

More Pow Turns Await

More Views from Granite
Looking out towards the valley from Granite Canyon.

We ended up in the bottom portion of Milelong Couloir and ripped through some super soft snow. Unfortunately, our stoke came to an end when we realized how much work the traverse out was going to be. David and I told Conor to go ahead and not wait for us. Good call. David and I ended up walking the entire length of the canyon out. It was pretty peaceful, but after 1 1/2 hours and a broken trekking pole later, we were over it.

Walking the Traverse
Pretty, but annoying.

When we reached the end of the canyon and started coming around Apres Vous Mountain, the conditions got even worse. We now were trekking over slush and dirt, bushwacking, and navigating our way through rock fields. It was miserable. The sun was beating down on us, and we couldn't see the resort at all. It seemed like the end would never come. Finally we were able to strap on our boards...well for a few minutes at least. I instantly had to pull one foot back out because I came across a completely melted out portion of the traverse. Dirt boarding is not my specialty.

Finally, we ran into the bunny slope in the resort. I've never been so excited to see crappy skiers making their way down Teewinot! It meant we were home, and beer was near.

So in the end, it was a two hour hike out for about 20 minutes of epic powder turns. Yah, I guess I'd go back.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Good Times in the Hole

As the weather warms, everyone is looking for more ways to entertain themselves to put the powder dreams out of their minds. I had the last three days off and I put them to good use. Aside from trying new breakfast recipes of delicious whole wheat pancakes with strawberries and Greek yogurt, spring cleaning, and playing with my new light, I attempted my first feature in the "Big Park". It is a step-down, and it was a lot bigger than I first thought. Like most hucking maneuvers, I just pointed my board and realized I was about to go off the thing whether I liked it or not. The first time I landed on the flat part and fell. Ouch. By the third time I was flying off of it, landing easily on the transition about 6 feet below. Good stuff. I always like when I come away from a day on the hill after trying something new. It means that after 100 days of riding (as of today!) this season I have actually accomplished something. Tried something I couldn't do before. Gotten better.

Thursday was another beautiful day out in Jackson. David and I woke up to bluebird skies with a mission to eat waffles in Corbet's Cabin (the tiny restaurant at the top of the tram) and hike the pass. We made our way up the tram and entered into the little cabin, the smell of waffles and coffee permeating the air.

Corbet's Cabin


Once inside I had three choices spelled out to me on the chalkboard. A waffle...topped with butter & brown sugar, strawberry jam, or Nutella. Decisions, decisions. I decided on the butter & brown sugar. David got the same as me in addition to another waffle with Nutella.

Nutella Waffle
David's Nutella waffle.

Corbet's Cabin waffles -- a little slice of heaven.

They were as delicious as I imagined! We ate our waffles, drank coffee, and hung out in the rustic little cabin for a while. It was a great start to the day.

Lovin Life

Cody "Peek"
Not a bad view either! Cody Peak.

Bluebird Tram Ride
Riding the tram.

Next stop: Teton Pass. I'm sure I've mentioned how much I loathe the hike up Mt. Glory before, right? Oh I haven't? Well, it's 1,000 feet of grueling bootpack up the side of a mountain topping off at 10,086 feet. Not exactly fun, but it's great exercise and it really emphasizes the whole "earn your turns" theme. Most runs off of Glory are pretty sweet, although the weather hasn't exactly been partial to epic backcountry riding lately. A melt-freeze cycle is in full force and most of the snow has turned into crust. Waiting to snowboard until after 1 pm is pretty ideal lately.

It was windy as hell. I wasn't happy. Putting hand warmers in my gloves to stay warm.

My snowboard...and my truck, proudly sporting an Alpental sticker.

Still cold and windy. Time to start hiking!

The original plan was to make it out to Coal Creek or Big Piney once we reached the summit, but I wasn't feeling well (ladies know what I mean) and since David had to go to work at 2, I didn't feel like it would be worth the extra effort with the traverses, hitchhiking, etc. Twin Slides it was, and it wasn't very fun. At least we got some good exercise...I'm sure we'll return to that beloved hike very soon and try again.

Almost there
"I hate this part, I hate this part..."

We'll be back!

Even better, I made lots of money today, and it's time to celebrate my 100th day of snowboarding this season. Party on!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Borders & Boarding

I've been really into working with Photoshop over the last few days, trying to create some interesting borders for my images to give them a different look. It's a lot of fun incorporating artwork into my photographs. I spent a while on this one and I'm pretty stoked with the way it turned out:


In addition to that, I went up to Teton Pass with my friend Anna yesterday after sessioning the park with David in the morning. We didn't get up to the hike until about 3:30 pm so it was getting stormy and cloudy when we arrived with a chilly evening air blowing through. That, and the fact that there was nobody else on the hill with us made for a little bit of an eerie atmosphere. When we reached the top of Mt. Glory the sun was barely peeking through the clouds. It's quite a breathtaking sight up there, with views all the way to Idaho. We dropped west towards Coal Creek and into the canyon. I was surprised by the soft turns and the little bit of powder that remained, even after this warm streak that's been going on.

View from Mt. Glory...doesn't do it justice. :/

We finished the descent and then had to "boardercross" our way out on an icy trail through narrow trees along Coal Creek all the way to the highway. Right after we got out of the forest another couple came out behind us. We all stopped on the side of the road to try and catch a ride back to our cars. All I could think was, "Wouldn't it be sweet if a van pulled up to get us?" Sure enough, a hippie van with a bumper sticker that said "Make Peace" pulled up and the four of us piled in the back. We were back at my truck by 6:15, tired and happy from the day. Can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Powder Blues

We haven't gotten any snow in a while. The sun has been out, creating temperatures in the 50s that are deteriorating our snowpack at a rapid rate. A melt freeze cycle is occurring daily and the early morning snow is this awful, bulletproof crust. I find it hard to actually get motivated about snowboarding. Spring snow is fun, but it's just the beginning of March. I feel like there are so many more lines that I wanted to hit this season and I haven't been able to due to lack of snowfall and bad timing with work. Yesterday we hit up the resort for some park riding. Here's a quick video of David's newest feat, backside rodeo five. At least somebody is progressing :)

I've spent the morning cooking up a delicious breakfast of honey-glazed bacon, veggie egg scramble, and jelly toast. Then I decided to experiment with some Photoshop techniques and try out some borders for my images. Here's the result: