Friday, April 29, 2011

Riding Bikes in the Tetons

Easter Sunday was a beautiful day in Jackson Hole. All of the locals who are around for the off-season headed up to Grand Teton National Park where the road is closed to motorized vehicles until May 1st. The open roads gave us the freedom to enjoy this beautiful country and soak up some rays, even though it was a mere 35 degrees when we started our bike ride...That's spring in Jackson for you I guess!

David starting our on our frigid ride through Grand Teton National Park.

Quite a view!

It's almost May...

The open road.

Loving life!

Taking a break.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Seattle Spring

First blooms.

Lake Washington.

David in his hometown.

Denny Hall.

One of my favorite buildings.

Cherry Blossoms.

Playing in the trees.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gaper Day

Oh yes, it's that time of the year! Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ended it's season with the annual Gaper Day and an endless party of DJ's and live bands. All were blinded by the overwhelming amount of neon last Friday. I personally was able to dig up an old Bogner from a friend's closet, complete with real fur and a rental receipt from 1999.

And for any not familiar with the term "gaper", Urban Dictionary says this: "A gaper is a skiier or snowboarder who is completely clueless. Usually distiungished by their bright colored clothes and a gaper gap, the gap between goggles and a helment/hat. Gapers also do the "Gaper Tuck" which is an attempt at being a ski racer by tucking, however, it is done incorrectly with the poles sticking straight up like thunderbolts and lighting, very very frightning! Gapers also sit at the bottom of jumps and try and go big off table tops in the park."


Me in my Bogner.

Matt is looking especially good today.

David & me. Classic Christmas card photo I think. Haha.

Is this the right ski?

Matt dropping Hollywood on skinny skis. Yikes!!

Farewell to another fantastic winter. I'll miss you Jackson Hole!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Power of Mother Nature

I would definitely call myself a backcountry enthusiast. Nearly every day I'm dragging my snowboard out of the safety gates of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. I've taken an avalanche course. I know how it works. I've probably spent hundreds of days out of bounds. With that said, I have never seen an avalanche. It's a common fact that women are more conservative in the backcountry...less willing to take big risks. I'm definitely one that fits into that category, and I'm totally fine with it. My life will not be any less desirable if I don't do "Twice is Nice," a "no fall zone" just south of Cody Peak. I don't look longingly up at "Talk is Cheap" or "Breakneck" and wonder when I'm going to get the chance to hit them. I play it safe.

Nevertheless, I lugged my backcountry/camera bag out of the gates on a sunny Sunday morning, March 29, 2011 -- a date I don't think I'll forget. I was planning to go shoot photos of David Duffy dropping a 40-foot cliff called Smart Bastard. He was planning on entering the slope in an area called "Cowboys and Indians" and then traverse over to hit the big drop. Nothing unusual, just a big line, that many people have hit before. The avalanche danger was "moderate," that being only one step up from "low". We thought we were good to go.

Smart Bastard is on the right. You drop it diagonally into the little couloir.

I posted up just north of the drop so I would have a perfect view of the entire slope. There were tons of people out, as it was a beautiful day with a fresh coating of our world famous champagne powder...not to mention we've received over 500 inches of snow this year so stuff is pretty filled in. A pretty good year to check off some boxes on your backcountry hit list, if you feel the need to do so. I saw David peak over the top of the face, just as I saw two guys about to drop Smart Bastard. They were on a much lower entrance and they set off a pretty good amount of sluff, which was to be expected. The slope is, after all, 55+ degrees steep. I still wasn't worried at this point.

I got on the phone with David to help him navigate underneath a little patch of rocks so that he could easily traverse over to the cliff. Just as he was inching down the last part of the open snow field to his left, the whole slope ripped out. A thundering noise rattled the valley below, with waves of snow pouring over the cliff band. David was lucky enough to be able to make a quick turn and grab onto the nearby rocks for dear life. He was able to withstand the falling snow boulders and stayed safe and uninjured through the whole event. This guy was lucky.

After the avalanche, David climbed his way slowly back up the steep slope and rode to safety. He never did get to drop Smart Bastard, but it didn't really matter seeing as he could have died in an avalanche that day. We are all so thankful for his life.

Before and after shots of the slope.
David next to the massive crown.

I write this blog mainly because I have plenty of friends out there who take big risks on a daily basis. This was a moderate avalanche danger day, and David was able to release a size 2 avalanche with a 55 inch crown with the weight of just one person. Pretty scary. I know it's the end of the season and it's time to ski the lines you've been drooling over all year, but please be careful. I love my friends out here and I would never want anything to happen to them.

With that said, let's throw on some neon onezies this weekend and get our shred on!