Sunday, September 28, 2008

NZ Powder Day!

Well, after getting up at midnight and driving up the Rees river valley as far as possible in the Subaru Legacy, staggering in the dark up a narrow valley and fording the river at least 4 times in thigh-deep icy water, we came to an insurmountable obstacle. Jonathan's knee was hurting and there didn't seem to be any way to manage the pain. Worried about worsening the injury and uncomfortable with splitting up the group, we turned around. While there was all kinds of work preparing and planning that gave us forward momentum, it was better to stay together and choose a better day. We did find good snow as a consolation up at Remarks:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Quick Post -Headed for Earnslaw

There are some other posts I just published below this one. They'll catch you up on the first three days here. I am getting ready for a big peak mission up Mount Earnslaw 2819 metres (Pikirakatahi):

There's also a slideshow to show you the condo where I'm crashing and the incredible views outside:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Here's a good start -and everything's upside down

Take gale-force winds, way-above-freezing temps, and spitting rain and a trio of ski-tourers: mix together, careful not to overdo it on any one of the ingredients, then pour down a steep mountain feature. Here we go:

Then on Wed., I tried to ride a bike. Remember that everything is upside down here: September is the beginning of SPRING; North is the sunny, warm direction; light switches are on when they are flicked down, and -the best one- you drive on the left. So I tried to ride on the left and had a good little crash, but at least I was obeying the mandatory helmet law. Everything's OK, except for a coupla scrapes and a broken spoke on the bike. Here's some more gory details, if you want:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Welcome to New Zealand, mate!

Did it! Finally here! I have been here a week and things are happening, but I have slacked on scribing. So now I'll catch up the blog to the last five days:
Flew in at 10 in the morning Monday, the 22nd and met Sheena just as I walked outside. Events fit together like clockwork from that point on. She drove me to their place while I gawked at the peaks that loom at least 2000m (6000') above the valley, which is filled with an enormous lake covering the bottom of the glacial valley. I was completely disoriented by the 18-hour flight and time/date change. So when Jonathan wanted to go up on Deer Park Hill, I just followed along. It's a reserve slash petting zoo on this old glacier knob that stands almost in the lake between Queenstown and Remarkables, where they did some filming for Lord of the Rings. Here are the pics:

See the trip from Colorado to California here:

and then to New Zealand:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Whither the equinox?

Just realized I skipped over the equinox! No Sept. 21 for me so it's already a day closer to "winter". haha, since I'm here for winter right now! I just saw the countdown over on Wildsnow so I had to comment. Of course, winter was well on the march by the time I left CO, with the Gooney Riders reporting a bit of kicking steps in snow with mountain bike shoes! Hoo-rah winter!

18 hours ahead -and feelin' it!

All I know is I boarded a plane in San Fran and we flew for a long time, but it was kinda disorienting so I don't know if I should fully trust my instincts. It was still dark when we landed, even though my clock said 1100 hours and people were speaking English but in funny accents all around me, plus the parallel-universe Today show on the tube says it's 800 Monday morning. So I'm pretty sure I got on the right plane and am now in New Zealand. Should get more confirmation in just a couple hours as I catch a flight south to Queenstown (MAP) and look for the big peaks of the Southern Alps out the window: Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring, Mt Tasman...
The thing I was struck by just after disembarking here in Auckland is how bike- and pedestrian-friendly the airport and city seem. This bike stand was right outside the int'l terminal:
From Flying to New Zealand Sept 08

I guess if you are living a car-free, but not plane-free, lifestyle, you will need to reassemble your bike on arrival at the airport so you can bike home.
Also, for you committed bike commuters, look at the cruisers being used on the ramp to move from gate to gate by the ground crew (I think they could use some handlebar tassles, don't you?):
From Flying to New Zealand Sept 08

Upcoming plans: well, I arrive to Queenstown later today (middle of the night, Sunday in the US). The immediate plans include settling, getting bearings, and getting to know the town they call "the adventure capital of New Zealand". Apres` la, there will be some skiing, a hitchiking visit to a brewpub in Wanaka and then a moment to plan our big peak trip...stay tuned!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Road Trip is over!

Leg one complete: drive to friend's house in Oakland. It really wasn't easier than flying (19 hours of driving), and it was more expensive ($200 in gas alone!) than taking Amtrak ($120 for a 34-hour train ride and 350-lb gear allowance). Nevertheless, I made it, leaving 8:30 last night after a few hiccups in the departure schedule: lost my phone, ran out of gas while running final errands, and everything just took longer than planned -natch. Slept briefly under the stars in WY near Wamsutter. I will soon post some pictures that chronicle parts of the trip (missing: the beautiful foliage by Park City and the endless stretch of straight road on I-80 through the salt flats in western Utah). I knew I was close to California when everyone started driving really fast and passing on the right or left like they were trying to be fair and balanced. Arrived at 30 min. past midnite and stayed up to begin adjusting the sleep schedule to NZ time (GMT-12). Now, just need to get some skins...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gaining strength by focusing on weaknesses

Here I am doing what I decided was necessary this summer to be a better skier. I'm overcoming fear of falling/jumping/heights. This was something disrupting my technique on steep slopes because you have to have confidence that your edges will come under you when you lean out over your balance point and hopturn down 10 feet. I hope I can drop 30' cliffs (although that's 10m down under) with more confidence because I have been jumping off stuff all summer. Does anyone else have experience overcoming fear of steeps?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Zealand or bust!

Hello friends, from down under under!

To everyone I know who loves adventure, travel, mountains...and skiing especially: I'm not actually upside down on the globe yet, but am flying out of San Fran on Saturday and wanted to invite all of you on this journey! I know you prolly can't make it on such short notice, but you can follow the trip through the pictures and stories I am posting on my blog: Le Pistoir <>
I'll be flying to Queenstown this weekend, arriving on Sunday and staying with two awesome Aussies for three weeks. Sheena and Jonathan are both very keen skiers and we have several objectives lined up. This has been a great snow year all over the South Island and we will be touring for steep lines as well as enjoying the last few days of operation at Remarkables Ski Area. Then we will either helo or bushwack into the high alpine where we can access some of the massive glaciated terrain in the area, potentially skiing Mt Aspiring or doing a West-East traverse of the Southern Alps on skis. After S&J leave to see family in Australia, I'll go north to Auckland and check out the North Island. This area is highly volcanic (you can actually hike to "Mt Doom" from Lord of the Rings). I aim to ski Mt Ruapehu or other big cones if conditions are right. Doesn't that all sound like fun? I hope you're jealous. My whole aim of blogging is to make you jealous, but also to have youu participate.
Here are some other ways you can join me on the trip:
1. Comment on the pictures and stories at my blog. Would love your feedback and suggestions. Say I take a picture of myself out skiing one day and there is a peak in the background that you think I should go check out. Tell me about it and I'll plan a mission. Some of you are accomplished photogs and seasoned bloggers and I would love your input.
2. Be my tour guide: If you have been to New Zealand, or know anyone there, tell me your favorite spots and experiences. If you have contacts, family, or know of any other ways to truly experience the country, let me know so I can build it in to my itinerary.
3. Friend me on Facebook. There should also be regular status updates and photos posted there, plus you can contact me or write on my wall.

So, a long flight for skiing in unspoiled land full of scenery and adventures with friends new and old. I hope you can tune in for part or all of the trip and look forward to making you jealous :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Storm and Drum

Saturday night after the Golite sale, went to Red Rocks for Monolith festival. Saw The Fratelli's, Vampire Weekend , Del and Heiroglyphics (see slideshow below. The VW set was during sunset, as the full moon rose over Denver's lights and pink/red/mauve moved across the clouds from in front of us to behind us. Very dramatic, as the lead singer remarked several times. I have some pics, but on a borrowed camera. If there is one lesson I hope I've learned this weekend, it's that, to be a photographer, one needs a camera. So I forgot to bring one to the concert as well and missed great shots of sunlit virga behind the stage, the moon rising on the crowd...Good pics that it hurts to have missed and I hope than serves as a reminder to miss fewer shots in the future.

Golite sale: crazy deals bring out the crazy deal-seekers

I spent two whole days this weekend picking up clothes and rehanging them at the Golite sale. The warehouse gets overrun (especially on Friday) because there are kickass deals and people move pretty quickly from one rack to the next, sometimes not bothering to put stuff back where they found it. The hard work paid off...for Golite, that is. The sale was reportedly a record-breaker. That didn't affect my bottom line as an hourly employee, but it felt good to be a part of it. I forgot to be a photographer and left the camera at home so the only pic I took was on my cell phone, but I think it pretty much captures the spirit of the sale:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where would you rather be?

At work on a Monday or up skiing Lambs Slide in powder in mid-August?