Sunset from my house, Dec. 29
Buffalo on left; Gore Range on right
Sunset from my house, Dec. 29
Buffalo on left; Gore Range on right
Bottom of shoe with screws attached
I asked my son to make me custom “screw shoes” for Christmas. These shoes are a little like a running shoe with a built in crampon, and I wanted them to replace my Yaktrax, which had broken recently.
Tristan took my existing running shoes and added screws to the soles, like a studded snow tire on a car.
He followed directions from Matt Carpenter’s website. Since Matt
has won the Pike’s Peak marathon nine times and is the course record holder, I figured he’d be a good source of information for making screw shoes.
Screws for building a “screw shoe”
I’m using running shoes, since I plan to run on the trails here and they get very icy in winter, even at 9,000 feet.
Today temperatures reached 42º, resulting in snow melting and then freezing overnight.
As soon as we have a nice day and I’m not working, I hope to take the new screw shoes (and my dog) for a run on the Tenderfoot trail.
Attaching the screws
Starting today, the Keystone Ski and Ride School is offering a special discount on adult lessons:
take two lessons, and get a third lesson for free.
This promotion starts today and is good until April - take the three lessons any time between now and April. It’s only good for adult lessons, not kid’s lessons.
Our ski school supervisors announced this special today, and once I told my students about it, they both decided to book the three lessons.
We’ve had a lot of snow this winter and great skiing!
Our house, on left, under snow
Snow is falling, and has been falling, in the Colorado mountains.
At the top left of the photo, you can barely see the gutters on my roof. The windows of our solar house slope at close to 60 degrees and are completely buried by snow. Since snow acts as an excellent insulator (especially when it’s a foot thick), we’re leaving snow on the windows until it clears and the sun shines again.
Then, we shovel the windows so the sun can heat the house. Even when the outside temperatures are 10 to 20 below zero, with daytime highs in the single digits or teens, the inside of the house stays above 50 degrees.
Today, it’s 61 degrees inside, even though I have not heated the house at all today. The overnight lows were 5 degrees and the current outside temperature is 17.5 degrees (in town, which is almost 500 feet lower than we are).
The normal high is 25º and the normal low is 7º, so we’re a bit colder that usual. The record low is –18º, which we’re well above.
We’ve got a winter storm here and dangerous, if not impossible, driving conditions. Luckily I drive only about 6 miles to work – from Silverthorne to Keystone, to teach people how to ski on this great stuff!
from snowy Colorado
Clouds and snow in Silverthorne
We’re getting huge amounts of snow!
This morning, the radio announced 17” of new snow in Beaver Creek and 13” in Vail. I 70 eastbound was closed at Vail pass and Loveland Pass has been closed almost every other day.
At Keystone, we’ve had plenty of powder the last few days.
I’ve been busy in ski school, taking students from all over the country on fresh powder snow, which they’ve marveled at and enjoyed.
This seems like some of the best Christmas snow conditions we’ve had in a few years.
Daff Dome - Blown Away / West Crack
Amanda came to visit me in Summit County today, and, as always, we talked about climbing – what we’d last climbed, where we’d been. It reminded me of our wonderful summer, and longingly made me think of Tuolomne.
The Sierra Nevada is one of the most beautiful places I’ve climbed, blessed with long dry summers that have little rain, but doesn’t get hot because of the altitude – 8,000 to 14,000 feet.
One of my favorite climbs is West Crack on Daff Dome. I think this was my second lead in Tuolomne, way back when I was still in my teens. I took Tristan up the climb when he was 11 years old.
The approach is reasonable – maybe 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how fast one walks. After a short hard move on the first pitch – face climbing with a slippery-looking crystal as the main foothold, the rest of the route follows pleasant cracks with numerous knobs on both sides.
Pitch two on West Crack
At the start of the second pitch, an awkward looking roof presents the main obstacle. The trick here is to look around and use the crack. Climb it right side in, which allows you to reach a great bucket on the left wall.
After that it’s easy going, using huge knobs on both sides of the crack as footholds or handholds, with an occasional piece of gear in the crack for security.
The angle eases off as one climbs higher up the crack, with each pitch a little easier than the one before.
With perfect rock, great jams, sunny warm weather, and incomparable views, this remains one of my (and everyone else’s) favorites climbs.
As I was riding the list at Vail today, the skiers I shared a chair with discussed the partial collapse of a gondola at Whistler Blackcomb. I hadn’t heard the news, and was fascinated to hear the cause of the collapse and learn whether those conditions might apply to us.
The tower on Blackcomb Mountain’s Excalibur Gondola collapsed partially on Tuesday, December 16.
Apparently ice buildup in a gondola tower caused it to partially snap
They said that “because of extremely cold temperatures, ice buildup in the two parts of the tower that are spliced together led to a “rupture, a situation referred to as ‘ice-jacking.’””
The damaged tower was built from two large pieces of metal tubing that were welded and bolted together, but water to got inside the joint.
When the water froze, it expanded and caused the tower splice to rupture.
As we rode the lift at Vail, we examined the towers and determined that they were made of one piece, not two welded pieces of tubing. What a relief! Now I could continue to enjoy great powder skiing in Vail’s China Bowl without worrying the lift might collapse.
I wonder whether skiers will worry about riding the gondolas at Keystone or Vail after hearing about this incident?
What do you think? Would you be nervous about riding a gondola after hearing about this incident?
Please comment with your reaction about collapsing gondola towers.
Sunset from my house, December 5
Lake Dillon with Mount Baldy on left
We’ve had a lot of changes at Keystone since last year. As I mentioned earlier, we have a new gondola at River Run. We also have a new head of the skis school: Bobby Murphy, formerly director of the Telluride ski school, is the new Director of Skier Services at the Keystone Ski and Snowboard School.
Bobby is a member of the National Alpine Demo Team, a collection of the best ski instructors in the United States.
Last week, my son and I were skiing with the retired racer Toni Sears. They waited for me at the bottom of Montezuma lift. As I skied onto the chair, an instructor in uniform skied up.
“Mind if I join you?” he asked.
As we were riding up the lift, Tristan was engrossed in listening to Toni.
“Hi, I’m Sibylle,” I turned to introduce myself.
“I’m Bobby,” he replied.
Just that, nothing more. Our new director. I asked him if he had time to ski a run with us, and got to follow him. It’s not every day that I get to ski with a national demo team skier!
Tristan took off with Toni, and the two of them waited for us about halfway down. Bobby, on the other hand, kept a reasonable pace that I could easily follow, checking to see that I was still there every once in a while. Our second run, he sped up until I couldn’t keep up any more, and then waited below.
Following a really good skier is such a thrilling experience – I somehow rise to the challenge and ski better, cleaner, and more smoothly following behind someone like Bobby or Toni.
As an instructor, it’s nice to once in a while have the experience of being coached myself, so that I can pass on what I’ve learned to my clients.
Next I’ll talk about Bobby’s ski-conditioning circuit, which relies heavily on plyometrics and jumping.
Last time that I posted a recipe from my Uzbek cookbook, several readers asked me to make it and tell them how it came out. Khoplama calls for “an average size black radish”, not common in the Colorado mountains. I’ve since looked for recipes that might be easier to make - or at least recipes where I have hope of finding the ingredients.
Shirkovok, a milk soup with pumpkin and rice, has a simple list of ingredients, though perhaps not at this season. It’s a typical Uzbek milk soup. I’ll try this or one of the other dishes and let you know how it came out.
Though I’m familiar with black radish, as I often ate it growing up in Germany, where it’s called simply Winterrettich, or winter radish, I have not seen in stores locally.
Until I can find a source of Winterrettich, I’ll pass on an attempt at cooking Khoplama. I’ll post a few other recipes and try one of them.
If anyone finds a black radish, or decides to make Khoplama with red, white, or other radishes, please let me know.