This last week has been great. I experienced my first day ski touring with my work on a beautiful bluebird day. Unfortunately it hadn’t snowed for a week, so the conditions were sub optimal with a few inches of powder on top of an icy crust. I’d love to return after a good storm. The views were stellar and I’m thrilled to be experiencing backcountry skiing. I didn’t realize how much energy it takes to ski up a mountain and I was amazed at how well skins work. I may make backcountry skiing part of my winter ritual starting next year. I would definitely need to learn a lot about avalanche safety. The day before we went, a colleague and I practiced locating beacons around the office. Hopefully the loud beeping wasn’t too distracting for other people.
I also had a great hike up Grandeur Peak after work that day. Excellent training. This was the first time I really put my Khatoola Microspikes to work. Most of the trail had spotty patches of snow, but as we approached the ridge there was solid snowpack. It was extremely icy and I am amazed at how well the spikes work. I didn’t slip once. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that after we hit the ridge I got scared. It was dark and the narrow path sheared off into a steep dark abyss. I could only imagine what would happen if I lost my footing and started sliding down the mountain. We made the false summit and as I’m looking up at the summit, I see that the typical path that curves around the backside of the mountain for a more gradual ascent has been replaced with a steep path straight up the face. There’s no trees and the exposure is terrifying. I hate to admit this, but I chickened out. I let my buddy make the summit as I watched. In retrospect, this was unacceptable. There’s going to be scary passes that I could be crossing solo. I have to be more knowledgeable about my gear and have more faith in my abilities. It made me really want an ice axe, so the next day I purchased a 50cm Corsa Ice Axe which weighs only 7.2 ounces. I don’t want to carry the extra weight but I’m sure I’ll be thankful I have it when I’m hiking through the snowy Sierras.
The best part of the week was getting the opportunity to visit one of The Christmas Box Houses. It was wonderful to see what they’ve accomplished. The staff is fantastic and I’m really impressed with how they help kids transition through difficult times. They have so many clothes, stuffed animals, quilts, etc. which they give to every kid that passes through. They have an onsite dentist office. They have a library with a myriad of books and they give every kid 3 books to keep. I imagine these children coming into this facility, scared, alone, with only the clothes on their backs. I can only imagine how getting a blanket, books, clothes, etc. could lift a child’s spirits. To provide this level of care to ~8,000 kids a year is phenomenal. I’m extremely proud to be working with such a great organization. Contributing to this charity has definitely strengthened my resolve. I’m really looking forward to taking some of their youth climbing next week.