Last week I was fortunate enough to heli-board in Revelstoke, BC with my Dad and friends. We had an amazing week of skiing and snowboarding. Here’s the video I put together:
I was fortunate enough to go heli-boarding with my dad for the fourth time last week in British Columbia. Unlike most of the US, Canada has been getting dumped on, and every day we were up there we got snowed on. This year may have trumped last year, which somehow seems impossible. Anyway, they say pictures speak a thousand words, which means videos must speak millions of words. Here’s the video from this year. I’m reminded how much I love snowboarding and adrenaline sports in general. Snowboarding inspires me just as doing a startup does. (I’d suggest viewing the video on youtube in HD – for some reason I can’t embed the HD version.)
Last week was the best week of my life. My dad and I spent the week at the CMH Galena lodge, where we had perhaps the best heli-skiing and heli-boarding experience imaginable. Seriously, I want to cry tears of joy and excitement just thinking about it. I’ll start with a highlight video I made, followed by the story, and conclude with my photos. Fuckin’ A I need to do this again.
The trip started Friday night. My dad and I flew into Calgary and stayed the night at a nearby hotel. The CMH busses left Saturday morning at 6:00am, each en route to its respective lodge, ours headed towards Galena, an area just south of Revelstoke, British Columbia. We were accompanied by several of my dad’s friends and lots of other CMH customers, to make a total of 44 boarders and skiers.
The bus dropped us off at the snowy helipad sometime around 2:00pm. The helicopter shuttled all of us to the lodge, along with our luggage, 12 or so people at a time. Around 4:00pm we were all at the lodge, a beautiful, quant place only accessible by helicopter and snowmobile during the winter months. Before sunset we all had our snow gear on while we attended a snow safety course explaining the use of avalanche transceivers, probes, the helicopters, and everything else.
Sunday was the first of six and a half days of untracked, seemingly endless tree skiing/boarding. Each full day was more or less the same. My dad would wake me up at 6:45am for a 7:00am stretch class lead by my dad’s 75-year-old friend, Dick. After stretch class I’d return to the room, shower, and read a little. At 8:00am we’d all eat breakfast prepared by the awesome CMH chefs. And the first 11-person group of skiers and boarders would leave at 9:00am.
For the next three-to-four hours we’d ski and board untracked, deep powder on steep and interesting gladed tree pitches. Each group of 11 is joined by at least one guide. The guides know the terrain so well they’re able to make sure we get the best line every time. They’d often point out cliffs, pillows, and mushrooms that they knew I’d be interested in hucking.
Sometime between 12:00 and 1:00pm the second helicopter would bring the 44 of us lunch, which was usually composed of awesome sandwiches, chocolates, cookies, soup, and bars. Then, after a short lunch we’d return to skiing/boarding, returning back to the lodge before 5:00pm.
Upon arrival at the lodge we’d hang our gear in the drying room, which is equipped with glove, boot, jacket, and pant holders designed to help your gear dry out. I’d put my compression tights on, snack and have a beer at the bar, read a little, then join the group for dinner at 7:00pm. We’d eat, drink wine, and enjoy a (usually) leisurely dinner. Then, most nights I’d retire to my bed and be asleep at 9:00pm, completely exhausted from the day’s fun.
The second Saturday of our journey started with a half day of skiing and ended with a helicopter shuttle and a return 8-hour bus ride. We flew home from Calgary first thing Sunday morning.
The boarding was absolutely stunning. Every run I couldn’t help but laugh, hoot and holler, and scream at the top of my lungs. Lungs filled with excitement, adrenal, and pure joy. We had a particularly excellent week, with new snow, stable conditions (less avalanche danger), and only a few visibility problems due to some lower fog. In the 6.5 days we hit the hill, we descended 130,000 vertical feet of untracked tree skiing. Thousands of turns, hundreds of face shots, tens of hucked cliffs, and two busted bindings. The terrain couldn’t have been better — steep, interesting, different. I hit a few 40-foot cliffs, greeted at the bottom by soft landings.
The two best runs were Lake Avenue and No Hotties, each gladed, steep pitches through forests charred and burnt by past fires. The black, branchless trees paired with the steep pitch made for a super fast, insanely invigorating ride over and around bumps, blazing towards the beautiful valley bottom lined on the opposite side by tall, stony mountains.
Holy shit I’m speechless and can’t possibly put into words the pure passion I’m feeling as I write this. I’ll just leave you with photos. I need to do this again.
This Spring marks the second consecutive year that the Husky Snowboard Team president (me this year, Barry last year) has failed in getting the University of Washington to approve of an on-campus rail jam. For those of you unfamiliar with rail jams, a rail jam is a type of snowboarding event where professional snowboarders and skiers slide down boxes and rails while spinning and pressing. Here’s a photo from one of the other campus rail jams:
Last year Barry worked with the Student Activities Office (SAO) to try and get this event approved. The event management company, Galvanic Designs, was low on funding at that time, so they weren’t able to provide financial support. The SAO decided that there was not enough incentive for the club to throw this event, so they wouldn’t let us do it. Fair enough. “We’ll do it next year!” said Barry and I. Yeah right …
My portion of this saga started earlier this fall on the second or third week of school. I went into the SAO office with another officer; we were hoping to throw a jam in the fall. Our SAO advisor told us to fill out a certain form and to wait for Risk Management to get back to us. I filled out the form immediately and waited. I was told that Risk Management usually took three weeks to respond, so I set the event date for a month after I submitted the form. Three weeks later I get a response from the HUB saying that I filled out the wrong form. Great. I filled out the form I was told to fill out, and now it’s too late because Risk Management won’t have enough time to approve the event. I submitted the right form and pushed the date back.
A few weeks pass, and I get a response saying that they need a contract outlining the responsibilities of the HST and Stevens Pass, the mountain that was planning to throw this event with us. I draft a contract as best I can and send it off the next day. I don’t hear anything back, so a week prior to the event date I ping the SAO advisors to see what’s going on. I basically get a response along the lines of, “Sorry, nothing.”
I’m kinda frustrated at this point, because it’s now December. I give up on throwing an event in the near future and start working with Galvanic Designs to get an event thrown May 1st. Galvanic Designs has a great track record – they do campus rail jam tours at tons of other schools including University of Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State, Gonzaga, Colorado University, Denver University, etc. The have a huge insurance plan, lots of contracts that have already been used by other schools, and in general good experience throwing events like this. Immediately after requesting May 1st as our date, I send paperwork to the SAO that Galvanic gave me – the same paperwork that got the event passed at all the other schools. I then take a few months off to let them look through the papers.
I head into the HUB at the start of April to see how things are going. “Oh, we didn’t receive any documents from you.” Duuuuude. I give them another copy right away and give them a few days to look at it. I ping them a few days later. “Oh sorry, we haven’t looked at them yet.” Alright, it’s time to go into overdrive. Dan, the cofounder of Galvanic Designs, drives up from Oregon to meet me at the HUB. The two of us drop off a printed and signed copy of the documents at the SAO and at the Risk Management office. Oh by the way, up until this point, I had never heard from, seen, or knew anything at all about Risk Management. I envisioned some group of lawyers piled into small cubicles, locked away at some strange corner of the university. The SAO never let me speak directly to Risk Management, and Risk Management would never respond to me. Read on …
From here on out, the story stays pretty consistent: I visit the SAO three times a week, ask them how things are going, and once I hear “Oh we haven’t read the documents yet,” I head to the Risk Management office. Once I get to the Risk Management office, I pick up the phone in front of their locked door and try to speak to one of the officers. I either get a voicemail and leave a message or I get a, “Sorry, she’s not in right now” response. A few weeks pass, and the SAO gives us a date when they’ll have a response for us. The date comes, and I don’t get a response. I call them at 4:00pm to see what’s up, and they quickly reply with a flat out “no.”
Now I don’t want to pass judgement on the SAO and the Risk Management office, but it seems to me that they didn’t put an ounce of work into this. It seems to me that they didn’t want this event to happen, yet they let Dan and I continue to call and stop by, which now I realize was an utter waste of time. I don’t know. This frustrates me, but I suppose it’s just how it’s gotta be. To give the SAO and Risk Management credit, this would have been a HUGE event with lots of responsibilities and lots of mayhem, so I somewhat understand where they’re coming from. I would also like to point out that I’m not putting blame on any one individual at the SAO or Risk Management office. I’m instead putting blame on the officers themselves and the processes that they choose to follow.
I tend to try my best to learn from my failures, but I don’t think there is much to learn here. If anything I’ve learned that it’s important to look for bad signs and quit early, but I don’t like to quit. Hopefully the president next year will get approval and throw this sucker; I just worry that he or she will waste as much time as I have and as Barry did before me. Good luck, Husky Snowboard Team president ’09. Hopefully the University of Washington will loosen up a little and let the kids jam.
Photo credit: here.
What’s a gaper, you ask? A gaper by definition is someone who dresses for looks. What that means in snowboard speak is someone who dresses strait ’70s, ’80s, and maybe even early ’90s. The colorful Husky Snowboard Team tore through Stevens yesterday, hooting and stretching. We BBQed in the parking lot and celebrated the last weekend of the snow season.
Here’s me (the hat says, “SR-71 Blackbird” with a picture of the jet – it’s my favorite jet; it’s also hard to tell that I have a mustache):
And here’s the team (minus a few people):
I can’t wait for gaper day next season. Just for reference, this was Dustin and I at New Years gaper day earlier this year:
Nearly 12 hours ago I documented the Husky Snowboard Team’s victory at Hope on the Slopes. Read the post for the whole story, but in summary, 15 of us snowboarded for the majority of 24 hours and took home the title for the team with the most vertical. We boarded a combined 1.5 million vertical feet.
Now what I didn’t mention was that I was slightly sick going into the competition; I just had a sore throat along with an occasional sniffle. I fell asleep around 5:00pm yesterday, and here I am, at 3:30am, awake, feeling sick as a dog, and blogging. I suppose I saw this coming. Oh well :).
I have a feeling that a good reed is going to like this one.
The Husky Snowboard Team just got back from Hope on the Slopes, a fund raising event for the American Cancer Society and a race for the most vertical in 24 hours at Stevens Pass. We brought back the trophy for having the most combined team vertical. Fifteen of us went down Skyline and Hogsback enough times to total a whopping 1.5 million vertical feet in just 24 hours (I had around 110,000). That means that the combined vertical distance we traveled in 24 hours could have brought one person down Mt. Everest (at 29,000 feet) to sea level 51 times (that’s 284 vertical miles).
How did we accomplish this feat, you ask? A combination of energy drinks, coffee, no sleep, and teamwork. Here’s the story:
First session: 9:30am – 12:30pm
All 15 of us start on Skyline. We want to try and have some fun during the day, so some of us hit the park and others just bombed down. We were all feeling good by 12:30pm. Aleah is making everyone a sandwich. Chris is firing up his water boiler for a first-class on-hill lunch.
Second session: 1:15pm – 5:00pm
Same story as first session. Some people hit the park, and others just bomb. By this time we had a good idea of what our competition looked like, and it wasn’t looking good. The Swiss Ski Club had some nasty skiers that we could barely keep up with. It was going to be a long night/morning.
Third session: 5:30pm – 10:30pm
Pretty much same story. We’re all feeling good. None of us are that tired, but we’re ready for the BBQ. We head in for the BBQ, and some of us prepare for the free wax/edge sharpen going on at 11:00pm.
Fourth session: 11:30pm – 4:00am
First, keep in mind that 2:00am was totally skipped because of daylight savings. This is where things start to get tough. Eight of the 15 decide to nap, and the other seven start CHARGING. By this time we had the first round of statistics (all results up to 7:00pm), and it looked like we had the lead by a narrow margin. Skyline closes, so we’re forced to run Hogsback over and over again. In fact, we’re forced to head down the same run every time. No matter. Our bomb squad figures out the fastest route and does lap after lap, only turning to avoid other people. I’m not even kidding. For 2.5 hours these 7 dudes and dude-ettes did nothing but point and ride the chairlift up. The run was recently groomed, so the snow was hard and fast.
Fifth session: 4:30am – 9:30am
We get word that as of 12:00am, we were in first place with 700,000 vertical, leading the second place team by a mere 9,000 vertical. It’s go time. Kelly starts pumping up the team, and all 15 of us ride the entire session. In fact, we don’t just ride it; WE KILL IT. All 15 of us are charging as hard as we can – barely any turning. By this time there wasn’t any room for conversation. We all went at our own pace, rode our own chairs (for the most part), and got in the zone. We would buckle in on the chairlift to avoid wasting time at the top, and we would only speak to say “hi!” to other HST people that we saw along the way or to give a “Yeeehaw!” if we saw someone from the chairlift. This was serious business; we had to win.
We ended up winning by a margin of 100,000 vertical, which isn’t all that much. We each accepted our metals and our $100 gift certificates and tried not to fall asleep on the drive home. We all had an insanely good time.
Alright, it’s time for me to go to sleep. In summary, HST dominates Hope on the Slopes. Big thanks to Kelly for organizing everything, Paul for raising a GRIP of money, and Aleah, Chris, Alex, Kelsi, Michelle, Josh, Kyle, Kyle, Sena, Corry, Fareed, and Scott for SHREDDING LIKE IT’S NOBODY’S BUSINESS.
This post was written on Monday, February 18, 2008.
I’m writing while in my compact airplane seat on my flight back to Seattle from Denver, Colorado. I spent the last four nights in Boulder visiting my two best high school friends. I had such an awesome time in Boulder that I wanted to share my story.
This plane ride marks the end of my third trip to Boulder, but this trip was exceedingly better than my previous trips. I got some quality time in with my two friends that I miss a lot, and I got a good opportunity to really soak up the town in all of its wonderfulness.
First, the weather
It snows in Boulder a fair amount, and often when it doesn’t snow it’s sunny and relatively warm. This feeling of contrast is as beautiful as the feeling you get when being splashed by a cool ocean wave after laying in the sweltering sun for an extended period of time. You get to enjoy the fun of being snowed on, while only days later you can enjoy a game of shirtless outdoor sports at the nearby park. I love it.
Second, the food. Third, the food
I could name at least 10 different food joints that are open until at least 2:00am. I would say that 80% of these joints offer unique, unbelievable food such as joints (mini-calzones), cinna-sticks, and steak-and-chee (sandwiches). The other 20% offer the basics – pizza, sandwiches, etc. All 100% of these joints are cheap. Dirt cheap. We bought 30 wings, four tacos, and a pitcher of good beer for $25. Boulder is filled with insanely good eats that are cheap and open late. What more could a college student ask for? Oh yeah, most of them deliver.
Fourth, the people
I find myself to be much more like the people that I’ve met in Boulder than the people I’ve met in Seattle. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy the people around me in Seattle. No. In Seattle I’m surrounded by really good, fun, smart people, and I’m not trying to say that people in Seattle are inferior. I’m saying they’re different, as almost all inhabitants of a unique city are. I’m making the very general claim that I have more in common with the people I’ve met in Colorado. For example, most of my friends in Colorado, new and old, are goofy. They wear cowboy outfits to the cowboy bar, or they make odd gestures while riding the mechanical bull. They dance like morons when no one else is dancing, and they sing along to all the most rocking songs. When I wear my big blue flannel in Seattle, I get referred to as “Lumberjack Alex.” If I wear my big blue flannel in Boulder, I get complimented on how awesome it is. When I sing to a song and play air guitar to a song while in Seattle, I generally get weird looks. If I do the same in Colorado, then I’m usually joined by a collection of my friends in a multi-part, off-key harmony.
Fifth, the skiing
The mountains 90-minutes away from Boulder are great (Vail, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, A-Basin, etc). They offer multi-mountain, cheap seasons passes to college students, and most mountains have great terrain. I like Mammoth better, but I think it’s safe to claim that the Colorado resorts are better than Washington resorts (Stevens, Crystal, etc), except for maybe the exception of Baker.
Sixth, the school
The University of Colorado offers so many more services to its students than the University of Washington; it’s disgusting. They have a Buff Bus that busses students around so they don’t have to walk alone late at night in the often-cold weather. CU makes it easy for their students to eat well and get exercise, while the UW doesn’t provide carpool discounts for the gym parking lot past 3:00pm. I feel that these points I’m making are slightly out of scope, so I’ll leave it at that. I will say that my trip to Boulder has motivated me to begin writing a post about ways the UW could improve, so stay tuned for that. And, to UW’s credit, I think its academics are generally better.
If you have friends in Boulder, then go visit them. You’ll have an awesome time in an awesome college town. I definitely did.
The trip was pretty typical Whistler – great snow, great company, a few too many drinks, and too many nachos. Check this out:
This sucker cost $30 and probably weighed 10 pounds. We ordered these suckers after already have another plate of nachos at a different bar, 2 rounds of buffalo wings, and pitang (French fries w/ gravy and cheese). I think I ate more food that night than I’ve ever eaten. It was disgusting:
Rob returned from a leave to find that only crumbs were left. He proceeded to put the crumbs in the guac and eat with a spoon. That’s innovation right there.
On a side note, I managed to get terrible whiplash due to a huge air with a rocky landing. It sucked. See you soon, Whistler! Next stop: Colorado.
I spent the weekend at Whistler with 40 members of the Husky Snowboard Team, of which I am the president for. The weekend was absolute mayhem. The days consisted of awesome snowboarding – Matt, Koos, and I made some killer turns on Whistler on Saturday. Sunday was also a good day, but we nearly froze to death in the 20+ mph winds and ~10 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. Saturday night was fun – Matt and I had a night on the town and finished with some fun games at home. Sunday night was probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a bar. 30 of us stormed into the Amsterdam Cafe and took over their outdoor patio. We were all laughing, yelling, and cheers-ing all night. We would pick people out who were walking by the patio and just start yelling at them, “eyyyyyyy,” or “whose house? dawgs house!” or we would chant, “H.S.T. … H.S.T. …” It probably sounds like one of those belligerent, fraternity-esque drunk nights, but it wasn’t (I try not to have those). Everyone around us and all the people we yelled at were laughing and having a good time, and so were we. We took off Monday morning and made it back into the U.S.
You might be wondering why I didn’t say anything about Friday night. The answer is because I’m saving the best story for last. There were four of us in the car, one guy I knew, call him John, and two other guys that I met for the first time that day. I was driving John’s car because mine is in the shop, and we left the University of Washington at about 12:30pm. The car ride to the border was fine – we all got along and had a good time talking about this, that, and the other thing. We get to the Peach Arch at around 3:00pm, and the line to cross the border is pretty short. I ask for my passengers’ passports and get ready for a casual, easy encounter with the Canadian border patrol. Man was I wrong. The woman at the counter was drilling us. “Do you have any weapons?” “Where are you going?” “What are you doing?” “Do you have any alcohol?” “Do you have any weapons?” “Do you have any alcohol?” All of these questions were easy to answer, but she opened a can of worms with the last question, “Have any of you been arrested or convicted of anything lately?” I answer, “No.” John answers, “No.” One of the dudes that I just met answers, “No.” The other dude answers, “Yes.” The woman proceeds to ask him questions about his recent arrest, and through this interview I find out that this guy had been arrested for possession of marijuana about a year ago. The border patrol gets out a bright orange slip, writes some info on the card, and tells us to go inside.
There’s a pretty long line when we get inside, and the spirits of most people are definitely low. We wait in line until finally we get to the front and begin to get interrogated. The interrogation ends with the woman behind the desk asking me for the keys and requesting that we take a seat. We wait for a pretty long time until finally the border patrol personnel return. They asked us who the owner of the silver bag is, and the dude that got arrested a year ago responds. At this point, I’m thinking, “Shit. He brought weed.” I was right. The guy brought weed across the border and didn’t bother to tell us. Turns out no one got in trouble, not even him, but we had to wait at the Canadian border for three hours. After all of this waiting, they tell us that we have to go back in the U.S. and then back into Canada to proceed to Whistler. Shit.
We spend another 90 minutes waiting in line, getting our car searched again, and getting interrogated at the U.S. border. Luckily the wait to get back into Canada was only 30 minutes, though, making our total time at the beautiful Peace Arch park five hours. On our return back into the states, the border patrol officer knew that we had just been denied entry to Canada. He says to us, “Back so soon. What happened?” We tell him the truth and point to the guy that brought the weed in. The border patrol officer looks at the guy and says, “Why would you bring weed to Canada?! That’s like bringing sand to the beach!” Haha. Jokes on us.
The rest of the drive goes by just fine, and we arrive in Whistler at 11:30pm after leaving Seattle at 12:30pm. What a trip. Oh, and I also got pulled over in Whistler for drunk driving. I was driving slow because I thought the roads were icy, and apparently it looked like I was driving under the influence. I hadn’t had a sip of alcohol all day, so they let us go.
Lesson learned: if you’re driving across the border with people you don’t know, then make sure that they don’t have anything illegal on them. I told all of my passengers not to bring anything illegal, but apparently I wasn’t clear enough. I’m lucky that Canada is very lenient about drugs, otherwise I probably would have gotten arrested even though I don’t smoke weed and didn’t attempt to bring anything illegal into Canada. This was another addition to my bad luck lately, but it was followed by one of the best board trips I’ve ever been on. I’m happy to be back in Seattle.