Summer 2013 Wrap-Up


With the temperatures consistently falling below freezing I feel that autumn has finally arrived and summer has wrapped up. As I look forward to colder days and deep powder it is always nice to reminisce about my adventures over the warmer months.

This summer was notable because we had several very strong thunderstorms, which led to lots of wildfires and a fairly hazy August and September.

Lightning flash within an incoming thunderstorm



The weather was nicer early during the summer Sarah and I spent a fair amount of time in our canoe. We mostly floated the Madison River and Hyalite Reservoir enjoying the warm days and doing some fishing.

Tim and Amber joined us on a float of the Madison River



Steve G floating in his pack-raft along the same stretch.



Sarah and Amber enjoy a calm float on Hyalite Reservoir



Canoe camping on the far side of Hyalite



We also took our annual trip to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park west of Bozeman. These caves are very cool and unique and they offer a great tour of the beautiful caverns.

Eerie light in the caverns





The main rooms in the caverns use special UV lights which shine at a spectrum that allows the human eye to see what the caves would look if the sun could shine in these tunnels. You can really see the pink iron oxides with these lights.



Hard to grasp the scale on how big these columns are, the main column is probably 75 feet tall.



Sarah and I also made it out to Seattle this summer to see the sights and sounds of this fun city. We were able to see our friends who recently moved to Seattle from Denver as well as check out the amazing Chihuly Glass Gardens near the Space Needle. This gallery is probably one of the coolest and most amazing galleries I have ever visited. I have a ton more pictures if anyone is interested but for the sake of brevity here are just a couple.

The outside portion of the Chihuly Gardens



A tree made of glass under the Seattle Space Needle



Leaving Seattle on a ferry heading to Port Angeles



Finally, I also spent a bunch of time in the mountains and looking at wildlife in Yellowstone.

Close up of a Bison eating some food



Panorama of from above East Hyalite Creek



Emmigrant Peak during sunset



My dog Dudley high above Hyalite Reservoir



Came upon this guy at the top of Beartooth Pass. We were the only people stopped and this goat just kind of chilled about 30 yards from us before ambling up and over a ridge.



The goat seemed more curious than scared of us.



Came upon a large herd of elk while working in the Centennial Valley in far southwest Montana.



Sorry if a few of these images seem overly edited, I am experimenting with some new software and still trying to get it dialed. Next post will hopefully involve some snow as the mountains are turning more and more white.

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2012-2013 Ski Season Edit


I know, I know, the ski season is far from over and for me it is really just beginning as the steeps stabilize and access roads melt out. Nonetheless, I figure I should share the footage I collected over the winter in addition to telling the story of how I blew my knee out over a year ago with everyone. So enjoy some helmet cam footage of powder skiing in Southwest Montana.

Music by David Bowie (duh!)

Mid-Winter Break


When we headed out in the morning this hadn’t slid. After having to bail on our initial plan due to dangerous conditions we returned to see this from the trailhead.

Amid growing persistent facets, including a scary collapse in the Hyalite Canyon, I bailed on the cold and headed to Hawaii with my wife for a two week tropical honeymoon.

It appears the slide was triggered by a cornice or ice fall.

We flew out of Billings and had layovers in Denver and San Francisco without any real problems.

After a late arrival in Kona, we rented a Jeep and crashed at a roach hotel (a warning for the budget minded traveler: Despite the allure of a $40 a night hotel in Kona, I highly recommend avoiding the “Kona Hotel” known for its distinct pink color) and got up early to head out and snorkel at Captain Cook Bay where we were inked by an octopus (video coming soon). Afterwards, we headed to the “City of Refuge”, a place where if a criminal could make it to the village before being caught, he had the opportunity to be exonerated by the King.

Palm trees in the City of Refuge.

Tiki man.

We explored some tidal pools and watched turtles swim and soak in the sun before we headed to the other side of the island and our accommodations for the week.

We then saw some turtles while tidepooling.

Sarah found a great place to stay for the week called Josanna’s Garden. It is an organic fruit farm deep in the jungle outside of the small hippie town of Pahoa. Steve and Janelle run a fascinating operation and utilize the WWOOF system. In exchange for 25 hours of farm labor, mainly picking fruit and packaging it, you can stay in a small bunk for free. While Sarah and I paid for our cabin and didn’t have to work it certainly got our minds thinking this could be a great way to travel cheaply.

Sarah inside our cabin near Pahoa on the Big Island.

We had a great time at “The Farm” and even Janelle, who used to live in Basalt, Colorado, used to swim with my dad. She claims she was faster than him, but I think her memory is a bit off as no one was really a faster swimmer than him.

Our cabin was a converted gazebo with a kitchenette and outdoor shower. It was most comparable to a forest service cabin in the jungle. They had tried their best to seal out the windows but the mesh screens provided minimal bug protection. Thus, we slept under the additional cover of a mosquito net. There were also a few geckos, a keoki frog, and a green anole as welcome housemates who feasted on the ever present bugs.

A green anole

While we could not swim in the ocean at the point closest to the farm, a short 4 wheel drive (good thing for the jeep) down the road would take us to the “Champagne Pond” in about 8 minutes. This was a large, geothermally heated, tidal pool filled with fish, turtles, and eels. The temperature was around 91 degrees and was perfect for snorkel soaking. I have a lot of GoPro footage of snorkeling and I hope to have a short video put together in the near future.

The eastern side of the Big Island is incredibly diverse with thick jungle broken by lava flows. The Farm was about a 2 mile walk to the rugged but beautiful Puna Coast. One night Sarah and I stargazed out on this point and it was one of the coolest and most unique things I have done on a trip.

The Puna Coast

In an attempt to avoid the huge “photo dump” posts I typically create, I am breaking this trip up into smaller segments so I can tell a better story. So, stayed to tuned for more posts in the coming days and weeks on our Hawaii trip.

Out with the old and in with the new


Currently I am taking a brief break from the mountains to attend a workshop at the prestigious Harvard University. It certainly is interesting sitting in a room full of Harvard PhD’s and future Harvard PhD’s.

I was recently going through my website stats and besides closing in on 35,000 views (thanks everyone!) I have not updated any links on my webpage since its inception 4 years ago. So with that in mind check out a few new links I have added to the sidebar. I am also removing a few irrelevant (that sounds harsh) or old blog links as well (RIP Steve Romeo).

The new links include:
MT Splitski: A blog devoted to splitboarding in Southwest Montana and the Jackson Area.

Junkfunnel: This is an extremely handy site for any Bozeman based backcountry skier. Nicely formatted charts from various remote weather stations as well as new snowfall summaries. I particularly enjoy the temperature charts as you can get a good feel for diurnal temperature fluctuations (and thus the formation of facets) very easily.

Southwest Montana Avalanche Forecast: I don’t know how I missed this one.
Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s accident reports: This is a great resource for any backcountry rider, learn from other peoples mistakes so you don’t get flushed.

Sadly, I am removing the following links:
Oronaut: my friend Evan hasn’t updated it since 2009 so I figure it is time to stop sending people there.
Shawtann Outdoors: like Evan, Shawtann hasn’t updated this site since 2010.
Tales from the Mid-Country: Same as above, my friend Cisco hasn’t added any new content since 2010.
TetonAT: I hate removing this link but since Steve Romeo passed away last winter I don’t see a point in keeping it around.
The Road Before Us: A former coworker’s site, but their content doesn’t really jive with this site.
Aspen Snowmass: This was nice when I was traveling a lot to ski, but since I haven’t returned to my home mountain in 2 years or so, it is time to let it go.

Now, since we are done with some housekeeping, enjoy a few photos from the last few weeks of touring around the Bozeman area.

Milky skies in Beehive Basin.

Milky skies in Beehive Basin.

Former Backcountry Magazine editor Drew Pogge drops into a line in Beehive Basin.

Former Backcountry Magazine editor Drew Pogge drops into a line in Beehive Basin.

Drew Pogge

Drew Pogge

Attempting to get a little artsy up in Hyalite

Attempting to get a little artsy up in Hyalite

My older brother Zack popping a small pillow while exploring up Hyalite.

My older brother Zack popping a small pillow while exploring up Hyalite.

Zack practicing stabbing bears with his ski pole while carrying speed.

Zack practicing stabbing bears with his ski pole while carrying speed.

A few photos from December (and technically New Years day)


Here are few photos from a couple of tours in the Bozeman/Big Sky area over the last month. Snow has been pretty good though a recent dry spell starting to show its wear on the snowpack.

I have been exploring a little bit up Hyalite, where the snow is good on certain aspects but pretty rotten everywhere else.

East Face, Mount Blackmore

East Face, Mount Blackmore

Evan Johnson skiing some low angle pow

Evan Johnson skiing some low angle pow

I also had an early New Years morning mission with Patrick up Middle Basin above Big Sky. Best snow of the season for sure and the terrain is looking nicely filled in.

Sunrise in Middle Basin above Big Sky

Sunrise in Middle Basin above Big Sky

Patrick Lawrence airing a cornice in Middle Basin

Patrick Lawrence airing a cornice in Middle Basin

Touring on the Beehive Ridge

Touring on the Beehive Ridge

New season, new knee


In case anyone has been wondering, yes I can ski. My knee is still a bit sore but I have managed to spend a couple days in the backcountry skiing and one day lift served at Big Sky. Pics have been sparse, but with early season conditions there hasn’t been much to photo. I was able to snag this shot of Steve G skiing up Hyalite this past weekend.

Steve G enjoying some early season powder skiing

Steve G enjoying some early season powder skiing

So other than one blurry shot of Steve there is not much else to report. I did manage to get a new ski set up this year, so I am looking forward to more snow and a better base to get out there and use my new toys.