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Adventures

Remembering a Past Victory: Utes make a strong showing at their first Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championship

Contributor story by Michael Polei, of the U Collegiate Cycling Club, who can be reached at michaelpolei@gmail.com or 720.210.4740. 

The University of Utah Collegiate Cycling Club placed 4th at the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championship in Missoula, Montana on Oct. 31 of this year.  Seven racers from the U travelled to Missoula to compete in Downhill, Dual Slalom, Cross-country (XC), and Short Track XC events.  Racing occurred at a former ski resort—Marshal Mountain—under grey skies and plenty of snow.  This has become the expectation for Collegiate Mountain Biking National events, as they typically occur in late October due to a race season that doesn’t start until September.  

The IMCCC is a regional conference that covers the Utah/Nevada area.  At these races Category A, B and C races are held in each discipline (DH, XC, STXC, DS).  It takes a handful of races at Cat C to work up to Cat B, then a handful of podium spots in Cat B races to qualify for Cat A.  Typically it takes racers 2+ seasons to work though the ranks towards Cat A.  Cat A racers qualify for nationals if they race in 3 Cat A races throughout the season and are top 5 on their team.  The Nationals race is held by USACycling, which overseas all of the various leagues (such as IMCCC or colorado’s RMCCC, etc.).  So, in short, we qualified for Nationals via the IMCCC league races.

Celebrating its 20th year this year, the U’s club had its largest mountain bike club season ever, with 63 registered mountain bike members.  The U competed in regular season races during the Fall Semester with the Intermountain Collegiate Cycling Conference, which hosted three races at Sundance Resort, Nordic Valley, and Brian Head Ski Resort, involving participants from    Westminster College, Utah State University, Southern Utah University, Utah Valley University, and Dixie State.  The U team claimed the conference title this year, winning all three events, largely due to the team’s high turnout for the racing season.  

Cross-country racing occurred early Friday morning, with racers lining up at the start in sub-freezing conditions half an hour before sun crept into the valley.  The U’s’ Zach Calton finished 5th in the grueling XC race that covered 14.5 miles and 4,500’ vertical with an overall 3-lap time of 1 hour 44 minutes.  Snow persisted through the event, with over an inch of accumulation by the last lap.

Friday afternoon the dual slalom racing kicked-off what would become a long and muddy battle. In this race format, riders pair head-to-head on 2 side-by-side courses that wind down the mountain, with average lap times around 20 seconds.  U racers Team President, Dakota Janes and Calton finished 12th and 13th respectively.  

At the end of Day 2 Practice, the sun snuck out for a quick minute, giving riders one chance to practice the course without the snow and rain that was otherwise consistent with the week. PC: Danny Fendler.

Saturday morning, heavy snow and rain postponed the short track XC race, and gave racers a chance to warm up on the newly constructed downhill trail.  With over 130 downhill racers competing, the conditions of this newly built trail varied from run-to-run during practice, with the course getting more packed in, firmer and faster as the day wore on.  Utah racer Michael Polei finished 6th in the Downhill race, followed closely by teammates Calton, David Dickerson, and Janes, securing four Top 20 finishes for the team.  Strong finishes came from racers Josh Graber and Danny Fendler in the downhill event.

 

 

 

 

Zach Calton participated in all 4 events and achieved the highest overall score to secure the title of Individual Omnium National Champion.

Saturday evening the U’s XC racers lined up for possibly the toughest event of the week, short-track XC.  The 1.1 mile course was lined with fans and spectators as racers competed in a 20-minute plus 3-lap format.  Calton, a Business major, competed in all 4 events and placed highest combined score to secure the Individual Omnium National Title.  

Representing the women’s team at nationals, Freshman Ellise Shuman had a stellar first season of collegiate racing, finishing 14th in both the XC and short-track XC races.  An experienced racer with 4 years experience in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) high-school league, racing for Alta High School and the competitive ProXCT series, Shuman dominated the regular season, securing the Intermountain Club D1 Endurance Omnium Leader award before travelling to Missoula.  Shuman compared collegiate to high-school or pro level racing, saying, “[Collegiate racing is] more fun!  Everyone is pushing each other to go a little faster, or try a downhill race, and there’s less pressure than the other races.”  

 

The IMCCC expects to see collegiate mountain biking grow substantially over the next few years, as Utah’s NICA high-school racing program (utahmtb.org) is one of the largest growing leagues in the country.  Students and Alumni interested in racing or supporting their team are encouraged to reach out to their respective clubs. Contact info for each team can be found at IMCCC.org.  

 

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PRT & U

Have you ever wanted to try a cool recreational activity, but didn’t have the knowledge, equipment and/or money for it? Well, you’re in luck. Our beloved University of Utah offers credit and noncredit classes in a wide range of activities. They are listed under the “Parks, Recreational, and Tourism” or PRT section of the current semester’s class schedule. Among the classes offered are opportunities to take a weekend long trip to Zion National Park to learn landscape photography, or discover the basics of outdoor rock climbing, and that’s only the beginning of it.

While classes are offered fall, spring, and summer semesters, types of classes can vary depending on the season. The search acronym PRT within the semester catalog can be followed by a few different letters: L for land, S for snow, and W for water. This allows students to narrow down what kind of recreational sport or activity class they want to take. Most classes will cover the cost of food and most equipment. Some classes require camping, which means you’ll need to bring camping essentials like a sleeping bag, pillow, and tent, while classes like Pistol Marksmanship do not require camping equipment. Make sure to read the class description so you know what you’re getting yourself into, though don’t let concerns about equipment keep you from going as any outdoor equipment you don’t have can be rented from Outdoor Adventures in the Student Life Center for cheap. For classes that require electronics (like nature photography), students are able to check out cameras and other equipment through the Marriott Library via the Knowledge Commons. One other thing to keep in mind is travel, as all PRT classes require students to make their own way to the class rendezvous location.

This fall semester, I decided to take Rock Climbing I. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it turned out to be the most fun I’ve ever had while taking a college class. Offered for one credit or noncredit, this class met just once for two hours, to go over the syllabus, discuss class procedures/expectations, and plan for needed equipment before meeting up in Veyo, Utah where class actually began. Unfortunately, students had to find their own way down to Crawdad Canyon. Nick Rushford, our instructor, suggested carpooling to save money on gas and provided a sign-up sheet for just that purpose. Though it seems awkward to drive 4.5 hours with random strangers, it turned out to be refreshing to speak to new people.

A week after our mandatory meeting, it was time to pack the car up and head to Veyo. There, we learned the fundamentals of outdoor rock climbing. All equipment was provided (including helmet, harness, ropes, etc.), except for climbing shoes. The class lasted three days, starting on a Friday and ending that Sunday. For those taking the class with credit, the only additional requirement was to pass a short quiz and write a short essay due a few weeks later once class ended. I highly suggest taking advantage of the PRT classes because they’re fun, you can get credit for it, you get to learn about something you’re actually interested in, and it’s a whole lot cheaper through the University than through a third party. Get out and explore.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Satire: Extreme Sledding at ShredFest

The previous decade has served witness to a plethora of new and unusual pastimes emerging from the hearts of a listless population and the internet. With most recreational mediums having already been exhausted, outdoor adventure junkies have deferred to radical remixes of past traditions. These remixes have come to fruition in the form barefoot mountain climbing, unicycle fly-fishing, umbrella base jumping, competitive rock and bark chewing, and most notably, the controversial activity of extreme sledding.

Following the announcement of a large-scale extreme sledding extravaganza in Salt Lake City this November, the SledShred420 Tributary SledFest, what was once an isolated internet phenomenon has drawn fiery scrutiny from concerned Utah locals hoping to rescind the event altogether. At present, one question rests on the minds of local legislators and media representatives alike: What on earth is extreme sledding? And how did it come to be?

The singular traceable origin of this practice is a sequence of YouTube videos published between 2013 and 2014 by a bearded young man identifiable only by the screen name SledShred420. Over the course of that year, the YouTuber accumulated mass viewership as his videos grew progressively more outrageous; what began as tame sled and snowsuit reviews quickly transitioned into death-defying sled runs. The Colorado local took his collection of sleds — some circular, some railed, and in one instance simply a tarp under his knees — to some of the state’s most precarious slopes and plummets, including the Capitol Peak knife-edge ridge. SledShred420 became a spark, and subsequently a martyr, for the emergent sport when he tragically perished in New York City after sledding down the Statue of Liberty’s nose — his death a result of choking on a gourmet hot dog at a food cart in downtown Manhattan later that day.

With the help of online forums and social media, SledShred420’s supporters and extreme sledding activists coalesced to form the Extreme Sledding Federation (ESF). They are behind the SledShred420 Tributary SledFest.

On the event’s final day, festival attendees plan to link hands and perform an unprecedented ‘Flying W’ run, sledding down from the Millcreek ridge, up and over the Cottonwood Divide between Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, and ultimately land (ideally) somewhere near Red Pine Lake, where they will have lunch and take a group photo.

At the moment of the festival’s announcement, fervent protests ensued, primarily from concerned parents and environmentalists — the latter claimed sledding on bare inclines damages natural foliage and ecosystems. Many of the demonstrators present were unfamiliar with the organization and were drawn out by the insatiable compulsion to protest something.

A startling detail not present on the ESF’s website is the fact that over 65 percent of its members are children. While the organization requires a permission slip for all minors aspiring to join its ranks, Utah mothers fear that even the presence in the city is harmful.

One exasperated mother at last week’s anti-ESF rally believes the organization puts her daughter at risk.

“Last week, Sally said that she wanted to go to sledding. I told her that we couldn’t go, since it hasn’t snowed yet,” the mother, Brittany Smith says. “Shortly after, she took her sled and flew right off the roof, destroying our garden and covering herself in scrapes and bruises. Sure enough, the first item on her search history was that darn extreme-o website. These maniacs must be stopped.”

Another parent I spoke to, however, was supportive of the ESF and its upcoming festival.

“Well, the kiddos have been raving about this fad for weeks now,”  Jim Bumps says. “It’s a little dangerous, sure, but as long as it gets them outside and off the Xbox, I’m okay with it. So what if they get a little beat up? When I was their age, I used to chase rattlesnakes with a stick and wrestle the neighbor’s horse. I turned out okay.”

His children are currently practicing members, and they plan to train for the festival on Olympus’ northern face later this week.

At present, it is uncertain how long protests will continue, though it certainly appears that the festival is still on. A recent tweet from Powers advises that “[Utah locals] better wax their sleds or stay inside — it’s going down, and going down quick.”

The outcomes of this largescale event are anyone’s guess, but it is advised that you wear a helmet if you plan to participate and avoid hiking in the canyons that day if you do not.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com

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Snowbird Makes Most of One-Star Review

In recent years, the digital review economy has legitimized itself in the consumer world and now acts as a pivotal influence in how companies evaluate and conduct themselves in the public eye. Everyone and their dog is given a voice on the internet, and a negative review could be greatly detrimental to a company, particularly in its early stages. Fortunately for the Wasatch’s local Snowbird Ski Resort, this hasn’t been the case as they’ve brilliantly converted a negative review into positive press just in time for the upcoming ski season.

Snowbird’s first ad in its new One-Star campaign features an ironically hypercritical review by Greg from L.A., who complained that the resort is “Too advanced — I’ve heard Snowbird is a tough mountain, but this is ridiculous. It felt like every trail was a steep chute or littered with tree wells. How is anyone supposed to ride in that? Not fun!” Rather than taking this scathing review in humility or shame, Snowbird’s advertising team imposed Greg from L.A.’s quote onto a high-definition photograph of a skier carving through thick powder on a steep run, a sublime snow-covered Cottonwood ridge looming in the background.

What Greg from L.A. may not have recognized while composing his critique is that Snowbird prides itself on providing a uniquely advanced, challenging experience on the mountain; many visitors, in fact, find steep chutes and tree wells to be particularly appealing. Juxtaposed against an alluring photograph taken at the resort, this negative review is contorted into praise, and it even serves to challenge prospective visitors to take on the mountain that was too advanced for Greg from L.A.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Dave Amirault, Snowbird’s director of marketing, attributes this bold approach to the contentious and polarizing tone that the public currently resonates with most, reflecting, “What we’ve realized is in print advertising, advertising in general, nobody wins the middle. What we wanted to do is be unique to ourselves and make something that will challenge the reader.” For Amirault, Snowbird’s technicality is foundational to its identity: “If you value great terrain, deep snow, and long runs then Snowbird might be for you.” In direct response to the notorious reviewer, Amirault states that “This person, Greg from Los Angeles, didn’t quite understand what Snowbird is all about. We welcome people from all around the world but be on your ‘A’ game. This is a very unique resort compared to some other places.”This wildly compelling ad serves as the first iteration of the One-Star campaign that promises at least four more treatments of similarly scathing reviews in the near future. This ad and the others to come are projected to appear in Freeskier, Powder, Ski, Transworld Snowboarding, and Ski Utah magazine, in addition to Snowbird’s social media channels.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com

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The Stuff People Say

Outdoor Adventures at the University of Utah is the largest collegiate rental shop in the nation, according to its website. With all that gear, and all those students wanting to try it out, you are guaranteed a crazy story or two.

“By the way … there’s a book.”

I had gone into Outdoor Adventures expecting to interview the employees about gear rental options, but that one sentence caught my ear. I was hooked; like a dog sensing food nearby, I couldn’t resist the temptation.

Matt Klassen, one of the attendant employees, explained he usually begins gear rental interactions by asking students what they want to use the requested gear for. Time after time that simple answer has prompted responses that have left employees’ jaws hanging.

These stories began spreading through employee gossip. The usual, “Hey, you won’t believe what I heard the other day.” It wasn’t long before the collection of stories to tell grew big enough to warrant a little more attention. No one could point to who came up with the idea of making a book, but it caught on, and soon one page turned into a second page turned into a book.

Matt handed me the 11 by 4.5-inch book with the enjoyable title, “The Sh** People Say.” He laughed nervously as he did so, saying, “Here are some of the wild stories your fellow classmates have legitimately told us.”

 

1. A student asks to rent a wetsuit, saying, “I’m going pumpkin rowing” as part of the annual Daybreak Pumpkin Regatta. For the Regatta, she explains, people grow huge pumpkins, hollow them out, sit inside them, and paddle in the lake. She backs her story up with a photo of herself last year in a large pumpkin wearing a hippie costume.

 

2. A student selects a duckie for rental and says, “I need to save my duck. She’s stranded in the middle of a pond, but she’s playing with other ducks. My drunk friend released her the other night.”

 

3. After being directed to a tent rental, a student remarks, “I’m worried about setting up this four-person tent. It’s going to be really difficult.” The OA employee asks, “Are you going to have another person with you?” to which the student responds, “Well, yeah. Three other people. It would be really weird if I rented a four-person tent for myself.”

4. A student walks into Outdoor Adventures. Their first question is, “Can we rent a raft to slide down a mountain?” (OA regretfully did not rent out a raft for this activity.)

 

5. A student rents out a piece of equipment and before leaving, asks, “Can I UPS my rental back to your dropbox?” Apparently, the only problem here was the fact that, as the OA employee responded, OA “[does not] have a drop box.”

s.guirguis@wasatchmag.com

 

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Keeping Warm in the Great Outdoors

Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by the ice-cold temperatures while trying to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re hiking or camping, staying warm is the only way to have a safe and enjoyable trip. If anyone claims they like being cold, they’re lying. Here are a few tips and tricks to staying warm during your winter adventures.

Keeping warm requires a variety of tools and tips during Utah’s cold months. Photo by Annie Duong.

Pack the Hand and Toe Warmers 

Keeping your hands and feet warm is essential to not losing a finger or toe to frostbite. No one wants to go through the trauma of that, so listen to the nagging voice of your parental figure in the back of your mind, and pack some hand/toe warmers, some nice thick socks, and gloves.

Stick to the Three-Layer Rule

This may be common sense but it’s important to make sure you have a tight-fitting base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer. For your base layer, it’s best to have a synthetic or wool article of clothing. DO NOT WEAR COTTON. Cotton is very loosely knitted and takes a very long time to dry. Your middle layer should retain heat. Fabrics like merino wool, down and/or fleece are suggested. Finally, your outer layer should protect you from the elements so it should be windproof, waterproof and well ventilated. Just remember the three Ws: wicking, warmth, and weather.

Two Beanies are Better than One

Not only will you be the most stylish individual in your group, but you’ll also be the most prepared. If you didn’t know, you lose a lot of heat from your head, so it’s best to always have a beanie or warm hat. Bringing two can ensure you’ll have a dry and comfortable beanie to wear at all times. This goes for clothing, too. Wearing wet clothing will 110 percent make you colder than if your clothes were completely dry, so doubling up is a necessity.

Chug Olive Oil

Apparently chugging things like olive oil, and eating avocados and other foods high in fat content, will help keep you warm. The burning of calories leads to an elevated body temperature, so bottoms up. I’m sure to most people olive oil does not sound appealing to drink, so any alternatives that are high in carbs and fat (like chocolate and/or nuts) will keep your internal furnace well fueled.

Keep Your Butt off the Ground

Never leave the fire or you’ll freeze your butt off, and try not to sit directly on the cold ground or on rocks. That goes for sleeping as well. Be sure to sleep on a sleeping pad or a cot to ensure maximum heat insulation. For below freezing temperatures, shoot for at least two or three inches of insulation between you and the ground when sleeping.

Make Yourself a “Crotch Bottle”

Think back to a cold, dreadful night in your tent. Do you remember where your hands were for the majority of the night? Probably in between your thighs, right? There are important arteries in your inner thighs that are essential to regulating body temperature; so don’t put away the kettle or jet-boil just yet. Use this to fill that extra water bottle you packed with hot water and get cozy with it in your sleeping bag, placed perfectly between your thighs to keep your body temperature up.

Big Spoon or Little Spoon?

Don’t know your tent mate? Suck it up, buttercup. Get your pillow talk ready. It’s common knowledge that sharing body heat keeps you warm, why not do it?

Don’t Get Trashed

Even though chugging olive oil isn’t as appealing as the whiskey you packed, a liquor blanket can only get you so far into the night. I’m sure half the reason you’re going camping is to sit around the fire with a beer or bottle, but drinking alcohol makes you dehydrated, and dehydration makes you cold. That warm, fuzzy feeling inside is a trap. You are colder than you think; limit your drinks and make sure those friends of yours who maybe aren’t as careful don’t pass out in unsafe conditions.

Drink Lots and Lots of Water

If you’re like me, being out in the cold doesn’t particularly make me thirsty. The truth is though, the cold, dry winter air actually dehydrates you faster than warmer air. Obviously, water keeps you alive and well but sometimes it’s an easy need to ignore. As your body is working harder to generate heat under all your layers, water is vital. To keep your water from freezing, use a wool sock, invest in an insulated bottle, or use a DIY foam sleeve.

Splurge on Nice Gear

If you do enough cold weather camping, it may be time to invest in some high-quality gear. This isn’t really a tip but you’ll definitely feel a difference between that $30 sleeping bag compared to a $300 one. I’m not telling you to go buy the latest and greatest equipment, but it may be time to do a little research and invest.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Packing Your Camera for Adventure

You may be wondering how adventure photographers get such epic photographs. The easy-yet-complicated answer is: They take their cameras with them everywhere. Whether an adventure is high in the mountains, deep in a cave, or under the interstellar sky with the Milky Way Galaxy above, these adventure photographers have their cameras with them at all times.

This answer for getting great photographs is easy, yet complicated because adventuring with a camera is more difficult than you might think. You need to plan your gear for your adventure, as well as the camera equipment you’ll want to take, without breaking your back, or risking the safety of too much equipment. There’s a lot to take.

For instance, when you want to photograph skiing, you first have to plan out what essentials you will need to keep yourself warm. These may include glove liners, pocket warmers, extra sunglasses, and an additional layer under your coat for when you are standing still observing skiers. Next, you will need to grab some snacks and water so you do not go hungry on the slopes. Lastly, you need to bring your camera. Oh wait, what about lenses? Let’s throw some additional lenses into the mix. Don’t forget a spare battery. Since you will be in the snow for a few hours, you will also want some sort of microfiber towel to dry off the lenses to prevent water damage.

Finally, you’re packed. Now another problem appears: How do you carry your gear?

The only solution is a backpack you can rely on, at a weight you can manage, that will carry all of your gear safely. This requires significant planning ahead of time, and probably quite a bit of money.

There are many assorted styles of backpacks that photographers use, from roller bags to backpacking backpacks. The single most limiting factor preventing any adventure photographer from taking all the equipment they want is weight. You must carry the gear back and forth, and modern-day camera equipment gets heavy fast, not to mention challenging to organize.

When packing for an expedition, you should also always consider your ability to access your camera equipment. You never know when something extraordinary — like a wolf howling at a blue moon or an eagle catching a fish over a lake — is going to be in front of you. You never want to go home from an adventure saying, “I wish I had taken a photo of that.” Having an organized pack where you can easily access your camera equipment will solve this problem. The pack should also protect your gear so the falls and bumps you encounter won’t severely damage them. Camera specific bags have padding to divide lenses into compartments and they are useful for organization, too. When you don’t have padding, use your clothing. Hats, sweaters, and gloves are excellent clothing items that double as soft pads. Last but not least, make sure nothing inside your pack moves around or can fall out of a loose zipper. Dropping a lens and hearing it crack is one of the worst things a photographer can experience since those can easily cost thousands of dollars to replace.

For quick access to cameras, I like to have a CamelBak worn on my chest that houses the camera and lens. At times it does appear awkward when hiking around, but after the trip is said and done, I am very appreciative that I carry the extra pack. It also has the added benefit of letting you keep snacks and water close at hand during any outing.

As you begin packing your gear for that adventure, do some research to determine what gear to leave behind. There are various websites, like Flickr and 500PX, where you can search and take note of what lenses, ISO, focal length, and aperture other photographers used to create their stunning photos. This is a fantastic way to eliminate camera gear you can do without. Plus, when you are on your adventure, you will have a nice starting place to initialize your camera settings, from which you can make minor adjustments for the specific conditions you are in.

During your photography adventure, document what camera gear you end up using and what you do not, for both yourself and other photographers. You will also be able to write down a few essential camera settings you can use next time.

Remember, there are always going to be exceptions, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you feel an urge to bring a lens or filter, do so. You are the artist behind the camera; only keep in mind with extra gear comes extra weight.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com 

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Bouldering in Bishop

Rock climbing in Happy Boulders in Bishop, CA with Nik, Trevor, and Jill on Sunday, November 6, 2016. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

The time has come for regular climbers to plan their annual fall trips. With Utah getting cold fast, your best bet is to look elsewhere for thrilling climbs. One place I’ve taken to venturing to is Mount Whitney in Bishop, California.

If you have not, Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous 48 states, standing at 14,505 feet, and it is located one hour south of Bishop, California. The drive is long if you’re coming from Salt Lake City, about eight hours if you go through Nevada, so make sure to have some playlists ready. After reaching the Nevada-California border, you’ll begin to see some of the highest mountain peaks in the lower 48. They are crested with white snow and sit atop the horizon. The best place I recommend stopping for food is at Erick Schat’s Bakery for fresh Dutch bread and treats before heading out to the camping spot known as the Pit. Of course, you should make sure you already have supplies for your climbing expedition.

The Pleasant Valley Pit Campground, located 8 miles west of Bishop on Highway 395 is the perfect campground and is relatively inexpensive. The cost will set you back $14 per night with a maximum stay of up to 60 days. That is, if your body can handle that long of a trip. The view from the Pit is stunning. You’ll fall asleep directly under the stars while looking at Mount Tom, which towers over you at 13,652 feet. Most of the fellow campers in the Pit are also climbers looking to either boulder or climb in the Gorge.

Rock climbing in Happy Boulders in Bishop, CA with Nik, Trevor, and Jill on Sunday, November 6, 2016. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

Owens River Gorge, about 11 miles north of the Pleasant Valley Campground, is the perfect place to work sport climbing routes. With over 577 climbing routes, including both sport and traditional, the possibilities are endless. I recommend heading to a few routes in the Holy Trinity crag in the Upper Gorge. Routes range from 5.9 to 5.12 with excellent protection. The routes will almost be shaded from the daytime sun since they run next to the river in the gorge. Pick Pocket, 5.11a, was my favorite route. It is easily noticeable because of the specific chalk holds that have marked the path up to the bolts 60 feet off the ground. Other notable climbs in this area that are a must are Triple Play cliff, great for warm ups, and Gorgeous Towers, awesome crack climbing, especially on Wacked Scenario 5.10b. You will absolutely love this crack.

After you’ve finished climbing in the gorge, head back up to your car and drive north to take a dip in the Crab Cooker hot spring 20 miles northwest. The Crab Cooker is located on your way to Mammoth, a classic California ski resort in the Inyo National Forest. The hot springs have adjustable temperature settings with a wrench to turn the valve. Once you’ve relaxed in the hot spring, head back to camp and catch some shut-eye before bouldering the next day in the Happy Boulders area.

When you wake up the following morning, get a well-rounded breakfast and head due east about 4 miles to the Happy Boulders for another exciting day of climbing. The only bouldering I had done prior to this trip in Bishop, California, was in a Salt Lake City gym. After bouldering outside in Bishop, I finally understand the desire to boulder — it is so much more fun to be outside with friends, climbing on real rock. The thing about bouldering is that there are so many different routes to climb it is unbelievable. In the Happy Boulders area alone, there are 481 marked routes. One climb I would put down for the record books is Monkey Hang V3, which starts out with an unbelievable Gaston hold, a technique where you push against holds instead of pulling on one to gain leverage, and a foot hold. While keeping your hands placed on the starting hold, you swing your body around to latch your feet on the top edge of the boulder. Once they have been placed, carefully reposition your body to mantle (a move where you push and flop like a beached whale) up over the lip to finish the route. You will be breathing heavily after completing this route, but you will feel like a champion once reaching the top.

Rock climbing in Owen’s River Gorge near Bishop, CA with Nik, Trevor, Jill, Felix, and Kristen on Saturday, November 5, 2016. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

As always, climb with friends in case of an emergency, and remember to take the proper equipment such as sun screen, clothing, and food. Document your adventure with a camera and tell others about the awesome area in Bishop. On your drive back home, I suggest stopping by Erick Schat’s Bakery for some cinnamon pull-apart bread to enjoy in celebration.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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Beginners’ guide to skiing and snowboarding

Living in Utah, you should already know that the winter season is a big deal. If you were like me growing up, I never saw the middle school skiing/snowboarding program, Snow Blitz, appealing as a young tween. Wearing layers upon layers of snow attire and falling down a mountainside didn’t sound fun, and the expense was unattainable — until now. Even though I’m interested now, I must warn you, the falling doesn’t stop. Which leads me to the first of many tips when you begin to learn how to ski or snowboard — get used to falling, but before you start falling, you’ll need the gear for it.

Gear

Buying skiing and snowboarding gear right off the bat can be quite the commitment and can start at $600 and easily reach into the thousands.

Luckily, if you’re a student at the University of Utah, you’ll find the cheapest rentals rates in the state at the Student Life Center. Pro tip: you don’t need to be a student to rent from the university, but you can get 20 percent off the already cheap rates if you bring your UID. You can rent a basic skiing and/or snowboarding package, which includes skis/snowboard, bindings, boots, and poles (if skiing). You can also rent a coat and snow pants. The staff is there to help you get fitted, teach you proper gear technique, and you can store all this information for future reference. While the U would be the cheapest and easiest rental place, there are places all over Utah you can rent gear from like Ski N’ See & ARCS, which offers discount lift passes if you rent from them.

What you’ll need:

  • Beanie
  • Helmet
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Coat
  • Snow pants/overalls
  • Layers
  • Boots
  • Bindings
  • Skis/snowboard
  • A snowy mountain

Lift Passes

Lift passes are the other expensive part of this hobby. As a beginner, no one wants to dish out $400+fon a season pass, but it can be pricey paying by day. Brighton Ski Resort is a great place to begin. If you can handle the cold, single day evening passes at Brighton are your best bet. While single full day passes allow you to ride from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and start at approximately about $82, night passes start at about $47, allowing you to ride from 4-9 p.m.

Though it can get rather cold and dark, night riding is a great time to learn since there are less people around. While a seasonal night pass to Brighton Ski Resort is only $319-$419, a seasonal day pass can range from $599 to $750. The best part of Brighton is the promotional offers it runs during the season. You can always find promotional deals on night riding like “2 for 1” rides or a discounted night pass if you bring canned goods during their food drive. Find the entire list of promotional deals on night riding and lessons on the Brighton webpage.To do it right, you need lessons.

Lesson

Once you have your gear and a pass, it’s time to hit the slopes.

If you don’t have a patient enough friend, adult lessons will help develop your skills. While you have the option between group lessons or private, you will learn skills and techniques to help ride more of the mountain while having fun with other riders. Keep in mind; resorts, like Alta, are for skiers only, so instructors may not know how to teach you how to snowboard. While lessons can range from $50 to $100+, Brighton offers the cheapest skiing/snowboarding lessons starting at $55 for a night lesson. Remember, safety first. I highly suggest not trying to teach yourself how to ski or snowboard as it can be fairly dangerous without proper skills and technique.

Tips

  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else on the slopes.
  • Helmets are cool; wear one.
  • Skiers, don’t cross your tips.
  • Always keep your knees bent, but not too bent.
  • Wear proper winter clothing. Do not wear cotton (it absorbs and holds water, making you colder).
  • Save money on gas by using your pass as a ticket for public transportation.
  • Snowboarders, there are such things as butt pads.
  • Look for promotional deals.
  • Bandanas/masks make a big difference in keeping warm.
  • Your boots should be snug, but still have enough room for when your feet swell.
  • Have fun, but safety first.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Skipping School for Skiing

Ski run at Alta Ski Resort. Photo by Samira Guirguis.

“There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream/The earth, and every common sight/To me did seem/Appareled in celestial light/The glory and the freshness of a dream.”

These words by William Wordsworth describe the moments I look forward to. Moments when the pull of snow on the mountain tempts me into skiing down runs filled with fresh powder, or moments when I survey the world from the top of a red, rocky cliff I traversed by digging my hands into its cracks and crevices. These moments in nature capture what it truly means to be present, alive, and at the same time, these moments continually force me to fight against the concept of time or obligations like school or work. The need to feel free and to experience living on my own is why I chose to forgo college for the spring semester at the University of Utah and decided to live and work the winter at Alta’s Rustler Lodge in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Ski communities harbor the nomadic people of our world — the ones who have not paved a steady path for themselves, choosing to live out of cars or tents, working odd jobs in different states in order to embrace nature through skiing or rock climbing. It’s hard not to pass judgment when the entirety of your life can be packed into a beat-up Toyota, but this was the norm for the employees at Rustler Lodge. While some in society might see these people as vagrants, it was difficult for me not to be enamored by their carefree lifestyle and the exciting stories they told in the evenings in the employee dining room. These were the people I would spend every skiing and working moment with for an entire season.

I loved the feeling of my beacon pressed against my side, cheeks rosy from the cold, nose numb. Each trip like a mini expedition filled with risks and careful decisions; a dumb choice could trigger an avalanche, thus ending a person’s life. But working at Rustler Lodge provided more than endless skiing. I got my first steady paycheck and mastered working in the kitchen of a busy resort restaurant. I learned how to live on my own and negotiate the drama created by tight quarters. When the snow melted, signaling the end of the season and work at Alta, everyone began to pack for their next adventure. Some wanted me to come with them. “School isn’t the only way to get an education,” I recall one guy saying who is currently hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep,/And miles to go before I sleep,” words from Robert Frost. I loved my winter in the mountains, and as I sit at my computer typing an article for Wasatch Magazine, it is obvious that I chose to return to the apparent normalcy of schedules and deadlines rather than live a carefree lifestyle in nature. I want to be a journalist, which means I will have a goal that requires me to go to school and master certain skills that will enable me to be a successful reporter. In the future, I know I will experience the world by taking the path less traveled, but this doesn’t mean we can’t have a semester off. Or if you’re scared you might get behind in school, you can always take spring off and go back for the summer semester. We live in a state where we have easy access to world class ski areas that offer live-in positions like Rustler Lodge.

Rustler Lodge, Alta Peruvian, Alta’s Goldminer’s Daughter, Snowbird, Solitude, and Deer Valley is a short list of resorts, which offer a range of jobs from working as ski instructors to cooking in busy restaurants. Take advantage of the fact that we have access to these canyons and make the most of it. November is when you should start applying for these jobs, and the fall colors of Little Cottonwood Canyon make the drive to apply.

s.guiguirs@wasatchmag.com

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