When: Jan 28th, 2015 thru Feb 2nd, 2015
Who: Andy+Caitlin (we celebrated Caitlin’s B-day on this trip!!)
- Fly from Seattle to Denver
- Rent Car and Drive the Amazing Pacific Highway
- 3 Days of Skiing at Whistler/Blackcomb
- Hiking to several waterfalls in the area:
- Afternoon, Evening and quick morning in Vancouver
The skiing was nothing exciting as Whistler area/Pacific Northwest had been under quite the unusual snow-drought. The best snow was usually around 3pm every afternoon as at that time it had warmed-up just enough to soften, unfortunately the resort closes shortly after that. Skiing outside of groomed runs was not possible due to the hard-pack snow-ice (something I have not really experienced before!), but luckily we were greeted with beautiful skies that allowed us to soak in the landscape views of this amazing place.
Shannon Falls at Squamish, BC was a perfect pit-stop along the Sea to Sky Highway:
Whistler was a lot of fun and we ate a lot of great food such as Sushi, Australian Meat pies (with kangroo!), brown-sugar glazed smoked salmon bits from the grocery store, and numerous other delicacies. At the time the Canadian Dollar was about 20% less than USD and allowed us to continue to indulge in nice restaurants since everything about 20% off!!
It was the Whistler PRIDE festival while we were there and really the best part of that was meeting an very eclectic group of people every night at the hot-tub. Otherwise it was not really crowded.
Morning Hike on the Trainwreck Trail in Whistler:
After realizing we couldn’t really ski before 11am due to the hard-icy conditions we started looking for other activities. We were looking online for other outdoor activities and found a unique looking trail that seemed to be low enough in the valley to be relatively snow free. Granted these trails are supposed to be buried under snow this time of year we instead encountered mostly dry paths that you would expect in early fall or late spring.
Hiking into the Trainwreck area on dirt (eerily missing any snow):
After a short hike we made it to the Train Wreck which is literally just a bunch of trains that had derailed a long time ago, fell down the hill, and now are overgrown with trees, lichen, and graffiti.
A waterfall was also along the hike making a quick pitstop on the way back. We had started early in the day and on the way back ran into a number of groups also making this hike. Luckily for us we had the place to ourselves.
After skiing one day we noticed the sunset was looking pretty and headed-out to a better vantage point to soak in the colors:
Brandywine Falls Hike in the Winter:
We had looked at the internet to see if this was possible due to the low snow, people had pictures of years past with 15-20 ft snowdrifts covering the entrance to the park. Instead we found pavement and dirt trails. Short hike to a really cool formed waterfall which is tough to photograph.
The drive back down the Sea to Sky highway reminds you of the quickly changing weather. This sign was in front of a beautiful mountain range on the way into Whistler and now you have no idea.
An Afternoon Stroll at Stanley Park, eating Sushi for Dinner, drinks in Gastown and eating breakfast in Chinatown:
In less than 24 hours we had a taste of Vancouver. Our first stop was the majestic Stanley Park with it’s beautiful seaboard trail and incredible trail through the thick forest.
The Seaboard Walking Trail is peaceful and Beautiful:
It is hard to walk by this tree’s like this and not hug give it a giant hug:
Moss Covered Trees:
We had meet-up with a friend of Caitlin’s who was living in the city and she took us to one of her favorite neighborhood sushi places. It was amazing. We followed that up by a walk to the Gas Lamp district where we cozied up for some well crafted cocktails at the Pour House. The morning was brief but allowed us a few mins to grab delicious buns from China Town and enough time to quickly walk through the area seeing several cool shops and a traditional chinese garden. Great way to end the trip!!
Who: Vinny E., Andrew M., and Myself meeting up with RAMBO
Where: Ouray Colorado
When: Jan 6th-8th, 2012
Last minute Vinny rounded me up and we headed down to Ouray to ice-climb and stay at Rambo’s house who has been living there for the past year doing AmeriCorps for the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership. We left Denver after work and had a nice night drive all the way to Rambo’s awesome house.
The next morning we geared-up, checked out the Ice Festival and then headed to the New Funtier area. The Ice Festival was way cooler then we were expecting as they have a bunch of free gear demos and clinics; I demo’d a new harness since mine is getting old. Andrew leading the first route of the day:
Lots of people were out that day and with the Ice in the river not being very solid we saw a lot of people punch through. At one point Rambo had to pull some foreigner out of the river (nipples deep) and convince him that he needed to go back down the valley. Vinny leading another one:
The snow picked up quite a bit towards the end of the day. Here is just one of the many climbers in the area that day:
That night we cooked dinner, hit up the hot springs and were hanging out when a huge snowstorm blew through town dumping 6-8 inches in less then two hours. So naturally we decided to tie a rope to a car and pull each other through the side-roads of Ouray at midnight. Rambo’s shit-eating grin just gives an idea of how awesome this was:
Next morning was glorious!
We climbed right at the main competition area the next day right below the main (upper) bridge. Lots of people from all over the place.
Mt Sherman on the drive out:
Always a good time in Ouray!
This year served up two completely different and incredible closing days. Vail’s closing weekend was April 24th and was completed with a condo in downtown vail, music, friends, family and two days of fresh powder!!!?!! Easily the best snow on a closing day I have ever seen (and it seemed appropriate considering I was there for Vail’s opening day which delivered deep fresh powder all the way back on November 19th).
Flash forward 72 days later and it is finally time for A-Basin’s closing day. Now A-basin has only been open four other times on 4th of July and the last time they were open this late was 1997. So odds of seeing another 4th of July ski day at a resort is fairly low and we had to make the most of it. So we had a lot of fun.
We got there just after 10pm. Virtually every parking lot was full to our surprise. Costumes on, time to celebrate:
Apparently we weren’t the only ones here to celebrate AMERICA!!!:
Best part about the wait in the ski line was throwing snowballs at people on the ski lifts. These 3 girls all wearing bikinis got dominated. If you look closely a snowball just ricochet off one of the girl’s faces…awesome.
Watching pond-skimming at the top of A-Basin:
The normal pond-skimming place was melted-out and luckily a new pond formed. I have never seen it form in this location before. The steep and abrupt entry made for some spectacular crashes. Here the crowd enjoys the views:
Clowns are horrible pond-skimmers:
People were yelling “AMERICA!!!” all day long and for good reasons! Here Caitlin gives the lift-line a demonstration in mogul skiing via bikini on surprisingly good snow:
If you fall while pond-skimming you nearly freeze in the 32 degree water and overcast sky. To make matters worse a little kid comes along and throws snowballs at your face as you are trying to climb out of the freezing water. This girl gets the worse of it as the crowd cheered the little kid on:
I Love America!!! Seriously it kicks ass.
Not all closing days are the same and this season provided two of the most unique and incredible days anyone could ask for.
Link to full post: http://andylibrande.com/news/2011/08/4th-of-july-skiing-at-a-basin/
Synopsis: We secured funding through a variety of grants to complete a quest that was so epic that the likes of Powder, Outside and other magazines were too scared to even cover this ground-breaking trek into the unknown.
Date of Ascent: February 19th, 2011
Expedition Team: Gathered from around the world each specialized in specific skills:
- Trent from Oklahoma. Specialty is eating spicy foods.
- Tweak from Virginia. Specialty is not picking up girls at the bar.
- Caitlin from Minnesota. Specialty is pretending to be blond.
- Bethany from lots of places. Specialty is dog handler.
- Arthur from England. Specialty is being English.
- Danielle pretending to be from England. Specialty is withstanding English humor.
- Mike from an unknown location. Specialty is surprising people.
- Andy from Colorado. Specialty is talking about how awesome he is.
Expedition Map (click for Larger): Below is the specialized satellite photo that we received from NASA of the basecamp. They were our only sponsors and provided us with instantaneous views of the changing weather, erupting volcanoes, and movements of the native (and extremely hostile!) tribes.
Interactive Expedition Map (click for Larger): http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=203858300141676234019.00049e9d29873c006d6dd&ll=39.628045,-106.077688&spn=0.006445,0.013733&t=e&z=17&ecpose=39.63537586,-106.07009034,3258.7,-141.401,61.105,0
Expedition Video: Brain Farm Cinema was on hand filming the expedition using a number of their highly specialized (and retardly expensive) cameras including the CineFlex. One of the crew members had to hike nearly 28,000 vertical feet with a 27 lb camera attached to their helmet to get this awesome POV footage.
Select Photos from the Expedition:
Skiing the Icy 70+degree couilor:
View of the vast untamed wilderness that surrounds this 45,000 ft peak:
On the twelfth day this Ferocious Beast (which I believe is a Yeti?) nearly killed every expedition member and managed to eat most of our dwindling supplies:
I hope all of you take this serious…
Link to Original Post: http://andylibrande.com/news/2011/05/sick-gnar-hidden-backcountry-spot/
Most of the resort season just ended this past weekend (April 24th)with record breaking snowfall (Vail 524″). This huge amount of snow kept us mostly in or around the resorts and as a result had less backcountry skiing days then expected.
Regardless when we got out it was awesome.
A perfect day in Montezuma 2/27/2011 with Trent, Tweak, Caitlin and myself with no one around.
The Cornices were crazy that day and a number of the normal lines we were unable to do due to the potential danger of releasing one of those bad boys. Trent wanted to ski “Baby Notch” and the way in required some serious hacking to make the cornice doable (there has never been a cornice in this line for the last 3-4 years):
Caitlin picked out a sweet line that is rarely covered in snow. Here she is trying to get lined-up and making sure that small wind-lip is nothing to be worried about:
Caitlin going fast through the line and onto the open snow-field:
Tweak crushing it in “Little Chute”:
Days like this make this place the best.
This snow-season has treated me pretty damn well. The season started off right with a full-blown powder day at Vail’s opening day…easily one of the best days I have ever skied Vail due to a combination of great powder everywhere, zero crowds, and so many runs that I couldn’t move the next day. Since then we have had a lot of snow and a lot of adventures. However I have lacked in my photos since I normally do not take my camera with me to the resorts/side-country.
Here is a sampling of what has taken place:
A-Basin Sidecountry Scott Miller Sequence:
Tweak eating some powder:
Matt (which is Evan and Monica’s kid) is killing it in the park this year:
Big Air Competition Downtown Denver:
Pretty cool event but as with most ski competitions they get somewhat boring unless you are standing right there (ie on the side of a halfpipe or right where the landing is). The structure they built was fricking awesome and it would have been a lot of fun to be in the comp.
Luckily our buddy Brian hooked us up with a phenomenal viewing location on top of the Denver Post building that overlooks Civic Center park. Great spot to hang out with friends and see something new in Denver. Damn the post building is sick.
Had a crew of people meet up in Crested Butte for a weekend of great snow and our buddy Jake’s B-Day. It dumped all day on Saturday and we had bluebird all day sunday with loads of snow everywhere. I focused on riding all weekend so no camera patrol but had way too much fun at the best ski mountain and town in Colorado. Still in my opinion the best mountain town in Colorado (see what it is like in the summer)
Yes we had some good snow (and scary cornices) in Zuma. Here is just a taste of the usual awesomeness this place provides:
More Adventures to Come!!!
Link to full-post here: http://andylibrande.com/news/2011/04/random-snow-adventures/
What: Ice Climbing in Ouray Colorado
When: Feb 11th-13th, 2011
Who: Andrew G, Hoof-Cakes, Caitlin, Brain G, Myself, meeting up with Vinny, Sarah, Andrew M, and some other dude’s whose names I haphazardly forgotten…yeah we had a crew.
Reasons why Ice-Climbing in Ouray is the shizzle:
- Gear: Nothing like playing with sharp-pointy Ice Axes all day
- Technique: The better at hitting/kicking you are the more fun you will have
- Location: Comparing Ouray to the rest of Colorado is like comparing a Salema Hayek to Rosie O’Donnell
- Ice Park: Huge area, easy access, plenty of climbs and beautiful things to look at. I am always impressed when I visit here. Plus you walk from the Motel to the ice-park.
- Ice: Unreal formations everywhere.
- Food: Classic Mexican at Buen Tiempo and a new favorite at Mouse’s Chocolates
- Hot Tub at the Victorian Inn: Best views from any hot-tub I have ever gotten drunk in (here is an idea picture)
- Not Driving on I-70: Well technically you can get here via I-70 but why would anyone want to drive on that road. Instead we enjoyed ~5.5 hours of scenic roadways and saw a incredible sunset over Monarch Pass
Yes. I was pleasantly surprised with how awesome our trip to Ouray turned-out. First off Ouray seems like a little bump in the road on the way to bigger and better things (ie Silverton, Durango, etc); however you only appreciate this town when you have spent some time here.
This is my third Ice adventure to this town with the previous two being on commercially guided trips with the DU Alpine Club back in college. Those were a lot of fun but this time was able to piggy-back on some friends with a bunch of Ice-climbing equipment and were able to explore on our own.
First day was spent at the New Funtier Area. Good area that has a number of concentrated climbs in a narrow canyon.
Vinny leading up some thin ice:
Whitney posing for the camera:
Andrew G. showing us how it is done on a sketchy pillar at the end of the day:
The second day we headed to the excellent South Park area which is much further in the canyon, however the actually area is in a wide-section of the river and makes for a nice place to hang-out and watch climbs.
Amazingly a Bighorn Sheep crossed under the canyon when we were setting-up the climbs. They hung out above us all day too:
Caitlin after cruising through the tough part:
Brian making his mom proud:
Andrew M. doing some leading on beautiful ice:
Andy L. (myself) up on the right with Vinny quickly catching-up:
For the original post please visit: http://andylibrande.com/news/2011/03/ice-ice-baby/
Updates have been slow as I have been trying to fix my main computer over the last month or so…luckily I am getting close!!!
This doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a hell of a busy winter. Plenty of days out riding great snow, ice-climbing, and other shenanigans has made the time go by quick.
Here is some eye candy to hold you over:
Caitlin in the side-country at A-Basin:
More to come….
Below is a slideshow showing some of my favorite photos from 2010. 2010 was a pretty good year with a number of really cool trips to new locations and old favorites. Hope you enjoy:
If you are following from a feed please follow this link for the full post: http://andylibrande.com/news/2011/01/some-favorites-from-2010/
“Through sight, the colors may be seen, but too much color blinds us.
Apprehending the tones of sound, too much sound might make us deaf, and too much flavor deadens taste.
When hunting for sport, and chasing for pleasure, the mind easily becomes perplexed.
He who collects treasures for himself more easily becomes anxious. The wise person fulfills his needs, rather than sensory temptations.”
– Ancient Taoism Saying
A Season in Review:
Evan Looking Over Steeps at Zuma – March 6th 2010:
Snow is something that I have a hard time describing in words. Of everything that I have ever done in my life when a deep powder day or an backcountry adventure happens, I am never feel the rush of emotions that I do then. The emotions of excited/stoked/nervous/giddy/terrified/anxious/happy is rarely as strong in anything else as I am when I am in there in the moment.
Due to the nature of snow being so dependent on the weather, when the mountains open-up and give us their glory it is truly a wonderful sight.
Skiing powder gives you a feeling of being connected to the elements in an absolute manner; a union where skier and snow are truly meant to be. Deep powder is the epitome of weather dependency and due to its scarcity one desires it more than anything else.
Evan Dropping into Steeps at Zuma – March 6th 2010:
Skiing aggressive lines makes you humble to the powers of mother nature. Putting yourself in situations where you are nervous is good for ones soul; it allows you to calculate a risk that too few in humanity due today. It allows you to understand your limitations and the limitations of mother nature. The beauty in these situations is that there is rarely a margin of error; you either pass or fail.
Trent at the Bottom of Big Chute, Zuma – March 6th 2010:
The sheer ecstasy that can come over one in the mountains in these situations is one to make you desire more than you need. Is one that leads to your vision being clouded and poor judgment being made…..
Unfortunately this winter season started as the worst season of snow that I can remember since I really started caring about powder days 6 years ago. This is precisely why I included the above Ancient Taoist Saying as a way to ground the experience as a way to help provide insight into how to” fulfill your needs” and not “your sensory temptations”.
Tweak About to Get Slapped with a Little Dose of Reality – Baby Notch, Zuma – March 6th, 2010
Tweak hidden somewhere in that powder cloud. After being swept over those small rocks he was luckily unharmed and able to enjoy the rest of the run:
Finding powder in January and February was a activity that lead us into several challenging situations. In early January we skied the popular mellow side-country at A-Basin called the Beavers (no photos) and encountered some of the most intense moments of poor snow-pack I have ever seen. A learning experience in that even the “safe” areas can be deadly. Large sluff slides were also a concern throughout the year as though they seem minor, they can easily turn on you.
Caitlin Checking her Equipment before the BC Action Begins – March 6th, 2010
Even building the backyard park at Trent’s house was a major challenge as the snow fall never accumulated enough to enjoy it as we had previously enjoyed it.
Trent Hitting his Backyard Park Moments before Ellie (the dog) took him out and my Flash (RIP)
Playing with the Light since the Flash is broken – Evan:
Being anxious was something that ran through all of our veins at one point during the winter. Struggling to be satisfied due to such a successful prior winter (evidence here, here, here, here), we had to accept the change and make the best of it.
“Temperatures will rise and fall. Winds will shift. Leaves will drop and buds will form. And with every transition new beginnings will be revealed.”
March things become much better:
Jay Slaying at the Bottom of Steeps, Zuma – March 6th, 2010
Andy (me) Checking out Cone 3 – March 6th, 2010
Several days not documented here completed a winter that had fulfilled my needs. It is almost time to transition to the next season in the Rocky Mountains and a time to day-dream about the past adventures.
Scott Trying to Find the Soft Stuff – March 13th, 2010:
Tweak About to go a lot bigger than he realizes (hehe) – March 6th, 2010:
Trent Hitting the First Zuma Line of the Year in Little Chute – March 6th, 2010:
Video of the Small Sluff-Slide that Tweak was in the Above Photos. I was taking photos and you can hear my camera clicks an align them with the video:
The Wilds of Mother Nature – Afternoon Windstorm Re-purposing the Powder:
Good times were had this season (and if these late April/May storms keep up may continue!). We were granted enough to be satisfied and as we transition into the next season, we will remember the good days and look forward to future adventures.
If you are following from some sort of feed all of my posts can be found here: http://andylibrande.com/news/