When: July 17th – July 18th, 2011
Where: Eagle’s Nest Wilderness, Peak C, Upper Piney River Trail (TOPO MAP LINK)
Caitlin and I decided to add a little fun overnight backpacking trip onto a busy weekend. After going to a quick wedding reception in Frisco we headed over to Vail to embark on a short overnight backpacking trip. After driving down a very long dirt road (which uses the Red and White trailhead that we snowmobile in the winter) we finally reached the Upper Piney Lake Trailhead. Immediately we were greeted by a pretty nasty evening rainstorm which we decided to wait out in the car (and only took about 30 mins).
It quickly turned into a beautiful evening and as we started putting our packs on we were startled when two hudge BULL MOOSE popped-out of the brush 50 yards from us at the parking lot. Of course I had to get some photos of this incredibly rare occurrence (I have only seen moose in Colorado from a very far distance). Moose enjoying the tasty-treats:
Of course I wanted to get as close as possible and luckily we were down-wind from them. I sneaked over to an area with some thicker trees and tried to get as close as possible knowing that these animals are incredibly dangerous. I got this shot through the dense brush:
Right after I took that photo a jeep coming down the road saw them, slammed on their brakes and started taking photos as well. A group of car-campers nearby that were behind a small hill heard the commotion and joined in on the moose watching. I suddenly found myself in close proximity to two potentially dangerous creatures as the tensions quickly increased. The big guy looked around and gave me the stink-eye so I high tailed it out of there before he could test those hooves on me. Unfortunately the two never posed together but you can see both of them in this photo:
Moose distraction aside we started our hike in on an relatively easy trail with incredible views of the valley in front of us.
Caitlin measuring up against the local flauna:
Andy checking out the beautiful Peak C (Rough-rider Couilor is just visible on the notch to the right of the peak) We ran into a group that skied it on Sunday:
We backpacked in a few miles since the sun was setting quickly. Set-up camp and had a great cooking area overlooking two different valley’s. The next morning we got up and hiked around the area up the side of the mountain next to peak C. There are not really any trails in the area (and the ones there are poorly marked as we found ourselves somewhat misplaced).
We were camped at the bottom of this valley. To the Right is where the Trailhead for the Upper Piney is and a very large valley. In front of us in the valley is where the trail continues to Upper Piney Lake (which we missed this trail the night before). On the otherside of the peaks on the left is East Vail. The clouds made it hard to get a solid photo.
After watching the clouds build for a couple of hours a quick moving rainstorm scared us back down to the campsite where we got back just as the weather unleashed for 20-30 mins. Then it was back to clear skies and an awesome hike back to the car.
Beautiful valley views on the way back to the car:
Caitlin and I almost back to the car:
A view of the “Rip Saw” ridge from the road on the drive out:
Nice to get away!
Link to the full post: http://andylibrande.com/news/2011/08/backpacking-in-the-eagles-nest-wilderness-peak-c/
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/
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….
Date: September 18th, 2010
What: The wedding of our good friends: Trent and Bethany!!!
So three month’s later here are a couple of the better pics from the wedding night. Essentially just a sample of the nearly 400 photos that I took that night.
Congrats Trent and Bethany!!!
Jake and Annie:
Dan and Cara:
Ian and Brooke:
Caitlin, Annie, Liz:
A bunch of people:
Trent and Bethany’s first dance (under the stars non the less)!!!
Duncan, Ryan, Ilham, John:
Kate and Christian:
Rod and Maryann:
Some really creepy looking dude that crashed the party:
The next day Caitlin, Jake, Annie, and I all headed over to Minturn to do some bouldering in the aspen forests. Along the way we saw some of the best fall colors I have ever seen:
Teva Mountain Games
Spent a weekend hanging out at the Teva Mountain Games up in Vail June 5-6th with Caitlin and ran into a bunch of friends that were up there as well so it was a lot of fun (Andrew, Whitney, Ben, Beth, Terra). This is the second time I have been to the games (first time documented here), so it was good to be back to check out some of the fun events with highlights being the in-town Kayak events and the Bouldering competition; compared to the last time I went there the events were good but the timing of certain events overlapped while at other times there was a huge space of time where nothing was really going on. Regardless it is still an awesome event which everyone should check out.
The coolest part about the games was the water-levels on the Gore Creek running through town were just insane with the CFS nearing doubling during the day on Saturday (what I heard from 1700 CFS in the morning to nearly 3000 that night!). The water was so high on Sunday that they had to cancel the events mainly due to the huge amount of debris floating down-river. Anyways we were lucky to witness some pros hitting the creek that night at some of its highest flows on Sat night.
We literally watched full trees come down the river as it hit 20 year highs:
Here is a picture of how crazy flooded it was that afternoon (seriously up 3ft from the morning):
Watched the 3rd Annual World Bouldering Cup held in the US. Always fun to watch top climbers hitting a wall that is nice and tall. Also really cool to see how many people come and watch this event, easily the most watched event at the games.
Really cool features that they mounted to the climbing wall:
Bouldering at the Kluttergarden
On Sunday of that weekend hit up the beautiful Kluttergarden up near Red Cliff, CO. I had only been there once before (awesome trip documented here), so I was really excited to get back-up there again to play on these beautiful boulders.
We meet up with Terra and her roommate and the four of us enjoyed several different problems on just one boulder. The place was also insanely busy but everyone we ran into was pretty laid-back and we still had this boulder to ourselves for most of the day.
Here Caitlin sends a fun little variation that she found:
This climb I am working is on the same boulder and is a cool traverse with a hard lip to try to top-out on.
Then we headed back to vail for a late lunch and to clean-up all of the give-aways at all of the booths
If you are following from some sort of feed all of my posts can be found here: http://andylibrande.com/news/
“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/
Well I jacked-up my main computer with a virus that makes Adolf Hitler seem like an adorable little kitten. Therefore I have been slacking on an insane scale with my website updates.
We have had some really nice days skiing in the last month or so (finally!) and here are a few quick ones to hold you over until I can get my ass in gear and get around 1,000 photos (about 5GB’s) uploaded and processed.
Deep turns at Montezuma by Trent (March 6th, 2010):
Jim Donovan taking a nice smooth entry (March 6th, 2010):
Caitlin cruising some nice turns (March 28th, 2010: ):
Beautiful Montezuma during a late afternoon windstorm (March 28th, 2010):
Well that’s it for the moment and more will be on the way.
If you are following from a feed here is the permalink: http://andylibrande.com/news/2010/03/quick-winter-teaser/