June 29, 2008:
Yesterday was the real start of summer in the PNW, with a record-tying 91 degree day in Seattle on the books. Seemed like the perfect day for me and about 300 close friends to make the hike to Camp Muir and get above the heat for a few hours, which turned out to be a great plan. Temps were in the 70's at Muir, skinning starts right from the parking lot, and the visibility was incredible. On the upper snowfield, suncup season is starting, but there's great corn from about 8,500 ft. down. If you stick to the main route, there are currently three "dismounts" mid-mountain, including a fairly long walk across the Pan Point traverse, but clear sailing from there down to the newly refurbished Paradise Inn.
The lead story in Tuesday's edition of the Seattle Post Intelligencer (yes, more important even than Bill Gates' pending retirement) was a piece about the successful search for the bodies of missing snowboarders Kevin Carter, Devlin Williams, and Phillip Hollins, who had failed to return from a backcountry snowboarding trip near Crystal Mountain in December and were presumed dead.
The article detailed the efforts of Chris "Scotsman" Willis, who had spearheaded the search party "organization" by posting on http://www.turns-all-year.com, and had quickly gathered a group of willing volunteers and set a time and place to meet. The author was impressed with how efficiently the search effort was able to operate with seemingly no clear leader or supervising entity.
Local BC skiers Joe "Joedabaker" Schaaf, who had been among the last people to see the three alive, and Lowell Skoog, who had intimate knowledge of the intended search area, were quick to lend their expertise, and the group was able to locate a corner of a tent (actually a bivy sack) almost immediately upon arriving at the search site. This lead to uncovering the bodies of all three men, who had apparently been camped at the site when an avalanche hit them.
Joe later offered to go live on KIRO 710's "The Ron and Don Show" with his account of the search operation, which you can listen to here. Joe does a great job of representing the backcountry sliding community and helping make the "code" of the BC understandable to newcomers. As we all know, anyone willing to hike for hours to enjoy a few minutes of sliding on snow is not exactly a stranger, even if we've never met them. They're just an introduction away from being a best friend. And all of us who ski in the backcountry know in our hearts that our friends would come out to look for us if we were the ones to perish.
June 23, 2008:
Not much time for skiing this month, with graduations, parties, and bike races to attend.
My son Nicholas finished his undergraduate studies at Seattle University, and we all attended the ceremonies at Qwest Field. The commencement was quite enjoyable, as we actually saw Nick walk out on the field and heard them read his name. This in contrast with the previous day's commencement at the University of Washington (yes, we sat through both, this one for Nick's girlfriend Andrea), where the process seemed to go on forever, and they only read the names of the doctoral candidates. Keynote speaker Quincy Jones was cool, though.
We do a lot of cycling in our family, too.
As I like to point out, all the skiers bike and almost all of the bikers ski. Seth Davis' 31st birthday ride was a lot of fun - we cruised south through Maple Valley with an assortment of skiers and retired bike racers, and I threw in an extra 30 miles to bump the total over 100 for the day. I've also been helping my son Jordan with his equipment and race strategy in his first year of bike racing; he's had solid results in the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference, racing for the University of Washington, and lots of top-ten finishes in Cat. 5 before moving up to Cat. 4. Unfortunately, he and his teammate were involved in a huge crash at the finish of the state championship criterium in Olympia last Sunday, resulting in lots of road rash and a trashed frameset.
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"Incoming" covers developments that have personal interest to me (ie. gear I might consider acquiring, or events I feel may impact the sport of skiing) - it is by no means meant to be a comprehensive enumeration of gear or events in the ski world at large. Feel free to contact me via the randosaigai.com link below with news or images that may be of interest . . .
© 2008 Gregory C. Louie