No matter what the conditions, the Visit Salt Lake Shootout produces incredible images every year.
It is also one of my favorite events of the season. This was my third Shootout and this year I teamed up with Mike Schirf, Marcus Caston, and Ty Peterson to attack the Wasatch.
The Shootout is a photo competition where each team shoots at Snowbird, Solitude, Alta, and Brighton. At the end of the four days, two photos from each resort are submitted to the judges (8 photos total). The portfolios are judged on their overall images, but athlete’s also get to pick their favorite image from the week and submit them to the Athlete’s Pick category. It’s a great way to see the best of the Wasatch.
In previous years, my teams have worked around the clock. From 5:30 dawn patrols to night pow flash photography, there is no limit to the hours we may ski in a day. This year, Mike strategized to work hard when the light and snow called for it, but relax a little when the elements were not coming together. I think his strategy paid off; we placed 2nd overall and took second and third for the Athlete’s Pick photos. Plus, I still had enough energy the day after the shootout to ski the Hallway in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Winning!
The final category was the #visitsaltlake Instagram contest which was open to athlete’s only. I may have been accused of #overgramming (ahhem Jeff Brines) but lucky I came away a winner for all my hard work!
This year marks a different Christmas for me. It’s the first time I won’t spend it with either mine or Jamon’s family, and it’s left me a little bit sad. Christmas with my family is all about the food. My mum spends weeks prepping sides, making mince pies, and planning our meal. There are staples every year, like her delicious green beans with lemon zest and slivered almonds, but we also play with new recipes each season as well. Two years ago we braised the lamb we bought from a local farmer that my stepdad affectionately named Sally. She was delicious.
It’s been quite the seasons for changes; new job, new town, new friends, newly single. At times it’s been incredible overwhelming and I’ve found myself acting in ways that are totally out of character. I’ve lost touch with some of the things that mean the most to me, like my health and partaking in far too much socializing. At times I’ve missed the security of SLC. I’ve missed my incredible network of girlfriends, my cozy apartment with Amy, the routine and support of a relationship. I’ve missed my connection with the kitchen and the community at SLC Crossfit. I’ve spent too much time dwelling on the things I’ve missed.
It’s time to start new traditions, with the new wonderful friends I’ve made in Jackson. True, some of them I’ve known for decades (I didn’t know that was possible, but apparently I’m old enough for that to happen now), and some I’ve know for three weeks. But the people I have in my life day to day are beautiful, compassionate, excited people. They love to play outside, to discover new things, eat delicious food, just live. This is a lesson I lost sight of in SLC, working from a desk day to day, that I want to be reminded to constantly in my new life.
Christmas this year is still a little up in the air, but one thing is for sure, I will be enjoying some delicious mince pies my mum posted to me, skiing with new friends, and smiling.
It’s been awhile since I got out of my safety bubble. It’s not that I don’t scare myself on skis, I ski exposed lines where my heart is in my throat, or climb scary routes, but none of these require air awareness. It’s a skill I’ve always lacked. Back in the days of skiing half-pipe, I watched my friends and fellow competitors gracefully spin and twist through the air, just before I’d catch and edge and land face first in the bottom on the pipe. Those aren’t my proudest memories.
The UOP was my chance to put myself back out there, whiplash and all, to jump, flip, and spin again. I wanted get my confidence back with tricks I haven’t attempted in at least three years. While I may not be sending backflips the very first of the season, I’m excited to get out there and jump again this year!
Thanks to Mountain Athlete for sending the freeride team to the UOP! I’m a technical person, and the guidance of a coach is invaluable to my progress!
Taken from the Mountain Athlete website, read the full piece there!
Fear and Flipping in Park City
“Sometimes the best thing to do is just do it. When my athletes are trying a new trick, I never give them any direction the first time. I just tell them to try,” Coach Tony told me. This was completely opposite from how I’d ever learned a new trick. I meticulously study where to spot, where my hips go and where I put my hands, before I ever try anything new. “Just throw your arms in front like you’re throwing a basketball. You’ll get it.”
At the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation facility in Park City, Utah, I stood at the top of the water ramp, procrastinating my first front-flip attempt. I allowed Hadley, then Monica, then Tess to jump in line before me as I stared at the ramp, the pool, and the sky. My teeth chattered in the cool breeze and I thought about everything that could go wrong.
Coach Shaul interviewed Hadley and I about our gear choices for our Teton trip:
My Gearlist Essentials:
Ice axe, whippit, and crampons were leant to me by Adam Riser, Thank you so much for the sponsorship, it would not have been possible to get up either couloir without these tools! Definitely on the market to increase my toolbox….
When coach suggested that Hadley and I do a little experiment between Gu and Hammer Gel during our trip in the Tetons two weeks ago. I wasn’t exactly excited by the prospect. This should come as a surprise, I love food. I know. Weird right?
Nothing but Gu during the duration of the approach, skin, and ski. Follow the directions for consumption (how much, how often, and followed by water), and eat a good meal after we ski West Hourglass. Repeat the following day but use Hammer Gel instead.
Heading into the backcountry to ski spring/summer conditions, with a brand new partner, in a mountain range you’ve never entered is a generally a bad idea. Climbing and skiing partnerships are earned not forced. Hadley and I haven’t known each other long. We’re both Marmot athletes, but last weekend’s adventure in Teton National Park was our first. We’ve been training together at Mountain Athlete, which has given us the opportunity to see each other’s physical and mental strengths. Our assignment from Coach Shaul was one of teambuilding, mountain awareness, and orientation. He sent us into Teton National Park to ski West Hourglass one day, camp at the Platforms, and ski the Middle Teton the next.
Whenever I say I’m going home, my friends always laugh at me. “Home?” They say. “Which home?”
Where exactly is home? Is it where you grew up? Where you’re parents are? Is it where you just moved t0 or where you came from? Is it just a physical location or an emotional location too? Sure, the house I lived in in college was technically my home, I slept there every night. But did it really feel like home?
Well, that went by in a hurry, one moment I’m skinning up the Argentierre Glacier with Crystal, Brian, and Ashley, the next I’m packing my car and moving to Jackson. Phew, I’m glad I’m settled in one bed with my suitcase unpacked.
After our adventure on the Rhone Glacier, we had more down days due to weather and warm temps. We filled in the time with laps on the Grand Montets, attempted to skin around Faverge in gail force winds with scary slides on the steeper slopes, and went to the gym for some moderate work capacity sessions. But then, the sun broke, one more time. It was our last Thursday in the valley, three days before departure, and the clouds parted just long enough for a big (ish) adventure.
The top Tram at Grand Montets was closed again due to high winds, so we rode up as far as we could before skiing the last few hundred feet to the saddle. We chased the Norwegian Nordic Team boys that we had met a couple night before. Needless to say, they were speedy, even with their massive packs for 8 days on the Haute Route. Remind me to leave the uphill cardio to the kids who do that professionally.
The first 1000 ft. of turns to the Glacier were spectacular. Chamonix had received 2 feet of snow in the past 48 hours, and it was smooth, fluffy pow the whole way. As we established our surroundings, wind, temperature, and potential spring warming at the bottom, we decided to head up the Col de Amythest instead of attempting the Col de Chardonnay – the Col de Pouisson – Le Tour route. It would have been awesome, but with spring temps rising rapidly, we didn’t want to put ourselves in danger.
Glacial travel can be deceiving. It’s flat, it’s white, and the sun sparkled off the snow as we followed the tracks of previous travelers to avoid the crevasses. I estimated it would take us about 20 minutes to get to the base of the Col de Amythest. Yeah, I was wrong. All that flat, white, sparkly stuff was much longer than I had imagined. The Col de Amythest is right at the top of the Argentierre Glacier, on the left hand, it is moderately pitched, the three obvious crevasses on the way up. Lesson Learned: if it looks 20 minutes away, you’re probably wrong.
The skin track up the Col was windblown and soft, Crystal and I alternated breaking trail all the way up. Breaking trail is hard work, and I’m not usually the one doing it. Now, before you give me a hard time, this isn’t because I won’t do it, it’s because Jamon, Adam, and the rest of the crew I ski with in SLC are so damn fast, I don’t have a hope in hell of leading. If I’m only 5 minutes behind, I’m having a really good day.
When we finally made it, I was beat, hungry, and ready to rip my skins off. It was a little heavy and wind affected at the top, but as soon as we passed the second crevasse it was a beautiful 3,000 ft. ski back to the glacier. 4,000+ feet of hiking and 8 hours later, we were ready to shuffle back down the glacier, put our feet up, and sip on some vin chaud.
Ashley and I stopped at the retreat on Grand Montets for some cheese, meats, fruit, and vin chaud as we watched couloir after couloir wet slide. It sounded like we were on a landing strip, and we were grateful for our decision earlier in the day. Skiing anything moderately pitched and in the sun was definitely out of the question. But sipping on some post ski wine, was not.
A few years ago the book and movie “The Edge of Never” by Bill Kerig made its way through the ski community. Everybody I skied with either read the book or watched the movie. Somehow, I missed it.
Fast forward three years and I meet Bill Kerig as a board member at Spy Hop, a million miles from our ski industry roots. He recently directed “Ready to Fly”, a documentary about the U.S. ski jumping ladies and their battle to compete at the Olympic level. His book “The Edge of Never” was part of the goody bag at the premiere. I spent the following week glutened, and in bed reading.
It changed my life. I quite my job, bought a plane ticket to Geneva, and went to Chamonix. I had no intention of skiiing the Glacier Rhone. Bill’s description of the steepness, exposure, and ice was enough to scare me away. Until it went blue.