Monday, January 10, 2011


Tonight’s post kind of has to do with risk.
The inspiration is based on the weekend as well as my recent (as in tonight) viewing of “Wall Street Money Never Sleeps.”
I’ll save you some time right now and tell you that you don’t need to stop reading this post and go see the movie.
Risk is all about reward.
This evening, for example, I texted Bernie ­– who also goes by his real name of Andrew – for a movie suggestion to watch while spinning.
He did not suggest Wall Street: instead, he recommended “American Fliers.”
I didn’t really want to spend any more time in Block Buster than I had to looking around though, so I settled on something in the new releases section.
While Michael Douglas is indeed a very talented actor, he can’t make up for a sappy story line and a lot of unnecessary, weird and cheesy digital effects that drag down the sequel.
The movie did make me want to go to the bank and withdraw every dollar to my name. After watching that, I’d feel a lot safer with it shoved under a mattress than in the hands of some Wall Street sociopath.
Investment risks aren’t ones I tend to think about on a day-to-day basis though.
I’m a lot more concerned with things like the current weather pattern and mountain snowpack stability.
In this word too, however, there are risks as well.
The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center has been advising skiers and riders to stay off of risky lines for the past week now, warning that stability is a major concern right now.
Sometimes though, you just end up taking a risk anyway, because it’s there.
That was the case this weekend. Pete and I met up on Lips on Sunday, and despite a plan to just stay low in the alders, we ended up venturing high.
And while up high, I couldn’t help but notice how good the front face of the cliff banded aspect looked.
Neither could another group of four that trekked up later in the day.
That group was out in front of me as I prepared to make my second descent, and ended up laying first tracks on the face.
Not surprisingly, this wiped away the sense of caution I probably should have had as I dropped in behind them a few minutes later, farming their tracks.
My lack of caution resulted in my careening over one of the exposed rock bands.
In the flat light, I couldn’t tell the difference between the larger cliffs that jut out from the face and the fall line I should have been chasing. I was lucky, the band I went over was just a little one and when I saw what was about to happen I accelerated and aired to avoid nailing any buried ricks that might have been lurking underneath.
The problem, however, is that the reward was high.
The run was sweet, the payoff was great, it was a hell of a run and I paid no price for my carelessness, except for the sobering realization that I got lucky.

Sunrise in Portage.

Pete turns through the Alders.

Greg of Girdwood.

Lips' skyline ridge.

Pete, looking for a line to the moon?

More Pete.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Not the least: The rest of the East

This post comes to you from the north again. I arrived back in Anchorage Sunday night after a very long couple of flights from New Jersey.

Here's what followed from the last post.

On the 29th Andrew and I did a skate ski in Goshen. It was Andrew's first time out on skinny skis this year, and we found overall pretty good conditions.

Romance Mountain, seen from Goshen Dam.

Andrew is all smiles.
The skate was my last outing on skinnys for the trip, and I have to say, perhaps one of the best presents I got this year was from mother nature. The snow was exceptional for my trip and I was able to put both my classics and skates to work. On top of this, I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the old trails were just as fun as I remembered them to be. We here in the north may be blessed with a long season, but many of the trails I ski here simply don't hold a candle to the "character" of VT trails. Here, ours are bulldozed smooth, crowned for easy skating, wide for long diagonal strides, and groomed meticulously. In VT, you're always on your toes (or heels) hopping over water bars, nimbly stepping over rocks, roots, and big sticks and hanging on in soft corners. The trail corridors are often narrow too, a single lane for the most part with high sides and a low bottom, and the trails, well, they run through those open stands of hardwoods like dark maple syrup dribbles and winds its way down a stack of pancakes in no particular hurry. I foresee an East coast trip in the future that will focus more exclusively on skinny skiing.

Red light district? On the 30th we headed back down to NJ, and on NYE day, Bernie picked me up on his way back into the NYC.

Manhattan Municipal Hall.

Brooklyn Bridge.

NYC had more snow than Anchorage, a fact that many found to be pretty funny. A big blizzard had dumped a pile of snow on the region and many cars still looked like this one even a week after the storm.
We spent NYE in Brooklyn, meeting up with Bryan and Abby. Rachel took the train in later and met up with us.

Team photo.

A failure at trying to document our purple wine-teeth proved successful on other fronts.

The skyline from the Brooklyn Promenade.

Brooklyn Bridge, just a few minutes into 2011.

After a night of celebrating, we took the very long train back to NJ, starting with a subway ride from Brooklyn.

Sheba is always in a mood to play.
New Years Day was a quiet one spent in NJ. We hung around the house for most the day and ended the trip much like it started, with another excelent dinner with Rachel's folks.


It's hard to believe that 11 days could go by so fast or so well. I'm feeling pretty lucky right now to have spent the holidays with so many great friends and family, and while I was hoping the trip might cure some occasional but recurrent homesickness, I've found myself wondering how things are going back there a bit more as of late, while still appreciating the things that make living up here so good just a bit more too.
Thanks all again for a great trip, hope to see everyone up here or back there soon.