Check this out. It makes even the best skier you know look pretty pedestrian. Photos are radical!
The scene is Capitol Peak in Colorado, one of the hardest peaks to climb in the state and one that is almost never skied. For reasons that will be obvious when you check out this link:
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I’m a notoriously slow downclimber. So much so that no one who hikes and climbs with me thinks it’s unusual for me to be the last person back to the trailhead.
There’s a simple reason why. The pounding on my knees going down makes me descend rather gingerly. And slowly. Agonizingly so, at times. It’s a problem, in my opinion, because it could potentially be a safety issue (save that discussion for another day). What really got me in a twist about it was the fact that I train my legs consistently. Aside from the cardio work I do, I regularly lift weights to strengthen not just those California beach muscles in the upper body, but also the less glamorous muscles in the legs.
Now that doesn’t mean I’ve got tree-trunk legs. I don’t. But what’s there is strong (except those blasted knee joints!). And I do have rather large calves.
So why in the world do men with 20 years on me have less trouble going downhill than me?
I posed that question to an online forum at 14ers.com, a mountaineering Web site for people who like to hike and climb Colorado’s tallest peaks. The answer?
Aside from the knee issues I have, the fact is that all the training I do simply wasn’t the right training for downclimbing. Doing squats, leg presses, leg extensions and even lunges just won’t cut it here. The reason why? For the most part, these exercises don’t simulate the pounding of walking/running/climbing downhill.
(Just to clarify, lunges sort of do that. But not as much as you might think.)
Their advice: Find hills and either walk or run downhill. The stresses on the muscles are different when going downhill than they are on flat surfaces or going uphill. Also suggested: Spending time doing stairs or stadiums, with special focus on the downhill portions. This I can do pretty easily at work. It’s eight floors from the lobby to my office floor. Do that a few times a day, and you’re talking 16-32 flights a day, with half going downhill!
Another person suggested setting the treadmill on the highest incline possible, turn it on and run backwards with your front side facing the back of the treadmill. Kinda extreme, and I haven’t tried it. Seems like an easy way to bust your butt at the gym, and not in a positive way. But I’m throwing it out there just in case you’re crazy enough to try it (Note: If you do and it works, write me! If you do and you fall on your butt and it makes for a funny story, write me!). Consider this a disclaimer — I don’t recommend this.
And of course, the plainly obvious suggestion: Go out and hike trails with lots of terrain and simply train your legs that way. It makes sense. Want to be a better swimmer? Get in the pool more. Want to be a better climber? Climb more. You get the idea.
So I’m doing more stairs, hoping to train my quads, hamstring and calves in different ways so any future forrays into the mountains (whether that’s here or in the high country) go a little easier on the downhill side.
As always, feel free to send me feedback, trip reports or any other news of the outdoors. If you’re fascinated by it, chances are I will be as well, not to mention other readers! Post here or e-mail me at email@example.com.
You may have heard about actress Natasha Richardson’s skiing accident which has left her critically injured. She was skiing without a helmet. Here’s a surprising — but informative — story on helmet safety. Bottom line: Helmets won’t make you invincible, but they’ll help protect you as long as you ski and board SAFELY.
UPDATE: Natasha Richardson died from her injuries.
OK, so we’ve talked about Bear Grylls vs. Les Stroud, and who would you rather have with you. But what if you’re out in the wild and you don’t have some super-survivalist with you? Do you have the skills to care for an injured friend? Or take care of yourself in an emergency?
The Oklahoma City Outdoor Network is offering a good learning opportunity in terms of wilderness first-aid. The following text is from Out There reader Bill Becquart. Read below, check it out, and learn some skills that may just save your or your buddies in a pinch.
Wilderness First Aid
$70.00 per person
This class is open to the public.
once the class is full…a waiting list will be maintained in case there are cancellations
Click this link for more information
I have personally taken this WFA course and it is awesome !!!!
Good stuff, folks. Take advantage of it.
Spring Break is almost here, so I know a bunch of you all will be hitting the slopes soon. Be warned, this hasn’t been the best year for snow in the Rockies. Expect good snow in the San Juans of SW Colorado (per usual), but everywhere else might be a little slim. Take heart, though. March and April are usually bigger snow months than the rest of the winter. Have a look:
Have a great time out there and know that I’m pretty jealous.
Just curious — with the outdoor crowd, what do you all think of the legislative proposal to allow black bear hunting in Oklahoma? I’m sure the hunting crowd is ready for a new challenge. But what about the rest of you? Respond here or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let the debate begin!
I’ve written quite about the Wichitas on this blog, but I figured it was time to take some time to talk about another place on the eastern side of the state.
My personal favorite? Robbers Cave State Park.
Eastern Oklahoma, particularly southeast Oklahoma, is downright enviable when it comes to scenery. Unlike the flat expanse of treeless prairie in much of western Oklahoma, the rolling hills and thick woodlands of the east offer a change of pace that, for outdoorsy types, can only be described as eye candy.
Robbers Cave State Park offers quite a bit in terms of outdoor activities. It’s the place where I first attempted rock climbing (note: I said “attempted”). It’s also well known for people to practice rappelling. Vertical cliffs of about 50 to 80 feet that are made of good, solid rock make for ideal places to learn the ropes of rock climbing and rappelling. I particularly like the variety of routes climbers can find.
The trails are good, too. They go over a variety of terrain, almost all of it wooded, and offer some really nice views of the San Bois range. That said, none of the trails are so difficult that your average weekend warrior/hiker can’t manage them.
The place has an interesting history. The park got its name because it was a favorite haunt for outlaws. It’s amazing how well you can hide in the wooded folds of these hills, or at least that’s what Oklahoma’s more famous bandits thought.
For campers: 122 campsites, some of which are good for RVs. For those looking for more creature comforts: 22 cabins and a lodge.
Activities: Besides hiking, climbing and rappelling, you can rent canoes, swim, ride horses and visit an onsite nature center. There’s also three lakes.
Access to the park is easy — it’s just a couple of miles away from Wilburton.
One of the best things about the park (or any Oklahoma park, for that matter) — it’s a four-season place. Great in the spring and summer, awesome fall foliage viewing and plenty comfortable (and still scenic) in the winter.
If you’ve been, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, go. It’s a must-see.
Here’s a link to a map of the park: http://www.touroklahoma.com/images/map_park/robberscave.pdf
OK, on to the most recent ski reports: