Just in case you didn’t see this in Sunday’s paper, a cool trip report by Bruce Day about climbing in the Flatirons of Boulder, Colo.
News and notes from the great outdoors…
An unfortunate story out of Utah, courtesy of The Associated Press. Read on..
SPANISH FORK, Utah (AP) — The Utah cave where a 26-year-old medical student died earlier in the week will be closed permanently and his body will not be removed.
State and county officials made the announcement Friday afternoon, saying it was simply too dangerous to try to recover John Jones’ body.
Jones died late Wednesday about 28 hours after getting wedged into a tight, unmapped passage of Nutty Putty Cave.
State officials plan to meet Monday to discuss the best way to permanently close the cave.
I’ve only gone into one cave before, and it was a huge, heavily traveled opening that went through a cliff in Thailand. Still, we needed headlamps to find our way and I would not have wanted to mess around in there alone.
In this case, it appears we have a guy in an unmapped portion of what was once a popular cave. And it is now considered dangerous enough that local authorities want to close it off for good.
If you’re going caving, be careful.
Here’s a wild video. It shows a guy paragliding and skiing, and in so doing, outruns a massive avalanche. And more footage at the end shows another close call. Have a look and enjoy.
It’s that time, folks. I’m seeing pics of people I know hitting the slopes on skis and boards. Thanksgiving is the traditional, “unofficial” opening of the ski season, though some places have been open for more than a month.
Want to know what’s open? What the conditions are? Links are provided below. I’m keeping it limited to Rocky Mountain states that are close to Oklahoma. But if I hear a groundswell for West Coast or New England ski reports, I’ll oblige.
Here we go:
New Mexico: http://www.skireport.com/newmexico/
A little spotty right now, but the snow season has just begun…
Things to be thankful for, in terms of Oklahoma outdoors:
- A wonderfully diverse ecosystem, with prairie, forests, desert, hills and mountains in various corners of this state.
- A bunch of big lakes for boating, fishing and summer fun.
- Mountains in southwest Oklahoma that offer some of the best climbing in the Southwest. Thank you, God, for making the Wichita Mountains!
- Tree-covered hills and mountains in southeastern Oklahoma that hide trout streams and a bear population.
- Wildlife, from bald eagles to bison to elk… I could go on forever here.
- State parks that have a variety of things to do.
- Great days in four seasons to enjoy the outdoors.
- A healthy body that allows me to hike, climb, camp, fish and live out loud in Oklahoma’s outdoors.
- A growing number of people who can appreciate all these things as much as I do.
Happy Thanksgiving, folks! See you out on the trail…
Fantastic video with great advice. The woman here, Lynn Hill, is obviously an expert and is so far past my own abilities I can’t even see her on the horizon. But her perspectives are true, regsrdless of your abilities. Watch her do this incredible line (a 5.13 route), but more importantly, listen to what she has to say.
Try to think of those things that fired up your imagination when you were young. What did it for you?
I asked my wife this question. Music always moved her, be it classical or otherwise. And she loved those old Kung Fu movies she watched with her dad.
For me, it was a little different. What kicked my mind into overdrive was the house where I grew up. Or more to the point, that home’s back yard.
This place was awesome. A line of poplars hedged in the back fenceline. On either side, thick hedges. Large trees dotted what was otherwise an average-sized suburban yard. Birds and squirrels partied down here. With so many years gone by, my memories of that yard built up an almost Rivendell-like image straight out of a Tolkien novel.
My parents later bought a simple, inexpensive A-frame cabin in the Front Range of the Rockies not far from Bailey, Colo. Again, natural beauty abounded. We went exploring one day, tromping around the woods, and I can remember walking up to a faintly sunlit grove of pine and aspen that contained nearly every hue of green imaginable. If I found that spot today, I’d half expect the entire animated cast of “Bambi” to emerge.
Memories like these still affect me today. It’s one of the reasons I head outdoors so much. When I’m lucky, I get to immerse myself in some pretty amazing natural environments. But even those quick hour-long lunchtime workouts outside rejuvenate me, even if the elements aren’t the best.
I’m not going to go all preachy now, but it seems like many of us have lost that childlike wonder of the world around us. Plenty of folks love nature shows, so why not go outside and really see nature?
I remember having a conversation with a co-worker about where our lives had gone and where we were going. I bemoaned the fact that I wasted so much of my 20s. My wake-up call occurred at age 27, hiking with a church youth group up Elk Mountain in the Wichitas. I’d become so conditioned to the couch and the office chair that my body just couldn’t handle the rigors of what should have been an easy hike to Elk’s summit and a leisurely scramble down the boulders on the other side.
Several years later, I went on a summer vacation with my lovely bride in Red River, N.M. One morning, I looked at the ski mountain and decided I needed to hike to its summit. It took me awhile, but I got there and decided next year, a bigger prize was needed. So I set my sights on Wheeler Peak — the first of (so far) 10 4,000-meter ascents in what has become a growing obsession of mine.
So many sights up Wheeler’s East Fork Trail harkened back to childhood memories of other natural settings. I’ve enjoyed every hike and climb I’ve done (except Mount Yale, but that’s another story), but I doubt any of them have moved me as much as that 2003 slog up Wheeler. It resonated in ways that are hard to describe. People glibly talk about “going to church in God’s creation,” but I can tell you that there were times on that trip when my thoughts and emotions were heavily spiritual.
There’s a lot of things that try to pull us down and make us lose touch with the natural world. Careers, family obligations, man-made entertainment, or whatever. I’ve been there. And to be loosed from that, even for brief interlude, is liberating. Healing. Wondrously fun. Like those times when you were young, and the whole world was amazing.
This one’s for all you star-gazers out there. Picked this up from The Associated Press:
BRAGGS — A star party, where the wonders of the nighttime sky, including nebula, star clusters and planets, are viewed through a large telescope, will be held, Friday and Saturday, at dark, Greenleaf State Park, three miles south of Braggs on State Highway10. Information: Steve Evans, 918-487-7125, or email@example.com
How does that saying go…
Right decisions are based on wisdom.
Wisdom is based on experience.
Experience is based on wrong decisions…
Or something like that. But I found a Web site that’s kinda cool. It’s called Hiker Hell. It’s creator read the book “Touching the Void” (a disaster tale of climbing in the Andes) and felt compelled to put together a site that looks at the mistakes others have made in the outdoors so we can learn and avoid those errors.
Here’s the site. Check it out and enjoy…
As we head toward the winter months, skiing and snowboarding is on the brain. A lot of us will drive to New Mexico, Colorado or other Rocky Mountain states. A few of us will fly. On the brain will be enjoying some good times on the slopes, hanging out in the lodge, and maybe hitting the hotspots wherever we happen to be.
What’s not on the mind for some: dealing with the realities of altitude and exercise.
Not too long ago, I posted some information on specific exercises you can do to get yourself in shape for ski season. But even the best conditioning won’t necessarily help you with altitude issues if you live in the plains.
I’ve learned a lot about this not through skiing, but mountaineering and backpacking. The elevations I hit are generally higher than what most of you will face on the slopes. But that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t take altitude issues seriously.
Here in Oklahoma City, most of us live somewhere between 1,000 feet and 1,300 feet above sea level. The air here won’t be much thinner than it would be at sea level. It’s thick and oxygen rich. The highest elevations people in Oklahoma live at are somewhere around 4,200 feet – thinner, but still pretty reasonable. Others live at elevations just over 400 feet.
Contrast that to what you’ll find at the base of most Rocky Mountain ski lifts. Most of them start somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 feet. The air is remarkably thinner up there. At the top of a lift, you might be as high as 12,000 feet. One of the highest routes on a groomed slope, in Breckenridge, is nearly 13,000 feet, more than 2-1/2 miles above sea level.
Altitude at these heights does a number of things to you. Since there’s much less oxygen, your heart and lungs work a lot harder. To compensate for the lack of oxygen, your body will try to make more red blood cells, which in turn will thicken the blood stream, making your circulatory system work that much harder.
Vigorous exercise at high altitude will make you burn calories at a much higher rate. Since you’ll be breathing more and harder, you will lose a lot of moisture through exhaling. This dehydrating effect is compounded by the fact that the air in the Rockies is already pretty dry.
Thickening blood and dyhydration can cause headaches. Worse, these conditions, plus the increased calorie burn at altitude, can help bring about altitude sickness.
The only cure for altitude sickness is to go a lower elevation. But prevention could help stave off this condition. Some tips and tricks I’ve learned:
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink plenty of water in the days leading up to your trip. Don’t wait till you get to the ski lift to pound down a bottle of water. Start pumping the water down a few days in advance and keep up your hydration pace throughout your stay. You should have water with you as you ski and ride, and drink often, even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty. If you wait until you’re thirsty, it’s pretty much too late.
Eat well. Get in a good balance of carbohydrates and proteins. Bring snacks with you on the mountain and stop to munch every now and then. Keeping your energy level up will help fight the effects of altitude.
Pace yourself. Even if you’re in good shape, you’re not in mountain shape. Your first day on the hill should be measured. As your body acclimates, then you can push yourself more.
Speaking of acclimatizing… You need to give your body time, particularly if you’re flying in to your destination. Spend at least a day getting used to the altitude by taking it easy, going for brisk walks and just allowing your body to adjust.
Learn to love the baby aspirin. This is a standard part of my first-aid kit on the mountain for this reason: Aspirin helps thin the blood, allowing for a more free flow of your bloodstream. Start popping low-dose baby aspirins a day or two before your trip and in the mornings during your stay.
So those are a few things I use to help me feel better on the mountain. I’m sure there’s others, so do your homework and enjoy the slopes.
Speaking of ski season: Winter Park opens today, and Steamboat Springs opens Nov. 25. Get ready to shred!
Thanks to Josh Weber for the tip on this video. Knowing Josh, this got him pretty stoked to shred some lines this winter. After watching it, I think it will do the same for you. Watch how this guy takes vertical drops, outruns (and sometimes pops out of) avalanches and shoots down ridiculously narrow chutes and couloirs. Jeremy Jones is one sick puppy. Take a look and enjoy.