Posts Tagged “snow”

To take advantage of the gorgeous weather this past weekend, El and I went for a walk around Penitente Canyon.  There is a trail that goes through the canyon that we took and then just scrambled and wandered our way around the area.  For those unfamiliar with the area it’s a popular sport climbing area and has campgrounds as well.  Definitely a gem of the San Luis Valley.

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Temps are dropping and water is doing that thing it does when it gets cold. Why is this good? It’s good because this new seasonal state of matter that water has entered provides entry into the world of winter sports. The Thanksgiving dinner I had with my boss, Mick, was fantastic (loved the purple mashed potatoes!) and the days to follow only got better. Friday a few of us went to North Clear Creek Falls to hopefully find some ice to climb. Our wishes were granted and we were presented a gorgeous waterfall of ice. I’m relatively new to the whole ice climbing game but it’s starting to grow on me. Then the next day a buddy and I went to Wolf Creek which was great even considering the early season conditions. So yeah, a pretty good break. Here are a few pictures of North Clear Creek Falls

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My first ice climb of the season

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Derek on lead

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I’d like to start off by giving a heads up to anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis.  Due to the fact that sometimes I may only take a picture or two a day that don’t really warrant an entirely new “set” on flickr, I’ve decided to lump all of the Zion pictures into one set.  If there are some that stand out I’ll probably put them on the respective post but otherwise you can just access the flickr stream from the link located in the, you guessed it, “Links” section on the right hand nav bar of the page.

This summer at Zion keeps getting better, and simultaneously, hotter.  Daytime temps are pushing past 100°F on the regular and tourists are pouring in by the RV load.  Despite being here for a few weeks, there are still places in the park that I haven’t been too.  This is kind of nice because it still means there are places to be explored.  In a few days I’m going on a patrol that is somewhat exploratory in that we are going to find out how much snow–yes, snow–is still in Echo canyon.  It’s a canyoneering route and large amounts of snow can make rappels impossible.  Due to this hazard it’s currently closed to the public.  In order to make sure we don’t get stuck, we will leave ropes behind.  So, rather than finishing out the canyon at the last rappel (if we get that far) we will go backwards, up canyon and ascend the ropes we left.  It’s pretty amazing there are all these little microclimates in these canyons.  The main canyon is roasting, yet in some canyons there is still LOTS of snow and ice.

And now for a few pictures:

This one is a view from Watchman Trail.  I live in the loop of houses in the lower left.  Not a bad spot!
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Here is a snow arch in Hidden Canyon.
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The Rio Grande River lies just a few minutes walk to the east of campus and each winter it freezes over, leaving a layer of ice thick enough to walk on.  Then as things begin to warm up  the ice cover lessens, leaving only a small channel of visible water.  The ice is almost completely gone now but there are still some beautiful pieces of ice hanging over the water.  While we are not quite yet into spring, one can feel the weather switching gears and entering an amazing time:  springtime in Alamosa.  And what better way to soak in some of that valley sun and enjoy a Friday off from school than a little paddling on the Rio!  Here are some pictures from the day:

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The initial plan was for a group of us to check out some canyons in the south-east region of Utah.  However, after calling the ranger station near there to find out where to get detailed topo maps of the area, I was informed that the entire area was “covered in a foot and a half of snow.”  This of course makes the access roads to the canyons unusable and one of the loops we wanted to hike required a 7 mile snowshoe hike just to get to the trailhead.  So now its back the drawing board and more than likely, somewhere south.  One thought was a part of the Coronado National Forest in south-east Arizona which buts up against the Chiricahua National Monument.  Both seem pretty cool and none of us have been to either place.  Where we go is undecided at the moment but I’m sure we will find somewhere cool to go!

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Today at approximately 9:55am (ok, so exactly) an enormous academic weight was lifted off of my shoulders.  This stroke of the clock, or oscillation of  the quartz crystal in my case, marked the end of a series of two final projects I mentioned in an earlier post: “Mosquito Control in Alamosa and the San Luis Valley” and “Terrace Soils on the Alamosa River.”  Each included a PowerPoint presentation and paper.  I learned a lot from both and hopefully some of that information got transferred to the rest of the class during the presentation.  Upon completion of such projects it’s best to reflect on what just happened (debrief if you will):  yeah the hours upon hours sitting in room 121 waiting for soil tests kind of sucked.  But, I learned a lot in both projects.  The soils project also allowed me and my partner to go spend some time in a pretty cool part of the valley.  I think there might be some good unexplored climbing back there as well…thanks soils class!  When we went out to do some final measurements and such, we were denied passage across the creek due to thin ice cover which just hid the rocks we previously used to hop across.  However, it was a beautiful, crisp day in the valley and the views were serene.
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Amidst a busy semester sprinkled with Adventure Program work lies a weekend where all that needs to be done is drink warm caffeinated beverages and work on proper lounge technique.  That weekend is now.  Sort of.  I don’t really plan on just sitting on ass all weekend…but I could and that’s what counts.  This morning has been a true delight.  It’s just me in the apartment, the stereo is pumpin’ GD Dick’s Picks 12, a large and satisfying solo breakfast was made and devoured, and the seemingly arduous project of finding a job for next summer has become fun.  After pushing my way through a few websites searching for jobs/internships I came across a handful that looked pretty sweet.  Everything from GIS mapping work in Yellowstone to Backcountry patrolling in Zion.  As long as I’m near some rocks to pull on and have some good people around, next summer will be just fine.  On that note, I think I’m going to go fly a kite.  Peace!

P.S.  12-24 inches of snow is expected to fall at Wolf Creek this weekend.

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We just got our first snow of the season a few days ago and oh my was it a breath of fresh air!  Cold, beautiful air filled with fluffy flakes of that glorious white stuff.  I knew it wasn’t going to stick here in the valley but it just might up in the mountains which is what counts.  Wolf Creek Ski Area, a local favorite known for epic powder days and averaging almost 500 inches a year, got 15 inches during the storm bringing their season total to 22 inches.  Not a bad start.

Here’s a picture taken on the morning after the day-long snowfall on my way back to the apartments:
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… and here’s Mt. Blanca with a fresh coat (2 days after the storm)…
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While taking pictures of Blanca, I couldn’t help but laugh at the standard little scenery icon in the upper left of the new camera showing exactly what I was shooting…so I took a picture of it with my phone…
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I’m stoked for the winter, snow, and winter sports that come with it.  Hopefully the snow will keep coming and keep things fun.

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