Getting high

On Sunday I gained 7,000 vertical feet on a 14 mile climb of Whitehorse Mountain. Thursday I gained another 1,000 feet on a 20 mile bike ride. Saturday (today) I am climbing Mt. Hood. It must be summer in Seattle.

ski trip

On Tuesday, reports of a foot of fresh snow were heard in Seattle. Good news, to be sure, but not compelling. By Wednesday, another foot had fallen and snow was predicted through the night on Wednesday. Jen rented us skis. The snow and was still falling heavily on Thursday morning.

Even before we started  climbing up the pass, the snow was falling like nothing I’ve ever seen. I grew up in Northern Michigan, in the heart of the snowbelt, where words like lake-effect and whiteout are common. Michigan has 4 of the top 15 snowiest cities in the lower 48.*  I’ve seen a lot of snow but I can’t ever recall seeing snowflakes 3″ wide. They accumulate so fast they had been closing the pass daily for avalanche control.  

This is also the fist time I’ve been skiing in bounds, on the runs, in snow above my knees, and occasionally up to my waist. On the runs! Snow so deep it begged the little boy in me to get a good run and cannonball into it. Snow so deep that when Jen fell in, all I could see was her hat. Snow so deep that the momentum lost by carving a single turn stopped me dead in my tracks. 

What a day. 

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thrill issues

Dude. Dude. Focus Dude. Dude. Oh, he lives! Hey Dude!

…what happened?

Aw, saw the whole thing Dude. First you were like whoa (excited), then you were like woah (surprised), and then you were like woah (going limp).

…what are you talking about?

You! Mini-man, takin on the jellies, you got serious thrill issues Dude. Awesome.

a non-obvious reason for living in more Arctic climes

#1. Genetic defects.

About 10 years ago I had a tonsil infection that required removing them. Since I was already an adult, this was uncommon enough that my insurance company required me to get a 2nd and 3rd opinion. Both ear-nose-throat specialists concurred and my tonsils were removed. Both specialists noted that I have a deviated septum that could be ‘repaired.’

I had lived 25 years without knowing it, but it explained a few things. I breathe much better in cold weather. The colder the better. The cold air contracts the membranes in the sinuses allowing me to breathe easier. The cold air helps the sinuses drain better and I get fewer sinus infections in the winter. The cold morning air also helps clear out my sinuses when I have a sinus infection. Like it did this morning on my ride in.

I can’t stand being around smokers. It’s not the smoking I abhor, if you wish to take yourself out of the gene pool early, more power to you. It’s having plugged up sinuses for 12 hours that I object to, simply because I was near you.

My body adapted.  I breathe through my mouth and nose at the same time when a canal is blocked. Even a slight reduction in my ‘normal’ breathing necessitates this and I do it without thinking about it. This is more pronounced when my body is working, such as during this mornings ride. After 1/2 hour of riding, the canals were wide open and fully cleared. 

I can breathe freely. (for now)

Happy Valentines Day

We celebrated Valentines Day on a rock wall. Several other climbers were jealous of my personal cheering squad as I scooted up the rock walls.

But I wasn’t the only one getting cheers. Once we discovered the right technique for her, Kayla had a lot of fun climbing up, and down, up and down the wall.

Tomorrow, there’s a good chance I’ll be wearing my crampons at the top of Mt. Si. It’s been a long time since they’ve been buckled to the bottom of a pair of boots.