Monday, March 02, 2015

Why Casket Quarry Matters to Duluth and to its Outdoor Recreational aspirations.

UMD's Climbing Coordinator Lucas Kramer

Some of this tax, which is a tourism tax, is being proposed to be invested in several Outdoor Recreation projects that most communities would consider non-traditional.  That is they are not your average parks and rec. infrastructure.

I am hoping to get to a post on all of the proposed projects but one in particular has already received a lot of press and I wanted to speak that one before I get to posting on the others.

That project is the Ice Climbing Park proposed at the historic Casket Quarry.  What is proposed is to acquire the property that the Quarry exists on and to do some minor improvements to parking and to also "farm" ice on the edges of the quarry to give it more consistent ice but also to create entry level climbing.  This proposal came from the Duluth Climbers Coalition, a local organization formed around the idea of local advocacy for climbing in Duluth.

Casket Quarry in winter 
"The land (quarry) was originally owned and worked by the Duluth Crushed Stone Co. throughout the early 20th century. By the time the company ceased operations it had quarried out a 1000-foot-long, 100-foot-high cliff of black gabbro. By the 1970s, groundwater seeping down the rock face that froze into impressive icicles and pillar formations had attracted the attention of the local ice climbing community. Throughout the ensuing decades, visitors from beyond Duluth became commonplace as word spread throughout the Midwest of this superb concentration of vertical ice climbing. 

More recently, Casket Quarry’s reputation as a steep and spectacular climbing location has been augmented by the focused development of mixed climbing routes. Today, it is a premier site and training ground for mixed climbing throughout the winter months, utilized by recreational climbers, university climbing programs, and guided groups." (Language pulled from The Duluth Climbers Coalition proposal).  

In fact our little known Casket Quarry has spawned a world class alpinist in Adam Dailey who was featured in the Duluth News Tribune this very weekend.

Adam Dailey warming up 
Climbing at Casket Quarry has long been a don't ask don't tell situation.  A good and a bad thing. Good because nobody tends to bother you. Bad because a lot blood sweat and tears goes into developing a climbing route and many folks put a lot of passion into doing that.  Without proper permission those routes are always in danger.  Also, as Casket is unmanaged a lot garbage and debris gets dumped on and around the routes.  Not only is this unsightly it can have its own dangers as well.  Nothing like having a TV hucked over your head while your sending a climb!

To me the Casket Quarry Project hits a lot of important touch points. 

Tyler Overby well committed 
First, that a climbing area that has had so some much effort put into it can be protected, that local climbers can lay claim to the hard work they have done and even offer it to others to try it out.  

Secondly, is the idea that an abandoned industrial site in the middle of our community can be shined up and turned into a destination class recreational amenity. Not just for climbers, but also for the hikers, dog walkers and neighborhood folks who are already using it.  

Casket is also a symbol for nearly all of our marque parks and open spaces in Duluth.  We tend to take those spaces for granted but the reality is that many of them are St. Louis County Tax forfeit parcels that are un-protected as parks or recreational spaces.  We recreate on them as if they are parks but they are not and by law the County is tasked with selling and possibly putting them back on the tax rolls.  

The acquisition of Casket is a test case for what could happen across the city if we step forward and value these places for what we use them for, in other words we can work with the County to identify the key parcels needed for recreation and acquire or protect them for future generations and future conservation or recreation.

A perfect park for all sorts of uses 
Also Casket due to its central location creates another link in how we can bring Outdoor Adventure to many folks who might never have the chance to experience it.  We are blessed in Duluth in the fact that all of our amazing Outdoor Recreation is inside the City limits and thus is able to be offered to kids who might not have the resources to try it and to folks of all races and genders who might not generally be exposed to these sports, including climbing.

"Prince of Darkness"
The knee jerk reaction by most folks of course is liability.  Is it safe, can it be managed?  One of our City Councilors grabbed onto that immediately as did the press...albeit horribly and uniformed as in this highly inaccurate piece from WDIO.

The reality is that climbing and ice climbing specifically are being managed in a safe way across the country.  This would not be a new thing.  In fact one great model is in Sandstone, Minnesota just down the road.  

Another great model is in Ouray, CO and since we have proposed this project we are hearing for other spots doing similar things in New England and in other spots in the midwest.

These spots, as well as many others, present great precedents that the local climbers and the city can use to create a safe environment at Casket Quarry for folks to enjoy. 

The fact of the matter is that climbing is actually really safe. Consider this language I pulled from a recent study being done in Ithaca, NY for an ice park there.

"Ice climbing has high apparent risk, but is actually quite safe.  It looks dangerous, but due to safety equipment (ropes, anchors, helmets, etc.), techniques (belaying, top roping, etc.), and experienced practitioners, the risk is actually quite low.  As Schoffl, et al (2010) report. “Overall, climbing sports had a lower injury incidence and severity score than many popular sports, including basketball, sailing or soccer.”  Adding to the safety of ice climbing is the relatively high cost of equipment, which keeps “copy cats” from participating and which serves as a barrier to entry, discouraging amateurs or the untrained from causing safety issues.  Schoffl, et al (2009) found that “The results of injury risk per 1000 hours of participation in ice-climbing was comparable to that of indoor competition climbing and other outdoor sports (hiking, mountain biking, kayaking).  The injury risk was also much less than a standard sport such as soccer.”

Know your knots or learn from somebody certified who does!
The last thing I will mention is that having a successful venture with a Casket Quarry Ice Climbing Park is advantageous to all of the outdoor users in Duluth and to Duluth's economy.  

Yes, relative to other user groups climbers are a small number. That said the visual and cultural impact of having climbing as part of Duluth's outdoor offering is key to promoting Duluth as a great place to live and a great place to visit as an outdoor enthusiast. 

Its the secret sauce that very few midwestern towns can tout or promote and we are lucky to have the opportunity to support it.
Top roping a safe way to play 

Celebrate Winter Weekend in Duluth!!!

Winter Braaapppss!!

When Duluth won the The Outside Magazine Best Place to Live contest this fall there was a lot of rhetoric and jibes at the fact that Duluth could have won due to its "Winters."  I think I winced every time that I heard those comments.  It made me realize that in a lot of peoples minds a town can only be an Adventure Town of if its also a place where its warm and there is "Easy" Living.  Adventure and Easy living are not one in the same and there is plenty of worthy adventure in Winter.

Most certainly the apologies by Outside for Duluth having a hard winter in my mind point more to the fact that the way the media is now portraying outdoor adventure is moving more and more towards easy access, warm weather, Bistro's and ski valets.

In any case this month Destination Duluth is having a Celebrate Winter week.  A time when we push back on the BS and the lack of understanding of what a good hard winter has to offer and we celebrate the activities that we get the chance to try once a year.

I think its genius and this weekend I hit two of the many activities that were scheduled.

Wheels and skis

First I hit the Fat Bike Enduro at Spirit Mountain but on by COGGS, Spirit Mountain and Dave Cizmas.  This is the first Winter Enduro that I have heard of.  There were three runs, all lift served accessed and all legit gravity runs.  Candyland, a modified Calculated Risk and The Knowlton Creek Run were in the event.  All three are challenging in the summer, let alone in the winter with fast snow, greasy single track and soft snow minefields!

I dont know of a single participant that did not lay the bike down at least once.  I ran everything clean until Knowlton and then I biffed it three times!

It was an amazing time and I am super stoked that Spirit Mountain had the guts and the progressiveness to put it on.  Certainly it had some organizational challenges, but I bet next year it will be tweaked because of it.  All said and done there were 75 participants, which is pretty solid for a first year winter gravity bike event!

COGGS also hosted the Duluth Fat Bike weekend put on annually by Rudy O'brien.  Again a super solid turn out for a night ride on Friday night at Brewer, the Enduro and a beach/lake ride on Sunday.

75 folks, a sweet first year turn out

Johny M Calculates the Risk 

Lead pack climbing to Magney 

Doctor Bonner ripping the pixy sticks 

This weekend DXC put on two big Nordic Skiing events.  They had the Tour Duluth event on Saturday where you attempt to ski every nordic trail in town.  A huge feat in itself and then on Sunday they put on their Nordic Spirit Race which had been rescheduled from early in the winter. They could not have had better conditions and better weather.  On top of that the final day of Spirit's Nordic Kids program was on Sunday.  I was able to roll my battered body out of bed and set up for a few shots of the big kids race and then eat hot dogs, and hot chocolate and watch Tae race his 1km.  Reminded me of my own childhood and I have to be honest I even thought about dusting the boards and body off for next year....

Tae contemplating his sprint

Kids racing for chocolate!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Compromise: The fine art of giving and taking from an advocates perspective.

Over the past few years I have been asked many questions about projects both successful and disastrous.  Why did one work and another not, how did this group get so much support while another got so little?

That said I am going to slowly but surely meter out some lessons I have learned as an Advocate, many of which are being put the test as I speak in the work I am doing in Duluth.

So if your busting your back on trying to make change in your community through Outdoor Recreation, I may or may not have something to add to your tool box.

Of course for me all things are visual so these stories most hopefully will be illustrated by photographs that remind me of those lessons.

This shot brings back the idea of compromise.  It was from one of a myriad of backcountry ski trips that I was on in BC over the years.  I remember these trips fondly but I also remember them because of group dynamics.  Usually our groups were anywhere from 7-10 folks and of course within those crews there were always varying agenda's.  Mostly we agreed on everything but if we could not there was the compromise.  On this particular day I remember a quantity versus quality discussion while we were standing on the top of this ridge line.  A couple guys wanted to bag a little skied line on one side of the ridge, while another group was more interested in multiple laps on the side which was skied a lot but was pretty straight forward but easy to lap.

The compromise was one of each...not a bad outcome!

This is an easy example but we all realize that compromise is often painful depending on what is being decided. Working in advocacy you will run into the idea of compromise a LOT.  This may be do to space, to other user groups, to liability you name it.

In working in the advocacy that I do (Outdoor Recreation) this can be the crux of nearly everything I work on.

This can be extremely tough, frustrating and soul sucking.

The sports and the user groups that I work with often pride themselves in the idea of "drawing lines" in the very activities they participate in. The Outdoor Community generally values the hard lines.  The best routes, the red points... the dabs, no variations etc.  This is what makes the sports themselves so fun!

Its drilled into our DNA as riders, climbers, skiers and hikers etc., and for sure that needs to be remembered, respected and to be celebrated.

However, that can also be defeating to our very own aims when it comes down to creating change or gaining access for these activities in our towns.  Many cities and governmental agencies by their very nature exist to support the widest variety of citizens, again a good goal to remember, but the two viewpoints can often come to conflict.

The key I think, is to have folks on your team that can think in as big a picture as possible and to utilize those visionary's to plan and map out a course that considers all the opportunities and all the challenges.  They can map out the ultimate win, the middle ground and what defeat could be.

To idea is to not just accept the Status Quo but to look at "paradise" and define it from that sports perspective and to look at that perspective from all levels of your sport.  Beginner to Advanced, from new participant to old grizzled veteran.

Then those thoughts need to be also communicated to the the most hard core and passionate of the groups membership as well as the most low key with the idea of making sure that they are all heard and that their needs are also considered.

After those internal discussions occur then the user group is well armed to negotiate with the bureaucracy that is in front of them.  They know intimately what is valued, what is not valued what needs to be saved or achieved and what can be jettisoned if compromise is asked for.

There is no doubt however that in those cases where compromise occurs, the advocate will be seen in two different ways by two different types of people.

Either as a visionary and leader, or as a sell out.  That can be a tough position to be in for folks and many will walk away from advocacy simply because of that aspect of the job.

Its not easy as the hardcores can perceive compromise as a lack of love for the sport, while generally its just the opposite, meanwhile the barrier to entry for many new folks has been lifted and they are overjoyed by the access.

I think personally I look at what is the best for my sport overall and the people that are part of it and the people that could be a part of it, the future user.

What is the greatest good for the community that I am working with and after lengthy conversations with them do they feel the same way?

If your prepared and have a solid vision with buy in from your club or user group, compromise is not losing, it is ultimately gaining the best possible scenario for your sport at that given time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Livin the Minnesota Dream: A quiet weekend at home with the Family

Tae's first glide waxing session 

Optimal results 

Cold weather brings out interesting hats

-5 walk to the 180 degree Sauna oasis 

Jay Cooke Annual Candlelight ski 

Kids and fire

We will look back on these days and lament their passing so quickly.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Thoughts on Leadership and breaking new ground.

I took this shot a bit earlier in the winter with Casey Krueger.  Its actually in a spot in Duluth that has yet to be developed for trails but its so perfect for riding that we are out there exploring already.

Its an amazing place and its master planned and ok for construction in the next few seasons, so be aware, especially all you double X riders.

In looking at this shot though I started thinking about being first, about leadership, about vision and about the challenge those create.

I have been in a fairly solid leadership positions the past six plus years and I have most certainly learned some of the positives and the negatives in that role.

One very interesting concept of leadership has been the idea of push back.  The fact that even with solid vision, solid tactical thinking and strategy, there is will always be push back.  There will always be the detractors, the critics and the outright hostile.

This is not to say this is a negative, while it certainly can be, I actually see it as tempering of ideas, that is making sure said vision has merit.

That however is another story blog post in itself.

The point of this subject is that when you can see over the hill top, it does not mean that the majority of folks can even climb to it, so they have two choices.

Trust you or toss you under the bus.

This creates a really interesting situation, how do you then move forward, do you say "this is for the good of the community" and go with the build it and they will come mentality, or do you acquiesce and over think it into morass and stagnation........

I know for me personally there have been several moments in my career like this.  In both cases it was obvious that a lot of the "people" did not want what it was I was delivering and in both cases it was delivered anyway and in both cases it was wildly successful, despite all the input to the contrary.

So in these cases the people literally did NOT know what it was that they wanted and good leadership gave them a new situation and it changed their lives because of it.

Of course I see the danger in this as well, poor leadership could have taken a fully different tact with extremely negative results as well.  I can only imagine the pressure that leaders who are making much bigger and important changes in society deal with in those situations.

All that said though I admire leadership that takes educated, informed and well thought out chances, rather than stick with the status quo, which quite honestly is much worse than reaching for the brass ring and falling short.

These are the leaders we need to get behind now and in the future.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Things that go bump in the night: A wild Rumpus on the Brewer Trails with 45Nrth


Narnia by bike 
Been really getting into the night shoots lately and I am starting to get the hang of it.  Shooting at night is super challenging, especially with the reflective snow and the slow shutter speeds.  Slowly but surely however the images are starting to come out the way I want them.

Thanks to Dave and Kurt of 45Nrth who came up last week, for being patient and standing around a lot!

Monday, February 02, 2015

Learning to be free: Kid Ski at Spirit 2015

I remember learning to ski.   Bear trap bindings, wooden skis and big hills and big grins springs to mind.  Mom and Dad shoeing us out the door and the dogs chasing off behind us, nipping at our ski tails.  The wind in my ears as I impacted, time and time again in the deep snow down the bluff, over the meadow and into the grass.

Despite the yard sales and the acrobatics I thought it was fun.

My real lessons started with the XC Ski team in Winona.  One of my coaches stripped all the kick wax off our boards and tossed us into a wild game of one ski soccer.

The mayhem was awesome, but one by one the skills developed, eventually we could all kick, wax or not and then the mad chases began.
Who could go the fastest?  Who could go down the biggest hill?

The long boards that once were laborious and even annoying where suddenly gone, and all that remained were freedom sticks.

Planks that could make you simulate flight.  That could whisk you away from the your bad days and make them good.  Magic tools that turned the woods into a game of high speed daring as you passed your buddy on the inside of turn.

DXC and Spirit Mountain are doing some amazing things with kids and Nordic Skiing in Duluth.  First there is Kara and Siiri's Nordic North Stars and there is also Kids Ski put on by the amazing volunteers at Spirit and supported by DXC. Add to that Kidski also at Snowflake and you realize that on a weekend there are a ton of children out having those some moments of freedom that many of us experiences at a very young age.

Its amazing to watch Tae and his friends progress.  Last spring he was able to bomb downhills, this season he striding strong and already doing tail whips and he is only this rate I won't be able to be able to keep up once he hits 10!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Riding the Chinook: Thunder Bay Fat Biking 2015

The Prince Arthur Hotel 
Centennial Park 
Three hours north of me there exists a line drawn in the sand by men with differing ideas of  country and domain.

That line is called the US-Canadian Border and it bends minds and alters perceptions. The people that live below it look south for commerce and the people that live north look west and east (and sometimes south).

The fact of the matter is that regardless of how arbitrary that line really is, it has created a difference in the two cultures, and not just Tim Hortons versus Dunkin Doughnuts!  Its a difference I enjoy immensely.

While my local compatriots are leaping on planes and heading out west, I tend to look due north and realize that just a simple three hour drive away is a very unique adventure experience.

That place is Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Nocturnal afflictions
Dumping snow in City Lights 

I have been to Thunder Bay a few times in my life.  The first was to watch the Pre-World Championships for Nordic Skiing.  I wandered up there a few more times for paddle trips over the years but did not go back for a good extended trip until last season when I visited the Black Sheep Mountain Bike Club for IMBA.  

That trip really opened my eyes to the opportunities that Thunder Bay has for cyclists and especially for off road cyclists both summer and winter.  Add that to the fact that T-Bay reminds me of Duluth when I first moved there in 1989 and you have a fun riding experience and fun cultural experience.

No better place when your cold and hungry

Casey ripping the Grand Chasm 

I have been shooting pretty hard to gain some images for both 45NRTH and Salsa Cycles this season but the snow conditions in Duluth have been making that challenging.  We have great riding as the trails are in perfect packed shape.  However we have not had snow in the trees or enough new snow to really pretty the place up for shooting images.

I routinely am researching new places to ride and snow conditions and watching weather patterns.  As I saw a four day window opening up to shoot because of MLT Day I realized that Thunder Bay was the place I wanted to hit.  I remembered the big rock bluffs, the deep Cedar forests and the funky town on top of it and I started to make some calls.
As seen in Thunder Bay
Lake Effect Dump
On the rocks
Petries Bike Shop, your local Salsa, 45NRTH dealer in T-Bay
The first call was to the Prince Arthur Hotel.  I fell in love with this place when I was up in 2014.  Its super close to the Fat Bike Trails, reasonable for cost and its walking distance to some of the better places to eat and drink in town.  Plus its got this old world charm to it.  No doubt it has seen better days but its clean and the folks there are rad.

The second call was to The Black Sheep.  I got a hold of Mark Maranzan who ended up giving us the heads up on conditions and even joined us for a couple of rides when we arrived. 

To say we nailed the conditions is an understatement.  We arrived in time on a friday to get a night ride in at Centennial and Shuniah Mines.  The conditions were smooth, firm and tacky.  Having ridden these trails in the summer I realized that in some spots, winter riding was perhaps more fun than the summer conditions.  As we rode it also started to dump. Classic Lake effect dump.  Light fluffy, and fat.  By Saturday afternoon the trails were still firm and fast but now were coated with a few light inches of fluff, enough for getting loose, enough for poofing snow on every turn and enough to make the place look awesome.

We feasted on the single track for several days until we decided to try a different taste, a more backcountry effort at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Hearty Thunder Bay local at the Bean Fiend on Algoma Street
The real north woods eh!
Endless imagination

Sleeping Giant should be on every persons list to see.  Especially if you live within the region.  Its awe inspiring and for sure you feel like you are in an otherworldly place.  As a photographer you are drooling at shots every direction your looking.   Unfortunately we had pretty marginal light as the Lake effect kept dumping on us.

In fact the snow as dumping enough that we were starting to wonder if we could actually ride into the park very far.  After some debate we finally decided to make it happen. We struggled along in deep snow to Tee Harbor, moving at a snails pace but when we achieved the Harbor we were well rewarded.

However by the time we turned back to retrace our steps we were most certainly not super motivated.

I called the full ride back "Torture By Bike"  Eventually though we reached the car and cracked some beers in celebration.  Then we loaded up and bee lined it for the Prince Arthur.  Some food at the Sovereign Room and we headed up to veg out in our suite. Casey cracked a big bottle of Crown Royal and we proceeded to make our morning a bit slower and more painful with every was like time travel.....

Schralping the hood in T-Bay
Plenty of nostalgic neon in Thunder Bay

Heading back to the room
What else can you toast a sweet 4 day stand in Ontario with!
The day we had to return to Duluth we hit the city and looked for some urban riding.  We found more than we could handle but settled down for a session at a good spot.  After a while we headed to Petries Bikes to check them out and we also grabbed a mocha at the Bean Fiend.  Casey had to cover my ass as my credit card company decided that since I was using my card in Canada, it must be stolen...Argh!

All in all I would say that heading to Thunder Bay is a worthy endeavor for Fat Biking.  The trails are fun and the Black Sheep club is venturing into packing and grooming the trails but it was also obvious that a ton of folks are riding Fat and because of that the trails were packed nicely.

In a nutshell get off your butt and head north over the border, you will be rewarded with some interesting experiences and you won't view the Midwest Adventure seen the same again that is for sure as the Tbay region has some amazing options to go out and have fun.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Back to my roots: 2015 Winter Outdoor Retailer Show with Outdoor Alliance

In 1994 I started my full professional career in the Outdoor Industry.  I say full time because unlike a lot of folks I was already emeshed in the Outdoor Industry by Junior high, due to how I grew up, but that is another story, this was the start of my "real job."

The boys.  I have spent countless hours touring with these guys and several were also on hand for the avalanche that forever connects me to Elmo.  Last night of the show.....
I went to my first OR show in 1995, it was still in Reno, NV and I attended with Garmont USA.  I remember being so totally excited and stoked to go.  I don't remember a whole hell of a lot about that show, but I do remember one story fondly.  My job was to help with the booth set and also just generally be a gopher.  As part of the "gopher job" I had to run the Italian owners/partners of the company around.  That generally meant doing whatever it took to keep them happy.  At one point during the show I had to pick them up in a hurry to get them to the airport, to get pole position at the front of the show I had to illegally park, I then ran in to get them.....when we came back the van was rolling away behind a tow truck to an impoundment.  Thinking quickly I ran back in and grabbed some keys from a buddy working with a competitor and still was able to get them to their plane on time.  However once done I had to report to John Schweizer my boss that I had lost the van and that we were going to have to head to the impoundment lot to retrieve it, and of course drop $200 bucks in doing so.  I fretted all the way to the lot, and remained largely silent, waiting for the inevitable tongue lashing I was going to receive.

The events leading up to retaining the vehicle were notable.  When we stomped into the office we were greeted by a woman I can only describe as a "painted lady", only one that had long since retired.  Regardless of that fact she still had a blouse on that revealed enough cleavage to rival the grand canyon.  Schweizer immediately handed me the credit card and had me work through the transaction while he inserted well aimed barbs about the evening and simultaneously trying to hook me up with the 50 year old matron across the counter.  Five minutes into this whole scenario I could only grin and laugh as the whole thing transpired and I realized that this was my tongue lashing.  As soon as we had the keys in hand and were heading towards our condo and waiting sales associates, Schweizer commented to me about my fear of the $200 loss.  "200 is bucks is important he said, but don't come whining to me about losing $200 bucks while I have hundreds of thousands riding on the show"  Lesson learned.....  12 years of rocking the Outdoor Industry followed and ultimately led me to advocacy, a place I covet in the miasma of outdoor jobs.

Typical OR show scene 
A lot of memories came flooding back this week when I was lucky enough to attend the 2015 Winter OR Show.  Walking the aisles was nostalgic and I ran into a myriad of folks from my past.  I sold the Duluth project hard and also worked with OA on another project I am involved it.

Interestingly enough many of my friends are in high places these days and it was really fun to educated them on what I am doing in Duluth, and also know they hold solid positions of influence within their own organizations and the industry itself.

It was once a ski show, but now, well its a rag show

Duluth Represents!!
My trip was sponsored by OA and The Minnesota Land Trust and because of that I spent a lot of time talking with other advocacy groups and vendors as to a future program OA is thinking of creating and that I support whole heartedly.

My work in Duluth could possibly be a large part of that effort and because of that I spent most of my time educating and informing my contacts about where we are with Duluth since the Outside Magazine win.  I was super impressed by what people had heard about Duluth and the buzz that it was generating in a  community that is leagues away from the city and generally Western focused.  That was very inspiring to hear.

It was also really cool to see a bunch of businesses from Duluth and the nearby area at the show.  Epicurean, Duluth Pack, Granite Gear, Frost River all were hanging at the show and I was able to spend a night with those folks as a mini Duluth Trade Delegation in SLC.  Also noteworthy was that at the close of each show day, they always had Bent Paddle on hand!

Of course I built in a day for a quick ski tour as well.  It was pretty frenetic and I am super stoked that Elmo was able to help me pull it together.  The snow in the Wasatch is pretty grim right now but even with that dire knowledge we of course found great skiing anyway.  It is always hard to hide the pow pow from old powder hounds like Elmo and myself I guess.

Earn em 

Rip em

Turn em

It was a quick tour but I was able to achieve a good run and really relished having that old bouncy, floating feeling of powder skiing.

It is interesting to think that now when I go to OR I actually go to family.  Family that would not have existed had I not attended the show.  I met Elmo through other industry friends and well, the rest is history and another extremely long story.  Its hard to ignore though as I played with little Skadi, Kass and Mikes little girl, I could not help but recall how long the road has been to get there.......