Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Self-assembling robots

I've been following developments in robotics for a while, and I even bought a Roomba a while back (mostly so that twenty years from now I can brag about owning one of the earliest domestic robots), but this is amazing:

I'm now more convinced than ever that robots will change the world for the next generation in the way the Internet is changing it for ours.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Backcountry snowshoeing

Today we went snowshoeing on Rabbit Ears pass. Here's the track:

Note that we went out and back on the same course.

This is a marked trail that starts at the East Summit car park. But as you can see from the completely untracked snow, it hasn't had a lot of recent use.

It's quite a treat having views like this all to yourself:

This was quite a bit easier than some of the tours we've been doing on the mountain. Whilst the distance we covered at 2.56 miles is similar, the total vertical climb of 516 ft is quite a bit less (like 1,603 ft on the last one).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Final day (really)

Today, day 36, was really my final day of skiing for the 2007-08 season. I start my new job next week and I've got a lot of travel coming up.

There's still plenty of snow on the mountain, including six inches of fresh powder. A powder day is the ultimate way to finish the season nearly three weeks after the mountain closes!

There are no photos today - I took the camera but didn't check if the batteries were charged - but here's the track:

Again I started at Thunderhead after Marie dropped me. You'll note that this time I went all the way to the Four Points hut. My original plan was to go to the top of Storm Peak but a guy came down and said it was very wind blown on top. Frankly I didn't have the energy to go on so he gave me a face saving way to stop at that point!

Best sections were skiing down Rainbow and Valley View. Both were untracked. On Valley View in particular the powder was heavy enough to leave very clear tracks. There's no better ego boost than to stand in the valley below and look back up at the mountain and see your own tracks!

I also included in the track the section from the mountain to my home since I walked that and therefore consider it part of today's exercise program.

The most important statistics for today are elevation gained (the effort) of 2,510 ft and elevation lost (the reward) of 3,141 ft. This was a four and a half hour exercise. As tough as it was in places I'll take this over running on a treadmill any day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More snowshoeing

Marie and I continued to take advantage of the abundance of snow on the mountain to go snowshoeing again today.

Here's the track:

The key stats are distance covered 3.1 miles and elevation gained 1,603 ft.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Still not over

My ski season is still not over because I went hiking for turns again today. This time I went all the way to the top of the gondola. Here's the track:

The best part of the day was on Norther where I found untracked spring corn. Here's what it looked like before I skied it:

And here's what it looked like after I'd laid down some tracks:

Check this out for a ridiculous amount of snow two weeks after the mountain has closed:

And this is off Rudi's which is mid-mountain; there's even more snow at the top of the mountain!

Finally today's stats:

Vertical ft: 2,025 hiking up, 2,481 skiing down (Marie dropped me at Thunderhead which gave me 450 ft for free)
Maximum speed: 38.3 mph
Average climbing speed: 2.0 mph

You can see the difference between hiking up and skiing down quite clearly in this graph (the first dip is when I skied Norther and then climbed back up):

Hiking up gives you a whole new perspective on the mountain. In particular everything seems a whole lot steeper when you have to get up it under your own power. Even areas I think of as flat when I ski them actually have a distinct grade to them.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Earning your turns

The opera's not over until the fat lady sings, and the ski season's not over until I stop skiing. Which means that the ski season is not over.

Those of you paying attention will be asking how that can be when I reported on closing day back on April 6.

It's called "earning your turns" - strapping your skis to your back and getting to the top of the mountain the old fashioned way. Like this:

You can see the gradual increase in elevation at quite slow speeds as I snowshoe up, and then some sudden spikes in speed and drop in elevation around the 1:45 hour mark as I begin to ski down.

Yes it's a lot of work, but worth it so you can do this when the lifts have stopped running and everyone has gone to the beach:

I was accompanied by my lovely wife Marie who took the great photo above and who thinks it's quite amusing wearing her summer hat on the snow:

So add one day and 1,726 ft of vertical to my 2007-08 season total!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New job

I gave my notice today after 8 1/2 years with my current employer (the first two and a half as a contractor). I'm moving to a smaller company that is entirely focused on my field of expertise rather than pursuing it as one of several areas.

Other than that, not much will change. The type of work is basically the same (in fact my old and new companies work together on many projects) and I'll continue to live here in Steamboat and travel all over the world which I love, but never so much that I don't always look forward to coming home, especially during the ski season!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Colour and movement

Check out this great photo taken by my nephew Julian. Amazing colours and he caught the dancer in mid air!

Here's the accompanying article he wrote for his university newspaper.

Monday, April 14, 2008


The ski mountain is closed for the season so today we went snowshoeing on the mountain rather than skiing. As you can see there's plenty of snow, so much that it's almost criminal to close the mountain so early, but don't get me started on that!

We started at the base and did a loop up around Bashor and then down Vogue. Here's the track.

It's only 1,528 ft of vertical in two hours but remember this is walking up, not riding a lift!

Here's my lovely wife Marie looking like she's having fun.

And me. It's a little less obvious but I'm having fun to.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Crying into your beer

Some good news today, it seems Colorado is about to repeal its laws preventing liquor sales on Sundays.

This law is only moderately inconvenient - once you know about it you can plan ahead - but inconvenient it still is. And more importantly it's just plain wrong. Nothing but small business owners wanting government to let them get away with not serving their customers. Listen to this local liquor store owner:

“It went just fine without being open on Sundays,” said Ted Heid, who owns Southside Liquors. “I thought, ‘What a business to be in; I have football Sunday off.’"

He's speaking the language of special interests so let me translate. What he actually means is this:

"I don't want to survive by giving my customers the service they want, and I want the government to prevent my competitors from providing them the service that I won't."

My response to Mr Heid is simple. Take Sundays off. And Mondays to Saturdays while you're at it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Season summary

I promised yesterday to provide a summary of my 2007-08 season. So here it is.

The obvious place to start is with our record breaking 489 inches of snow, well ahead of the previous record of 447.5 inches. So as I anticipated three weeks ago, I can now say I lived and skied in Steamboat during the biggest season ever! I could be bragging about this to newcomers for the next 20 years...

For various reasons, including the late opening, some travel and some unexpected surgery, I only managed 33 days (although I did think at one stage that I was finished at 24 days).

But what a fantastic 33 days they were including this powder day before Christmas when I skied so hard I could barely get out of bed the next morning, my best day ever on January 10, my best week ever in early February on my new fat skis, this unexpected bonus powder day in mid-March after I'd recovered from my surgery, and finally powder days right in to April in the season where Spring never came.

And finally, this season I introduced GPS tracking. Here's a consolidated track from the last eight days of skiing. Next year I should be able to produce a track of every single run for the season which should cover pretty much every piece of this wonderful mountain!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Closing day

Well that's it, the end of the the record breaking (489 inches!) 2007-08 season.

We're closing with a base of more than 100 inches and it's forecast to continue snowing all week. Unfortunately because Easter was so early this year visitor numbers in April would not have been enough to make it worthwhile for the ski company to keep the mountain open longer.

In keeping with the mild Spring we've been having it was overcast and cool today. Five inches of fresh snow overnight made for a silky smooth surface for carving those final turns. So here's the track for today.

The highlights included Chute 2, the trees to skier's left of upper Twister, and some nice powder stashes in the trees of Wally World.

I'll blog a more detailed summary of the season tomorrow, but for now I just want to sit back with a beer and bask in the glow of a fantastic season.

Finally today's stats:

Vertical ft: 13,479
Maximum speed: 41.0 mph
Distance skied: 12.18 miles
Time skiing: 52:48
Time stopped: 11:15
Time riding lifts: 57:53

Friday, April 04, 2008

Final days

The mountain closes for the season on Sunday so I'm almost done for 2007-08.

Which is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions given how unbelievably good the skiing still is (think King Lear Richard III who said something like "another week, another week, my kingdom for another week").

It's stayed cool enough on the upper mountain that the snow we had last week has not melted and refrozen overnight in typical Spring style but instead is still soft and buttery. It's a complete contrast to last year when Spring seemed to come in early March and stayed with a vengeance.

It was especially good on the Ridge (not on today's track due to technical difficulties) the trees of Closet which I did twice (but again only appears once due to the unforeseen technical problem), Triangle 3 and Tornado.

Here's today's track. Note that the straight line between the Morningside Chair and the Sundown Express is an artifact of the GPS unit somehow being paused and me turning it back on when I notice. I'll need to figure out how to stop that from happening by next year.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

No April Fool

Today's report is going to be so glowing that if I had posted it yesterday you'd be forgiven for thinking it was some sort of April Fools joke.

By now we should be in full on Spring skiing mode - crusty mornings, slushy afternoons, sunscreen and t-shirts. Instead we had nearly two feet of new snow on Sunday and Monday, with another couple of inches Monday night and last night to keep it fresh, plus mild temperatures and lots of cloud cover which have kept the snow in perfect condition.

And the tourists have left so we have it all to ourselves this week. I arrived at the gondola around 8.28 am and was number five in the singles line!

So here's today's track.

I missed the best of the snow earlier in the week since I've been out of action with a chest cold, but I found some great stashes in the trees and foot deep untracked powder on No Names - expert (double black diamond) terrain that you can only get to by walking up the last 200 feet tends to keep the people away. I usually don't bother with these runs - it takes too much time (and energy) that could be used skiing other great runs - but today it was absolutely worth it.

One thing I find amazing about my GPS unit is how accurate it is. Check it out tracking me inside the Four Points Hut as I stop for a snack and a rest. Actually, that's a bit Big Brotherish isn't it?

Finally, the stats:

Vertical ft: 17,992
Maximum speed: 42.1 mph
Distance skied: 14.61 miles
Time skiing: 1:10:40
Time stopped: 1:14:19 (no lift lines at all, just resting!)
Time riding lifts: 54:30