Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Finale

What a fantastic day to finish 2008. The weather was glorious and the snow was perfect.

Michael and I spent much of the day refining his bump technique.

We also went looking for leftover powder in the trees.

With skiing lots of bumps and trees and stopping to take photos, not to mention hiking to the top to ski Wake Up Call, we only managed 12,045 vertical ft, but every foot counted.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day 11

I spent an easy couple of hours this morning skiing with my Aussie mates Michael and Peter. Well not really that easy; even when skiing easy runs I tend to ski the bumps or trees on the edge. Only 9,635 vertical ft today.

Monday, December 29, 2008


It was a beautiful sunny day today, so I spent the morning skiing about 12,000 vertical ft with Michael and Claire.

I say about 12,000 vertical ft because the GPS got paused at the bottom of the Storm Peak Express and I didn't notice it until the bottom of the Sunshine Express (hence the line marked GPS failure). The approximately correct track is shown in yellow.

And then I spent and hour and a half in the afternoon snowshoeing two and a half miles along Spring Creek Trail with Marie.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

5% makes all the difference

Today was another powder day. The skiing was great, but I felt a little off today. Maybe only 5%, but that makes all the difference. Whilst I skied some great runs and 15,629 vertical ft I ended the day looking forward to skiing better tomorrow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

In Commonwealth countries today is Boxing Day. In Australia it's a holiday devoted to sports - the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and the Boxing Day cricket test which is always held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

It's also my lovely wife's birthday so she gets to choose the activities for the day which normally means snowshoeing. But not today since Marie doesn't like to go when it's snowing. So that's one rain check (or snow check) on snowshoeing, good as soon as the sun comes back out.

Of course I don't mind skiing when it's snowing. Today I skied with my best friend Michael and the focus was on getting him comfortable in the powder and trees so no epic runs like Shadows or Closet, but we did get into the trees to skier's left of Sunnyside in a big way. Total vertical of 10,981 ft.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

White Christmas

Everybody knows there's nothing better than a white Christmas, skiers doubly so. 14,396 vertical ft, much of it in knee deep powder, is the sort of Christmas present I like!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse

...because they were too tired after skiing today's epic powder conditions; 24 inches in the past 48 hours.

I was at the Gondola by 8:10 am so I managed first tracks on Twister and plenty of fresh tracks: on Triangle 3; to skier's left of Cyclone; on Shadows where it was thigh deep, light and fluffy; and to skier's left of the Priest Creek Liftline. In Steamboat it actually does get better than this, but not much and not often.

Total vertical today was 16,484 ft.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


It seems my Dad's initial diagnosis of stomach cancer was not correct, nor was a subsequent diagnosis of colon cancer. All we know at the moment is that there are secondary tumours in his liver.

Dad has been having a series of tests to try to locate the primary cancer, but we are not likely to know the answer until Friday. Until then we don't know what his prospects are. At the moment I'm on an emotional roller coaster, wavering between hope and despair.

With any luck we'll get good news on Friday. Until then we just have to hang in there. In the meantime Dad is stuck in hospital and I know from personal experience that spending Christmas Day in hospital sucks.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 5

I didn't ski with the GPS today since I was skiing with friends who arrived yesterday from Australia and their two kids. It's hard to rack up much vertical in those circumstances. I'm guessing less than 5,000 ft. But it was still fun - snow, skis and friends - how could it not be fun?

Saturday, December 20, 2008


My Mum called earlier today with the unwelcome news that my Dad has just been diagnosed with stomach cancer.

I don't have much detail yet about his condition or his prognosis. He'll undergo surgery later today or tomorrow and hopefully after that we'll have a much better idea of what happens next.

It's times like this that living a long way from family is very difficult.

Dad seemed to be in good spirits when I spoke to him, so I'm determined to be positive too. He's always been a wonderful role model of all that is best in a man. The world would be a worse place without him.

I love you Dad.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Trees triple play

Today was my first day really getting into the trees; Shadows twice and Twilight along with several other minor expeditions into the woods. This is what I've been waiting for!

Total vertical of 12,628 ft.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 3

Nothing special to report today, simply getting out there and finding my ski legs for total vertical of 14,857 ft.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The powder begins

Day 2 and six inches of fresh powder. Hard not to ski hard when it's like it was today. Here's today's track - for a total of 14,217 vertical ft.

I did take it reasonable easy on Pete, a friend from Australia that I was skiing with today. Not too easy mind you, but he seemed to survive reasonable well.

And I did resist the temptation to really get into the trees. Closet and Shadows were definitely calling me, but we need another foot or so of snow for the stumps and shrubs to be sufficiently covered to make that a sensible thing to do. I can't wait!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Back on skis

My 2008-09 ski season started today!

We arrived home from Italy late last night so I made a leisurely start to the morning and only got out around noon, which worked out well since it was very cold this morning but warmed up nicely with the sun by midday.

Here's the track from today.

I promised myself and my wife that I'd ease myself into the season. I half kept that promise by only staying out about an hour and only skiing 5,634 vertical ft. But the snow is so nice that I couldn't help throwing in some steep and some bumps!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The perfect cappucino

I once described my international travels to a friend as a journey in search of the perfect cappuccino.

Well I've found it this week. In Rome (Italy is after all the home of espresso and cappuccino). Made by the Filipino-Italian waiter in the dining room at the Hotel Santa Maria.

And it was no fluke. I had several every day just to be sure! Each and every one was perfect. The espresso was strong and full of flavour without being bitter; the proportions were perfect with 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk and 1/3 foam; it was served in a cup which was just the right size (American coffee chains - you know who I'm referring to - in catering to their customer's obsession with things being bigger have way too little espresso in proportion to the milk); and the foam had that perfect silky texture.

It's a lovely hotel as well. If When we return to Rome, we'll definitely stay there again.

Monday, December 08, 2008


We arrived in Rome yesterday and today was our first day seeing the sights. We decided to just walk today before deciding on more specific tours for later in the week. A total of 12.63 miles according to the GPS.

Trevi Fountain. Nice but not mindblowing.

The Pantheon. This is one of the sites I really wanted to see. The dome was built from concrete nearly 1,900 years ago. You understand the meaning of Dark Ages when you realise it took until the 19th century to recover this level of engineering ability. Definitely mindblowing.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


We've just flown Lufthansa for the first time, from Johannesburg to Frankfurt, and soon transferring to Rome. So I thought I'd update my previous review of business class airline experiences.

Lufthansa's business class seats are better than United's (not hard!) but inferior to most of their competitors. They are the angled flat design that were the cutting edge a decade ago but which the leading airlines are ditching for true flat seats.

Qantas still have the angled seats (although they're gone for a true flat bed in their new A380's) but the Lufthansa one's aren't even as good as those - they're narrower and less private.

The movie system was fine - 10 inch screen with video on demand - but the food was average, and I think they have the lowest ratio of toilets to business class seats I've ever seen on a long haul flight.

But in true German style the flights all left and arrived right on time!

Our original itinerary had us making a 45 minute connection in Rome on the return trip. I'm glad I asked my travel agent to change that since just getting between terminals took a good 25 minutes - it's quite a distance, it's very poorly signposted and you have to go through immigration; since Frankfurt to Rome is inside the EU's Shengen area it's effectively a domestic flight.

And last but not least, I'm writing this in the Lufthansa business class lounge which is quite nice, but I can't post it until later. What is it about American and European airlines not being able to offer free wi-fi in their lounges?

Friday, December 05, 2008

How does it decide that?

I'm sitting in South Africa and browsing a web site of an Australian newspaper(1) and this is the ad that is displayed.

Since I live in the US and own a car there, I'm potentially the right target for this ad. But how on earth does this web site know that?

(1) The Courier Mail is a lousy paper. I only read it because it's Brisbane's local paper.