Thursday, December 30, 2010

Not today, but tomorrow?

Today wasn't the epic powder day the weather forecast led me to expect - the seven inches in the previous 24 hours on the snow report this morning mostly fell yesterday afternoon - but the way it has been snowing since mid-afternoon, it looks like tomorrow will be (but also bitterly cold at around 0F or -18C).

Nevertheless it was a great day on the mountain. Best run of the day was Twilight aka 2:30 trees, especially the section below Duster which is the only thing I felt that I didn't ski like an old man today. Here's the video.

And here's the GPS data.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Nicole and Peter

Today I skied with my Aussie friends Nicole and Peter on about 3 inches of fresh.

Pete is a rapidly improving intermediate skier but that still meant nothing too challenging. Best run of the day was powder bumps to skiers' left of Hurricane with the powder bumps to skiers' left of Cyclone were a close second.

Here's the GPS data.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Video clinic

Skiing yesterday mostly involved videoing with my friend Elizabeth who is an intermediate skier and who is very keen to improve (she runs marathons so pushing herself is not a problem). Video is a fantastic learning tool - there's nothing like being able to see yourself skiing to be able to see what you are actually doing rather than what you think you are doing.

I didn't take any video of her husband Rob because I was afraid that shooting his fluorescent lime green helmet might damage my camera.

The end result for me was that it was a very casual two hours on the mountain. Since Elizabeth is not that keen for her performance to be put on Youtube for the world to see and I had some GPS issues (mostly due to operator error combined with some poor user interface design) that's all there is to report.

I'm not skiing today since it's Marie's birthday and we have a whole lot of people coming over to our new house later today.

Hungry elk

Because we had heavy snow early, the elk have struggled to get enough to eat and have been coming into residential areas much more than they usually do. Last night we almost hit a herd on our way home from dinner with friends and then this morning we looked out the window to see this big buck attacking a patch of exposed grass in our neighbour's yard.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cruisy Christmas Eve

Whilst it was warm yesterday and the snow on the lower mountain today was hard and crunchy, the snow on the upper mountain today was perfect for just cruising around. Best run of the day was powder bumps on Tornado. Here's the GPS data.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Vertigo is my favourite run on the lower half of the mountain but I usually don't ski it until the end of my day. Today I was waiting for some friends so I hit it first up and it was so sweet it almost made my head spin (sorry...)

Concentration immediately after was also sweet. As was everything else on the mountain with all the snow we've been having. Here's the GPS data.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Friends from St Louis

I skied today with my friends from St Louis, Rob and Elizabeth. First day of the season for them, so we took it easy despite the 6 inches of fresh which is fast heading towards 18 based on the way it is continuing to come down. Could be a big day tomorrow.

Here's the GPS data.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Good days and bad days

Yesterday was a good day - several inches of fresh snow in the morning and more during the day, and even with Christmas only a week away the mountain was surprisingly uncrowded. Best run of the day was definitely Shadows, top to bottom (i.e. including the section below Duster) for the first time this season. Here's the GPS data.

Today started out fine. We had a nice lunch with friends out in a very beautiful part of rural Colorado but had a slight mishap on the way home. I took a corner a little too tight and skidded on the ice right into a ditch.

Thankfully their was no damage to the occupants (except the driver's pride) or vehicle, but it's not much fun waiting around for a couple of hours on a cold snowy afternoon in the middle of nowhere for the tow truck to pull you out! Fortunately our wonderful friends Gerry and Kathy were traveling behind us so we could wait in their nice warm car.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It Happened in Sun Valley

Actually it happened in Steamboat. I rode the Storm Peak Express this morning with a woman who offered to sing a song for my video camera. She chose It Happened in Sun Valley. Nice voice.

One of the nice things about living in a world class ski resort, apart from the world class skiing of course, is that you're surrounded by a lot of very happy people!

After that I joined my ski clinic with Jamie. The forecast had been for 12 inches of snow with high winds. In the end we got about four inches of snow with light winds which made for some very nice skiing. Priest Creek Liftline twice was the best of the day.

Here's the GPS data. A fairly big day - 22,000 vertical ft - for this early in the season.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lucious leftovers

We had five inches of fresh yesterday but unfortunately I just couldn't make it out. I did get out for a couple of hours in the middle of today to enjoy the leftovers and it was still very, very nice, especially Shadows and Flying Z.

Here's the GPS data.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


As I mentioned previously I was in South Africa for the 2010 soccer World Cup.

A few people have asked me what I thought of the vuvuzelas. This sums up my feelings on the matter perfectly.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Broken finger

I broke my finger yesterday; not skiing (I didn't go out yesterday) but at the gym. If you've ever wondered who wins when a finger clashes with a 20lb dumbbell I can tell you that it's not the finger.

Fortunately the busted digit is on my right hand and I'm left handed; nevertheless even with only one finger on you non-dominant hand immobilised a lot of tasks (including typing) are surprisingly awkward.

I did ski on Saturday. I had an all day clinic with my coach Jamie which was great to fine tune my skiing so that I don't get back into bad habits. I went out electronically naked - no GPS or heart rate monitor or video - so I don't have any data, but it was about a 16,000 vertical ft day. There's been just enough new snow since last Monday's dump to keep it soft and buttery so it was a surprisingly good day.

Talking about last Monday, here's another video from that epic November powder day to keep us motivated for the next one. This run beneath the Four Points chair is one of my favorites to hit early on a powder day - jump on the Four Points chair when it opens at 8:45 am and fit in a run like this before the Storm Peak Express opens at 9 am. Watch for the drop off a rock into a deep drift of powder around 1:06. Whoa!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The cure for Monday mornings?

12 inches of fresh powder! It was certainly one of the most epic November powder days ever.

Fresh tracks were to be had everywhere but nowhere better than this run down one of Steamboat's (and the world's) best tree runs - Shadows.

Here's the GPS data.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back in the groove

I didn't ski Friday because I pulled up sore from opening day which is not surprising given a break of nearly eight months and the fact that I skied too hard and not particularly well.

Yesterday I was much happier with the way I skied and it was such a beautiful day. Best run of the day was definitely this non-stop bump run down Whiteout. The nice thing about this video is that with sun behind me I can see how I'm skiing and note the corrections to make next time.

If you are wondering what the blur on the left side is, that's some snow stuck on the lens. I'm not sure how it got there since I didn't fall. Or if I did, it's been edited out. You'll never know. More importantly, neither will Marie. It seems she wasn't happy seeing the fall on Thursday's video.

Here's the GPS data.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Finally it's here

The 2010-11 ski season it is. It's less than eight months since I last skied but it seems like forever.

This year we've opened with top to bottom skiing after several very snowy weeks.

I acquired a new high definition helmet mounted camera a little while back, so here's the video of a sweet opening day run through the trees of Closet. Yes, I did fall. Did I mention that it's opening day? So I'm a tiny bit rusty.

It was cold out today - below 0F - but the sun was out and there was no wind so it was actually quite bearable. Especially when the pay off is opening day tree skiing!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another hard drive fail

Yesterday my network attached drive failed. Unlike last time, I had all the data backed up.

It was easy enough to run down to Staples and get a new one. I couldn't get the same brand/model, and whilst all network drives do much the same things, they all do it slightly differently, so I had to spend a couple of hours getting it configured and all of the computers mapped to the right virtual drives so all my backup routines would continue to work correctly. It should have only taken 15 minutes, but the user guide was next to useless. The people who wrote it obviously have no concept of stepping the user through key concepts or common tasks.

The trickiest part was installing the client software on Marie's netbook which doesn't have a CD drive. The instructions included the following "if your computer does not have a CD drive, go to" which I did, expecting to be able to download the software. No sign of it, or anything else that would help me solve the problem. So I had to copy the CD to a USB drive and install it that way.

Not a big deal really, but this is supposed to be consumer grade technology. There's no way the average consumer (i.e. someone who doesn't like to play with computers) could install this correctly.

Big fat soft flakes

That's what Champagne Powder is made of and plenty of it has been falling from the sky in the past week. With only ten days to go until opening day, it's looking like a much better start to the season than last year.

There's not quite enough snow yet to get an early start on the season by hiking for some turns, but certainly plenty to play in so yesterday we decided to go hiking in the snow up Emerald Mountain.

Monday, November 08, 2010

What's French for spam?

I've mentioned before how much I detest comment spam. But this one made me laugh:
Salut à tous,

Voulez-vous gagner des objets facilement?

Le site web est un un site web facile d'acces qui vous permet de remporter de fabuleux prix sans investir beaucoup!
According to Google this roughly translates as:
Hello all,

Want to win things easily? website is a website easy access that allows you to win great prizes without investing a lot!
Is there anything anywhere on this blog to indicate that I, or my readers, are francophones? Well my wife Marie is, having been educated by French nuns through grade 9, but you can't tell that from my blog (at least until now).

Plus it was attached to a post about Aussies in Hollywood. Since it appears to be a French-Canadian website, it might have made at least a little sense if it were attached to this post which mentions a hotel in Ottawa with a French name.

The scary thing is that as dumb as spammers are, there are even dumber people out there who give them money!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Customer service in real time

This morning I left some slightly negative feedback about a purchase on the Amazon website (the packaging overkill issue I blogged recently).

Within a minute (literally) of clicking submit the company that fulfilled the order called me to address the issue.

One of the most critical parts of delivering good customer service is to actually listen to your customers; that's the only way to learn about problems so you can fix them, and it has the added benefit of making your customers feel valued.

You'd be amazed how many companies don't get that (like the hotel I blogged about yesterday, who haven't bothered to respond to the email I sent them). clearly get it. I'll happily order from them again knowing that if there's a problem they'll be on it faster than Usain Bolt.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What does guaranteed mean?

In the thousands of nights I've stayed in hotels I've never needed or wanted a room with two beds.Well once, about 15 years ago when I shared a room on a business trip with my good friend Raj, and he hasn't stopped talking about how restless I am (stillness is not my karma).

Hotel rooms are small enough without half the space being taken up by a bed that you are not going to use. So one of my pet hates is booking a room with a king bed and finding at check in that they only have rooms with two queen beds available.

This is annoying enough at hotels that primarily serve business travelers, but it is inexcusable at hotels that attract couples wanting a romantic get away, like the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa which seems to have a constant stream of unhappy couples (yes, including us when we stayed there) checking in only to find that for 300 plus dollars a night (room only) they'd be sharing an old fashioned double bed instead of the king bed they'd requested.

One of the reasons I prefer Marriott hotels is that they track rooms with king beds and rooms with two queen beds as separate inventory, so that if they have a king bed room available when you make your reservation, they guarantee it.

Or so I thought. I received an email today from a Marriott that I was planning to stay at tonight saying "We wanted to let you know in advance that based on our occupancy, your bed preference might not be available today during your stay."

I'm sorry, but which part of guaranteed do I not understand correctly?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I just tested out Facetime, the video calling technology built into the iPhone 4, with my friend Rob.

I've used a number of video calling technologies before (e.g. Skype) but this is the most natural by far. You immediately forget the technology; it just feels like a face to face conversation.

The only problem is that it's a closed system; you can only call other iPhone 4 users. Let's hope Apple open the technology up. Otherwise it will be the same old story; due to the network effect an inferior but open technology will come to dominate the market.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall winter storm

Steamboat was hit yesterday with what the weather service calls a winter storm. But there's a difference between a true winter storm and a late fall storm; the snow is much wetter and heavier than it would be in a true winter storm, and many of the trees still have their leaves (and berries), so it looks quite different. Still beautiful, just different.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The unfriendliest place in Steamboat is...

... the Post Office parking lot. Something comes over the fine citizens of Steamboat Springs when they are on a mission to collect their mail; they'd rather drive right over the top of you than stop than let you back out of your spot (even if you're 3/4 of the way out)!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Packaging overkill

I ordered a product online recently which arrived in this box.

Here's what was inside.

And here's the actual product.

Here's a comparison of the actual product and the mailing box. I calculate you could fit approximately 200 of these in this box.

If you are wondering what this is, I'll explain it in a forthcoming post. Hint: it fits on a helmet and I'm going to use it during the ski season.

Friday, October 08, 2010

First snow

To remind us that it's only 47 days until the opening of the ski season, Mother Nature delivered us our first dusting of snow on the mountain today.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Perfect rainbow

Driving back from downtown this evening we saw the most perfect rainbow I think I've ever seen framing the ski mountain perfectly.

Within the limits of my iPhone camera I needed to take two shots to get it all. You can see that my photoshop skills are limited!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Traditional publishers are idiots

Look closely at the pricing on Amazon for this book. The hardcover is $7.99 and the Kindle edition is $9.99!

Electronic books cost less to produce and distribute than physical books, there are no costs for inventory or returns, you can't lend them and you can't sell them when you are done. So they should always be priced lower than the physical book.

This is not Amazon's fault. The initial Kindle pricing model was that Amazon would set the prices. The publishers disliked that so much that they threatened to withdraw their books from Amazon with this very publisher, HarperCollins, leading the charge.

You might wonder what HarperCollins' agenda is. I can only surmise that they hope that they can sabotage the move to electronic books and maintain their current business model. Of course they would think that, because resisting digitalisation has worked so well for the entertainment industry!

When Amazon write "this price was set by the publisher" I don't know how they can resist adding "who are complete idiots and deserve to go the way of the dinosaurs."

Update: 6 October. I wrote this before I saw this article on the same subject in the New York Times.

The article discusses two specific examples and the publishers are quoted as saying "...those two books were the first they knew of that cost more as e-books than in hardcover on Amazon." Not only are they idiots, but they are either liars or completely and utterly clueless. I've seen dozens of examples on Amazon including some where the electronic book is more expensive than the paperback!

Hopefully enough pressure is building on publishers to stop this nonsense. By the way, I think the New York Times is much less imaginative with its headlines than I am!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hiking Emerald Mountain

Marie and I hiked Emerald Mountain today. It's a 5 mile round trip with a 1,400 ft vertical rise, so it provided a very good two hour workout. Here's the route.

Emerald Mountain is directly across the valley from the ski mountain, so this is the view half way up.

And this is the view from the top!

There's also a great view from the top of the Flattops to the south.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Hard drive fail

The hard drive in my work laptop crashed yesterday. For some reason it was the only one of the several computers in my house that wasn't backed up. Yes I know, dumb, dumb, dumb.

It could have been worse. It actually happened whilst I was visiting the office, so Jeremy our IT guy did a great job installing a new hard drive so I at least have a working laptop, even if it is without my data (fortunately the most valuable documents were stored online.)

The other silver lining is that after a not so good day, I got to come home to Steamboat (and Marie). That's always good. Actually it's good squared!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Coffee as a teaching tool

Regular readers will know that I like things coffee and things geek. So I really liked this article I stumbled across today which analyses the production of coffee at Starbucks using standard information system design patterns; Starbucks Does Not Use Two-Phase Commit.

Illustrating abstract architectural concepts using real world processes is actually a very powerful teaching tool; for example, illustrating the concept of a correlation identifier by reference to Starbucks' practice of writing your name on the cup when you order.

It's a simple and effective solution, but I did have a little trouble with it when I was working regularly in the Philippines a few years ago. Filipinos are mostly accustomed to American accents; when I gave my name as Dan almost anything would end up on the cup. So I experimented for a bit until I found a name that the staff would always get right despite my Australian accent; at Starbucks Philippines I am therefore known as "Freddie".

It also reminded me of the Order Cappuccino Use Case that I used to teach how to write Use Cases; that was in South Africa where the "cappuccino with foam or cream" heresy originates.

Order Cappuccino Use Case

Basic Flow
  1. The Customer asks for a cappuccino; the Waiter prompts for Foam or Cream
  2. The Customer requests foam; the Waiter submits the order
  3. The Barista makes the cappuccino
  4. The Waiter collects the order from the Barista and delivers it to the customer
  5. The Customer drinks the cappuccino
  6. The Customer requests the bill; the Waiter delivers the bill
  7. The Customer pays; the Waiter collects the payment
  8. The Waiter returns with the change
  9. The Customer collects the change and the Use Case ends

Alternate Flow (branch at Basic Flow Step 2)

  1. A South African Customer requests Cream; the Use Case ends because that’s not a Cappuccino!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What a difference one letter makes

I've obviously been spending too much time reading and thinking about the Global Financial Crisis.

I say that because I was driving from the Gold Coast to Brisbane when I saw the following on a variable road sign: "Unsecured loads cause crashes."

My reaction was to ask "why is the roads department commenting on economic policy?". Because I read it as: "Unsecured loans cause crashes"!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What's Steve Jobs got against left handers?

I often say that left handers are the last group in America that it isn't illegal to discriminate against. And it seems that Steve Jobs is taking advantage of that fact. Here's an image from Apple's latest attempt to obfuscate on the iPhone 4 antenna problems showing how not to hold your iPhone.

As a left hander I'm wondering how else I could hold an iPhone with my left hand. I'm also wondering how the signal on an iPhone would be affected if I shoved it down Steve Jobs' throat.

Monday, June 28, 2010

World Cup Cappuccino

In the past two years I've spent a total of about seven months in South Africa. In that time I've tried plenty of cappuccinos (including a "cappuccino" with cream).

Until recently the best of them were merely OK (and the worst of them, you don't want to go there.) About three weeks ago I discovered a really, really good cappuccino - not quite as good as the perfect cappuccino I found in Rome - but close. Here it is.

And this is the barista Clarence who makes this excellent cappucino.

Where did I find it? In the cafeteria at the Woolworths department store in Irene Mall!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

World Cup Fever

I'm not a big soccer fan - in fact I've been heard to say that I don't like soccer - but with two teams in the World Cup (Australia and USA) and being right on the spot in South Africa, well it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement.

Especially so when my colleague offered me a ticket to the USA-Algeria game being held less than 30 minutes from where I'm staying.

So for a few hours I became that rarest of beasts, rarer even than the fabled unicorn, a one-eyed Australian-American soccer fan.

However there was no shortage of fully decked out USA fans in the crowd. Even Elvis was there supporting the US team!

To top it off we had seats right in front of the goal where USA scored the winning goal in the final minutes.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A builder's truck

The place we've been staying at in South Africa for the past few weeks has been having some remodelling done. This is the truck the builder uses to carry his materials and tools and his workers to the site.

Back home in the US anyone who needs to carry more than a box of tools seems to have a great big F250 pickup truck. We'll this thing could fit in the back of one of those.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Leave home without it

If you have a US-issued American Express card and you're planning to attend the Soccer World Cup in South Africa in June, I strongly recommend that you bring another credit card with you.

South Africa is following Europe's lead in requiring a PIN rather than a signature for over the counter credit card transactions. Credit cards issued by US banks don't have PINs. The South African banks are supposed to cater for that by programming their point of sale terminals to recognise a US-issued card (you can readily tell which country a card is issued in from the card number) and not ask for a PIN for a card that doesn't have one. Based on my experience in the last week they've done so for Visa cards but not for American Express (I don't know about Mastercard since I don't have one to test).

Given that Visa is a Soccer World Cup sponsor it all seems a little too coincidental to me. I wouldn't be happy if I was American Express.

Will I be attending a game if I'm here in June? I'm torn between the fact that Australia and USA (I'm a dual citizen after all) have qualified and the fact that I hate soccer!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Interesting* birthday

Yesterday was my birthday; what I had originally planned to do was ski on my birthday, but due to the fact that I'm in South Africa rather than at home, that plan didn't work out and I went to a bunch of customer meetings instead.

The day did end up interesting* though because around midnight I ended up in a South African emergency room. I'd had a stomach bug earlier in the week that I though was over but by Friday night I was double over in agony. Nothing some intravenous pain killers couldn't fix. It wasn't quite the high tech experience of an ER visit in the US, but it was quick and efficient and cost about 20% of what it would have at home.

* That's interesting as in the traditional Chinese curse: "may you live in interesting times".

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Season summary

I promised on Thursday to post a summary of my ski season, so here it is.

I set out to ski every day. I didn't make that goal, but I did manage to ski 116 of the 135 days the mountain was open (the season was to be 137 days, but there were two days when the lifts were completely closed due to wind). And I managed to ski the first 107 days straight (November 26 to March 12).

I had a subsidiary goal of skiing 1.5 million vertical ft and I did make that with my season total being 1,537,544 vertical ft at a daily average of 13,255 vertical ft, although the distribution of that is quite uneven as you can see from the chart below. In particular, my daily average before Christmas was not great, mostly because so little of the mountain was open.

The statistic that really surprised me was the distance travelled. MY GPS shows me covering 2,369 miles (3,813 km). About 40% of that is the ride up on the lift, so it means I covered about 1,400 miles (2,900 km) on skis!

Here's the combined track for the entire season.

As you can see, my favourite place to ski is the trees on the Priest Creek face, so here's a closer look at that.

I didn't particularly set out to improve my skiing this season, but in the end I definitely did. Time on the snow and two rounds of local's clinics (10 sessions) with Jamie certainly contributed to that despite my primary motivation going in being to meet some locals of similar ability to ski with. My bump skiing in particular improved out of sight, which would not surprise those of you who noticed how often I posted on skiing bumps.

It wasn't the greatest season in terms of snow; it looks like the season total will be around 250 inches compared to the average of 350 and the past two seasons of over 400 inches. I still got in some really great skiing despite the shortage of powder days and not one of those truly epic days when the snow is so deep that you feel transported to another world. The best day of the season was probably February 26, followed by New Years Eve. December 31 actually had more snow, but the lack of a base made skiing the trees that day a bad idea.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Powder finish

I'm off to South Africa tomorrow for work so today was the 116th and last day of my season.

I was originally going to ski yesterday but the conditions didn't look great and there was snow in the forecast for today. So I was disappointed when the 5am report said only two inches and decided to continue with my travel preparations. But it kept snowing all morning and by noon I had everything under control, so I went out.

I'm glad I did. Six to eight inches of fresh - not too light which was good since it stuck to the hard pack underneath- and deeper in the trees.

Best run of the day was nearly 3.30 trees (where I ran into my friend Tom for the second time in a week - seems like we both like this run!); nearly but not quite because Shadows, my last tree run of the season, was even better. A great way to finish.

Here's today's track. 13,078 vertical ft (season total 1,537,544 ft) in 1:58.

I'll post a detailed season summary tomorrow or the next day, probably while I'm killing time in an airport somewhere.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Winding down

The season has another two weeks to run, but I'm pulling the plug at the end of this week to get back to work (specifically on a project in South Africa that I was working on 12 months ago).

Today was a total contrast to Saturday's wintery conditions; very warm so once again it was all about slush bumps. The Ridge was good, Twister was excellent, Whiteout was great apart from the last few turns which I muffed (I'll put that down to fatigue after hammering the previous fifty turns) but the best run of the day was the super slushy bumps on Vertigo on the way home.

Here's today's track. 12,740 vertical ft (season total 1,524,466 ft) in 2:18. That rate is a little slow because I skied most of today with my friends Ted and Wendy and their three young daughters, so lots of stopping and waiting.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March surprise

To my complete surprise given the trends of this season and last night's weather report, today was a powder day. Not an epic powder day, but a true six inch powder day nevertheless. On top of that it continued snowing quite hard for much of today. The snow on me and my mate Rob in this photo is simply the accumulation whilst we were riding the Bar-UE chair.

Here's today's track. 20,407 vertical ft (season total breaks the 1.5 million mark at 1,511,726 ft) in 3:48.

There were so many good runs today it's hard to pick the best one. Probably Shadows, but 3.30 trees, 2.30 trees and Typhoon all come a close second.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rob returns

My Aussie friend Rob from St Louis who was here over Christmas with his wife and son is back for a short spring break ski trip with just his son this time, so I skied with him and some of his friends today.

There was a couple of inches of fresh this morning and it's been snowing all day. It was a little "dust on crust" but not as bad as I would have expected, probably because it didn't get cold enough last night to freeze yesterday's slush really hard.

The powder bumps today were especially nice. Best run of the day was a non-stop bump-fest straight down the fall line of Whiteout which really got my heart rate up (175 bpm). Twister was also good as was The Ridge (twice).

Here's today's track. 15,612 vertical ft (season total 1,491,319 ft) in 3:42.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Very nice

Today's skiing was much better than I expected. We only had two inches of snow yesterday (despite the fact that the Front Range got hammered) and some wind last night, so I expected a rerun of Saturday's horrible conditions, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.

Here's today's track. 18,270 vertical ft (season total 1,475,707 ft) in 2:31.

1. Rudi's / Lightning - I discover to my delight that it's packed powder rather than the dust on crust I was expecting

2. Triangle3 - often when it's been windy the snow is dropped here. Not today. a bit disappointing

3. Tornado - the bumps to skiers' right had enough soft snow in the troughs to be pretty good

4. Upper Buddy's - nice packed powder

5. Cyclone - nice bumps to skiers' right

6. Storm Peak Liftline - this section between Vortex and Drop Out was unskied at noon, so I laid down these tracks

7. The Ridge - whilst a little crusty from the wind, the snow was at least five inches deep here

8. Drop Out - nice bumps off to skiers' right

9. Sideburn - pretty good snow in the trees here

10. Lower Rainbow - perfect packed powder for carving high speed GS turns

11. Storm Peak Face - there was a section in the middle here about five metres wide where the snow was several inches deep and largely untracked

12. Hurricane - excellent bumps to skiers' left

13. Twister - largely untracked freshies at 1 pm! This was definitely the best run of the day

14. Nelson's - not quite as good as Twister but still nice

15. Norther / Vagabond - with the exception of one small icy section of Vagabond packed powder all the way home.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Slush bumps

I said yesterday that I wanted to ski slush bumps and today it was warm enough for me to get my wish.

First run was skier's left of Surprise (which gets the sun earliest) which was nice and soft as expected. I follow that with the middle of Storm Peak face / Rainbow then 2 O'Clock and Quickdraw which were all OK.

The next run - after a quick burger on the deck at Rendezvous - was non-stop down a bumped up 3 O'Clock which really got the heart pumping and by that time the sun had softened the bumps to just the right consistency. Sundown Liftline after that was even better (and got the heart pumping even more, at least according to my heart monitor) and 3 O'Clock a second time was still great. Whiteout wasn't as soft was I expected even at 3pm, so I hit the bumps on Surprise again and Norther and then Vertigo on the way home.

Here's today's track. 19,218 vertical ft (season total 1,457,437 ft) in 2:40.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A little better

The best thing I can say about today is that it was a little better than yesterday, but not a whole lot. It was a beautiful sunny day, but it simply didn't get warm enough to melt the hard snow. Fortunately tomorrow is forecast to be warmer because I've got a burning desire to ski some slush bumps...

Here's today's track. 10,848 vertical ft (season total 1,438,219 ft) in 1:31. I won't even bother to try to nominate a best run for today because it was all quite mediocre.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Low expectations met

I went out today with very low expectations and they were well and truly met.

Why was I so pessimistic? Because of the following chain of events:

1. It was warm on Thursday so the snow got very soft
2. A cold front moved in Thursday night so the snow refroze very hard
3. It started to snow on Friday morning but only a couple of inches, and then the wind blew it all away
4. It stayed cold today, so despite the fact the sun was out the snow didn't soften at all.

I arranged to meet some friends, John and Alta, today. Alta was the smart one; she bailed after one run whilst John and I persisted in the hope that we'd find something better. On that note, the best run of the day is hard to pick because none of it was much good. Upper Sundown Liftline or skier's right of Tornado where snow had blown into the troughs between the bumps were both sort of OK, but you had to ski so much rubbish to get to them it wasn't really worth it.

Here's today's track. Only 9,296 vertical ft (season total 1,427,371 ft) in 1:52.

Friday, March 19, 2010


With my unbroken run having come to an end earlier this week, I decided not to ski yesterday. I'd been finding our two hour tai chi class on Tuesday and Thursday nights very hard going when also skiing the same day. Plus it was supposed to snow last night, so I thought I'd wait for the freshies today.

Whilst the forecast also included some wind, it didn't say anything about 70 mph winds that would close the entire mountain for the second time in less than a week! At least the wind is forecast to drop off today whilst the snow is expected to continue through tonight, so fingers and toes are crossed for a powder day tomorrow!

P.S. If you are thinking of Tai Chi as those slow, gentle, flowing exercises old Chinese people do in the park, it's actually a martial art; the full name tai chi chuan translates as "supreme ultimate fist". And the slower you do it, the harder it is. You will understand why it's tough after skiing if you think of it as two hours of lunges and squats and standing on one leg like this.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm back

Those of you who have been paying attention (yes, that's you Rob K) will have noticed that after 107 consecutive days of skiing reports I've not posted anything in the past few days. The cold I could feel coming on last Friday laid me flat.

So it was great to get back on the mountain today, even though conditions were nothing special. It's Spring skiing right now, but it was a little cloudy meaning the snow was slow to soften. It's also not helped by the fact that a few years ago our idiot politicians decided to move the start date for daylight savings from the beginning of April to early March. So it's even later in the day before the snow softens.

Best run today was definitely the slush bumps on Surprise.

Here's today's track. 15,810 vertical ft (season total 1,418,075 ft) in 2:22.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Powder bumps

Desipte the fact that I didn't hit the mountain until 10 am, there were plenty of lovely powder leftovers from yesterday, so I decided to take advantage of the powder bumps today. Here's today's track.

1. Norther - powder bumps
2. Storm Peak face right under the chair to skier's right of Tornado - more powder bumps
3. The Ridge to skier's right of Buddy's to Vortex - still more powder bumps
4. Sideburn to skier's left of Hurricane - even more powder bumps
5. The middle of Storm Peak Face to Twister - you guessed it, powder bumps
6. Closet to Lights Out - trees followed by powder bumps
7. Whiteout - humongous powder bumps which proved that nailing these bumps yesterday was no fluke, and was therefore the best run of the day
8. BC Liftline - yep, powder bumps which I skied surprisingly well considering how tired my legs were by this time.

I'm still not super smooth in big, hard, icy bumps, but otherwise I'm skiing the bumps really well which is something I've aspired to for a long, long time.

I woke up with a slight tickle in my throat this morning and almost didn't go out. I'm so glad I did. Of course I may be too sick to even get out of bed tomorrow, but that's another day as they say.

14,700 vertical ft today (season total 1,402,265 ft) in 2:16.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another four

It seems to be the pattern this season for the 5am report to say four inches. But it's been snowing all morning so it was more than that, especially on north facing slopes. So I was at the gondola at 8:20 expecting good things and I wasn't disappointed.

Here's today's track. I thought I'd try something different and number the runs in the order I skied them.

1. Norther - first tracks
2. Four Points Liftline - first tracks
3. Triangle 3 and Typhoon - freshies
4. Shadows - freshies but a little dust on crust on the lower half
5. Kuus' Cruise - like Shadows
6. 2:30 trees to skiers' right (or 2:45 trees if you like) - lots more freshies
7. 2:30 trees to skiers' left (or 2:15 trees) - even more freshies
8. Tress to skiers' right of Rolex - more freshies and closer to eight inches than four
9. BC liftline - awesome powder bumps
10. Whiteout - even more awesome powder bumps
11. Home via the top of Whiteout and trees to skiers' right of middle Vagabond.

Hard to pick the best run, but I think #10 wins simply because this was the the best I have ever skied Whiteout, but Rolex trees come very, very close.

Compared to yesterday's abysmal effort, total vertical today was 18,620 ft for a season total of 1,387,565 vertical ft.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Living here in Steamboat and skiing regularly you get pretty good at judging the weather and what you should wear. At least most of the time. Occasionally, like today, you get it wrong. Badly wrong. I was so under-dressed today that miserable would be the only word to describe the feeling. Combined with the fact that the snow wasn't great I pulled the plug after a mere 45 minutes.

How did I get it so wrong. Well it was very warm yesterday, and despite the fact that I was dressed lightly I still cooked, so sub-consciously I was reacting to that experience despite the fact that it was overcast rather than sunny today. And the weather changed while I was heading up the mountain, so by the time I reached the top it was shrouded in a cold, damp fog.

Here's today's track. 5,310 vertical ft (season total 1,368,945 ft). That's my lowest vertical since December 7.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

2.30 at 2.30

We had to drop some Aussie friends at the airport today, so I didn't get out on to the mountain until after 1 pm. I expected it to be nice Spring skiing by then, but not nearly as nice as it turned out to be.

After getting nice lines in Typhoon and Closet, and a reasonable run on the Sundown Liftline (at least on the top half - below Duster it was like cement) I hit the 2.30 trees which were so nice I went back again. Here's a shot of a sweet line I got through the 2.30 trees at 2.30 pm!

After that I hit Closet again and then the slush bumps on Whiteout and BC Liftline.

Here's today's track. 15,214 vertical ft (season total 1,363,635 ft) in 2:08.

Monday, March 08, 2010


The report this morning said two inches of fresh snow. All I can say to that is "don't buy land from the guy who took that measurement."

Today the mountain was shrouded in fog so thick and wet and cold that by the time I finished my first run down Buddy's the front of my jacket was coated in a thick layer of ice.

Combined with the spring hard pack, the total lack of visibility made it the sort of day when you only go out because you stupidly told the whole world that you are going to ski every day this season!

I did have a couple of good runs when the fog lifted for about 15 minutes; down Cyclone and lower Rainbow where the snow was still a little soft.

Here's today's track. I nearly called it quits after 30 minutes but in the end I managed 13,356 vertical ft (season total 1,348,421 ft) in 1:53.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


If the snow yesterday was like glue, today it was like lovely creamy smooth butter. The snow on Rolex in particular was the best I've ever seen it when groomed. The skis just carved an edge effortlessly all the way down. Despite the fact that it's a pain to get to, it was worth doing twice.

Here's today's track. 14,138 vertical ft (season total 1,335,065 ft) in 2:38.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


The report this morning said five inches of new snow, but I was feeling quite tired this morning and was meeting some friends at 10 am, so I failed to get out early to ski the freshies.

It was still nice until around midday by which time it was very warm and the powder had turned into glue. It's tiring once it gets like that so my legs are really feeling it right now even though I bailed early.

Best run of the day was definitely Closet first up although the bumps on BC Liftline on the way home were still pretty sweet as well.

Here's today's track. 11,868 vertical ft (season total 1,320,927 ft) in 2:39.

Friday, March 05, 2010

100 days

Four inches of fresh was a nice treat to celebrate my one hundredth consecutive day of skiing this season.

Amongst the evergreen trees on north facing slopes was the place to be today. That's where the snow got the least sun yesterday so it was powder on top of a soft base rather than the "dust on crust" to be found elsewhere on the mountain.

Best run of the day was undoubtedly first tracks (at 9:15!) through Typhoon. Closet was nice enough to do twice and powder bumps down Twister were fun as were powder bumps on Surprise, skier's right of lower Rainbow and BC Liftline.

Here's today's track. 15,438 vertical ft (season total 1,309,059 ft) in 2:10.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Rapid vertical

It was a nice sunny day today, although a little windy, I got out early before anybody was about and the groomers were perfect so I ripped it up. Lower Rainbow was doubly nice.

Here's today's track. 16,762 vertical ft (season total 1,293,621 ft) in 1:46. That's 9,488 vertical ft per hour.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Weird Wednesday

Both the weather and the snow conditions were all over the place today. It started out sunny and then the clouds rolled in and the light got very flat and then the sun came out again. And the snow was still fresh in some places, slushy in others and still hard from the refreeze elsewhere.

Best run of the day was short swing turns down a nicely groomed Hurricane. Buddy's was also very good.

Here's today's track (technical issues - coming soon). 14,826 vertical ft (season total 1,276,859 ft) in 1:50.

Update: 11:41 am, March 4. Technical issues resolved. Here's the track.