The Core Score

Epic fail for being able to put some words on paper for this season on the water. Not only have I been fairly consumed playing a new role in life, but these past 3 months weren’t much to brag about on the east coast. Don’t get me wrong, if you played your cards right there were some amazing times to paddle out, but for me it was more about making the most of each one. My short, stubbly recap of this surf season (thus far):

Ice cream headaches. Christened a new suit. Ate at the salad bowl. Dodged the cape sharks. Went over the lip at The Wall. Got stoked on Hurricane Leslie. Dropped down to a 6’0”, just what the Doc ordered. Witnessed to the epicenter of Maine surf. Lunch break surf sesh, check. Dusk patrol. Dawn patrol. Rooster tails in Long Beach. Got reunited with Drakes. A lost day in long board city. Flat tire. 100+ surfer lineups. Still holding out for more.

As an ode to surfing magazine, here’s my rendition of life’s Core Score:

         +                            -

  • Having a baby                                        Acting like a baby
  • Straight razor shaving                          Manscaped stubble
  • Flexibility                                                  Warmth
  • Bluebird days                                          “Don’t bro me”
  • Catching up                                            Letting someone down
  • Giving something away                        Possessions owning you
  • Pacifico                                                     Scotch
  • 3-piece suits                                           Cuff-links
  • Living for today                                      Living in the past
  • Board meetings                                     On-boarding

Stay awesome, love life and play nice.

Worse ways to spend a morning

Location: The Salad Bowl

First wave: 7:32 am

Air temp: 78 degrees

Water temp: 64 degrees

Conditions: Knee/waist high. Offshore breeze.

It’s been a tough couple of months in the ski and surf scene. With skiing’s June Gloom (zero snow in this hemisphere, matched with the longest wait until next season) and the ocean turning into Lake Atlantic, I’ve been hard pressed to get out too much. Oh, and I now have a baby daughter.

Sunday morning there happened to be a promising outlook on the mornings swell here on MA’s north shore. An offshore breeze, 2ft swell and low tide coming in seemed to make conditions surfable, so I made my way to the beach to check things out. It looked a bit grim at first, but after a half hour of the occasional decent wave, the consistency picked up and made for some long boarding fun.

Currently the only board in my quiver is an 8’4” long board and I’ve been strongly thinking about stepping down to something smaller that is still wide and thick enough for the east coast. Ideally something under 6’4” and around 21” x 2. 55”. We’ll see if something pops up on good ol’ Craigslist this summer as everyone gears up for hurricane season.

Impossibly awesome. Eliel Hindert.

Location: Boston, MA
Conditions: Rain
Waves/snow: none
Air temp: 61 degrees

Who is Eliel Hindert and why haven’t I seen more of him?

It’s impossible to have a bad day after seeing his 10/11 season edit (shr’edit) by Sweetgrass Productions. His style is like a mashup of Chris Benchetler and Sage Cattabriga-Alosa with ridiculousness sprinkled throughout.

Witness the sickness for yourself.

No snow, no surf, no worries.

Location: Winchester, MA
Conditions: Sunny
Miles ridden: 8.4 (est.)
First trail: 10:42 am
Air temp: 78 degrees
Broken parts: zero (thankfully)

Its Memorial Day weekend and a perfect 78 degree, sunny day. The seas are flat and the snow is long gone–this time of year can be tough.  While most folks think of surfing as a summertime activity, in reality June, July and August are the worst months  for waves here in the Northeast.  Fall tends to be money, with warm sea temps and swell coming in from far away currents and storms.

My buddy Roman I and have been trying to plan a trek up to the trails of the Fells to do some biking.  While not incredibly technical, for a 20 minute driveFells map north of Boston, it’s hard pressed to be beat. At over 2,500 acres, there’s plenty of shizz one can get themselves into out there.

I’ve been meaning to tune my Wahoo (no, seriously, its a Gary Fisher Wahoo hardtail) for weeks and this was the kick in the pants that I needed.  New rear tube, washed, oiled and brake lines tightened and I was ready to roll.  We headed up 93 North into Roosevelt Circle around 10:30 a.m. and the Belleview Pond parking lot was already jammed.  Fortunately I know of another place up the road that you can safely leave your car and after a short hike, you’re at Mudd Road.  I’ve been up to the Fells enough times to bike, hike with my dog and just get away from the mountain bike at the fellscity from time to time that I know the west side of it like the back of my hand.  At almost 1,500 acres (West side alone) of trails, reservoirs and hills it can get a bit intimidating. The key in my mind is go often, get lost and look at a map ahead of time. As long as you have a sense of where you are on the trails (N, S, E and W) then you can track your direction and have a pretty good sense of which way you need to get back to your car lot.

I was pretty stoked to bring the GoPro along and test it out on the trails.  I’ll let the vid and some cool shots do most of the talking… (coming soon)

No trespassing

Middle Res.

Taking 5 and contemplating a jump in

 

Surf art, take 2…

Location: Boston, MA
Conditions: 80 and sunny
Start time: 8:55 a.m.
End time: 12:30 p.m.
Total hours spent: 9

A few months ago when surf season was dying down, I decided to tap into my creative juices and do a custom art job on the base of my surfboard.  It was a completely blank slate and seemed like a fun thing to do.

I’ve never really done much painting so I just set at it and started doodling on the board and waiting to see where it goes.  After a while I started thinking about themes and how I wanted to mix the mountains with the sea, and this is where I landed.

Since I only had 4 colors its mostly outlines and minimal fill/shading, but just bought a new set of colors and am hoping to make it more vibrant–especially everything south of the fish.

From having never done any painting and not being much of an artist, I’m pretty pumped with the way it’s shaping up.  I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday than cracking some beers, turning up the tunes and laying down some designs.

Semi-finished product

Adding color

Ordered new paint colors for the center piece

Full piece for the most part

Thoughts and feedback are always appreciated.

 

James Peak + Magic Bus + Goggle tans

Location: PowMow, Utah
Conditions: bluebird
Vertical skied: 20,747 ft
First run: 9:00 am
Air temp: 55 degrees
Summits reached: one

After two days in Utah of the sun trying it’s hardest to burn through cloud cover, it finally happened.  Unsure of what we were going to wake up to we were pleasantly surprised by one of my favorite ski terms of them all:

Ski the East is now a permanent fixture in the PowMow snow cat

bluebird skies.  Cobalt blue skies and not a cloud within miles–this is going to be the day.

Since I got to Utah, I’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know a lot of the mountain.  At 7,500+ acres of  in-bounds terrain, Powder Mountain takes the cake as being the largest ski area in the United States.  This includes the recent 2K acre expansion known as Powder Country that on a pow day takes riders through the trees and steeps of the side country and into the single canyon road that leads up to the ski area.  It’s not lift serviced from the bottom, but a bus

Moderate avi danger and a look of what's ahead post-cat

picks people up at designated spots every so often.  Think of Powder’s shape more as the letter “C” rather than a typical flat 2D mountain face.  With Powder Country being closed due to a lackluster winter, the second non-lift serviced in-bounds area also happens to be the highest point at 9,422 ft, James Peak.  A ski cat will take you most of the way, but the true ride starts after a 30+ minute hike where 360 degree views of 200+ miles away await.

Today was not only the last day of my time in Utah, but the conditions were perfect.  We spent the morning skiing groomers with Omar while the sun did it’s work on the East facing James Peak.  Conditions weren’t as fast as they had been

Prepping for the trek up

the day before at Snowbasin but as layers were progressively shed and the snow began to turn to corn, there were smiles for miles.  After skiing hard all morning Steve and I decided that at 11 a.m. that now was the time.  Omar laughed and bid us farewell for taking on the feat on an unpredictable day like today and we were off.  As I mentioned, PowMow is more of a “C” or “U” shaped mountain so there’s quite a bit of traversing going on.  As the saying goes, you haven’t been to Powder unless you’ve had to hike somewhere.  From where we were on Paradise, we made our way through Timberline–over to the base

1 of us skinned and the other hiked boot pack, guess who reached the summit first.

where we hopped a shuttle to Sundown, which took us up to the snow cat.  Like I said, traversing around the mountain is a feat in an of itself.  On a good day, it is said you can do 4 circular laps around the mountain (including JP)– but even that was up for debate.

We woke a snoozing cat driver, had our tickets punched and loaded up the gear.  I’m pretty sure we were the first and, probably only, riders up the cat that day.  When its dumping they can fit 22 people in the cat and have in the past

9,422 feet up

had another dozen snowboarders on tow ropes hanging off the back.  Today we had it to ourselves.  Windows down, music up… we started making elevation.

The cat made quick work of the ride up the tracks to Lightening Ridge where we stripped down the layers, and I loaded my skis onto my pack preparing for the ascent.  When the boot pack is tracked in and you’re making a point to get to the summit, Steve

The views aren't half bad up here

said it can be a 20 minute hike.  Being that I live at sea level and even though the altitude of constantly being/living at 8,000 feet for the past 3 days hasn’t affected me, the oxygen is still thinner at 9K.  With the sun basking on James Peak for the past 6 hours and the snow being pristine corn for skiing down, it made the trip up that much more difficult.  There was hardly a bootpack and Steve was skinning his way up, leaving me to hike by my lonely.  There must have been less than a dozen people that made their way up in the past 3 days, so it was a ton of work.  I was post-

Pre-descent checklist and mapping our route

holing every six steps and just trying to make pace.  One-hundred and twenty-five steps, then thirty seconds of break.  That was the pace.

Forty minutes later I met Steve at the top.  Skins > Hike on a day like this, but either way I was happy as hell to be there.  From the spine on the summit you can see into the entire Ogden valley and Snowbasin, the great Salt Lake and even onto Alta, Park City and Deer Valley.  Gorgeous.  Snapped some pics, downed a granola bar and rested the legs for a few…

Beginning the traverse to Y Chute

now it’s on to what we came here for.

We mapped out our route to make for about a thirty minute descent down near Y Chute.  This would give us the chance to find some great snow, avoid others tracks and also find the safest route down.  If something went wrong out here, it’s likely to go very bad.  While we were out the night before we saw two avalanche slide trails along Powder Country on the canyon road.  Even though the snowpack is light, stability can be an issue in extreme temperature swings.  The majority of avalanche fatalaties occur from

Avalanche game plan so we can do this again later

less than a 2 foot burial in snow.  Wet heavy snow acts like cement and when thrown in the washer of an avi, all sense of up-down-left and right are gone.  Everything goes dark and you cannot move.  Scary shit.  Getting caught in an avi would be my worst fear come true and even though we were equip with shovels and knowledge, neither of us wore beacons or had probes.  Two essential tools in avalanche survival.

Once we reached our drop zone, we discussed an avi plan and where our safe zones would be, should either of us trigger a slide.  On goes the GoPro, let’s do this.

Steve dropped in first and I followed after he reached the first safezone and couldn’t help myself from hootin’ and hollerin’.  We timed this perfectly.  The 8” snow was soft and playful and turns, though not effortless, were on par with the best of the season.  It took a few turns to get used to it and the first section of the descent was relatively clear of hazards like rocks and rogue baby aspen

Looking back up to the starting point

trees, but it was all bliss.  Sun in your face, views for miles and knowing we were the only people that day who were going to be out there.

After initially dropping in along Y Chute, we began another traverse just beyond the boundary lines into another series of spines and solid lines of fresh snow.  By nature the area is very craggy and with the minimal snow received this winter (see “with another 4 feet), you had to be cautious of where you were riding but there are always hidden

Fresh turns on soft snow

dangers lurking beneath.  Let’s just say now I know first hand what the next layer beneath the p-tex base looks like.  In 16 years of skiing and snowboarding I think this is the first time I made a cut in my base straight through to the wood.  I don’t abuse my gear at all, but scratches and dings are earned and treated as badges of honor in my book.

There is also a certain technique with riding softer, natural snow that takes some getting used to.  Out east, conditions like this just get groomed over and there aren’t similar bowl conditions to speak of–minus Tucks–that are consistently rideable in the winter.  Edging and

Taking a breather and scoping out what's next

foot pressures need to be adjusted to accommodate, which took a bit of getting used to.  After continuing to plot our own course down and riding through the best run of the trip we find ourselves approaching the cat track bringing us back to Paradise lift.  My legs were toast after not only the climb up, but also the 25 minute, 3,000 foot descent down in corny slush.

Three days, 70+K vertical and a million smiles later, it’s time to head east and go back to reality.  Ridiculously good time out in UT and can’t wait to do it again.

Nope, not too proud to not post a shot of me eating it too--haha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep--probably going to need that ski again at some point.

Strawberry Bowls and Olympic Golds

Location: Snowbasin, Utah
Conditions: kinda gray, kinda not
Vertical skied: 28,570
First run: 9:15 am
Air temp: 40 degrees
Olympic downhills ridden: 1

Day two out in Utah we decided to mix it up a bit and head down the valley to Snowbasin.  Steve’s sister, Christy works (and was married) there and hooked us up with day passes, which were mucho appreciated.  About a 30 minute drive from Powder, Snowbasin is a completely opposite ski area in many regards.  Firstly, it’s a ski resort.  The difference between the two can be found in an earlier post of mine.

In 2002 during the Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, Snowbasin played host to some of the most popular ski events: the Downhill, Combined and Super-G.  I was told by many that the particular course carved out for these events were particularly difficult because of a double fall line on the mountain.  Out of pure curiosity, we headed up the dual tram gondola Snowbasin Summit(dubbed “the beercan”) that reaches the true high-peak of the men’s starting line and took the 1.8 mile long course down.  They say in a tuck, Olympic racers reach 60 m.p.h within the first 3 seconds, and nothing that I saw on that course led me to believe that was a lie.

The place is legitimately steep.  At PowMow the day before, we logged 21K in vert and covered 26.9 miles doing so.  At Snowbasin, we made 28K vert and did so in only just over 20 miles.  You do the math.  It also had a ton of Olympic money pumped into it last decade.  Though its certainly not the only Utah ski resort with marble and gold bathrooms and fine dining options, it’s unlike what I experienced earlier.  Characteristically, I wouldn’t classify it as a skiers mountain, but the terrain stamps it as one and I sure did see somebody going big off one of the back chutes earlier in the day.  The pic is crap, but you get the idea:

Chute to open field descent

After grabbing a bite to eat, the crowds dissipated for the day, but fortunately so did the clouds.  The skies opened up, the wind died down and Strawberry Express finally opened up at 12:30 after being closed down for nearly 2 days.  This gondola provides the only access to Strawberry Bowl, which nearly nobody ventured to even after the lift started spinning.  We had talked about going over there all day so this sounded like the time.  We found some great lines and steep ridges that were

Snowbasin Utah

Backside of Snowbasin

getting worked by the sun and provided decently soft snow.  The results were definitely worth the risk and we ended up riding some of the more fun off-piste lines of the day.

All in all, Snowbasin is a great mountain.  It’s diverse in it’s terrain, and more reasonably priced than I would have anticipated for such a grandeur mountain.  If you’re looking for an apres scene like we know out east at The Rack in Sugarloaf or Cuzzins at Snow, then keep looking.

Sometimes you gotta do work to find lines

...but it's almost always worth it in the end.

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