Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016 Year in Review: Mountains, not working.

I'm not just a mountain guide. I am a climber and skier that guides. And I hope that the numbers show that. Well, the numbers probably show that I'm a "counter" that goes to the mountains. I hope that isn't true... Ha. These numbers are deduced mainly from my training log. So it won't necessarily jive with my guiding numbers, as posted just prior. For instance, I worked 34 days on trips that I considered "alpine guiding", but only spent 24 days alpine climbing. Lets look at a 2-day Grand Teton trip then... The whole trip is alpine guiding. But as far as my activity log is concerned, day 1 is hiking and day 2 is an alpine climb. Hence any sort of disparity.



First, the totals:

  • 24 days of alpine climbing.
  • 90 days of backcountry skiing.
  • 5 days of mountain biking. 
  • 15 days where gym climbing was my primary exercise
  • 18 days of hiking
  • 13 days of ice climbing.
  • 84 days of rest.
  • 58 days of rock climbing
  • 13 days I noted I was sick.
  • 9 days where the ski resort was my primary exercise
  • 28 days of travel (these are not rest days...)
  • 7 days in which weight lifting was my primary exercise
That should add up to 366. I'm not going to bother with the math. You get the gist of it. This notes the primary activity for the day. Many days I did something else. For instance, I lifted weights many more days than 7. But that doesn't make it into the primary activity column.
Some deductions and other data:
  • 217 days of 2016 I spent in the mountains, in action. Yowza.
  • 111 of those days in the mountains were for work. Approaching a 1:1 work to non-work fun-in-the-mountains ratio is pretty damn good, in my book. 
  • I'm not stoked on the 28 days of travel...
  • 126 days of inaction isn't that bad. 
  • 980 hours of action, for the whole year. And that's just the body moving. An 11 hour day on the Grand Teton, for instance, is more like 6 hours of actual movement. And that's how it gets recorded. 
  • 543 pitches of climbing. That's all kinds: rock, ice, alpine, gym. Don't worry... Teton Rock Gym "pitches" count as .5.
  • 326,800 vertical feet of ski touring. 
  • 50 nights camping in the backcountry. 
  • 104 nights away from home, but not in the backcountry. The bulk of this was camping around the west on the annual Rocktober pilgrimage. But I also visited family, toured Alaska, and worked from huts and hotels in Silverton, Cody, the Alps, Dubois, and Lake Louise Alberta. 
  • I've always been fascinated with athletic benchmarks in multiples of 5. Here's my list, with notes from 2016:
    • 5000 foot ski tour in 5 hours, car to car. Becoming commonplace. I guided this multiple times in 2016. 
    • 15000 feet of ski touring in a day, on multiple peaks. Finally checked this box
    • 50 mile run. Not yet... 
    • 5.10 rock climbing. Tons in 2016. Climbing better than ever!
    • WI 5 ice leading. Multiple pitches in 2016. Cody Wyoming and Lake Louise Canada. 
    • Skiing a sustained 50 degree pitch. Just a few times. This is rarer than you might think. Two Alaska runs and skiing the Briggs Route on the Grand Teton come to mind in 2016. 
    • V5 bouldering. Have yet to send a V5 outdoors. Though I can do it in the gym...
    • M5 mixed/dry-tool leading. Didn't do any mixed climbing in 2016 actually. 
    • 5 minute mile run. In my dreams... this is the outlier... Will take coaching and dedicated training. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 Year in Review, Professionally.


Maybe you've seen me do this before, maybe you've just tuned it out. In reflecting on the year past, I dig into some of my professional record keeping and present a summary here. The data gets a little deeper each year, and the numbers tell new stories each time. Notable in 2016 is the balance of mountain time. Of 111 guiding days, I spent:

  • 12 on ice
  • 34 alpine climbing
  • 23 rock climbing
  • and 42 days skiing. 
I don't think I've ever hit double digit days in all four disciplines. 

Bugaboos. British Columbia. September 2016. 



Here's what my guiding life looked like, by the numbers:
  • I worked 67 guiding trips 
  • Of those, 49 were single-day outings. 
  • 7 were two day commitments. 
  • 7 were for 3 days 
  • 1 trip went for four days 
  • 1 trip was 5 days and one trip was 7 days 
  • I did a 11 day ski trip to Alaska's Chugach with an amazing group in May.  
  • Of all those trips, I slept in the backcountry for work about 35 nights. I also slept away from home, but in hotels and huts a great deal. 
  • That adds up to 111 guiding days. 
  • Of course, for every 3-4 guiding days, there is about one day of administrative work that includes packing, unpacking, food prep, etc. 
  • Of those 67 trips, fifteen of them were for alpine climbing (34 days worth). 
  • Nine were ice climbing, for a total of 12 ice guiding days in 2016. That's likely my most ever.  
  • 22 were rock climbing. (23 days)
  • 21 were for skiing. (42 days.)
  • I did five trips with folks that came directly to me. These fine guests were not the customers of another guide service nor had I climbed with them prior. They somehow found me, usually through word of mouth. 
  • 28 trips, for a total of 59 days, were with returning clients. This is also a milestone... More than half my work was with returning clients. Thanks team!
  • 18 trips were for educational purposes. Folks training or preparing for something else, in which I took a primarily instructional role. That's 29 days.
  • The next major category of trip objective, after education, is an amalgamation of mileage, exercise or excellent snow. These trips constituted 28 days over 15 trips. 
  • Finally, many folks come to me for a specific route or peak. In 2016 34 trips were initiated with a specific peak or route in mind. Of those 34, on only two did we not make the summit. This is unprecedented! The "normal" summit percentage in past years is closer to 60% than 2016's 94%! What good fortune... 
  • For comparison:
    • 2012 71% 
    • 2013 61% 
    • 2014 20% (An outlier. A rough year in the mountains... on the clock or off, I failed to "send" a number of big itineraries in 2014)
    • 2015 69%
  • Finally, and notably, I worked for my own company a total of 45 days in 2016. That's awesome! Much of that time was with the Certified Guides Cooperative, which is a great team that is steadily growing the guiding career in the US. 

    Thursday, December 22, 2016

    Three Things Thursday, Issue #20

    Ice climbing. Super secret location, December 2016. 
    Merry Christmas! It's amazing ski season, and I'm ice climbing a ton. Good stuff all around. Three random things:


    • I ate super clean for most of November. Did a "Whole30" sort of challenge, though only for 20 days instead of 30. It felt amazing. Maybe it's a coincidence, but the day after I let up on the strict consumption, I got a cold that I'm still fighting over a week later. Ouch. 
    • That cold has prevented much skiing for me in recent weeks. However, I have been brushing up on my avalanche and ski decision-making. Ask me sometime about Exum Mountain Guides new guide communication and avalanche decision-making format. It's leading the industry, and I'm honored to be a part of it. Formalizing your decision-making is the first step in making sound choices in the mountains. Ever evolving that formal process is the next "step". Thanks Exum for leading the charge!
    • Meagan and I recently bought a truck to complement our little Prius. The Prius has excellent snow tires, while the truck has four wheel drive. I've driven enough on snowy mountain roads to know that, if I had to choose four wheel drive or excellent tires, I'd choose excellent tires. The Prius does better than the truck, every time. 

    Monday, November 28, 2016

    Ice Climbing Gear List, 2016-2017




    It's ice season! Full-on...


    I seem to ice climb in binges. And December is looking like it'll hold a bunch of ice climbing for me. I have trips booked to Dubois, WY and the Canadian Rockies, with some other ideas floating around. This list works in those places, as well as ice venues like New Hampshire, Cody, WY, Ouray/Silverton, and Valdez AK. This list is primarily organized for guests on trips with me, but it should make sense for just about anyone.













    (*- optional, depending on venue, conditions, and, to some degree, personal preference)

    First, individual gear. Each climber needs stuff on the bulk of this list. At the end is shared, group equipment. On a trip with me, I can provide some loaner individual equipment, and I provide all the group equipment. In parentheses, for a number of items, are the exact products I use and recommend. I work with most of these particular companies and highly approve of their equipment. 

    Hard goods/technical gear:


    • Helmet. (Camp Speed 2.0)
    • Harness. (Cassin Jasper)
    • Belay device with accompanying carabiner (Edelrid Jul to belay leader, CAMP Ovo to belay follower.)
    • 2 additional locking carabiners
    • Prussik loop/rappel back-up
    • Nylon, double length sling. 
    • Crampons (Cassin Blade Runner)
    • Ice tools (Cassin X Dream)
    • Trekking pole or two
    • *Ice tool tether (bifurcating “umbilical”). 
    • *Avalanche transceiver (BCA Tracker 3)
    • *Shovel (BCA B1 Ext)
    • *Probe (BCA Stealth 240 Carbon)
    • *Snowshoes (MSR Denali)

    Daily kit:
    • 30L backpack (Camp M2)
    • Insulated 1 liter water bottle
    • Thermos
    • Snacks and lunch foods
    • Camera
    • blister and headache medicine. Whatever other medications you might need 
    • Hand and foot “shake-and-warm” packets. 
    • Headlamp

    Clothing. Much of this is redundant, allowing for tailored selection given the day’s forecast and agenda. 
    • Ice boots. (Garmont Pumori)
    • 3 prs socks
    • long underwear
    • soft-shell climbing pants (Arc Teryx Gamma AR)
    • Hardshell pants (Arc Teryx Theta SV bibs)
    • *Puffy insulated pants 
    • Synthetic boxers/undies
    • Synthetic t shirt
    • Light fleece long sleeve (Patagonia R.5)
    • Heavier fleece. (Patagonia Piton)
    • Softshell jacket for approaching. (Arc Teryx Gamma MX)
    • Light “action” puffy jacket. (Arc Teryx Nuclei)
    • Heavier "action" puffy jacket. (Feathered Friends Eos)
    • Shell jacket (Arc Teryx Alpha FL)
    • Belay jacket. (Feathered Friends Volant or Helios)
    • 4 pairs of various light weight gloves, rotated for drying. (CAMP G-Hot Dry, CAMP GeKO Hot, CAMP GeKO Touch. Arc Teryx Alpha FL)
    • Belay mittens (CAMP Hotmit’N)
    • Warm hat for approaching
    • buff/balaclava
    • sun hat
    • dark lens glasses
    • light lens glasses
    • *ski goggles

    Group stuff:
    • Twin/half ropes. (Petzl 7.7mm, 60m)
    • Single Rope (Mammut Serenity 8.7mm, 60m)
    • 12 ice screws. (One 10cm, one 22cm, the rest 13cm. Combination of Petzl Laser Speed Light and BD Express)
    • V-threader tool. 
    • Set of 'draws. 5 alpine style, 5 dog-bone style. With big carabiners. Camp Photon is the absolute best ice climbing carabiner made... 
    • Cordellete
    • First aid/repair/shelter kit
    • Satellite phone
    • camera
    • Portable boot dryer 
    • file for sharpening spikes
    • binoculars
    • Extra clothes