Monday, March 11, 2013

Recovery Day-Tripping

Four days of fitful yet catatonic rest followed what I am coming to realize was my hardest effort in the mountains.  A great partnership, greater than the sum of its parts, completed the first winter ascent of the complete Palisade Traverse.  We've been documented on Youtube and on Rob's blog.  I'll process further when I can.

Alex and I pulled ourselves from the malaise on Thursday to ski powder and tackle this newly hired "avalanche observer's" first assignment.  We hit the ski area first with the perpetually psyched mountain master Laura and then dragged our bogged down selves back to the Mammoth Crest.  What an effort.  Alex has been hitting the books (and database and presentation preparing and home-buying and who-knows-what-else...) hard.  Her acclimatization was admittedly not up to par.  That was a good thing, as my body was wrecked and drained and not at all prepared to slog around in the wintry mountains.  We made for a  good match.  A tour that we should have completed in an hour or so took us 5.  Part of that was snow-science, but the vast majority of the time difference was in our slow pace.
Alex in deep.  What a pow week we've had!

Yours truly, clocking in at my newest job.  Collecting avalanche, snow and weather data for the
Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center

With the significant exertion of the Palisade Traverse steadily receding into history, the body is gradually recovering.  Initially, true rest was crucial.  However, couch time had its limits.  Feelings of rejuvenation plateaued in four days or so.  As it turns out, being "forced" into activity with work has proven to be key to advancing the rest process.  Active recovery works!  Since the high-gravity day with Alex, my body has continually stepped it up.  

Bottomless and soft.  What ski-dreams are made of.  Bill N. shreds.  
Friday brought another day of skiing.  This time guiding fit, colorful and gopro equipped Bill in the Mammoth Crest zone.  

Saturday's mission was instructing beginner ice in Lee Vining Canyon.  Hands down, one of my favorite things to do, beginner instruction is nonetheless a demanding undertaking.  The alarm rang at 4:45 and the gear wasn't re-sorted until 7pm.  These are long days rewarded with the inherent and contagious psyche of those solidly in the steepest portion of the learning curve of what has to be one of the craziest things to try out.  
Typical late-season conditions in California's premier ice climbing venue.  
Finally in this little binge of work filled with gradual recovery, I ski-guided with Tom and Mike. I skied a couple days with Mike back in January.  He is a phenomenal skier.  Like, really good.  He's got a racing background and an adult life filled with hard-charging missions to destinations exotic and more pedestrian.  This time he brought his friend Tom.  Tom's no slouch of a skier.  And a damn fit dude, 'specially considering his self-deprecating categorization as a "green circle" skinner.  
Tom putting some distance on Mike.  

Mike lighting it up in the Banana Chute.  

So, 4 days of rest followed by 4 days of cold, high-country "light-duty" has left this body feeling stoked, healthier every minute, and fulfilled.  Should be a good spring in the Sierra!

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