Friday, March 29, 2013

This Day In History

Doug got the idea for “this day in history” from our friend Kim Kratky who could always remember what peak he had climbed on “this day in history” but not where the car keys were. Being a computer keek, Doug built a function into our trip database (accurate since around the year 2000) whereby we can look up “this day in history.” As there is nothing much exciting going on in my life right now, unless you call daily workouts, scrabble games and endless chores, exciting, I thought it might be entertaining – at least to me – to look back at this day in history. 

On March 29, 2006, Dave, Roland and I, along with Dave's two dogs (both since sadly deceased) skied up to a peak at GR930742 on mapsheet 82F6. We always called this peak North Qua (for no good reason except it it is north of the peak we call Qua and above the Qua Creek drainage). My notes indicate that we took what was likely a silly route up to the ridge between Ymir Mountain and White Queen, trundled across the “death traverse,” crested the Half Dome ridge, skied down an east aspect under Ymir Mountain, then skinned up to North Qua and had an excellent 450 metre run down into the head of Kutetl Creek. According to my notes, after clocking 1200 metres vertical, Dave was tired so went home. 

North Qua From Ymir Mountain

In 2007, Dave (different Dave) and I skied the Seven Summits trail/route from Strawberry Pass to the Old Cascade Highway in the Rossland Range. I actually remember this trip reasonably well as I recall having some trepidation about setting off on such a long ski day (30+ km, 1500 metres of gain) with only one other person. However, with multiple easy bail-out points and no-one else interested in skiing so far in one day, it all seemed reasonable enough. I remember we lost the trail at the beginning when Dave went ahead and I wasn't paying enough attention to where he was going. After that I took the lead and made sure we took the most expeditious route possible. You can't muck about making route finding errors when you have a long way to travel. Snow conditions were probably about average for the Rossland Range – that is, scanty, icy, facetted, and isothermic in differing degrees. I can't remember us having a single decent turn on the entire 30 plus kilometres. The final ramble along the lower section of Record Ridge was a bit tedious as it was slow with skins on and impossible (we had no wax) with skins off. After I reported on this trip, a whole bunch of other people got the idea to ski the Seven Summits, but most of them did it over one or two days breaking the trail up into sections and returning home at night. 

Overlooking Mount Plewman on the Seven Summits Trail

Micha, Jen and I skied from the Hummingbird parking lot up the Whitewater Road out to Mountain Station in Nelson in 2008. This trip is significant in that it is the only “this day in history” trip when another woman was along. We did an extra run on a west aspect of north Mount Beattie as the day is too short otherwise, and, my notes indicate we had excellent ski conditions with no solar effects. I actually like this trip rambling along the ridge before bombing out an old road to a suburb of Nelson and I've done it twice. Lots of people think it's a waste of time, but I like traverses, no matter how short and easy and there is some nice wilderness back in the West Arm Provincial Park. We did the last part down the ridge to the west using a rough compass bearing and came out exactly where the old road starts. Most people use a GPS and still get lost. 

View from North Mount Beattie

In 2009, I drove north to Nakusp and met my friend Bill and we rode his snowmobile up the Wensley Creek FSR and skied up Summit Peak in the Nakusp Range. Before we went home, we also had a couple of sweet north facing runs down into the head of Harlow Creek. A year or so later, Doug, myself, Robin and Betsy skied the length of the Nakusp Range over four days, a trip I had not heard of anyone doing before. You can read a route description of that trip in the new Columbia Mountains ski touring book by Chic Scott. Hopefully more people will ski this route as it is stays high and crosses the entire Nakusp Range. It is probably too much to hope that people will do it all on skis as we did.

Mount Cooper From The Nakusp Range

Finally, in 2011, we were overnighting at Pendleton in Oregon in our little Boler trailer on the way to the Sierra's for a ski traverse. We stayed away about six weeks, had some great skiing in the Wasatch and Sierra Ranges and got in lots of early season climbing on the east side of the Sierras (Bishop, Owens River Gorge, Clark Canyon, etc.) and at Red Rocks in Nevada. I frequently remember the six days we spent travelling through the Sierra Mountains on skis. It was a trip I had wanted to do for years and it was fantastic. 

Doug Looking Small In The Sierras

That's it for this day in history. I think what stands out for me is how infrequently I go on trips with other women. Maybe I'll write about that in another blog post.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Would You Do?

I hadn't been paying much attention to what has been going on in Canada this year until my friend got caught in an avalanche near Kaslo. After that, it seemed like every few days I would hear of some calamity or near disaster befalling one group or another in the mountains of Canada. 

Around mid-March a party of three on the Wapta traverse triggered a SPOT beacon and thus began what might possibly be one of the most protracted rescues in the Canadian Rockies. Details of the incident have yet to emerge (if they ever will), but, at 7.30 pm during what would turn out to be a lengthy winter storm, one member of the team fell unroped into a crevasse. The remaining party members “dangled a rope down” the crevasse then dug into a snow cave and awaited rescue. 

A week or so later a skier was killed in an avalanche near Mount Sifton in the Columbia Mountains. Apparently, the skier was checking the stability of the slope while his two companions waited at ridge top. This was one day after a snowmobiler was killed by an avalanche near Hell Roaring Creek in the Purcells. Around my old home town of Nelson, a snowboarder took a 500 metre ride when his “intentional ski cut” down a steep, wind-loaded, unsupported convexity in a chute released and he could not ride out to his planned “safe spot.” 

When I hear about incidents like these I always wonder if I might have done the same thing in the same situation. Some times, I feel I can say categorically “no, I would not have done that.” I certainly would not have tried to ski cut the slope that caught the snowboarder in the Bonnington Range. In my experience most people have no idea how to safely ski cut a slope and their supposed “safe exit strategy” is an illusion that disappears when the slope rips on them. Ski cuts should be done on short, low consequence slopes which allow you to ski across the top of the slope and quickly back up out of danger. No chute can be safely ski cut.

In other situations, I find the answer much less clear. Would I have been wandering around the Balfour High Col (off route, it turns out) at 7.30 pm in a blizzard? Unlikely, but, I have found myself on two notable ski traverses in the past blundering around big glaciers with big crevasses in white-outs, due to what was eminently clear to me at the time was just plain bad decision making. Both times I was with groups that were impervious to any of my arguments that would have avoided us being in that place at that time. Yet there we were.

Last year a friend of mine, within five minutes of setting out on her first ski touring day from the Kokanee Glacier Cabin, managed to trigger an avalanche from above that buried two members of the party (one to neck, one to waist) of four. Bizarrely enough, it turned out that one member of the party had no backpack (hence no shovel, etc.). Again, I feel confident that such an incident would not have happened to me, but, not because I am some kind of avalanche guru, merely because I wouldn't ever put an uptrack where my friend was breaking trail. A safer and easier route exists perhaps 50 metres to the east. 

Similarly, I can honestly say I would never have got caught in the Kaslo avalanche that injured my friend in early March. I think I would never have skied that slope given their snowpit test results, but, I'm not 100% confident about that, having been lured on to dangerous slopes in the past by ambition. I only feel certain in the Kaslo case because the skiing would have been shit on a southwest facing slope, and, while I may not be an expert on snow stability, I do know enough to pick an appropriate aspect to ski to get the best snow available at the time. 

We all have a tendency to explain the mishaps of others as being due to personality factors, while our own mishaps are judged to be the result of situational factors. Perhaps this is how we maintain a feeling of our own competency in the world, or maybe we just like to gloat over others misfortunes.

I have to honestly admit that, looking back on my own multitude of incidents, almost all were my own fault in some way or another – usually the culmination of poor planning and poor decision making, but sometimes from pure ignorance. As Alfred Sheinwold said “Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won't have time to make them all yourself.” In order to do so, however, we must honestly ask ourselves whether we might not have done the same thing in the same situation.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Random Ramblings

There is no real unifying theme to this blog post; just a bunch of somewhat garbled thoughts and activities from recent days. Unusual for a self-confessed concrete sequentialist but these are unusual times.

My seven days at the globo gym ended on Monday. I actually took Tuesday off as I felt kinda like I'd been run over by a road-train. I've been doing AlpineCenter workouts these days. Today was AMRAP in 50 minutes (as many rounds as possible):
  • 15 kettlebell swings (I used the propane tank as usual),
  • 10 weighted sit-ups (yup, propane tank again), 
  • 10 box jumps (the only available step here at the Cave is way too low), 
  • 5 Curtis P's (the only dumbbells I have are 2.5 pounds which is clearly way too light - you can probably sense a theme here), 
  • 60 second plank,
  • 5 ankles to bar (which I did on my rock rings). 

I thought I'd never make it through this one particularly as it was about 30 degrees Celsius and humid when I started, but, I mentally chunked it up into 10 minute segments and just plowed through. Definitely a grind not a sprint for me. My repetition number was pretty sad though at only 10. The guys at the Alpine Center got almost 15 repetitions done, which (I'll save you the rudimentary math) is 50% more. 

My ankles to bar on the rock rings are improving. I'm able to use the two and three finger pockets instead of the jugs, and, while every A2B seems wretchedly hard and painful, persistence is paying off. It's probably time to up the ante again and start doing staggered A2B and pull-ups on the three finger pockets instead of the jugs. Something to look forward to. 

I can only hope that all this translates reasonably well to rock climbing as the season approaches (at least our self-declared season). I'm looking forward to getting back on the rock, but, most days, it still feels too hot and sticky yet. 

We brought our new (to us) caravan home today and Doug immediately began taking it apart to work on wiring in some solar cells and a battery. Getting out of the city is getting closer – I totally agree with Will Gadd that spending time in the city is bad for your health.  

And, finally, I just finished reading a great book “Psychobabble.” It's a quick read, I finished it in one day. I'm sure I have an affinity for the things I agree with – I don't read “Buttheads, Hoons and Red-Necks Go Hunting” for example, but it sure reinforced my suspicions about all those shiny happy people out there with their trite sayings posted over glossy photos

 A Couple of Shiny Happy People Holding Hands

Sunday, March 24, 2013

More On Decision Making

We bought a caravan yesterday.  It is a nice little 13 foot van, 2002 model, never (really NEVER) used.  It is the lightest caravan we looked at, and has the best storage and layout for a 13 foot caravan, and we are happy with it.  Although it is in near new condition (husband bought caravan at show, wife refused to go camping, caravan has sat ever since), we still need to do a few things to it before we leave the Cave and travel north.  It needs a battery and solar panels so we can bush camp, a couple more LED lights (the van already has some LED lights), an awning, and some modifications to the storage area under the beds to make that space more readily accessible.  

As we were driving out to look at the van, Doug and I were chatting about whether we would buy it or not.  We had already looked at this caravan the week before and really liked it.  We drove over fully prepared to buy it, but, not really believing we would.  The words “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior” kept going through my head, as, despite looking at a dozen caravans, and being prepared to buy a couple of them, we had always ended buying nothing.  

It also occurred to me that not making a decision was far easier than making a decision.  We could endlessly go on looking at one caravan after another, never actually deciding on one, and thus saving ourselves the repercussions of making a poor decision.  

I think this is how people become stuck in life; whether it be stuck eating a poor diet, or wasting their time on a useless exercise schedule, stuck in a dead-end job or relationship, or just doing the same old things every day, every week, every year, and never exploring anywhere or anything new.  Reluctance to make a decision for fear of being wrong and having to accept the consequences of being wrong might lead people to waste the only life they will ever have.

A thought that can either empower you to make changes, or paralyze you with fear.  You choose.  

Mountain top some where in the Kootenays,
trying to decide where to go next 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Decision Making

We are currently embroiled in a search for a used caravan to become our new home on our travels around Australia.  This is a time, energy and motivation sapping endeavour which seems to involve great amounts of either sitting at the computer searching out caravans for sale, or driving all over the country side to view any such caravans.  Both activities are injurious to one’s health as both involve way too much time spent sitting and too little time moving.  

 Yesterday, we drove all the way to Port McQuarrie – I don’t even want to talk about how far that is – to look at a caravan that we thought was going to be “the one.”  We had looked at all the available, checked all the specifications, asked the owner dozens and dozens of questions, thought and thought about the caravan, and, decided in the end, that, although the van was a bit heavier than we would like, it had everything we needed at a good price.   

After five hours on the road, we finally drove down the street to view the caravan and I felt incredibly nervous as I had an – I presumed - irrational fear that something we hadn’t thought of would be wrong with the caravan and we would have driven all this way for nothing.  My nervousness evaporated as we looked at the caravan.  It was in very good shape, as described, and had everything we were looking for.  As part of our checking process, we pulled out the tape measure and measured the caravan – advertised as 14 feet long – at over 15 feet!  Both Doug and I felt as if we had been hit by a brick.   

In some degree of shock, we went down to the local beach, went for a swim and then tried to think rationally about buying the caravan.  We had driven over 400 km to view this caravan which made us feel some degree of commitment towards buying the caravan.  On the other hand, we had previously decided that 14 feet was the absolute maximum length caravan we wanted.  Had we known this caravan was actually over 15 feet, we would never even have considered it.  Yet here we were, considering it simply because we had put so much effort into researching and viewing it.   

The decision making process reminded me of my mountain days.  When you ski or hike a long way to get to the top of a slope or the bottom of a climb and when you get there, find that conditions are such that descent or ascent is overly dangerous.  At those times, it is hard to turn back as you already feel committed to the ascent or descent.  You have travelled a long way, convinced friends to come with you, passed by other objectives, scored good weather all to get to this one spot and achieve this one goal.  Yet all those things are irrelevant to the decision at hand, which should be made on whether or not the descent or ascent is safe under the conditions you have and not on extraneous factors. 

In the end, we decided against the caravan, realizing that all the extraneous factors influencing us – such as the many extras that came with the van, the price, the distance we’d driven and the time we had invested – while persuasive, were actually irrelevant.  

In the clearer light of morning, while I still feel physically wrecked from yesterday, I know we made the right decision.  

Our old caravan, a 30 year old, 9 foot Boler

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Globo Goodness

Like most people who work out with Crossfit, Mountain Athlete, Alpine Training Center, or some other similar functional gym, I'm snobbish, suspicious, even scornful of the workouts prescribed at regular globo gyms. Since we've been back at the Cave, I've been working out everyday with my rock rings and a propane tank (the heaviest thing to hand, but still way too light) doing Mountain Athlete workouts. Better than nothing, but definitely not as good as having a full set of free weights and a bouldering cave.

My niece, however, works at one of the local globo gym franchises and happened to mention I could get a free 7 day pass. The catch was, that you must use the 7 days consecutively. No worries, 7 days of beat downs while I am stuck in the city is just what I need to stay sane, so I downloaded my 7 day free coupon and walked up to the local globo gym. It's actually a pretty good gym. As usual, there are too many machines taking up valuable space that could be stocked with more free weights, but it does have a reasonable selection of free weights, medicine balls (too light, but better than nothing) and pull-up bars.

As usual, there is some weird, useless, or maybe both stuff going down. Like the people texting while they lift weights, or the stick thin woman who was using the Smith Machine for squats and leaning back, back, way back. It even strikes me as bizarre to walk on a treadmill when you live in an area where, most days, the weather outdoors is perfect for walking, there is an abundance of bush tracks nearby where you can walk outdoors getting the benefit of fresh air, different scenery and, most importantly perhaps, engaging your proprioceptive ability on uneven terrain.

All the usual globo gym nonsense aside, today is my third day working out, and, although my muscles are stiff and sore, I feel great. There is just nothing like a hard workout, or a few hard workouts to bump up the endorphins and make you feel good. 

Better views when you walk outside

Sunday, March 17, 2013


There seems to be a plethora of kitschy sayings attached to photos floating around the internet these days. You know the ones. There is a picture of someone climbing a long rock route, skiing a big mountain, running a marathon, kayaking a huge rapid, or some other “ultra-extreme” sport and some supposedly inspiring quote such as: “Every day is a chance to change your life,” or “There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path, don't allow yourself to become one of them,” or perhaps “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it;” or even simply “Go, do,” is emblazoned across the photo.  

I assume these photo/quote combinations (so called “motivational posters”) are somehow supposed to inspire us to achieve great things, or at least greater things than we are actually doing right now. Apparently, studies have shown that motivational posters can actually affect behaviour. At least, Wikapeadia quotes one study that reported an increase in stair climbing when motivational posters encouraging stair climbing were prominently displayed by escalators and steps.  Disappointingly, or perhaps tellingly, the motivational effect gradually regressed to zero after the posters were removed.  

Achieving big goals, however, (or even little goals) requires planning, dedication, discipline, sacrifice, hard work, and motivation followed by more hard work, discipline, sacrifice and motivation. You must be prepared to push doggedly forward through set-backs, often alone. That kind of single-minded purpose does requires motivation, but I'm pretty sure it’s not the motivation that comes from a kitschy saying inscribed on a pretty picture.  

The people who go on to become great climbers, skiers, paddlers, tennis players, chess masters are the kind of people who are out doing what they want to do – have to do, even - regardless of what anyone else is doing or saying.  If you are so easily swayed that a trite saying on a second rate photo influences your actions, you’re hardly likely to have the stamina to keep going when the going is anything but easy.   

Personally, I approach with scepticism all those folks that surround themselves (or post and repost) motivational posters. It seems to me anyone whose motivation comes from such a flimsy source is likely to be as motivated to reach their goals as a politician is to fulfil campaign promises once elected, and we all know how that turns out.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Good Bye Dear Friend

One of the first, if not the first, friend we made in Nelson passed away yesterday – too young and with too much still to achieve in life. Kim was a tireless mountaineer and environmentalist. He had climbed more mountains in the Kootenays than anyone else I know (or can think of), had been up more valleys and explored more ridge-lines. No mountain was too big, too small, too inconsequential or too far. 

Along with his love of mountains came a love of wild places. For almost 20 years Kim was at the forefront of the Save Jumbo fight. Many other people would have been worn down by the two decades fighting big business in a struggle reminiscent of David and Goliath, but not Kim. After 20 years, he still spoke passionately for keeping Jumbo Wild and was involved in the Jumbo Wild movement right until the end.

Kim and Janice on Keystone Mountain

One of the most extraordinary things about Kim was his prolific and complete notes on all the mountain trips he had done including road access details, route details, weather, times, companions and more. His recall of his trips, which must have numbered in the thousands as Kim was out most days, was incredible. He could literally recite mountain heights and route details from memory and only occasionally had to check his extensive route notes. We used to joke that Kim could remember every detail about every mountain he had climbed but not where he put the car keys.

His passing leaves a huge hole in the hearts of his family, his many friends, and the community as a whole. When you remember Kim, as surely everyone who was privileged to know him must, remember him in his beloved West Kootenays, wandering along an alpine ridge with the world spread at his feet on his way to yet another glorious summit.

Climb on, dear friend. 

Kim taking a break in meadows near Ben Hur Lake
after climbing Caribou Ridge 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


“Don't you ever worry about doing this sort of thing with me?” my 80 year old, osteoporotic, spinal column stuck together with glue, can't feel her feet mother asked me as we cautiously picked our way down a bush track in Heathcote National Park today. In truth, I had under-estimated the difficulty of our days bush-walk as I had been busy with other things when planning the trip and had only briefly glanced at the trail description. “Mostly on fire-roads” was all I could remember, and, my mother does relatively well on fire-roads. The 60 vertical metre descent down a rough, steep bush track to access the fire-road had either slipped from my consciousness or never been there in the first place.

“I try not to think about it” I flippantly replied. In truth, the only thing I ever did think about on these occasions – and, perhaps regretfully, there have been a few of them – was “what will Search and Rescue think if I my mother falls over here and I have to call them to haul her out of here?” If Australia's Search and Rescue teams are anything like Canadian Search and Rescue teams, their condemnation seems guaranteed. I can certainly remember quite a few call-outs with Nelson Search and Rescue where, however unspoken it might have been, the disapproval of various team members hung heavily in the air.

But, if we can laud disabled climbers tackling Everest, El Capitan, Kilimanjaro, and other big name mountains, why can we not similarly celebrate an 80 year old grandmother going for a hike in the woods? Strength, after all, does not come from doing what comes easily, but from trying that which is hard.

Eucalpyt reflected in pool, Heathcote National Park

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Avalanche Epiphanies

On Saturday, an acquaintance of mine was caught in (triggered) a size 2.5 slab avalanche in the SelkirkMountains. Luckily, she was not killed, but, unluckily, did suffer relatively severe injuries. I know the area reasonably well, having hiked, climbed and skied there many times, and things could certainly have been worse. The terrain is typical Kootenay skiing – steep sided treed valleys with little gullies and terrain features all of which worsen the consequences of getting caught in an avalanche. 

The party did many things well, apparently after the avalanche, the injured skier was rapidly reached and a rescue quickly activated (she was not completely buried), they exposed only one person at a time to the slope thus reducing the potential number of victims and leaving more people to render assistance if needed, the party had obviously made a number of snowpack observations, and were all carrying standard safety equipment. But, of course, any time we trigger an avalanche, unless it is small and intentional, we've also clearly made some mistakes.

I've triggered a number of avalanches over the course of my skiing career, so many, in fact, that I am not sure I could recall all of them if pressed. I have been, of course, terrifically lucky, in that I never triggered anything big, most were small and intentionally triggered (or at least half expected) or were triggered remotely from a safe location. Many times, I triggered smallish slabs that were unexpected, but was saved from further harm because I routinely practised safe ski practices, such as exposing only one person at a time, getting out of the way at the bottom, avoiding high consequence slopes in times of uncertain stability avoiding convex rolls, starting out on smaller terrain and all of the other fairly standard tactics that can improve ones safety margin in the mountains. 

In the first year after I took my CAA Level 1 Avalanche Operations Course, I did, however, do what many new graduates of that course do, and got caught (in my case almost caught) in a big dangerous avalanche, the result of being too cocky. The episode scared the shit out of me as it had the potential to kill or at least seriously injure everyone in the party. There was one clear sign that I chose to ignore (and I take full responsibility for ignoring this sign as I was the most highly trained and experienced person in the group) and that was a moderate sudden planar failure on a compression test 40 cm down on a suncrust. I ignored this obvious red flag because we were on a ski traverse that I had wanted to do for ages and I had finally managed to get the weather and the companions to do the trip, and, we were at the base of the final avalanche slope - beyond this one slope, we had no further danger to contend with. All those things, irrelevant as they are, somehow blinded me to the danger into which we skied. We were lucky, we were in similar terrain to my friend - steep, lightly treed so that the trees could not anchor the slope but only increase the consequences of getting caught – and, while the entire slope from one side to the other cracked and shifted, some magic of gravity held the slope in place and we were able to safely “get the hell outta there.”

My friend and her party made similar mistakes but just weren't so lucky. They too had dug snow-pits, and, somewhat chillingly, found a buried surface hoar – moderate to hard sudden planar failure (but down a whopping 115 cm) on compression tests. The avalanche bulletin for the day rated treeline as moderate and alpine as considerable and noted that remotely triggered avalanches (always a scary sign) were still being triggered on the buried surface hoar (buried almost one month before). The bulletin also noted that, and I quote verbatim: “February 12th [surface hoar] is now down about 100-150 cms and continues to be triggered by light additional loads on Southerly aspects where it is sitting on an old sun crust.” 

Hindsight is always 20/20. In retrospect it is clear that while the group may have thought they were in treeline terrain (moderate hazard), the snowpack characteristics (and terrain) were clearly alpine (considerable hazard), sudden planar failures should always make us think twice about the stability of a slope (even with hard test scores), a skier is a light additional load and, despite it being statistically less likely, a weak layer down 115 cm can be triggered by a skier, solar radiation and heat can rapidly destabilize the snowpack, widespread surface hoar layers can propagate large distances and release above a skier, and, finally, but most importantly, deep persistent weak layers require conservative terrain choices – skiing a 38 degree slope (even one at a time) is not an appropriate terrain choice for this classic low probability/high consequence deep persistent weak layer situation. 

I have no idea how decisions were made in the group, always the most informative aspect of any accident analysis. Perhaps the party thought that they were in treeline terrain because of scattered trees and considered the hazard moderate. Perhaps they thought that a layer buried over a metre could not be triggered by a skier (statistically unlikely, but practically irrelevant), perhaps they under-estimated the effect of the sun and heat on the snowpack (it was a warm sunny day), or perhaps like me, they were too motivated by ambition and too little by prudence. 

After my serious near miss, I consciously became much more conservative in my terrain choices whenever stability was uncertain. The big lines only got skied on very select days when stability was bomber and I was with a solid party. I became, quickly, abruptly, and with some chagrin, aware that, despite some education and experience, what I didn't know far exceeded what I did know, and I needed to allow some margin around my terrain choices in case my analysis of stability was wrong. I can only hope my young friends have the same epiphany. 

Accidentally triggered, 60 cm crown, surprised yes.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Foodies and Work-Out Snobs

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperaton.  What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.  From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats.  A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.  There is no play in them, for this comes after work.  Henry David Thoreau.

My relatively spartan paleolithic diet wouldn't really qualify me as a foodie, but I am, as I have realized, a work-out and food snob. It could be the fervour of the newly converted, although four years have passed since I radically switched diet and work-out routines. It could be a reactionary defence mechanism against the surrounding societal pressure to eat a carbohydrate dense diet and to exercise based on a series of outmoded concepts. But, it is most likely that I feel entitled to some smug self-righteousness because, no matter how difficult it was, I got up early, did my WOD, walked wherever I had to go within a reasonable distance, engaged in active outdoor sports, and spent a whole lot of energy avoiding eating all the good tasting but bad for you food that surrounds me every day. And, did that day after day, week after week, month after – well you get the picture - even if I felt tired, muscle sore, weak or really, really would have liked to join you when you ate that big chocolate cake.

Whatever the origin, I know that I, however surreptitiously and covertly, feel just a bit superior to – what really amounts to 95% of the population – who eat a the standard Western diet with it's heavy emphasis on dense carbohydrate sources and slot in their thrice weekly fitness class at some globo-gym, which some how miraculously means that the rest of the week can be spent in slothful indulgence.

Exercise and activity should be something that comes naturally to you and which you enjoy and shouldn't be something you force into your 45 or 55 minute work-out window. Driving to a fitness class is asinine - in fact, driving anywhere you can easily walk in half an hour is asinine - so is standing on an escalator when you can take the stairs, sitting when you can stand, and any of a hundred other things people do that reduces their energy output.

Eating a diet that is slowly killing you is similarly foolish. You don't have to be Crossfit games rigorous, but the least you could do is cut out the grains and dial back the treats so that they are treats not daily occurrences.

But, I gotta go, it's sprint day today, time to get outside and run hard.

Today’s WOD:

Warm-up: Three rounds of 10 back extension, 10 air squats, 10 warrior sit ups.

Work-out: 15 rounds of 10 seconds on/10 seconds off sprints. 

Working some lock-offs on the train on the way home from a hike

Thursday, March 7, 2013

As Good As It Gets

This morning the marine forecast for our local coastal waters was for light and variable winds to 10 knots with a swell below 0.5 metres. Perfect weather for paddling the open coast. Doug and I met my brother at a small boat launch in Dolans Bay at 9 am. On any normal day, the steady sea breeze would be beginning in an hour at most and would increase throughout the day to reach a blustery 20 to 25 knots by afternoon, but not today.

We caught the outgoing current east past Burraneer Point and Bass and Flinders Point, where we turned north and, keeping well out from the backwash (clapotis) zone, we paddled north along the rocky coast-line to the surf beaches of Cronulla, where we moved in closer to shore, sliding up and down the parallel swell. A couple of light rain squalls brought a little more wind, but, as we paddled north, the wind gradually died until the ocean was glassy calm.

With our kayaks we were able to squeeze through a small surf break on the reef off Pimelwi Rocks where we pulled into tiny Boat Harbour. After a swim, we surfed back through the reef break and had lunch on the beach and another swim. A light breeze was rising from the north and this pushed us back down the coast and into Port Hacking where we caught the incoming tide back to Dolans Bay.

Ocean kayaking just doesn't get much better. 

Calm Day at Leura Beach