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Premier Protein Shakes and Bars Review and Giveaway

Note from Rockgrrl: I was offered some protein bars and shakes to try out from folks representing Premier Protein. I emailed back to accept their offer of free product but one small issue occurred after I talked to them a bit… the protein they use is mainly based on milk whey, and I’ve recently found that I’ve become slightly lactose intolerant, so I told them and they said that anyone with milk allergies should avoid their product. While I’m not allergic to milk, I still decided to let them know that I would have my husband, Kelly, try it instead.

Premier Protein ShakeWhat did you think of the shakes?
How did they compare to other shakes you had?
Tasted similar to powdered mixes I have used in the past, but better blended (not lumpy).

I think you had one before we did East Buttress [East Buttress of Middle Cathedral, Yosemite, California], did you notice any effect after having it?
It made for a nice on the go breakfast to facilitate an alpine start.   Helps with prehydration, and also good for the protein component of your post-exercise recovery drink.

What did you think of the bars?
The taste reminds me a bit of the Tiger bars which I grew up loving, with a crunchier texture and not as dense.

Anything else?
What sets the drinks apart from the powdered protein I have used in the past is the convenient packaging.    This is valuable  when time is of the essence but I try to avoid individual packaging in regular consumption to minimize my garbage “footprint”.
Premier Protein goodies!

Premier Protein goodies!

Premier Protein Yummy Pack Give Away – 5 Winners!

Premier Protein has offered a great give away package for 5 Rockgrrl.com readers in the US!

They will get:

– 4 Premier Protein shakes: 2 shakes in each flavor (chocolate and vanilla)
– 3 Premier Protein meal replacement bars: 1 bar in each flavor (Chocolate Peanut Butter, Double Chocolate Crunch and Yogurt Peanut Butter Crunch)
– 3 Premier Protein Crisp bars: 1 bar in each flavor (Chocolate Mint, Honey Caramel and Peanut Butter Caramel)
Premier Protein nylon bag

Enter by commenting below with what you think your favorite product will be (see above) and/or by tweeting:

I want more protein @premierprotein #rockgrrlgiveaway

Entries will be counted up to midnight PST on June 30th. Winners will be chosen at random, you can have a total of 2 entries (one for commenting, one for tweeting). Winners will be contacted via email or Twitter by midnight July 1, 2013.

You can also find coupons for Premier Protein stuff on their Facebook page, here.

Good luck and comment or tweet today!

Guest Post: Little Mustang

While riding all alone across the high plains yesterday, me and my horse found this abandoned, starving and thirsty, wild-horse foal in the desert… (he must have fallen asleep when his herd left – by the state he was in, I was guessing 1-2 days ago).

Baby Mustang. Photo: Ivana Crone

Baby Mustang. Photo: Ivana Crone

I decided to attempt to deliver him back to his herd.

First, me and my horse had to befriend him, so he would follow us… – that was easy enough, since he was so lost and lonely. I got back on my horse and tracked the hoof-prints of the long-gone herd in the sand-dunes, with the baby-mustang trailing behind me. Until there they were – 50 wild horses in a distance. When they saw me they took off at a mad dash.

I knew I had to get VERY close for the delivery (the foal was so attached to my horse by now, he would have to leave him and join one of them instead). So I stretched my horse to a full gallop after them, the baby miraculously keeping up. And we stampeded away for awhile through the clouds of dust, me alongside the 50 wild horses… I was running so fast, managing little by little to close the distance to them… Until they noticed the foal!

The lead stallion pranced over to me, rearing and pawing with my horse, until he sniffed me and the baby, and then took off full-speed with the colt behind him. I saw him taking him to one of his grey mares, who let the baby feed immediately…

Ivana Crone is a climber and photographer contributing to Rockgrrl.com she spends part of her year on a cattle drive in California.

Climbing Pants Review – Outdoor Research Women’s Voodoo Pants

voodoo-pants_w

Outdoor Research Women's Voodoo Pants - Black version

If you’re a climber girl you’ve probably known the pain of finding great climbing pants. I know I have. Sometimes I’d think I’d found the perfect pair only to have them tear or lose their shape. Well, can I tell you how lucky I feel that Outdoor Research sent me the Women’s Voodoo Pants to review?

First off, I loved how they look on. They have a great cut and are flattering. Little details like stitching on the back pockets also help one get away from a look that says “only for outdoors use” to a look that says you can transition to the street too.

Secondly, I loved the feel of the fabric, sort of slick and stretchy in a good way. The articulated knees are a good mobility touch but don’t look too obvious or baggy.

One initial drawback to the pants was that I had requested the wrong size. I have a hard time with pants so went with what I thought was my “normal” size. I had to go one size smaller to get the pants to fit in the waist. I almost didn’t request a replacement though, because I liked the fit elsewhere and felt I could still wear the pants if I wore thick long underwear under them and/or a belt. In the end I did request the smaller size though and was happy to find it fit my waist better and still looked good elsewhere (though of course it was smaller all over).

Once I got to really using the pants is when I really started to love them.

I just got back from a trip to Idyllwild, home of Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks (old school granite climbing). I wore the pants in the varied weather conditions we found there and put them through a bit more than I had expected.

Some things I discovered I love about the pants after wearing them on the trip and out at local crags:

1. The color. The shade of grey was not too dark in the sun and not too light for getting dirty.

2. The water and wind repellancy. During the Tahquitz trip I got on multipitch climbs with a lot of shade. The winds blowing off of the snow at the base of some of the climbs was a bit chilly but the pants did very well in preventing them from blowing right through. I also accidentally splashed a little bit of water on them while trying to drink from a bottle while we were on a rough dirt road. I was able to brush the drops right off.

3. That the pants are somewhat wrinkle proof. I had these crumpled up in my pack on the day we hiked to Suicide Rocks. I wore shorts for the hike then changed into the pants for the multipitch climb. I almost felt overdressed when I put them on. I was also happy to have them in the end because it got chilly.

4. The abrasion resistance. I had a hard time on one of the classics in the area, Flower of High Rank, and fell unexpectedly. I thought for sure my shirt and pants had holes in them but they did not. I actually had an abrasion on my knee (broke the skin) but the pant leg was fine (see photos).

5. Packability. The pants offer nice protection without bulk. This is great for packing to a crag and just packing in general.

Me on the summit of the Larks

Me on the summit of the Larks

6. The pocket on the thigh. This is a zippered pocket in a handy place for accessing a topo map of the route.

Cons of the pants?

I’d say I wouldn’t mind the pant leg bottoms being a tiny bit slimmer and/or there be a way to button the legs up to turn them into capris… though the pants were easy to roll up and seemed to stay up once I did that so that request is more about aesthetics than functionality.

I think an adjustable drawstring inside the pants might be handy. If I lost more weight I’d have to start using a belt or wearing more layers at the waist to keep the pants up, on long trips I notice that I do tend to lose weight so that would be a factor.

My general impression: these are my new favorite climbing pants, and especially shine in multipitch climbing, providing coverage without loss of flexibility (check out the pic of me leading a roof on Whodunit!).

By the way, my Tahquitz trip report is still to come 🙂

Outdoor Research Insight Lab – I’m in!

Outdoor ResearchA representative for Outdoor Research, makers of outdoor gear since as long as I can remember [they officially started in 1981] recently contacted me via Twitter asking me for my email.

I gave it to him and it turns out I was chosen to be part of the inaugural Outdoor Research Insight Lab team! This team is a group of outdoor folks who will receive OR gear and we’ll write reviews and give feedback to OR designers about the things we receive.

I was asked what categories I would be interested in: active sports, a new women’s line, or their climbing apparel. Of course climbing was my top pick but I also expressed an interest in women’s apparel too. Also, I was asked what other sports I do, and though this site and my Twitter handle are named “rockgrrl” if you’ve followed either one you’ve probably noticed that I do a variety of outdoor sports (and in fact used to fence competitively which is mainly an indoor sport). I don’t know if I’ll get varied things because of my answers, but we’ll see!

At any rate, I’m happy to be part of the crew and OR has already sent me some goodies.

Belaying with the OR Women's Belay Gloves and wearing a Whirlwind Hoody

Belaying with the OR Women's Belay Gloves and wearing a Whirlwind Hoody

I received: the Enchanted tank top, the Women’s Voodoo pants, the Women’s Whirlwind Hoody, and Women’s Belay Gloves.

My initial impression was, “I didn’t know OR made this kind of stuff!” and then, “Hey neat!” as I noticed little things about each of the items that showed nice attention to detail. I haven’t tested the gear enough to make a review just yet, but here’s a picture of me wearing the Women’s Whirlwind Hoody and the Women’s Belay Gloves from their climbing line of gear. You might notice that I’m smiling.

A note about this program and my reviews in general, as you’ve probably noticed I disclose how I get the items I review. While initially my reviews were on things I already owned, eventually I started getting things for free. However, there has never been a requirement that I had to write positive things about the product and in fact I believe that is now against FTC guidelines [Edit: FTC only requires disclosure]. In any case, I think reviews are only helpful if they are truthful so I’ll continue to share as I do in real life, I’ll give my opinion on something, whether good or bad, and if it helps my readers and/or designers of gear, all the better!

Indian Creek Climbing Road Trip March, April 2013

Indian Creek, Utah

Indian Creek, Utah

I couldn’t believe it, I was going back to Indian Creek. After my first trip there in 2010, I had said I wanted to go back right away. It took me three years, but it was happening!

The first step is to fly to Sacramento, California. Not exactly the direct route, but it’s my ticket to crashing an already planned road trip to Indian Creek that my friends Terri and Leo had planned. Initially there had been talk of 4 climbers going out on a road trip, with a possible group up point in Las Vegas. It was to be a mini Tweetup of sorts since all of the folks involved are on Twitter and had attended a Jtree Tweetup before. But plans changed and I caught a cheap flight to Sacramento, where Terri and Leo live, to drive with them to Indian Creek.

Tuesday, March 26

Get picked up at 4:30am. At the airport I luck out and get an earlier flight than scheduled. I arrive in Sacramento without incident and Terri picks me up and sets me loose on downtown Sacramento. I  explore and take photos of the Capitol building. Terri gets off work and we go to Trader Joe’s for food. I meet Terri’s family at her house that evening. Terri and I pack her brand new Subaru Outback with gear. We are able to go sans Thule.

Wednesday, March 27

We leave Terri’s and pick up Leo at 6:30am. The start of 16 hours of driving commences. Terri has the wheel. I get a tour of ski areas (with snow on them) I also see Donner Pass and we go through Reno. We stop to get gas and eat at a small sub sandwich place. My turn at the wheel. We drive into Utah and through Salt Lake City. Unfortunately we realize that we didn’t factor in the time change when we thought about where to stop for dinner. We hit rush hour traffic. Eventually we stop for gas and on a whim try out a run down looking “drive in” right next to the gas station called Little Acorn Drive In. They have sandwiches made with home made bread which taste surprisingly good. Leo takes the wheel. Thinking ahead to arriving at a darkened Indian Creek camping area, I sit shotgun since I’m the only one in the group who has been there before.

Moab looks bigger than last time I was there, also things look open even though it’s late. After avoiding animals on the road, we arrive at Creek Pasture campground. The moon is bright enough that we can see pretty well. We spot Luke’s blue truck but continue on, hoping to get a campsite. Even though Luke sent me an earlier text message mentioning bathrooms I am still surprised to see that there are vault toilets in the campground and that every campsite seems to be differentiated with picnic tables and fire pits. This is very different than three years ago. This is a good surprise. Eventually we circle back to Luke’s group. “Go talk to him,” Terri urges. I get out of the car, Luke preemptively calls out through his truck’s window, he’s awake and guessed it was us who passed earlier. He tells us to just park with the other cars in the “space” and set up tents “back there”. We do this. It’s around 11pm.

Thursday, March 28

View from Bunny Slope

View from Bunny Slope

In the morning I realize that our campsite is right next to the one I was at three years ago. Aside from the picnic table and fire pit, it looks pretty much the same. I also realize that Luke is with a big group of people who mainly seem to be associated with UC Berkeley. They have been camping for awhile. One of the group, a gal named Alix, asks if I know Lea from LA. “Yes I do”, I say, “in fact the last time I was in Indian Creek I was climbing and camping with her”.

“She’s coming here tomorrow!” Alix says. Small world.

Leo, Terri and I had a climb picked out for our first day, a 5.9+ called “Bunny Slope” on Critic’s Wall. Everyone else parts for their own objectives. Terri, Leo and I drive out to Critic’s Wall, stopping to leave a note for Hayley at the bulletin board near the vault toilet (which used to be the only vault toilet I had seen in the area when I was first in Indian Creek). Soon Terri’s brand new car is on it’s first off road drive. We pass some folks camping near the dirt road and then get to the parking spot. One car is there but its owner soon returns with a dog and takes off. We have the wall to ourselves. “Bunny Slope” features sustained 5.9+ climbing for 130 feet. It takes two 70 m ropes to top rope it safely, though Leo was able to be lowered after his lead to a ledge which he then downclimbed. Belaying from that ledge wasn’t a good idea though, so that’s why we had to use two ropes. We drive out to Donnelly Canyon and head up towards “Chocolate Corner”.

Me pink pointing Chocolate Corner

Me pink pointing Chocolate Corner

Leo leads this and then I decide to pink point it. It’s funny because I top roped this route during my first trip to Indian Creek in 2010 but I don’t remember any of the moves so my past experience doesn’t help. It feels really good to lead it though. I later find out that though the book calls this a 5.9, Mountain Project gives it a 5.9+ (sadly many times when I look up something I’ve led on that website, it seems folks have downgraded it). Leo puts up “Elephant Man”, 5.10, 80 feet, which turns out to be a fun, slightly meandering crack with “weird hands”. I’m not kidding, the book even calls it “weird hands”.

Recognizing that we need ice for the cooler, our trio votes to go into Moab to get ice and eat dinner. We end up at Pasta Joe’s and are able to text another Twitter friend, Haley, with whom we are expecting to join up on the weekend. The food is good and the vibe is good. I reflect that so far this Indian Creek trip – with bathrooms, paved parking lots and pizza – feels extravagantly decadent compared to my first trip. We dodge animals on the drive back to camp and get in around 11pm (again).

Friday, March 29

In the morning I get to catch up with Lea, who is going to meet up with Russ, one of the other people I climbed with last time I was in Indian Creek. It’s fun and a little bit surreal to be back. I am bashfully proud to tell Lea I pink pointed “Chocolate Corner” since my first trip to the Creek my crack technique was not at its best. Lea is going to wait for Russ to show up so the trio of Terri, Leo and I take off again. Our objective this time is to get to “Super Crack”, the most famous climb in Indian Creek, and one I didn’t get to climb the last time I was here. Unfortunately Luke also tells me that it will be a grunt fest for me (my hands are too small for it). Our trio heads up Super Crack Buttress and first goes to “Incredible Hand Crack”. It’s taller than I remember. It’s possible it is also a tiny bit wider. I have fun but am happy not to have led it. On to “Super Crack”. I see why this is so popular a route. The first part is a little odd but for me is not too bad. What’s bad is the crack after it. It is sustained and, for me, wide. I use mostly a cupped right hand and a gaston with my left. It is very very tiring. I get to a spot right below the small roof, clip into Leo’s blue cam and rest. I don’t have to do this since I’m on top rope but it gives me a sense of accomplishment to do so. If I had been pink pointing it I would have at least made it this far. I continue on after the break, I get one fist jam in but the rest is all grunt. I tell myself it’s good practice since this is the size of crack most of my partners will like, plus it is a very attractive and classic line.

After “Super Crack”  we move to “Twin Cracks”, a 5.9 which is a lot more fun. “No Name Crack” at 5.10 is next, also fun though it also has wide parts. I’m feeling a little tired from “Super Crack” though. At night, Haley, her friend Matt, and his dog Gauge join our group. Since this is the first night our trio is in camp before everyone has gone to sleep, it’s a particularly social campfire that night.

Saturday, March 30

Me on sighting Hands Solo. Photo by Terrell Barry.

Me on sighting Hands Solo. Photo by Terrell Barry.

Seeking shade and to get away from crowds our expanded group heads to Selfish Wall. Haley had done a climb here called Hands Solo and shared a photo which captured both Terri’s and my imagination. The approach hike lead us straight to the climb. After eyeing it, I asked if I could try an onsight. I racked up with 4 yellow BDs and 3 red BD’s (technically 2 red BD’s and one equivalent Chouinard). Though the route is relatively short, my arms feel very tired towards the top, I’m not recovered yet from Friday! I get right up near the anchors (which are to the left of the crack). I pull a yellow BD from my gear loop and call down to Matt, “I know I don’t really need this here, and I’ll remove it when I get lowered but I’m tired so I’m putting it here, anyway!”  I place that sucker, clip in and then move a foot up farther to set up the anchor. True to my word I remove the last piece as I’m being lowered (better for rope drag). I  get to the bottom and Terri gives me a high five for my first Indian Creek onsight. I’m tired but feel good. My jams all the way up had felt good too.

I belay Terri and then get on my next climb which is “The Duo” 5.11- this is fun! When I get down I have to spend time in the shade. I get an allergy attack and start sneezing and my eyes get crazy watery. This normally doesn’t happen to me, I usually just get a runny nose. It gets bad enough I have to wait to do my next climb. When it passes I get on “A Breakfast Social” 5.10. This is another fun climb. Lastly, we find a climb with shade near by. In fact there is a breeze around the corner and Leo jokingly says it has air conditioning. This is great as today feels like the hottest day since we’ve arrived (which is to say it’s still pretty nice, but the direct sun is a little draining). Leo leads up “Solo East” a tall 5.11. I watch as others get on it and with some trepidation, get on it with the goal of  cleaning the anchors. The start is slightly wide, and getting over a hump proves to be more difficult than I expect because the crack widens there. Eventually though the crack is small enough that I do some ring locks. I almost make it all the way up but have to hang. When I get to the top I am happy though, I sometimes call myself “The Cleaner” I think it gives me extra incentive to “have to” clean all the gear. Sometimes I even clean “stuck” gear that others have left behind.

We get back to camp early enough to cook dinner and have social time. Our group is thinking about doing South Six Shooter and ask me about it since I’m the only one who has done it before. I think it’d be fun to do. However I then realize that 1. Haley and Matt need to be back in camp by 4pm, and 2. We would be two parties and one of the parties would have to be a party of three. That would mean the endeavor would take longer than when K and I did it in 2010. Leo and Terri bring up doing an Alpine start but I’m a bit worried about finding the four wheel drive route to the base in the dark. I remember it was not the easiest to find in the daylight and plus there were some parts where our car was right next to a deep crevice in the rock. I resolve to ask Lea what she thinks about this. When she arrives she says, “That’s an all day thing!” I agree.  Terri opens a bottle of wine seeing as how the alpine start is probably not going to happen. Then, while we’re still enjoying the campfire, a sudden gust blows up, knocking things off the tables. A rain squall happens immediately afterwards. We all notice the darkened sky and recall that there’s a chance of rain tomorrow. The tower plan is postponed and we all scramble to get inside our tents. It was still a fun night at least.

Sunday, March 31

Sunday morning no one in our group gets up early. There isn’t a cloud in the sky now. After some discusison our group heads for Way Rambo wall. Leo has three climbs in mind. We get to the parking area and see cars at the base. We get out and as we start up on the steepest part of the approach we find ourselves in a race of sorts with another group. Leo realizes he has forgotten something back at the car. After one wrong turn the group gets in front of us. In the end we get to the cliff base and find that a fairly large group (made bigger by the folks who passed us on the way up) is on all three of the routes we were thinking of doing, there is a little bit of confusion on how many are left to do each one. Eventually a route frees itself and Leo leads up “Rochambeau” 5.9 it is an interesting crack climb with many small overhanging parts to it. I get on it and find that though it is not an easy climb, the overhanging parts at least have rests before them.

Leo leading Fuzz. A 115 feet tall route.

Leo leading Fuzz. A 115 feet tall route.

The last climb of the trip for me is a cleaning mission on “Fuzz” a 5.10 route of 115 feet. I’ve watched a few climbers at the bottom of it, which is a wide flare and it doesn’t look easy. And then it gets steep and overhanging! As I step up for my turn I face straight into the crack and find that I have wedged my shoulders in and am staying in by flexing my back/shoulder muscles. Leo says I need to face to the right. I somehow squirm around and find a high handhold which allows me to unweight and get me feet over. Once out of that awkward start I find the small crack up the ramp to be easier than I thought. I do it quickly because I know a rest is coming up and then things will get much harder. I get to the rest and shake it out a bit. I take a deep breath and launch up the vertical part. The crack is wider now. I resort to a few layback moves. I am tired. I get to another rest. I take another deep breath and look up at the overhanging part I have coming up, and at how the crack arches off to my right. There’s nothing left for it but to go for it. I start up, I use my cupping / gaston moves again. My left wrist is hurting a little bit, my breathing is very loud. I aim to get to Leo’s next piece. I get to it and have to hang. This is one tall climb! I shake out my arms, take more breaths then continue. The crack juts off to the right and I do a bit of hanging on my jams, with my feet on the wall. Finally I get to the anchors. I clip in and smile. I am tired but happy.

Some of our group starts hiking back to the car before I am down since we are trying to get back to the camp by 4 so Haley and Matt can catch their ride and Terri, Leo and I can pack up and head out to Arches National Park. By the time I get to the car, Leo has started it up. I stick out my thumb for a ride.

Back at camp we grab a few pics and say our goodbyes. Leo, Terri and I take off for Arches National Park. We race the sun. We get inside the park and start up into the interior but the sun is fading fast. We get out at the first big arch we see and I race out with camera and tripod. I get one photo of the arch before darkness sets in. In the opposite direction of the arch though are some rain clouds in the distance… and lightning. What follows then is a quick explanation of how to shoot lightning and excited jumping up and down as we see each strike. After I miss some nice ones, both Leo and Terri insist that I not show them the previews but “just keep shooting!” A really nice forked lightning burst happens and I jump up and down like a little kid. I think we are all a little punch drunk.

We get back in the car and start on our way out of the park. Terri has generously said that she’d spring for a motel room for the night so we don’t have to find a campground in the dark. First though, we stop at a picnic area to make and eat turkey sandwiches for dinner. It is pretty dark. I see a flash of light on a tree nearby and point it out. This spooks Terri. We start talking about how no one knows we’re out here. “I told Lisa we were camping in Basin,” Leo says. Terri starts packing up the cooler. I start laughing. “No one is going to kill us!” And yet, I consider that it does seem like a horror movie, complete with a lightning back drop. Leo and Terri have packed up so fast that I still have my half eaten sandwich in my hand when I jump into the car.

It’s late when we pull up to the motel Terri found using Yelp. It seems nice and I note that they have a free continental breakfast in the morning that starts at 6am. I get the first turn for the shower. It feels great! Action Wipes have been awesome for the trip so far but it’s really nice to have a hot shower.

Monday, April 1

Highway 50. The Loneliest Road in America

Highway 50. The Loneliest Road in America

We get up and happily find that the continental breakfast includes waffles. We sketch out the driving plan for the day. Our objective is to get to Basin National Park – a park I had never even heard of before this trip. We will then take a scenic way back to Sacramento. We set off. We have a bit of trouble with navigation but are soon driving through terrain that is surprisingly mountainous. We see a good bit of snow on mountain peaks and sometimes right by the sides of the road. It’s very pretty country. We get to Basin National Park’s visitor center and get out only to find that it is closed. We can see snow covered mountains close by. We pick up a park brochure and Leo and I are interested to find out that the park includes caves, a lake and generally mountainous features. We had both expected a desert environment. Terri had known about the caves and had been looking forward to seeing more of the park and getting her National Park passport stamped. There is another visitor center but it is only accessible through a farther entrance. We decide to move on. The drive back to California takes us through Utah and Nevada. We travel on Highway 50 which is labeled “The Loneliest Road in America” it certainly has very little traffic and the towns we pass through seem to be have a lot of run down homes. Mostly we see great open land and various mountain passes and summits. Terri keeps thinking the next range we see is the Sierra Nevada but after a few false alarms we realize we are just in an area with a lot of mountain ranges. We stop at a fast food place in a small town when we got too hungry. It’s the biggest town we’ve seen in a long time. As we get closer to Reno we start seeing more Casinos and other signs of bigger Nevada cities.

We make it to Sacramento in time to drop off Leo and then have dinner with Terri’s family.

Tuesday, April 2

Terri gives me a ride to her work and lets me use her personal laptop. In the afternoon it’s time to go to the airport again (I can’t believe how quick it is to get to the Sacramento airport from downtown – in contrast to getting to LAX from downtown LA). I fly home and meet my friend in the long term parking garage. We drive home taking the Pacific Coast Highway part of the way. It’s beautiful but my body still feels like it should be in the desert.

Epilogue

According to Luke our trio arrived in Indian Creek right after some very cold weather. After we left the weather turned rainy and cold again. I think we had the perfect weather window there even though we did get a bit hot over the weekend when climbing in direct sun. I had a great time and I even enjoyed the road trip part of the trip, though it’s too bad we didn’t get to spend a little more time in the National Parks. On a photography front I feel like I produced some nice work but I still wanted to do more. One thing missing was star trail shots, we had a bright moon for the first few nights and then overcast conditions (and the sudden squall). I guess I’ll just have to come back some other time…

Slideshow of a selection of my photos below. Click on any photo to view it in a larger size (highly recommended). Link to the full set of photos featured in the slideshow. You can also see a larger set of photos here.

Terramar Smart Silk Baselayer Review

Ah, layering. Such a great technique, and one that I like doing best when I have great layers all the way through.

When I was offered the chance to review a Terramar Smart Silk V-neck top I took it (they sent it to me free of charge). The top looked slim and the fabric (a blend of Polyester, Nylon, Silk and Spandex and Silk) sounded promising. I also liked the design.

Terramar V-NeckSome advertised features are:
–Permanent Performance-built in and won’t wash or wear out
–FreshGuard® inhibits the growth of bacterial odor
–Wicking and fast drying for superior moisture management
–Natural luxurious and soft
–All climate performance
–Easy care
–Drirelease®
–UPF rating 25+

I’ve been wearing this top on various activities for a few months now. I’ve worn it skiing on days with 23 degree Farenheit highs, and during a 9 day trip in Joshua Tree National Park. I’ve worn it both as a baselayer and as a top layer.

Here’s how I evaluate each feature:
–Permanent Performance-built in and won’t wash or wear out
So far, as advertised.

–FreshGuard® inhibits the growth of bacterial odor
Even after mutiple days of wear in Joshua Tree the shirt does not have that multi-day stink I associate with my first synthetic baselayer shirts.

–Wicking and fast drying for superior moisture management
I didn’t really get to put this to a full test since I haven’t worn it in hot weather, but I will say that I did not feel sweaty under all the layers when skiing on a high of 65 degrees Farenheit day with too many layers on.

–Natural luxurious and soft

I do see this as luxurious (I think the design details lends itself to that impression). I wouldn’t say it’s particularly soft, but it’s certainly not rough or scratchy. I’d say me not noticing the texture very much is a plus.

–All climate performance
Again, not tested in hot weather but it did seem to perform well in the ranges I wore it.

–Easy care
Check this one off, machine wash is good.

–Drirelease®
The wicking seems to work.

–UPF rating 25+
I wore this in Joshua Tree and did not get burned (nor did I tan through the shirt).

Extra Notes

I liked the thinness of the shirt, it layered quite well and yet kept me warm enough when needed.

I really like the design detail, it was flattering and different, and the pattern seemed to help regulate temperature.

The sleeves were a little long on me (I had a Medium, I sometime wear Small in outdoor clothing) the rest of it fit perfect.

Conclusion

Me on Illusion Dweller wearing the SmartSilk shirt

Me on Illusion Dweller

This is a solid baselayer and can function as a top layer, I brought it on my current trip (which I’m on right now) to Indian Creek… a trip where I was reducing the amount of stuff I was bringing so that I could fly without checking a bag so that tells you how much I like the shirt.

Joshua Tree Freedom – 9 Days Climbing in the Park

I came back from Joshua Tree National Park on Wednesday, March 6th. I didn’t know it was March 6th, in fact I didn’t even realize it was Wednesday until a few days later. This is the kind of freedom going camping and climbing to a place you know well (and having a flexible schedule) can give you. It was awesome and while luck is often the product of creating the circumstances that favor it, “lucky” is the word that came to mind that first day in Joshua Tree when I felt no pressure at all to jump on any “classics” or “must dos”. I only had one loose plan for the trip: to spend at least 5 days in Joshua Tree National Park and to not have to cook on my birthday.

Right from day one, which was Tuesday, February 26th, I knew the trip was going to be different. One reason was that K and I left early in the morning and arrived early enough to not only get a Hidden Valley Campground campsite, but to also hike around and just wander in nature.

Discovery

Pinhead Boulder

K on Pinhead Boulder

Pretty close to the campground we found a woman bouldering on a rock we discovered was named Pinhead Boulder. We gave her a spot while she did the crack route on it, then we went back for our crash pad since she had moved on. Climbing around on this boulder was enough to get reacquainted with the rough, sharp rock that characterizes Joshua Tree, and the boulder even had a crack route in it, marked with pin scars, to help us get back into crack climbing as well.

I think the spirit of that day continued into the next. Seeking out climbs in the sun we decided to try Mike’s Books, a two pitch climb on Intersection Rock we had never done before. Once we got to the base of the climb I recognized its start as something I had seen done. I recall watching the a leader on it and thinking it probably qualified as one of those “the first 15 feet don’t count” kind of climbs where a bouldery start marks the beginning of the route. The rating I think is easy if you go around the bouldery start but either 5.7+ or 5.8 if you don’t.

It was our first trad climb in Jtree in a long time (first trip for the season) so it was fun to do this climb. The start was as described and I felt was the hardest part of the route, but that may be because I felt alright with the slightly wide cracks which comprised the next parts so the start seemed harder in comparison. Most of the 1st pitch, besides the start, is wide enough to be a bit strenuous, but as K mentioned, I did the top part completely different than he did. I did a bit of chimney technique to get over the hump, K thought I did it less strenuously than he had. But of course he was on lead and I wasn’t.

As we got down from Mike’s Books our friend Cliff joined us, from there it was on to Double Cross. It’s a bit of  a how-are-we-feeling-in-Jtree test piece for us. I’ll have to say it didn’t feel as good as it had in the past, but I guess that’s what taking a long time off of crack climbing will do for ya. It was still fun though, well deserving of its Classic status.

By now the sun was setting fast and Cliff’s girlfriend, Vina had joined us, so it was off to camp.

The following days we all kept up a fun flow of climbing and discovering.

On one of the early days we went to an area called Hot Tub. This was new to me. We did a climb there called Dharma Bums and we also got a rope up to the left and right of it. We had the spot to ourselves, though we could occasionally hear other climbers somewhere else in the Hidden Valley campground area.

During the trip we did two routes in which we just walked up and did them, no idea of the name of the route or formation. Unfortunately when I say “we” did one of the routes I only mean two of us did, because when Cliff got to the top, he discovered no anchors. That news, plus the fast setting sun meant only his belayer for the climb, K, went up after him. They ended up finding some webbing and leaving a nut to descend.

Me on Illusion Dweller

Me on Illusion Dweller

My birthday fell on the second Saturday of the trip.  We had a leisurely morning and then we climbed the awesome, five star, classic crack climb, Illusion Dweller (aka Kandy Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamlined Baby). Since my one birthday request was that I not have to cook for my birthday, for dinner I had proposed going into town to Pie for the People (a great New York style pizza place K and I had discovered the week it had opened) but was persuaded to try the new Crossroads instead. It turned out to be a good choice. I had a great Reuben sandwich with a small side  of spinach salad which was bigger than I had expected it would be. For dessert we all shared a piece of carrot cake (no candle on it, as I was afraid if they told the staff it was my birthday they might do the whole singing thing and I was feeling a bit shy in the as yet uncrowded restaurant).

Cliff and Vina had to leave on Sunday after that but K and I had committed to staying until Monday… which stretched up till Wednesday (which probably led to my confusion of not knowing what day it was when we actually got home).

Monday K and I had a bit of a rest day, both of us feeling a bit worked and I was feeling tired from little sleep due to a windy night. I took a nap in the car when K went searching for his hat which he thought he’d left in one of the two formations we’d gone to in Real Hidden Valley. By the time he came back (empty handed) we both felt up to having a go at Clean and Jerk, a hard climb on Sports Challenge Rock. K set up a top rope but I couldn’t make any progress with the boulder start (yes, another one of those!). K eventually got past that with a little help from cams and gear and then finished the rest of the route normally.

Owning Hemingway Due to a Car Commercial

On Tuesday I felt rejuvenated and wanted to get on multiple long routes so K and I headed out for Hemingway, which we knew would get morning sun (the weather was still cold enough that we wanted to climb in the sun when we could).

Right after the intersection for Real Hidden Valley a police car and cop blocked the way. Turns out there was some filming going on on the road after. We talked a bit to the cop, explaining that we were going to be busy climbing and wouldn’t be in the way of filming. He talked to some people on the radio and we were let through. At the parking lot for Hemingway we saw a lone guy with a walkie talkie. He asked us what we’d be doing. He had a German accent. We pointed at the middle section of Hemingway. “We’ll be up there” I said.

“You’re going to climb that?” he said, “Respect!”

While still putting our things together, a car pulled up in the lot and another man came out of it, and we basically had the same conversation except that he asked us, “You won’t be going on the road right?”

We answered negatively.

“So, what’s this top secret car, you guys are filming?” K asked him.

“It’s not just top secret… it’s top speed!” He said (also in a German accent). “But we would appreciate it if you didn’t take any pictures.”

The guy went off in his car, leaving the other guy behind.

K and I hiked out to Hemingway, we had the whole area to ourselves. It felt rather novel since Hemingway is a very popular wall.

As we set up at the base, we heard a loud rumbling, two sports cars appeared on the road, with another car rigged with a camera following them. It looked like they were Porches, probably just next year’s models, but they were indeed going fast.

K and I ended up having a great time on the long routes on Hemingway. We did White Lightning and then K lead OverSeer for the first time. It’s an awesome route with fun variety to it. We had an audience for some of the time we were climbing because after our lunch break (and it seems the film crew’s too) we saw the police set up a road block right after the Hemingway parking lot, blocking traffic traveling towards Hidden Valley. This created a line of cars which had to wait long enough that I could see folks getting out of their cars. Eventually the road block was removed and the only other climbing party we saw all day arrived. It was a trio of guys from Washington. They started with White Lightning. K and I had decided to do Feltonian Physics, simply because neither of us had tried it before. We had a great time sharing Hemingway with the newcomers who had some interesting stories to tell. They had all been climbing since they were kids, and I didn’t get the ages of all of them but one of them said he was 62. They had no problem with White Lightning.

Last Hurrah

The last day K and I were there we decided to get on Bird on a Wire, we’d done it before with a party of three and K wanted to try it with just the two of us. Though we had not seen many climbers around since the weekend, we found one party in the parking area, and one party on the rock already in the Lost Horse area. The weather was sunny enough that as I belayed the first pitch, I was glad for a little bit of shade a boulder near me provided. But, once I was on the route, I could feel the chill in the breeze and was glad I had not left my Windstopper jacket at the base. While we were climbing, the party we had seen on the wall already, had moved onto our route so we had to wait a bit to do the second pitch. Turns out they had done a combination of Dappled Mare and Bird on a Wire, unknowingly of course, they were new to the wall.

Bird on a Wire was a great end to the trip. All in all I had gotten on a lot of new to me things and also done three classics. I also pink pointed a 3 star climb called Leap Year Flake and flashed the Pinscar problem on Pinhead Boulder. I don’t have a photo of me on it because given the choice of pics or another spotter, I chose a spotter… what can I say? I’m a scaredy cat boulderer who gets nervous topping out on anything even a little taller than me!. Finding some adventurous, no one around climbs was also great during the trip, even though one tree shaded route had the added bonus of also harboring a lot of ants. Seeing a lot of great wildlife: coyotes, road runners, quail, baby bunny rabbits, etc was also a highlight.

This trip was another great reminder that adventure and the feeling of being “out there” can always be found, even in places you have been to before and especially if you are open to it. You have to love a place that makes you feel lucky to be alive.

A slideshow of photos from the trip is embedded below. Click on any photo to see bigger size options (highly recommended). You can also see the set here).

A Climber Learns to Ski – Weekend 2 with a First for Me During Snow Summit’s 60th Anniversary

A Climber Learns to Ski – Weekend 2 with a First for Me During Snow Summit’s 60th Anniversary

I got longer skis this time. Just a tiny bit longer, they were still shorter than me though. For some reason I felt more advanced this time. That’s right, it was my big ol’ ego saying, “I’m going skiing two weekends in a row, I can’t possibly use the absolute beginner skis again, I’m a bad ass now!”

Yeah right.

I was up at Snow Summit, near Big Bear Lake, California again, this time with my sister’s whole family: herself, her husband and their 5 year old twin girls. It was Snow Summit’s 60th Anniversary weekend and while the females of our group were waiting for my Brother in Law to return from storage locker stuffing, a Snow Summit employee came up and offered us free 60th Anniversary pins, which my nieces liked immediately.

There was going to be a fireworks display at night, but I had hoped my nieces would forget that since it was going to start at 7pm, which would be pretty late for them to still be on the mountain.

The weather forecast called for a high of 23 degrees Fahrenheit, below freezing and pretty cold for Southern California, but I was comfortable with my selected layers plus a pair of bib pants I borrowed from my sister. My nieces were bundled up well too, but were already complaining about cold hands and I doubted they’d last until fireworks time.

This weekend the girls were with us adults, so first we all went on the bunny slopes, one of my nieces would go with my Brother in Law while my sister (who is also a beginner skiier but has gone cross country skiing) and I would take the other one, between the two of us we would hoist our selected kid up high enough so she could sit in the “flying chair”.

Going down the bunny slope for the first time that day I had a moment of doubt about getting the longer skis, they didn’t seem to turn as easily into a snow plow position, but I reminded myself that I wasn’t supposed to be doing that anymore anyway.

My nieces, of course, did very well. What is it with little kids and skiing? They just took off like cute little ducks following my Brother in Law, they seem to like to go fast too. I was playing “sweeper” so I was nearly left behind a few times.

Thea, Me and Bev at Snow Summit on the 60th Anniversary Day

Thea, Me and Bev at Snow Summit on the 60th Anniversary Day

During the lunch break I called up Thea, my Big Bear Resorts Public Relations contact and she invited me to do a run together from the top of the mountain. I accepted and was thinking, “I hope she remembers I’m a beginner!”. It turned out that Thea was there with an associate of hers named Joie, who was also a beginner skier and with Bev Oster (President of the PR company) We all went down Summit Run, which is a green run that goes from the top of the mountain to the base. Thea and Bev pretty much gave Joie and I a mini lesson as we went down. I appreciated it because I felt a bit squirrely on the longer skis. At the bottom of the run Thea told me they planned to take Joie up to the Family Fun Park area. I told her I’d check in with my sister’s family because there had been talk about us all going to that area (which consists of multiple runs that do not go all the way down the mountain).

When I rejoined my sister’s family it was decided that we’d all just do Summit Run once as the girls were getting tired. The girls wanted to go fast but of course Summit Run, though an all green run (which my sister would disagree with even though she didn’t fall once) is quite a bit longer than the slopes my nieces were on. Unfortunately we had a few mishaps. At one point a boarder crashed into both my Brother in Law and one of my nieces as they were getting up. My niece, surprisingly didn’t seem alarmed, didn’t even cry. Maybe this was because she had just been getting up herself so didn’t notice the extra tangle of arms? At any rate, I found it hard as a beginner to go slow enough to stay behind everyone, especially on the steeper parts. I found myself snow plowing like crazy. Eventually we got down and rushed off to find dinner and to get the tired girls to bed. While at dinner my Brother in Law mentioned night skiing. I said, “I’ll go!” feeling like I had not skied enough yet.

This seemed reasonable to say until I saw the slopes as we drove back to Snow Summit after we all checked into the motel. The slopes seemed kinda dark. I felt my confidence waning, I was still a beginner and I had never night skied before! “OK, I’m a little scared now” I told my Brother in Law. “I”ll stick with you,” he said.

Night Skiing

Well it turns out that the slopes had looked dark right then because they had turned off some of the lights in the Bunny Slope area for the fireworks display, which I managed to catch a few of as we were driving. Once we paid to upgrade our tickets to an all day and night ticket (I had gotten free rentals and a free lift ticket but it was only for the day) we headed to the top of the mountain. It was cold. I think the low was supposed to be 0 degrees Fahrenheit and I know that it had been 4 degrees at 8 am in the morning so I figure it was in the single digits when we started night skiing around 8 pm. My Brother in Law stuck with me but managed to convince me to take an alternate section of the Summit Run trail that was Blue. It was steep but there were so few people about I decided to just go for it. I felt I wasn’t carving as nicely as I was the second day of last weekend, but I was getting it done. However I did do a pretty fast end to the run, which caused my Brother in Law to yell, “It’s this way!” afraid that I was heading off into the Blue / Black area. I was actually just trying to burn off speed before turning left (which I still find harder to do than to turn right).

I did four runs that night, each time taking the alternate route. I fell on three of those runs… but only at the bottom! One time I was so close… I came down in style, and then tried to stop. I saw the net and the lift line coming up. I was spraying snow like crazy but suddenly I realized I wasn’t going to stop before I hit the net. I decided to fall.

My Brother in Law said I had looked really good, and was really kicking up snow and then it looked like I had just decided to lie down.

I laughed when he told me that. I laughed each time I fell down too. On one occasion a guy near me said, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” I said with a chuckle. I am so not a bad ass.

I also began to have trouble with my head gear, my knit hat (a gift from my sister this Christmas) had apparently stretched out from use and kept falling into my eyes with no sunglasses to stop them. I kept pushing it and my ear warmer wrap out of my face, I even tried different combinations of the warmer on top of the hat, the hat backwards, etc. I’m surprised I didn’t crash during one of these adjustments.

Eventually, after one of my falls and when part of the fabric of my Buff had frozen stiff because of the condensation from my mouth, I told my Brother in Law I’d wait for him in the pub. They had deals going on as part of the 60th Anniversary celebration and I could warm up while he did his last runs before night skiing ended at 9:30 pm. It was a pretty laid back atmosphere and it was fun to people watch as I warmed up. The crowd was really mixed, I heard different languages and saw a pretty racially diverse crowd. A bit different from skiing many years ago.

I felt it was a pretty successful first time night skiing. It was kind of eerie (and very cold on the lift rides up, especially since I had no eye protection — no sunglasses at night) but there were very few skiers and boarders so I felt more free to try stuff without fear of causing a crash. My Brother in Law said his last two runs of the night were done without any one else on the run at all!

Live Band During the Day Outside Slopeside Pub

Live Band During the Day Outside Slopeside Pub

Sunday

The plan for Sunday was to leave early so we would not get stuck in traffic. My Brother in Law suggested that my sister and I go off to the Family Fun Park area to ski while he stayed with the girls in the Bunny Slopes area but my sister declined. We all did a bunch of runs on the Bunny Slopes but this time mixed it up by taking a different lift which had a slightly steeper start to it. The lines were very short, most of the time we got done and were at the front of the line again. My nieces were in a better mood and when we asked them if they wanted to eat at the restaurant at the top of the mountain, they both eventually said they did, even though we explained that they would have to ski down.

Eating at View Haus at the top of the mountain was fun. I snapped a pic of a thermometer gauge which indicated the outside temperature was 21 degrees Fahrenheit.

The run down this time went much better than on Saturday. The girls did great, falling sometimes but for the most part getting up with out help or too much fuss. I still found it hard to follow them though.

We got down in time to beat traffic and ended a great weekend in the mountains.

I’ve since used some of my credit at The Clymb to buy some snow goggles. No, I don’t expect to become a ski bunny, they’ll be useful for snowshoeing. Really.

Um, anyone free to ski sometime during this coming week?

By the way, Snow Summit is doing a Learn a  Snowsport Month deal until the end of this month, if you sign up for a beginner lesson you get free rentals. If you’ve never skied or snowboarded I recommend trying it out, though I warn you, you might end up like me.

New Year, New Goals Innate Prize Package Winner!

It was a lot of fun to see what goals you guys have and what outdoor fun you’ve already been up to!

KazeThanks go to Innate for providing the goodies. And the winner is…

Ryan Simko

He has a 2013 goal of getting out rock climbing at least five times this year.

That’s a great goal Ryan!

I’ll be contacting you via a direct message on Twitter to get your info and pass it on to Innate.

Thanks to everyone for entering, I think everyone should read through the goals mentioned, you guys are inspiring and I hope you post about updates  with goal progress!

Return to Big Bear Mountain – A Climber Learns to Ski

So here’s my deal, I’ve gone skiing twice before. I’ve gone snowboarding once. But my short trips (2 days tops in duration) have always been a minimum of 5 years apart. Consequently, while I had fun on these trips, I never got beyond one blue run to my name and kept basically being a recurring absolute beginner.

After this past weekend I think I can finally say I’m beyond that.

My ski return to Big Bear Mountain, which is in the Big Bear Lake area in Southern California, came about because my Brother in Law asked if I wanted to go ski the week after Christmas. I emailed Big Bear Mountain Resorts (which runs Snow Summit and Bear Mountain) and was happily surprised to get an email back inviting me to check them out, noting that they noticed Rockgrrl.com had had it’s 10 year anniversary and Snow Summit was celebrating it’s 60th Anniversary and Bear Mountain it’s 10th Anniversary too (under Snow Summit).

So… I was set. My Brother in Law, who had been waffling on the idea of skiing was now “in” since I was committed too, especially since I was able to get a 1/2 price deal for him. This was a good arrangement I thought, without my sister’s house to sleep over at the night before and after skiing, and my Brother in Law’s driving skills I would not have gone either.

Me on SaturdaySo here’s how it went, after about a 2 hour drive, my Brother in Law and I arrived at a busy Snow Summit. We checked in at Guest Services then went on to rentals, where I got my first look at the “new” skis… the last time I skied was over 16 years ago! The skis they gave me were really short, shorter than me (I’m 5′ 4″) I seem to remember always having skis taller than me in the past. I then went with my Brother in Law on the Bunny Slopes, luckily I didn’t fall getting off the lift, and I didn’t fall on the short run either. Apparently I remembered how to Snow Plow. After one more run, we decided to go up to the Family Fun Park area of the mountain, hoping for shorter lift lines, and also knowing that that area had green as well as green and blue runs.

The weather was great, much warmer than the 42 degrees we had thought it would be. There was a lot of ice on Big Bear Lake though which was quite pretty.

Snow Summit view of Big Bear LakeI spent the rest of the day on the various runs up there, I fell at least once on each run. Sometimes I’d fall on the blue sections but towards the end of the day I seemed to only fall towards the end of the run when I’d get nervous about all the people at the bottom. My falling was definitely related to how many people were around me. It seemed on the start of many of the blue sections there’d be a littering of snowboarders and skiiers on the ground. They were like mine fields to me, and I couldn’t do my slow, wide, sometimes snow plow, sometimes close to real turns, style of skiing. I did on occasion go fast down the hill, somehow not falling, but I was always kind of surprised when I made it out that way.

Oh, if folks have tips on how to get up after falling on skis, I can use them. I found it much easier to stand up after falling when on a snowboard. But maybe that’s because I’ve fallen much more while snowboarding.

All in all though, I had a great time. We met a local woman and her daughter who said that it was a pity we were’t skiing Sunday, as it was going to be less crowded, she said, “Historically tomorrow will be the least crowded day in the park, because it’s the end of vacation and kids have to go back to school”. She then added, “For example they sold 6000 lift tickets today and tomorrow it’s only 2000”. My brother in law and I were pretty surprised by that and I started day dreaming about uncrowded slopes and lines with fresh snow (the forecast called for snow Saturday night). In my past ski experiences I’ve always been on icy snow. And when I snowboarded I had one day of decent snow and the second day I had slush.

The upshot of this is that at the end of the day my Brother in Law went straight to the office to sign up my two nieces to Little Bear Ski Camp. He was committed to returning.

The drive home was much longer than the drive up due to traffic, at the end of it my Brother in Law starting questioning if he could just get a credit for his daughter’s ski camp since he didn’t relish the idea of waking up early again and driving back. But in the end we decided to do it anyway (partly because my sister had told the girls about the plan so they would’ve been disappointed).

Sunday

“It’s snowing!” I said excitedly as I saw the first flakes falling as we drove up the mountain a second time, this time with my five year old nieces accompanying us in the back of the car. As a born and raised Southern Californian (even one with outdoor experience) it’s still an out of the ordinary occurance for me to see flakes coming down. I’ve been in snow plenty of times but actual snowfall was rarer. My nieces were also excited. They at first didn’t believe that the white dots were snowflakes.

“Snowflakes are big,” one said.

We figured out that she had this impression because of the snowflakes they made in school. My Brother in Law explained that those were giant snowflakes but if you looked at the ones outside with a microscope they would look like that.

My niece said, “Maybe if we were nice to the teacher we can borrow her magnifying glass and look at the snowflakes.” My Brother in Law tried to explain the teacher would not have a magnifying glass (or a microscope) and that they would be busy skiing but my niece remained optimistic.

My nieces at the start of Little Bear Ski CampWhen we arrived in Big Bear we could tell right away that it was going to be different than Saturday, where on Saturday we had to wait in a line to park at Snow Summit (and in fact ended up paying $20 for VIP parking), this time we were able to drive right up to the free parking area and find a spot quickly. We breezed the girls through rentals and got them to their class (we were a little late but it seemed to be ok since the first part of class was indoors). After we got squared away with Guest Services (who graciously extended us the same deal we had on Saturday) we went straight for the top of the mountain. The plan was that we’d go down the long green Summit run from the top and my Brother in Law would give me pointers on how to do proper turns as we made our way down.

At the top my Brother in Law said, “You kind of kick out your hip and dig in with your ski.” He demonstrated. I tried to follow suit. “That’s good!” he said.

Once I understood the second concept about keeping your body facing downhill, things seemed to click for me. I made a quick turn to the right, trying to also get my uphill ski to unweight. I suddenly felt like maybe I was one of those people I see in ski commercials kicking up powder. “That’s great!” my Brother in Law said. Apparently I wasn’t just imagining it. I actually did kick up snow!

After lunch at the summit my confidence was high enough that we decided to split up for the day, just to meet up in time to watch my nieces at their school. Snow had continued to fall throughout the day, even though the initial forecast was that it would only snow in the morning. I felt really good and this time I didn’t fall at all, though this may be partly due to the fact that there were a lot less people about than on Saturday.

Riding up a lift by myself I suddenly thought, “I get it. I see why folks buy season passes. This is fun!” I couldn’t help but feel a bit of pride that I had progressed quite a bit in my two days. I couldn’t get my turns to the left as good as the ones to my right, but I was actually able to stop without snow plowing (or falling) and I could carve in the snow!

A bit harder to see nowI had one moment of pause though when I was at the top of a run and the sky was particularly overcast and grey with clouds and snow. I was wearing sports glasses which had worked great but they weren’t goggles so I did get some snow spray under them. I did the run without falling though it was a bit scary. All my skier and snowboarder friends can laugh at me now. I’m sure you’ve all skied in worse conditions.

Towards the end of the day I found that I was reverting back to Snow Plow like turns, especially if I was going left. But the skies were getting darker and darker so I was just glad I got down the long run without falling.

Be finishing a little early I was able to watch my nieces go on their first real Bunny Slope runs (in the morning they had only done the tread mill thing) they were so cute doing their snow plows, or, as they later told me “the pizza slice”.

My five year old niecesWhen they were done, they marched back to the classroom and came back out with hot chocolate and Oreos. What a great camp huh?

I wish the day had ended there. But unfortunately we ended up in traffic purgatory. It was still snowing. We saw police cars and ambulances go by. My brother in law stopped his engine more than once. I got out and walked the side of the road a few times.

There was some humor in the drive down though, at one point (during one of the first long stops – but not one where folks had turned off their engines yet) one of my nieces said, “This is like the longest red light ever.”

At any rate, we ended up spending nine hours getting down from the mountain (the police eventually forced everyone to put on chains). In total my Brother in Law figured out we’d spent 10.5 hours in the car. Fortunately my nieces slept through a lot of it. We got to their house at 3am.

Epilogue

In the parking lot of Snow Summit, as we got in the car, both of my nieces declared that it was, “The Best Day Ever!”  I can’t quite agree with them, but I’ll have to say it was certainly a banner day for me. I finally “got it” and while I need a lot of practice I think I could become a pretty good skier. I’d even like to give snowboarding a second try to see if I can get a similar “a ha!” moment.

As it so happens… apparently my Brother in Law and nieces were so happy with skiing that the whole family (including my sister) will be going back to Big Bear this weekend. This time they plan on spending the night Saturday night and on leaving early on Sunday. They’ve invited me to go with them.

I said, “Yes!” I gotta at least keep up with my nieces right?

More ski photos from the weekend.