how to do anything


(2) Grow A Mustache

I consulted my future brother in law, who has been seen sporting the mustache on more than one occasion, to see how best to go about growing your own. He says "Don't shave at all for a few weeks. A 'guy's only' camping trip is ideal, but a camping trip on which you plan on proposing to your one and only will do in a pinch. You must allow the 'stache to freely extend beyond the corners of your mouth. There is a point when the hairs will start to interfere with food and drink, you will have to deal with that, use a straw or something. Once it is long enough for your purpose, carefully shave off extraneous hair until you are left with a luxurious mouth mane." He concludes: "Admittedly, most women don't like it. But those that do really do."

how to do anything


Just moments before our legions of loyal fans stop visiting our very boring, rarely updated blog entirely, I thought I would attempt a revival by dispensing bits of home-spun wisdom and dangerous advice in a couple of how-to columns. Think of it as a graduate course in adventure, fitness, gear, sex, sports and anything else you wish you were good at. It’s a big scary world - and you need to be prepared.
(1) Tune your derailleur
It looks hairy: springs, cables, chains, gears, grease – who wants to mess with that? But your friendly guide has brought along the Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair, and the majority of your shifting issues (clacking, rough shifts, jumping chains) can be fixed fast, even by a theology major.
Step 1: You first need to determine if you need to tighten or loosen the cable. Shift up until your chain is on the smallest cog in the rear. Now downshift one gear. If the chain doesn’t climb right up onto the next gear, you need to increase tension. If it overshifts, you need to reduce it.*
Step 2: Find the barrel adjuster. This is where the cable enters the derailleur (most) or possibly on the handle bars.
Step 3: To increase tension, turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise. To reduce tension, do the opposite. The adjuster will click, turn it one or two clicks an recheck the shifting.
*This is true for most derailleurs. Some, known as “low normal” work in the opposite direction, but the principle is the same. If cable tension pulls the chain away from the wheel, you have a low normal. If you have a LN, start on the largest cog and reverse the process.

My Sister


I'm here in Kansas City with my sister. She amazes me how incredibly on-top of everything she is... for just twenty years old! I remember where I was at at twenty. Anyway... just wanted to say hi to all you fellow bloggers out there. Love you all!

Back in Oregon


There is a fridge in the kitchen and there is milk in the fridge. There are clothes in the closet and the camp chairs are nesting happily in the living room. 3165 Wrightwood Drive is starting to feel like home. The sunset was amazing yesterday evening, we feel so blessed to live at our new place.

The final Alaska post


The last picture of the "view" from our apartment. These are possibly the most photographed trees in Anchorage.
The last days in J347
Our last ski trip
the last picture of the snow
the last goofy picture
Don't just laugh. I'm sure you can't look quite this hot while wearing ski boots and leggings.

early spring in the park


Spring is staring to come, even to Alaska. It is staying light 'till almost 10 pm now, so Chelsea and I took a walk through the park to see what other changes spring was bringing.

These are typical Alaska trees. I always half expect to see the Thorax hiding nearby, ready to suck peas down his fingers.

A nifty statue behind the police station. (I have no idea why they put it here, where only six people see it every month)

This model was walking by, and I asked if I could take her picture. She obliged.

The first pussy-willow things of the season. Branches with particularly nice ones are always in danger of being ripped off and carried home by Chelsea for "decorative" purposes.

Farewell Aleyska


When our lazy selves don't want to sweat for some turns we head to Aleyska Resort. The views are beautiful and standing in a tram is a truly genius way to get to the top of run. We'd like to say that nothing at a resort can compare to the backcountry; however, chair lifts and trams give the backcountry some serious competition.

This last weekend the Subaru freeskiing championships were held at Aleyska, we got to watch a few nice runs, but one of the competitors fell and actually died, terrible! Freeskiing anyone? Anyways, the comps were discontinued until the next day. We lugged the camera around in a pack to try and capture some pictures of the resort before we head south.

The headwall where the competitions were held. Another view of the headwall.

The finish gate: fun times with some rockin awesome music and nice flags.

The view from the top of the resort with the Turnagain Bay in the background.

Sun Dog


Denver was able to capture this sun dog over Magnum peak. Sadly by the time we had summited the clouds and rolled in and the visibility turned to pea soup.

Lots of Snow


I am happy to report 12 inches of new snow this weekend. Let the snow days continue!

Dumpster Diving


Denver found some speakers beside the dumpsters at school yesterday and brought them home. They actually worked! We have wanted to buy some speakers to hook up to the notebook (which is our sound system, TV and everything) for a long time, but didn't want to spend the money.
Anyways we won't have to watch movies with the computer on our lap anymore, we can rock out to some Bob Dylan and feel sexy looking at our new free speakers. As you can see below these nifty noodle speakers are super cool and look like they might of been even cooler in the late 90s.
My husband is a good one for doing a little dumpster diving. The lamp in the background came from one of his other jaunts into garbage land. He has also recently brought home other special finds such as a: broken tripod, a broken Niterider headlamp, two chairs that work, another functioning lamp, numerous pens and pencils and a Christmas tree stand and Christmas lights that didn't work (Jocelyn helped him with the last two fabulous finds). My contribution in the dumpster diving was a futon-like-couch-thing that we quickly decided was too wet and stinky to ever recover, so the cough thing was returned to its home in the trash. We still don't have a couch but we do have two very nice camp chairs.



This weekend we were invited to join the teleskiing Barnetts at Telepalooza. The formentioned Barnetts were staying at the Aleyska lodge and let us crash at their digs on Saturday. We had such a good time with some spring skiing, good laughs, spa soaks and some awesome cajun goodness from the Double Musky. We are going to miss our skiing buddies (The skiing buddies had better come visit us in Oregon if they ever want paybacks on dinner...we're thinking about a big mac or something)

Gear of the Year


Our life in Alaska is nearing an end. Only 51/2 weeks until our estimated date of departure. We knew that are time here was going to be short and thus we have currently been living by the "we won't be here long" mentality. Chelsea goes to work, Denver goes to school and work, and on the weekends we head out to wherever we can find snow. It feels like we've been on a twelve month vacation with a few work days to catch some cash. (cash catching is good because pro-deals have been abundant)

During these months we have developed a great appreciation for certain pieces of gear. The perfect equipment can completely change the succes rate of the day, and therefore these pieces have earned our respect. Not all the gear that we use on an average day is worth writing about: first because those pieces are ordinary (anyone can make a decent beanie) and secondly it difficult to become too attached to a pair of liner gloves.

The following list is the top fifteen items of gear that deserve special mention for their very honorable service during the winter of 07-08.

1) Dynafit TLT Comfort/Vertical bindings. We both use these binding and they are the best touring bindings on the planet. After using these we would have to be out of our minds to tour on anything else. They weigh just over a pound per pair, and the zero resistance toe pivot makes skinning almost easy.

2) The Mammut spindrift 35 ski pack, super-light, an awesome charcoal and black color, comfortable, a main compartment and then a top section so to keep little items from falling to the bottom of the pack. (It is very imporant to be able to reach the snickers bar at a moments notice.) And if this pack couldn't get any better Denver recently discovered a small pocket on the side of the pack that holds a avy probe.

3) Scarpa Hurricane. Denver's stiffer resort/backcountry boot. The intuition thermo-fit liners with pebax plastic keep the weight at about 8lbs which is pretty sweet for a four buckle boot. The Intuition thermo-fit liners can be heat molded to your feet and are warmer then any other liner out there.

4) Smartwool ski socks. These socks are perfect, taller then the boot cuff, and come in different weights for various boot fits. No more blisters!

5) Wild Things Andinista pack. Perfect for an overnight ski trip. These packs can expand to hold all the overnight gear, and then once we've set up camp, dug our snow cave, or whatever, it can be compressed to a normal day trip pack size. This pack has also proven to be much more usfeul on an ice waterfall then its owners.

6) OutdoorResearch Alti Mits. So ridiculously warm that even Chelsea's chronic Popsicles were no match. The outer part of the mit is a shell that has proven to be absolutetly waterproof and the inner liner is all the goodness of thick down comforter. Chelsea found these gloves so warm she only used the liners on days when the mercury never came out from the little ball on the thermometer.

7) K2 MissDemeanor skis. These skis make life better, their only downside is when you have to take them off. Chelsea overheard some cool skier dude comment on the fact that no one ever seems to really like their frontside ski, but Chelsea wants to say differently. She really likes her powder skis, doesn't really like her backcountry skis, but absolutely loves her carving skis.

8)Denver's Line Prophet 100 skis. When asked why these deserve to be on the list Denver, without missing a beat, said "Those skis are great because they rule in the deep stuff, and yet rail the hardpack like a skinnier board." Amen.

9) Capilene from Patagonia. Smartwool has tried, Westcomb has tried, REI has tried, but nothing can compare to Capilene for a quality baselayer. Capilene is long enough to keep your backside from getting covered with snow if you really auger in, comes in lots of nice bright colors and wicks like crazy.

10) Avalanche Handbook, by David McClumg and Peter Schaerer. This book is the authoritative resource on all things snow science. It's an amazing reference.

11) Chelsea's Smith Prodigy goggles have stayed fog free every day for the entire year. They have also proven themselves very useful when skiing through the infamous Aleyska flat light. With these goggles you could actually see (almost) when the white room comes in.

12) Snickers. We began the season with a new 48 count box of snicker bars from Costco, with the rule "only to be eaten on our ski/outdoor days". We have upheld this promise, despite Chelsea's great love for a snicker bar on any and every day of the week. Snickers are chock full of calories, edible when frozen, easy to digest (a tunafish sandwich is not). We are currently on our second box.

13) The Nalgene Wide-mouth Cantene. Like a regular nalgene, but squishy. 'nuff said

14) Denver's EP hooded jacket from WildThings. This jacket has made it into the top fifteen despite the fact that it looks a little funky. The Ep is compressible, light, warm and has a shell material that will fend off light precip.

(15) The Canon EOS 5D which has successfully documented the gear usage. The battery lasts a suprisingly long time if we keep it warm until it's time to shoot.

The first day of spring, a good suprise and a Happy Easter to all


Yesterday my very thoughtful mom and dad suprised me with this incredible bountiful bundle of tulips. They were delivered to me at work with a note, "He is risen indeed!" Needless to say, work was incredibly more enjoyable the rest of the day. The awesome coincidence about this delivery is that today is also the first day of spring! Thanks dad and mom, there is now a little spring in Alaska.

Spring Break in Valdez, AK


During Spring Break we spent five days skiing in Thompson Pass. We were totally blessed with bluebird skies all week.
We had the time of our life with an unplanned heli-ski day!

On the heli day we would drop 4000 vert of untracked pow, load our skis in the ship, and do it again.

Looking down from the top of the run called Stale Fish

The heli camp base lodge

Paul, our guide, pointing out our next line

Catching some air off a cornice

After our day of heli skiing it was back to human powered powder hunting

Philosiphy and Science, Part 1: Naturalism


I have been in college classes for a while now, and the unnecessary dogmatism of the educational system has been getting to me. I think that it is especially noticeable in biology classes, because biology inevitably leads to single-viewpoint discussions of evolution, the origins of life and so forth. I don’t know how long this series will be, but I just thought I’d start writing stuff down and see where I ended up. Let me know what you think of the first installment.
The problem is not so much in the biology of evolution, but rather in the philosophy that goes with it. That philosophy is known as Scientific Naturalism, Logical Positivism, or Reductionism/Eliminativism (there may be some distinction between these, but as a layman I am unaware of it). Naturalism (I’ll use this for short) contains three key elements:
  1. An epistemology (theory of knowledge) that says that scientific knowledge is the only kind of knowledge that can tell us true things. This can be summed up in the statement “Only those statements which can be empirically verified have any meaning”. Which is to say that questions regarding things that cannot be tested with the scientific method not only cannot have a right answer, the question itself is meaningless babble.
  2. The Grand Story, as J.P. Moreland calls it, which is a naturalistic creation story of how everything came to be (the Big Bang) with a very large part of the explanation devoted to “molecules to man” evolutionary biology.
  3. the picture of reality that results from this naturalists creation story is physicalism. The physical, material cosmos is all there is, was, or will be. This leads to the conclusion that physical things in a very complex arrangement can appear to be metaphysical.

Original Blogging

We are beginning to feel our blog lacks variety and that we should occasionally write about something other than "we had fun skiing this weekend". Because we don't want to loose any of our precious readers (thanks j) to intense boredom, we will try and think of something else to blog about.

While we do promise to eventually provide a new subject, no luck so far, the irresistible urge to post yet another photo of our weekend adventure has overcome our desire to appear balanced. Therefore, we are privileged to present a photo of Turnagain Pass taken taken this last weekend. drum roll......

The Sunburst Avalanche


Last Saturday, Chelsea and I decided we wanted to do an overnight tour, going up the valley between Sunburst and Magnum peaks. Talking about it at home this seemed like a good idea. Over the past week there had been about 7-8 feet of new snow in the Pass, and we knew the snowpack would need time to adjust to this new load; so it was a good time to cool our jets about the steeps and do more of a tour.

The primary avalanche concern for the area was a layer of buried surface hoar. This entails those beautiful, feathery or blade-like crystals of hoar frost that commonly grow in cold clear weather on the snow surface and are subsequently buried. This is the most common type of weak layer that is involved in fatal avalanches, because it does not give any of the classic signals of severe instability (whoomphing noises and shooting cracks). It was now underneath a 7-10 foot thick cohesive snow slab.

Once we started skinning through the valley, however, with our heavy overnight packs on, we began to doubt the seriousness of the snowpack instability. Skiers whooping down faces that we would have loved to be on was hard to watch.

The farther up the valley we got, though, the more I thought that we had made a poor choice of overnight snow caving spots. We was looking up at the steep slopes of Sunburst and Magnum hanging over our heads, and we grew increasingly uncomfortable.

Buried surface hoar, except in extreme cases, is resistant to remote triggering (i.e. you will not trigger a slope above/around you from a low angle slope nearby). So Chelsea and I had a quick conference and decided that we were ok with skiing underneath these slopes, as long as nobody was coming down them. No sooner had we decided this, then a group of skiers appeared 1500 feet above us and started trundling chunks of cornice down to see if the slope was stable. They rolled almost to our feet, and we quickly decided that this was a death trap (complete with a gully behind us to get washed into). We decided we could go snow caving somewhere out in the flats and have just as good of a time, so we ripped our skins and headed down.
The pictures below show what happened less then five minutes later, as the group of skiers headed down.

Milliseconds after fracture initiation. The skier jumped off the rock outcrop above him and most likely triggered the avalanche when he landed.
(photo by Peter Knape taken 2-23-08)

This avalanche was 1/2 mile wide with a crown face up to 10' deep. It ran 1500 feet to the valley floor and 200 feet up the other side, triggering a sympathetic release off Magnum.
(photo by Peter Knape taken 2-23-08)

Looking up from the debis pile. Notice the deep crown face as well as where it stepped down to deeper weak layers.
(photo by Lisa Portune taken 2-24-08)

The crown face (photo by Lisa Portune taken 2-26-08)

The search and rescue helicopter touches down on the debris pile. the skier that finally triggered it was the sixth one down the face. He was buried for 30-35 minutes, and was blue and unconsious when he was dug out. Another skier was knocked over and partially buried by the powder blast. Luckily, they were both wearing beacons, and no one was badly injured.

We built a jumper and did some kicks

Everything was perfect this weekend. The sun was shining, there was seven feet of new snow from the recent storms and Anne let us eat half of her sandwich on our Sunday tour of Tincan ridge. Because of bad avalanche conditions in the pass this week, we had to stick to low angle terrain (less than 25-30 degrees. This is the angle of most easier blue runs at a resort). It is hard to be to bad to the bone when you are skiing angles under twenty-five degrees, thus our day was a hanging-out-skinning-around-chucklehead kind of day. We did some kicker action on the way down. Here is Denver showing us how it is done.

This is Anne doing a 360.

Chelsea, eyes on the goal, takes flight.
Shad the bad, catching some air
The peak in the distance is Sunburst peak. We skied sunburst on Saturday and will write about those travels in another post.

The Ski Project


Chelsea rescently got a pair of twin tip alpine skis and it didn't take long for her to decide that the topsheet graphics sucked. As in, bulldogs with reptillian wings and maces and flying squirrels wielding butcher knives. (see below).

So we decided that, rather than act like (insert name of a political figure you dispise)and just sit around complaining loudly we would act like (insert name of political figure you admire), and do something about it. So we made a quick sortie to Freddy's, Home Depot, and Michaels. (I try to stay clear of Michaels as a rule, and never go alone. You never know when a crafter will snap, and use thier decorative edging shears to turn you into fishbait). We returned triumphant with three different kinds of spray paint, some bling-tastic stickers, and... well, need I say more? The results speak for themselves.