Patagonia: Nahuel Huapi, Navimag, and Torres del Paine 
Monday, February 1, 2016, 08:29 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
Here's a big one. I did 3 weeks in Patagonia with Jeff and Jack. We trekked the Nahuel Huapi Traverse in Bariloche, Argentina, caught a boat ride from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales through the Chilean Fjords, and spent 9 days completing the circuito completo in Torres del Paine. The trip took us through incredible country as you can see!

Final itinerary:
Saturday, Jan 16 - Santiago and flight to Puerto Montt
Sunday, Jan 17 - Tour bus from Puerto Montt to Bariloche
Monday, Jan 18 - Nahuel Huapi Traverse. Villa Catedral chair lift and hike to Refugio Jakob
Tues, Jan 19 - Nahuel Huapi Traverse, Trek to Refugio Laguna Negra
Weds, Jan 20 - Nahuel Huapi Traverse, Hike out via Refugio Lopez
Thurs, Jan 21 - Return bus to Puerto Montt, Chile
Friday, Jan 22 - Puerto Montt fish market and tienda exploration
Jan 23-25 - Navimag Cargo Ship Cruise
Tues, Jan 26 - Travel from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine, camp at El Chileno.
Weds, Jan 27 - Hike up to Las Torres View and trek to Puesto Seron
Thurs, Jan 28 - Hike to Refugio Lago Dickson
Fri, Jan 29 - Hike to Campamento Los Perros
Sat, Jan 30 - Hike past Campamento Paso to Campamento Grey
Sun, Jan 31 - Hike to Refugio Mountain Lodge Paine Grande
Mon, Feb 1 - Rest day. Take Lago Pehoe boat around to Pudeto.
Tues, Feb 2 - Hike to Campamento Italiano. Climb to Britanico.
Weds, Feb 3 - Hike to Cuernos.
Thurs, Feb 4 - Hike to Las Torres. Bus to Puerto Natales.
Fri, Feb 5 - Bus to Punta Arenas, tour Cerveceria Austral.
Sat, Feb 6 - Tour of Isla Magdalena to visit los pinguinos.
Sunday, Feb 7 - Flight home.

Many photos here.


























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AMRC Winter Training 
Friday, January 8, 2016, 06:07 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC
Posted by Administrator
Kerry, Brendan, Lance, Zak, Andreas, Paul, and I went up early to do some backcountry Lobo Peak. Kerry, Brendan, and I peeled off from the rest of the gang and played in the fresh snow all the way down Powerline.





On Saturday, the full crew rolled out of Bill's house to go run beacon searches and build winter anchors up by Lobo Peak. Then on Sunday we ran a full avalanche scenario on the south side of Wolf Creek Pass. I was part of the beacon search and got fairly lucky with some targeted probing in a tree well. There was a body there! Sneaky Bill :)




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Ringing in 2016 in Taos and Silverton 
Sunday, January 3, 2016, 06:40 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
After Christmas in MO and IL, I headed back to the snow and partied with Jason, Victor, and Jeff by skiing the Taos NYE torchlight. There was a great turnout in the ski valley and the snow was wonderfully soft. Afterward Jason and I hiked up to Goldmine and illegally dropped the Kandahar Chutes. It was fun until the choke with all the small trees. I stayed the night in Ojo Caliente with Spencer, Bonnie, Dave, Sammy, and Laura and jammed in the new year with drums, guitars, and a ukulele. We skied Taos the following day and I got a few ridge hikes in - the snow has been really good this year.






Spencer and I went to drove up to Silverton to use one of our free Sundays and entered the Clauson Classic. There were points awarded for silly things and for serious things (like hauling logs to the billboard. Spencer and I started off strong and topped off at the billboard well in the first 10 people. The skiing was terrible - very chattery and exhausting when we were trying to go fast. We skied the chute under Pope Face and took the road back around. And did it all over again only this time slower. And then we did it again, only this time slower again. And I was really beat up by this point. The hour long hikes from the top of the chair at 12,300’ to the Billboard summit at ~13,200' were killer in ski boots. Spencer and I then did one more hike, this time with a massive log in my backpack (bonus points) up to the ramp entrance. I was dead. Spencer and I took our time skiing the frontside through an avalanche path and stopped off in Concussion Woods for a couple beers in celebration of our feats of strength. Then we went to the after party and tallied our scores. I think it was close to the 50% mark, Spencer hauled a few more logs than I did and weaseled out some bonus gnar points from the judges for wearing pink boots, hand carrying his board (like a fool), telling cancer stories, and carrying extra logs so he might have broken into the top 10 (of about 80). Didn't matter much though as the winner did 7 or 8 billboard hikes (he ran). Actually, the winner is fittingly on the US national skimo team.




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Christmas 2015 
Friday, December 25, 2015, 05:02 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
It was nice to be home for the holidays but my grandfather's health has been visibly weighing on the family - especially my grandmother. Alzheimer's, dementia, senility, and weak knees have put him in an old folk's home in a state of perpetual confusion, where nothing that has happened in the last 10 years or so. But he was thrilled to see me and exclaimed "Jaybo!" when he saw me. That said, short term memory has been vaporized by the mysteries of old age. It was particularly hard to hear grandpa talk about how proud he was of my father and everyone in the family. There was an unspoken understanding that I would most likely not see him again - and the same for my brother. We took grandpa back to his Washington home (about 4 blocks away) for Christmas presents and dinner, but the following day he couldn't remember what happened.

In the last 6 months I had read through a book of my grandfather's poetry. I was struck by a number of themes: acceptance (satisfaction?) in his life and his difficulty with growing older and becoming a greater burden and embarrassment for my grandmother. My grandpa commanded language better than I ever will and it was tough to see how his mental capacities had eroded over the years - especially since he was fully aware of the degradation. Yet, at the time I was reading grandpa's poetry, I was struggling with some powerful emotions surrounding my dating struggles, difficulties connecting with people, and the inability to reconcile my life choices. How could I selfishly ski every weekend when I should be doing more for the community? Why fly around the US and world to chase feelings of freedom and adrenaline when I know those flights are destroying the planet? Was my current research path going to result in the global impacts I wanted? And so forth. Those questions remain unresolved and still trouble me today, but I found a lot of comfort in my grandfather's words and I'd like to share some of them for the rest of you. Here are a few verses from the book of poems "When I Be Still" by Rod Johnson.




Sitting By, Frisbee in Hand
Senior citizen stage
confusing
choosing to go along
with family belief:
I'm out of it--
Or for real out of it.
Probably both.
So now what?

Is my life-long way
sitting on the bank
watching life's messiness
pass by
accelerating--
or am I evolving
to take integrity's road
to God energy
LOVE?
"Let go and let God"?

Am I more
coward than spirit?
Hiding out or
being in not of
the world?

I limit
second chakra energy
the "Honor of one another"
the wade into life's stream.
What is life about
if not to live fully?
What would such be like?
A perennial question.

Now this question
has another out: Age
How much do I use it?
How much does it use me?
How much from pre-conscious?
From beliefs? Habits?

Unanswerable.
Come and go of tides.
Yet one
to be pondered
pulled apart
played with
tossed back and forth
like a Frisbee.



Scampering
squirrel scampers high
twig to twig
head first to ground
digs but for a moment
back up
around
over over
ever different
only purpose fun
pleasure in being
so it seems to us porch sitters
we few no longer
desperate for survival

how busy be my fellows
what thrills us?
makes us feel alive?
roller coasters haunted houses
grandkids picking their ways

we use age to lean back
celebrate such energy
relive the show

ah yes other shows
purposeful business
force heaven into being
hold high one-way beliefs
that resent the every which way

that squirrel
smarter than we

Harder
The tide of time
Keeps rising,
The waves lap higher,
The surf pounds harder
Or so with age
It seems
Easy to be knocked
Off balance,
Fearful one will be.

The wise say to
Go with the flow,
Enjoy the ride,
No need to collect
More toys,
No need to sweat
The swells of the sea,
Just be,

One joy
Of aging
Is observing
Such wonders:
The marvel
Of forgetting,
The discovery
Of new creaks,
The surprise
Of needing
To catch breath,
The inclination
To sleep in spurts,
The effort
To bite life off
Given less oomph,

A bit harder,
To adjust,
To find joy that is
In each re-
meaning moment.

Hunger
In this out materialist world
Time is money.
Painting maybe makes 5 cents/hour
Poetry even less
So why do they pay?

When an image grabs one of us
More than for prettiness, pertinence
Painting becomes a joyful emergence
Perhaps like the high of drugs
Without withdrawal symptoms
More like meditation and prayer
Calling us from deep within
Adrenalin jumps, brain gulps, I'm driven,
Drawn to a different colored space.

So too with poetry
Words come when they come
Capriciously
Muse blesses with live phrases, fresh constructs
Drops them in poets' ever salivating mouths
Ambrosia
We love the chewing, swallowing
Digesting, building highs
But often we're stuffed with basic nutrition
Calories to keep the engine chugging, meeting
Commitments in what's called the real world.
Still our mouths stay sagape
Impatient for such elusive necessities
Our jaws triggered to clamp down.

Up-Springing
Long have I scanned,
settled for overviews,
filled with assumption.

But with this April's quickening,
my slowing down, growing old,
less dependent on independence,
my kneeling in loam planting,
the earth has pushed me up
like it sprouts
of which I am a part
subject to the same forces,
invites me to look about,
join pond wee goldfish,
backyard squirrels, rabbits,
its exquisites,
native birds missing winter hand-ons,
they and trees color-tipped for come-ons,
garish to soothing,
red, rust, burgundy, yellow, white,
lavender of rebuds most prefuse,
flower even more wildly experimenting,
the perennials readying to herald the annuals,
all among barely peeping green leaves.

Time to wake up,
Live worlds within worlds.

Gruel
I think of out leader of conviction
Spellbinding us with drowsing takes
Spooning us what slides down.
Gruel.
But, like undernourished kids,
We're beginning to crave solids
Ready to chew on all the squalor
Thanks to New Orleans' scream.

Leave it to us Americans
Who thoughtlessly gulp mush
When what we need
Is our own good heads
Mount our fresh steeds
And gallop into the fray.

Family centered (Excerpts)
….
Family is relationship;
Relationship, energy.
Energy seen blue from space.
In the joy of dancing through our lives
Everything mingles in a splendid
Spindled swirl
All held in the white hand of Love
And Mother Earth.
….
Love possible in family:
Parents crazy about a kid no matter what
Respecting her thinking for herself
Not buying any illusion of separatedness,
Steadfast bonding with penalties.
She pushes away yet ever tethered
Needing interface for self-definition,
Paradox creating lifelong
That kid in each of us.

The void among the sculptured heads
Undifferentiated energy.
Those who resolve the paradox
Awaken to find all is one,
The core meaning of family.

Christmas 2015
The family also shared gifts and ate a lot of good food. We also held the 4th (?) annual photo competition. I spent a few days back in Alto Pass, helped out my dad with some chores around the house, cooked dumplings with Mom, and hiked to the cross.






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Lost Snowboarder in Santa Fe and Silverton Ice/Snow 
Monday, December 21, 2015, 08:21 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Thursday night at 9:00, Spencer and I were turning ski equipment in the garage when the text comes in: missing snowboarder in Santa Fe. I decided to head up to see if I could lend a hand along with Verena and Zak. We got to the ski area at about 11:30 and were briefed in the ski patrol room that Ryan (a former Taos Extreme Freeride Champion) had dropped into the Nambe Chutes at about 3:30pm and his friend had not seen him since. He didn't know the Santa Fe resort and may have triggered an avalanche with all the new snow. No one knew...

By the time we got all our gear together and clicked into our skis, it was 12:30am and somewhere between 0 and 10 F (with a subzero wind chill). We skinned up the Winsor Trail and worked our way toward Nambe Lakes. At the fork toward the lake, the trail was no longer tracked out and I began the task of breaking trail in waist-deep powder up the Rio Nambe. We called every 10th of a mile or so, but there was no answer in the crisp, moonless night. Only deep snowy forest. I had a few minor navigational mistakes but continued up toward the lake with the team in tow. The going was extremely slow and difficult. I was working hard to make kick turns and wind through the forest. Finally, at one rest break, I gave a yell and heard something back. It seemed to come from above me, so I assumed it was Team 2 up on Raven's Ridge. We radioed to the Incident Commander to ask that Team 2 stop shouting so we could be sure it was them. Team 2 responded that they had not yelled in the last 5 minutes. Holy Shit - we've got him! He's alive! And he's awake! I started working my way up to Ryan, zigzagging up the mountain to his spot near the creek. 10 minutes later, I reached him by exchanging yells. I can say with certainty that he was very stoked to see us! After talking with him about his injuries, cold level, and general welfare. We cracked a few jokes and I suggested that he crawl back in his pine bow shelter for a photo, which he did politely while joking about how cozy it was. I pulled out my big puffy, fat mittens, hot tea, and a granola bar for him; packed up his frozen-solid gloves and coat, attached his snowboard to my pack; then I strapped my spare snowshoes on him and started the 3 mile trek out. It was 4:00am now. We moved slowly, and as we made the 800 ft ascent back up to 10,800 ft pass, Ryan's condition deteriorated. So did ours. Ryan was getting progressively more nauseous and stopping regularly to vomit. We diagnosed him with acute mountain sickness since he had just flown in from the Bay Area two days before, but it was unnerving. Zak had been awake for 26 hours straight at this point, and Verena and I were approaching the 24 hour mark. Finally, we reached the pass just as day was breaking. We navigated the final mile of 600' descent to the parking lot. I ripped my skins and struggled to maintain my balance with a massive snowboard on my back. Everyone else slogged it out to keep a close eye on Ryan. We brought him up the ski patrol room and said our goodbyes to everyone. We definitely saved a few fingers and toes that night, if not someone's life entirely. I finally got home and to bed at 9:30am having been up for 27 hours.




I slept for 4.5 hours and then repacked for a trip to Silverton. Spencer, Briana, and I stayed the night in the hostel and then met Sharon for an ice climb of 2nd Gulley. I led the first pitch, but it was 1 degree F so the ice was bulletproof and difficult to get the picks and crampons in. I made it work, but was exhausted at the top of the pitch. I then belayed Spencer up and then simultaneously belayed the girls up to the 1st anchor. Spencer led the 2nd pitch but since I was using 2 singles, one of them was 50m, and we couldn't stretch it out to the top of the next section. As a result, we got to the walk out after 5 pitches instead of 4, but it all worked out. We skipped that last pitch at the top for another time since it was starting to get dark, but it was a fun day out with fun people. Then the 4 of us grabbed some pizza and ended up at the Venture Snowboards party at Grumpy's (for the 2nd year in a row!)








Sunday, Spenc, Briana, and I skied Silverton. They had gotten 7" overnight, but we got caught in some variable depth garbage on our first run in Dolores/RMYP. The 2nd run, called Mandatory Air, was much better with the initial drop containing hero powder all the way down to the choke. We caught the Waterfall Ramp back around and then found the pow stash of the day in Eagle's Nest/Gene Simmons. There was buried treasure: some rocks/trees/etc but there was a good 15 turns of pure bliss in 35 degree waist-deep snow. We hit it twice and finished our day with Tiger 2. No injuries for the Silverton opening - that's a good thing, knowing my record at that resort.


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AMRC Training and First 2015/2016 Taos Ski Day 
Monday, December 7, 2015, 09:40 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC
Posted by Administrator
I led the December AMRC training and tried to stretch the team by placing 3 people on a cliff in Embudo Canyon. I had 3 simul-climbers with the leader (Jack) stuck in a crack with a dislocated ankle, and the two other climbers (Ron and Susan) with hypothermia and lesser injuries to their arms. Craig helped set up the scenario and then ran back-to-back pick-offs, while Zak and the other 7 team members ran the mid-face little pickoff. Paul was on the litter and did a great job. Everything was executed well, but we'll need to pick up the pace and practice clear, crisp communications for the recert in 3 months. In the afternoon, we practiced transitioning the litter between horizontal and vertical orientations using a 4:1 block and tackle setup.










Verena and I also worked on the counterbalance pickoff technique. I struggled with the first iteration because I didn't give enough slack in the first connection. Verena did much better with the 2nd run, but I'd like to try it one more time before executing something like that in the field. Here's my 7 step process for making it work:
1. Rappel to the patient and attach a safety line from your harness to theirs. This will never be weighted unless something goes terribly wrong so make it long.
2. Attach a pulley to your rope above your rappel device and run 7 or 8mm line from their harness through the pulley to a munter mule on your harness.
3. Rappel down, reversing positions with the patient to unweight their system.
4. Remove their attachment to their rope. You have maintained 2 points of contact for the patient so this is acceptable.
5. Reverse positions with the patient again so you are as high as possible. Move your rappel device up as high as possible and set the prussic.
6. Attach a tight line between your rappel device and the patient. This will mean that you don't take any of their weight, and because you're putting this on now, you know that you'll be able to reach up and grab your prussic that holds the pulley.
7. Release the munter mule on the pulley system. Remove loose items from the system. Rappel to safety. Note: the position you are in when first setting the pulley is where you will ultimately end up for the final rappel, so one must account for their rope stretch, but also be able to reach the patient if there are medical issues, etc.






Sunday, I got up at 4:00am, drove to Taos to meet Jeff, Patrick, and Jason. 3 of us skinned up to Williams Lake before the lifts were turning to get some high-altitude training. I used my new Lange boots (130 Flex) and blistered my feet and hurt my knees. Probably too stiff for any real touring but they handled well. I had a mini adventure avoiding the creek on the way back to the Bav, and then ripped the return trail back to the cars. Skied all day with 3 hikes and caught the Bavarian Chutes to end the day with a beer and hardy Gulyassuppe.




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Friendsgiving in Wolf Creek 
Monday, November 23, 2015, 07:52 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
A good group of friends got a cabin in South Fork for Thanksgiving. Bonnie and Dave brought the bird and everyone else filled in the rest of a traditional thanksgiving dinner. Katherine and I brought stuffing and pie. Spencer made a big fire and we danced in the snow until the cold got to us.

This ended up being the greatest opening weekends I've ever had! 8" fresh on Friday, 8" fresh on Saturday, and Sunday I hunted the powder stashes in the backcountry so all told I skied freshies for 3 days straight. Was great to hang with the gang and party the long weekend away - complete with glowing icicles, glitter beards, face shots, hot tubs, and great food. Katherine made a lot of progress with her skiing as well, and I'm sure she'll be shredding in no time. The backcountry day consisted of doing a couple laps with Bill and Andreas in the trees to the east of lobo overlook and then skiing off the peak back to the car.







Sunday in the backcountry.







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Two weeks in Thailand (with a couple hour visit to Burma and Laos) 
Sunday, November 22, 2015, 06:18 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I spent a couple weeks in Thailand with my parents and brother.

Here are some photos and a little slideshow google generated.

We took the 15 Day Kaleidoscope of Thailand with River Kwai with the following stops.











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Halloween in Moab 
Saturday, October 31, 2015, 06:34 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Mike, Allison, Briana, Josiah, and I rode some variation of the Klondike Bluff Outer Loop and EKG on Friday. Then we headed out to the Trailhead of MMI and Lost and Found Canyons. We originally planned to knock out Winter Camp Wash, but since we got to camp after dark, we decided to leave it for another day.



In the morning, Tom, Jordan, Mike, Allison, and I took off for MMI canyon. After a little route finding, we dropped the first big rappel into a narrow with a pile of blocks leading down another 75 ft. We then work our way downstream and dropped one smaller and one larger ledge on the way to the base of the canyon using retrievable anchors (and they actually worked). It was fun - especially since it was halloween and we were wearing costumes! But I will confess that Lost and Found Canyon is better. At the end of the canyon hike we opted for the climber's exit, which is supposedly 5th class, but I would put it at 4.11b :). We had been taking our time and stopped off for an arch on the way back to camp, so the daylight was fading when we got back to the cars.

Tom and Jordan were bummed that they didn't get to do Lost and Found, so I said that I would take them on a speedy trip with the understanding that we'd be walking out with headlamps. We left camp at 3pm. I pushed the pace but ironman Tom and triathlete Jordan didn't mind. We crushed the route in record time: 2 hours, 28 minutes car-to-car for the "4-6 hour canyon." Rap one was done at 36 min; we combined raps 2-3 and finished them 1 hour in (got a little lucky with the rope pull and wouldn't recommend that for others that have more time); and we finished the last rappel at 1:30. We topped out of the climb at 1:50 and then booked it back to the cars at an average 3 mph. We got back before the sun had set. Awesome!

That evening, we joined up with a larger ABQ group to party in town for Halloween. Moab's a small town, but our crew of ~10 brought the party wherever we chose.










Larger

The last day in Moab, M&A and I did HyMasa to Captain Ahab - a very techy stretch of mountain biking. I liked it, but there were a number (maybe 6 or so) spots I couldn't commit to and walked the bike. Mike and his dropper post did manage at least one drop I chickened out of, so I will have to check into getting one of those in the future. Moab continues to be spectacular and an adults' playground. Can't wait to get back there.



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South Boundary, ASA 101, and Snowzobra 
Monday, October 26, 2015, 07:59 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
I hopped on a South Boundary trip with the MTB gang last weekend. We camped out on Friday night in Garcia park and the ladies made breakfast in honor of Sammy's birthday. In the morning we rode up to the top of Osha Pass and the new guy, Spencer, dropped me at the top to KOM the climb. That guy's got a VO2 max through the roof. The ride was great through the turning aspens and I finally finished the route with a mechanical! 1 for 3 on that ride.




Sunday, I left bright and early for San Diego. Jason, Patrick, and I sailed down to Coronado, and we drilled docking procedures, and good skippering commands. We got a giant salad at the normal pizzeria spot and played around with a Stand Up Paddleboard. We biked back up the hill at normal Jason speeds. I could barely cling to the back wheel. The following morning we rocketed back down to the marina and took the American Sailing Association 101 "Basic Keelboat Sailing Certification" test. I managed to pass with a perfect 100 (first time the instructor has seen it!), but my man overboard was a little weak and the instructor made me redo the figure eight a 2nd time. In the end, we both got our ASA 101 certifications and I'm one step closer to the Bareboat Charter Certification.






The following weekend, Josiah, Sam, and I threw a party a Josie's place. We did a 16-hour slow-cooked matanza pig with Dave's seasonings. A crowd of over 50 prayed for snow, drained 6 sixth barrel kegs, and watched snowzobra burn.






I've also had a couple nice hikes and bike rides with a Katherine and her bulldog Kirby.




And here's a shot of the blood moon eclipse. 300mm, 3s, f/5.6, ISO 320.

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Flying the Craters of AZ 
Sunday, October 4, 2015, 08:39 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
I joined a number of NM paragliders to head out to the Dixon White Fly-in at the Craters. Max and I carpooled out and I picked his brain about flying (or, rather, he voluntarily provided a 4-hour knowledge dump on the drive). Max, as a recent retiree and new P-3, is super excited about flying, and fortunately that excitement is contagious. We set up camp, played some Bocce and shared some special "V77" rum around the campfire as everyone trickled in.

In the morning, we stood at the top of Sheba with a stiff 16 mph wind. People were launching, but it was a little above my skill level so us newbies sat the morning out. I did learn a lot from watching folks launch in those conditions however, so the morning wasn't a complete bust. Eventually the winds picked up and everyone headed to lower ground. I kited for about an hour to regain my confidence. We then headed back to camp to slackline, juggle, shoot .22s and BB guns, and wait for the calmer, less thermally air of the evening.

At 4:30pm, 40 people and gliders loaded up into the 5-ton and head up to the bench launch site. A few skilled speedwing pilots and one wildly good Acro guy were playing around but the winds were still too strong for nearly everyone until dusk, when there was a mass exit. I shot pictures, but my beginner A-wing would not have penetrated the ~15-20 mph winds and wouldn't have been able to land safely.

Sunday, the winds were 25-30 on top of the mountain before 7am, so the crew went back to the bench launch spot. Winds there were initially strong, but they died for about an hour when I could do a quick reverse inflation and punch off for a 400' descent back to the parking area. It was smooth and uneventful - both good things in paragliding! Not the weekend I hoped for, but at least I wasn't totally skunked.


Leigh launches!




Unloading the truck with 40 people!




Soaring at dusk.
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Ang and Bill Got Hitched 
Thursday, October 1, 2015, 08:23 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
Not even back in the States for 24hrs, and there's already a party with all my favorite people. Angela and Bill held a fairytale wedding at Bonanza Creek Ranch. It's been the set for a lot of classic Westerns like Butch Cassidy and 3:10 to Yuma. Everyone dressed up in Western garb and threw one heck-of-a-event, complete with horseback riding, gunfights, and adulterous scandals.







Sunday, I knocked out a Oak Flats ride with Mike and toured the town for CiQlovia, including finally visiting the Railyards market!




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Austria and Italy 
Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 07:40 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
I took a work trip over to Europe to re-energize a collaborative DER interoperability research program. Luckily, I got a little time away from conference rooms and labs to explore, drink a few beers, and get my fill of doner kebaps.

In Vienna, I climbed the St. Stephen's Cathedral on my first day in town, did a few days of work, and then toured the Belvedere and Schloss Schonbrunn - palaces from the Austro-Hungarian Empire era. The palaces were incredible structures and were surrounded by immaculate, immense grounds. Interestingly, the power from the Habsburg House was primarily gained through marriage as opposed to war (e.g., Emperor Francis II of Austria married of his first daughter, Marie Louise, to Napoleon); but I got to hand it to Franz Joseph I, he makes a nice home for himself!


St. Stephen's Cathedral Platz


Belvedere - Side A

Belvedere - Side B

Schloss Schonbrunn maze

One of the highlights of the trip was being hosted by the Governor of Vienna to a stunning dinner at city hall. They led us up 3 flights of stairs with a red carpet stretching up the middle into a large room with 4 massive chandeliers, handed everyone a glass of champagne, and wined and dined us all evening - and then the entertainment showed up: a couple who performed a few ballroom dances for the audience.


Wien City Hall



Researchers celebrating the completion of a good project

---------------

After Vienna I flew to Milan and caught a late train to Lecco. My tight 45 min layover in Munich was shortened to 20 minutes and I had to sprint to make the door. "Mr. Johnson, please come to Gate 27, we are closing the doors." Needless to say, my bag didn't make it, and I didn't have any luggage for the next 48 hours.

Nevertheless, I made do with my free, very rainy Sunday to tour Lake Como by boat. As luck would have it, my Japanese colleagues had the same idea and we shared the day together. The boat hopped from town to town, but we only stopped off at Bellagio and Como. Bellagio was particularly spectacular - perched on the tip of the peninsula on steep cliffs. The rain made all the cobblestone streets glisten and there was something very charming about all the people working together to adjust their umbrella heights to squeeze past one another on the narrow walkways.








After the smart grid communications workshop, I had a free day. Originally I was going to do one or two Via Ferratas (Gamma 1 probably), but it was pouring rain, so I headed down to Milan. At least there, I could play tourist and check out the Duomo and EXPO. The Cathedral was the most impressive I've ever seen in Europe (Take that Paris and Cologne), perhaps because you could walk up onto the roof and see the architectural marvels up close.





The EXPO is a modern day version of the World's Fair and Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life Theme was particularly tasty. I got some Bangladeshi curry and momos for dinner and washed it down with a BeerLao. The exhibits (and queues) ranged wildly for each host country. The US wasn't stunning but the high-ropes course for Brazil was wildly popular. The Middle Eastern countries with money, created elaborate facilities, but the poorer countries in Africa, and South and Central America didn't do much more than put up a few museum exhibits. I did learn a lot about food around the world, but I think the most interesting thing I saw goes to Estonia for their national sport of Kiiking; basically standing on a rigid swing and flipping over the hinged point!



The following day, I visited the RSE lab to discuss the experiments we're running in collaboration with them. Maurizio was kind enough to go out to dinner with me and show me the Navigli District - where the Leonardo da Vinci-designed canals transported stone to the cathedral for centuries.



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Climbing at Palomas 
Sunday, August 30, 2015, 07:05 PM - Weekend Fun
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I took Kelly out to climb with Andreas, Lance, Bobby Jo, and Andy at Palomas last weekend. In my injured condition with limited mobility, I still managed to suffer up People Mover (5.6). Then we headed over to meet up with the rest of the crew and do a few 8's. Kelly knocked out Wavy Gravy, Trigger Happy, and Pussy Whipped at the end of the day, while I kicked back and belayed. Lance and I were in full retard mode and laughing about everything. I bought out my wall chair to chill too! I will make one suggestion: bring shoes for the hike in/out, especially when leaving in the dark.






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Paragliding Lessons 
Sunday, August 9, 2015, 06:34 PM - Weekend Fun, Week activities
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The last couple weeks I've been focusing on paragliding. Justin sold me his old canopy, reserve chute, and harness for a good price, so now all I need to do is learn how to fly the freaking thing.

I've been taking classes with Chuck at Enchanted Air Paragliding and I've been progressing quickly. We did a day of front inflations, ground kiting, low tow-in's, and then a couple higher tow-ins to get me ready for releasing from tows. I finally released from the tow at dusk last Tuesday and Chuck gave me the nod for higher weekend flights.

After two weeks of training with Chuck, we went out to the middle of nowhere near Tome and I did my first high tow. I met some of the crew: Jim, David, and Larry. Jim looks at me and asks how many releases I've done at the Balloon Fiesta fields. I tell him, "One," and he looks surprised and says, "Well, it must have been a real good one then!"

Getting hooked up to a truck with a mile of empty, straight gravel road ahead got my blood pumping. With that driving distance it's possible to hoist the pilot hundreds of feet into the air (~1000ft/mile). I'm going through my preflight with everyone watching and there's a lot running through my head to ensure the flight goes safely: lockouts, weaklink failures, checking surges, all the training instructions, etc. I had an ok inflation and takeoff, and then tried to keep things lined up for the 6 minute drive. The air was much more dynamic at altitude so it was challenging to maintain the perfect heading. As the truck reached the end of the road, I comfortably held the release for about 25 seconds, wanting to eek out every last foot of gain I could get. I pulled the handle and the release was clean. I was flying somewhere between 500-800 ft above the ground! I did my best to practice a few turns, but they were painfully slow - something that I will have to perfect in the future. I didn't make it all the way back to the intersection LZ, but was able to come into the wind along the road for my landing. I didn't get out of the seat early enough but otherwise a nice landing and a great first high-altitude flight!




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Crested Butte Mountain Biking is Incredible 
Sunday, August 9, 2015, 05:14 PM - Weekend Fun
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Briana and Josiah were wrapping up a long summer road trip through CO with a stop in Crested Butte. They decided to get out of the Dolphin and AirBnB a place in town. They invited the standard crowd to come up to ride, and since I've always wanted to explore CB, I took them up on the offer. Sam and I got up there Friday night and reunited with the singletrack fanclub.



Saturday, I planned out a monster ride which linked trails 403, 401, and Snodgrass into a 30 mile, ~5400 ft day. At first reluctant, I successfully talked Josiah, Briana, Karl, and Rose to do it with me. Weather was perfect and the wildflowers were out in the Elks at the higher elevations. The climbing was warm but the riding was spectacular, albeit muddy from all the recent rain. We smoked the first climb and dropped down 401 with muddy roots and streams and a collection of steep obstacles. Josiah and I let go of the brakes and screamed down to the valley a good 10 minutes ahead of the rest of the gang. We then climbed up to 403 and suffered the steep, muddy climb up to the meadow. It was unrelenting and I red-lined a little too hard and tore up my throat from heavy breathing. After a long recovery, we dropped down 401 (one of the best rides in the country!) and smoothly carved through seas of wildflowers. Lower down we playfully plowed through mud pits and crossed swollen streams and eventually worked our way to the one-horse town of Gothic, where we indulged in ice cream and sugary drinks. Lastly, climbed up Snodgrass, navigated some fun tight trees, and rolled back around to the other side of Gothic Mountain and the cars. An completely satisfying mini-epic and a perfect weekend remedy from work and women issues I desperately needed.






Forgot my gloves at the house so I used Karl's clean room liners for the descents.


Top of the 2nd climb. 4000' of gain at his point.






Larger

Sunday, Sam, Karl, Rose and I managed to get another nice ride before the rain started: Upper Loop to Lupine to Lower Loop and Budd Trail. Not nearly as crazy as Saturday, but still a solid 2k of climbing. We packed everything up in the rain and headed back to burque.




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AMRC Guideline, Mike and Tammy Wedding, Winsor MTB 
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 07:31 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC
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I finally took a break from travel to say home a weekend. Friday, I met up with Enrique, Jose, and Matt at the Library for the American Outlaws US v Haiti Gold Cup watch party. Afterwards we walked across the street to Anodyne and played billiards way to late.



I showed up late for the AMRC guideline training, but made myself somewhat useful by helping set up the full strength anchor at the bottom, getting hauled to the top (wee!), and then running the main for lower sequence. I left early for Mike and Tammy's wedding - so I really got it from Zak and company.








Mike and Tammy had a small, quaint wedding in the South Valley. I played the role of photographer and did my best to get a few nice shots of the ceremony and reception. I think they turned out fairly well.








On Sunday, Mike, Allison, and eventually Mike #2 climbed the 4000' up Winsor to the Santa Fe ski area on bikes. The rivers were up so we played in the stream crossings to avoid the summer heat :) I ripped the descent and only managed to crash hard once! Stupid bush got me.



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4th of July in San Diego 
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 06:58 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
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For the 4th of July, I decided to take Jason up on the offer to sail on the bay with the fireworks show. I landed on Friday afternoon, and we went straight to the Torrey Pine Sailing Club on Shelter Island to jump on the 25' Catalina. It was a fairly quick sail, but good got me some more skipper time that I could put toward an ASA certification.




The following day, Jason did a big bike ride while I took Chama on a 6 mile loop in Penasquitos Canyon. I do like the idea of having a dog, but I travel too much to make it practical. Jason and I rode the 20 miles to the marina on Saturday because the holiday crowds were insane. Plus, it's fun in a sadistic way to ride with an ex-pro racer. Jason's so hard to hang with - he's tiny and leaves near-zero draft for me to catch a break. We sailed to Catalina Island on the 24' Newport with a Jason's friend, Justin and his girlfriend, had pizza and beer and then meandered around the bay waiting for dark. At 9pm, the 3 barges in San Diego Bay fired up their shows. We were motor-sailing between all of them. The reflections off the water were spectacular! I did my best to get a few photos, but the movement of the boat made it tough.














Sunday, we did a check-out sail on the 27' Catalina with a couple joining the TPSC. I didn't get any tiller time, but it was still a great sail with 12+ mph winds. We drove straight to the airport from the marina, and fortunately I was delayed 45 minutes, because I was able to watch the US dominate Japan in the 1st half of Women's World Cup final with everyone at Gate 8. I headed to Denver for 3 days of rain and NREL meetings and then finally back to ABQ.
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Dro and Nicole Wedding 
Thursday, June 25, 2015, 06:42 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun
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I flew out to Oakland Friday morning and linked up with Matt in the city. We did a great little tour of the town: we hit up all the Andy Goldsworthy pieces in the Presidio (watch Rivers and Tides), went over to ride the slides in Seward Mini Park, got a burrito in the Castro (in celebration of the Supreme Court ruling...although the Mission District burritos are supposedly better) and then had a beer in Mission Dolores Park. I love that park!









Mid-afternoon I split with Matt and went over to Chris and Anna's to watch the women's world cup game and then drive up to a great AirBnB I reserved north of Bodega Bay. The house was great with a sunroom that looked out onto the rocky coast and Sonoma Coast State Park trails along the cliffside. I spent the morning exploring the beaches while Chris and Anna did a long run. Then Russell met up with us and we all got brunch in Cape Fear Cafe in Dunkin Mills. The drive was spectacular along the Russian River because the sun was finally breaking through the morning marine layer. We headed up to a mountaintop retreat (cult center?) outside of Tyrone, reunited with a great group of friends, and witnessed a charming wedding.




The reception was in Bodega Bay and hosted a number of characters from the SOTD (Stallions of the Dawn crew from NREL '06), sailing trips to BVI and SVG, and others along the way. Sadly, Paul and Pearl didn't make it, but with their newborn, they can certainly be forgiven. It was great to have T$, Russ, Chris, and Dro together again - we're a crazy gang and sooo much fun. Where else can you talk about (and plan) renewable energy startups and nudist communes in the same breath? When all the toasts, dances, and G&Ts had come to an end, we retired to the AirBnB place, assembled a 500 piece puzzle (for some reason?). I couldn't get everyone onboard but I took a midnight walk on the beach with T$ and her fiancé.






Sunday, we had a lovely brunch with the wedding crew, and then retreated to the bay area again. Chris and Anna took me to a great Berkeley Indian place, Vik's Chaat, for dinner and then I was off to the airport. Great weekend with amazing old friends!
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PVSC in New Orleans and Taos Search 
Monday, June 22, 2015, 08:25 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun, AMRC
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I spent the week at IEEE PVSC in New Orleans. Conference was good, but I'm shifting away from PV physics to systems integration so it didn't hold as much interest to me as it normally does. Plus, this was my 5th time at the conference talking about arc-faults so it's getting slightly old.

Got a chance to meet Rachel and Jack for dinner. Not much chance to see that side of my family since they're so far away. I took advantage of the easy French Quarter access to social and have a beignet and hurricane or two.

The highlight as usual was the Sun Run. We managed to get a team together this year and Hot Carrier Injection tied for first place. Thanks Jack and Birk! I ran the 2.81 mile 5K in 18:33 (20:45 pace) and egged Jack on enough to have him out-sprint me at the end :) But either way, I earned my 5th Larry Kazmerski tie.









On Saturday, I grew restless and went up to camp with Kelley and crew for her birthday. I found them at sunset at Lower Hondo CG. Kelley, Francisco, and Amanda had just finished Wheeler and were completely content to relax by the fire. Stephanie and I just showed up to party and eat s'mores. I randomly met my work colleague in the campsite, so I asked Carrie to join us. Matt rolled in about 10:30 and Alyse ended up nearby.

At 0700 the next morning, the AMRC crew (Matt, Alyse, Jeff, and I) met at TSV parking area - turned incident base to search for a missing 61 year old male. Instead of getting a blackhawk ride to the top, we had to hike the 4200 ft up Yerba Trail to Lobo Peak. Justin from Atalaya SAR, jumped on our team and we ran a long, hot mission up to the ridge, down the ridge, into the steep drainage, and eventually back to the trail. After 7 hours we heard the death code come across the radio. We were only 0.1 miles from the find, so we traversed to meet Team 31 and assess the situation. I couldn't call the IC directly (no coverage) so our team headed back to base to sort out the recovery.

I let IC know the situation 2000 ft, 1.7 miles, and 20 stream crossing separated the team from the TH. They needed the body bag, litter, etc. At about 6pm, I made the decision to go home and not help out with the recovery (a combination of fatigue, plenty of help on scene, and busy work day Monday). Alyse and Matt did however bring supplies up to the group - putting their climbing somewhere north of 6000 ft for the day! Bravo! The body was recovered somewhere around midnight, putting the end to a week's worth of searching and providing closure for the family.

This mission was well covered in the national news because the patient was the White House Chef for Clinton and Bush. Some of the reports include: ABC, ABC again, New York Times, CNN, NPR, Taos News, and HuffPo.









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