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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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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Climbing at Palomas 
Sunday, August 30, 2015, 07:05 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
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
Posted by Administrator
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
Posted by Administrator
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
Posted by Administrator
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
Posted by Administrator
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
Posted by Administrator
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
Posted by Administrator
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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Iron Horse Bicycle Classic 2015 
Monday, May 18, 2015, 08:49 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
I arrived in the late evening in Durango and took a stroll. There were heavy storm clouds to the north and I knew the passes were going to be getting some precipitation overnight. After catching up with Bri and Josiah at the check-in/party, I went over to Mike's parents condo and prepared the shuttle to Silverton. Somewhere around the 10,000 ft mark the rain turned to snow. It kept getting thicker and I began to think the ride would be cancelled for the 2nd year in a row. We dropped the car off and at 10pm, there was 20 ft visibility and 3 inches of sleet/snow on the roads. We went to bed with fingers and toes crossed.

The ride was a go at 6am and Mike, Allison, and I geared up. They were poaching the ride from the condo, so I rode down to the start alone. I found a spot in the 2nd row with Josiah, Briana, Tony, and Sam and we counted down to the start. They were all giving me a hard time about my thick winter gloves in the 55 degree morning, but I thought they might be needed later. When the whistle blew - we were off in the front peloton. By mile 2 Josiah said he wanted to drop off, but I yelled to stay with the lead group and bridged the gap. Unlike last year, the police transport was quick enough to spread out the riders and it was much safer. I found my spot in the front 10 folks and happily sat in the draft. Around mile 5, I could feel a little bouncy softness in my bike and feared the worst. When we hit the train tracks in Hermosa (mile 11), my front rim hit the pavement and I was forced to pull out of the 6th spot in the ride. I watched as the first set of hundreds of riders passed as I pulled out the pump, and the next wave of hundreds of riders pass as I popped the wheel off, and then another set of riders as. As my friends passed they said, "Oh no, Jaaayy. Sorry!" I pumped up the front and decided to ride before a full tube replacement. Hopefully the slime would do it's job. It did work fairly well, but I didn't get enough air in, and I wasn't able to stand for any of the first climbs. At the first aid station, I got a floor pump and returned it to 100 psi (from 20 psi!!). The rest of the ride was hard, but mostly uneventful. I got over Coalbank slowly and at a low heart rate. I couldn't stand at all because my right hamstring was on the verge of cramping. After a ripping, freezing, water-covered descent at 45 mph (glad I brought those gloves now!), the snow started and wind howled. It was painful for 10 minutes starting up Molas, but then relented. I climbed weakly and on the last 300 ft to the pass, my hamstring finally cramped up and I had to grab it hard to keep it operating. I tucked the hill into Silverton and rode strong to the finish as all the people lined the street yelling, "Come on, you can beat the train. You're going to make it!" 3 hr, 40 min for my first Iron Horse (6300 ft of climbing over 50 miles). Not bad considering I flatted and cramped. Plus, I showed up somewhere around when the train came in: I think it got to town before me, but hadn't finished parking (so call that what you will). Had a couple drinks with the crew at Montanya as the snows began and then shuttled back to the condo with M&A.



[Bigger]

We rallied and hit the town with everyone that evening. What a fun bike gang.


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12 Hours of Mesa Verde 
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 05:03 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
On Weds, the ARMC crew got to work with the BCFD/BCSO Rotary Team to figure out how to package for hoist operations. We also checked out the chopper.




Thursday, Folks got together for a chill south foothills MTB ride and pizza dinner at Bonnie's.




Friday, we drove up to Cortez and camped out. The weather was cold and wet. In the morning it was 35 degrees and snowing lightly. I was on the starting line scraping mud out of my bike cleats minutes before the starting blast went off. It was an honor to be the lead-off rider for Josiah and my duo team, VaJayJoe. The start of the race involved a sprint to our bikes, so I did my best to get to the front of the group before clicking in; I did fairly well and was in the top 50 people or so of ~400 teams leaving the staging area. I hit the gas to hit the trails in good position but entered the singletrack breathing hard. At mile 5 the fat snow started dumping hard, but the course was tons of fun - great flowy singletrack with small rocky obstacles and some spots of exposure. By mile 8, the race was spacing out and I was riding at a normal pace and my sunglasses were fogged up so I put them in the collar of my shirt. Not much longer I caught my backpack on a low tree branch, ripping my mesh pocket with my garage clicker (stupid) and flinging my glasses somewhere. I was in tight trees with people behind me, so I just kept riding. The mud was really getting insane by mile 10 and I could barely ride large sections without fishtailing everywhere. Some people were taking the decents really slow--which was driving me crazy--but ultimately kept me on the trail, which is probably a good thing. In the rib cage I was stranded behind someone riding the brakes but for the last 5 miles I was mostly clear and just struggling to keep the bike moving in the right direction. A one point, I couldn't make a climb and as soon as I put my foot down it slid in the mud and I fell on my bike. The final drop back to the starting line went well and I was happy to be turning to torch over to my teammate, but when I got there they said there was a 2 hour delay. I got in at 1:40ish and in those conditions, I thought that was a solid effort. I hosed my bike off for a long while and went to warm back up in the tent while the other two teams came in.






At noon, they cancelled the race. We had spaghetti and beer, and most racers headed home. We decided to camp another night, so we could ride the course in the morning. The storm broke and we had slow races (trackstand practice), an RV party with Mike and Tammy, and a great camp fire. In the morning everyone went out for a ride, but my bike was in no shape to make another full lap with chain rust and dirt so I bailed after 6 miles.





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AMRC OCC Final Weekend with additional Ski/Climb/Cave/Bike 
Monday, May 4, 2015, 07:30 PM - Trips, Weekend Fun, AMRC
Posted by Administrator
I've been in a little funk of late, but this last weekend's really jolted me back to life. Friday, Kendrick and I headed to Santa Fe Ski Area to take a few laps on the Nambe Chutes with his dog Sarah. The bottom was melting fast and we ended up walking over a number of mud patches. By the halfway mark, we were in much better shape and we finished the skin just as the sun was hitting a few nice couloir lines. I dropped into an easy chute on Styx below Deception Peak and carved up the spring corn. Kendrick and Sarah were close behind. Luckily another group had put in a bootpack to the top via Rubicon so we didn't suffer too much on the return. Our 2nd line was far more interesting with a 55 degree entrance on Armageddon. A snowshoer was even kind enough to send us a few pictures of us dropping in. After lap two, Jeremiah and his friend showed up, but we decided call it and made our way back to the ski area base.









Kendrick and I grabbed pizzas at Il Vicino in Santa Fe and then worked our way out to Diablo Canyon. He convinced me to climb Post Moderate (though we ended up on Hellboy at the top) to level the score from the skiing. Kendrick made it look easy on lead - I, on the other hand, managed to unconfidently work my way up grunting and cursing. The crux of the 2nd pitch gave Kendrick pause and he had to downclimb and rework the problem a couple times. On top rope it wasn't as daunting and I pulled though. We rapped off the mid-pitch anchors as AMRC members started showing up.







The OCC crew, fresh from their NM SAR Field Certification testing, arrived at Diablo around 8:30. They were given a mock scenario to find a fallen climber, Shaniqua La Fonda, based on a few cell phone GPS coordinates. My team ended up wandering around east of the canyon for a while until the patient was located. We brought up ropes and rigging kits for the low angle rescue and set up 4 sequential anchors down to a trail to IB. I finally got my Baofeng radio programmed and it came with this very nice feature where you can listen to the radio until a communication comes in - we selected the mariachi music on 94.7. After a long, slow lower we made it back to the camp at 1am, debriefed, and then pitched camp.

In the morning, we started with the test-out stations. I manned the rigging station with Hans and Angela. Once everyone was finished, I went to the Styx wall and did a couple 5.7 top-rope climbs (one by belaying myself with a grigri - that was new). After lunch we went down to the Rio and cooled off. Kevin, Sarah, and I piled into Kendrick's Jeep and off-roaded a little on the way back to camp.






A storm was moving in, so we used the afternoon to watch Cliffhanger in Justin's van and go spelunking at Buckman Cave. The OCC crew went up there without a rope - so it was only Kendrick, Gio, and I that got any quality cave time. We covered much of the same areas that Mike and I explored a couple years ago. But this time we went a little deeper to a place labelled "Hell" with an arrow down a ~60 ft pit. It was a dead-end, but that was the farthest I've gotten so far. There is another big rappel from the big room with a triangular hole in the ceiling - guess we'll get to that one next time. I did also manage to avoid ascending the 1st rap with a tight squeeze and 20 ft of aid climbing. The first drop can be avoided in the future to save the rope for the lower sections.







As we got back to camp, the BBQ party was in full swing. The OCCers passed their tests so they officially joined the team. They were given their 8 mm cordelettes and Verena was awarded a grigri for her outstanding work in the class. A fire was built up and then we got the idea to have radium release hitch tying races. A week before, I claimed I could tie one in 30 seconds, but only got it down to 35 seconds before sharing the video with the class. Supra soon after sent me a video on FB that showed a 30 sec radium. So now it seems this has become a thing. I was paired up with Nick, the new guy, and I lost terribly... Supra beat him, and Lance won it all in the end. How funny to be tying knots at midnight. I also partook in some champagne and a couple beers at the fire, breaking my 26-day alcohol-less stretch. I had been trying to get a little more fit for mountain biking racing, but this party seemed worth breaking the drought.







Sunday, I was originally slated to ride the high road to Taos with Briana and company, but she got sick and cancelled. I chose to use my sunday to ride to the Santa Fe Ski Area. It was a tough climb and my knee started bothering me midway up. I dialed back the speed and eventually made it to the top - 30 miles and 4400 ft of climbing.
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OCC Training at Big Block 
Sunday, April 26, 2015, 06:56 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC
Posted by Administrator
Saturday was the OCCers last training before their final testout weekend. Paul ran a good scenario in which his daughter had an open tibia fracture (complete with animal bone and tomato sauce blood) on the Big Block shelf. I came in with the support team and built an anchor with Andrea's trad rack for the patient, Verena, and I. The rock was terrible (crumbly), so when we started putting the litter attendant, patient, and 2 support folks on it, I got nervous and added a couple more pieces for a total of 5 cams. Verena did a great job of taking care of the medical components and paul worked the litter well. I haven't seen something like this done before, but we had 2 lines for the toe and head of the little tied into the anchor to stabilize it for patient loading. Paul was still too far out to help, so I built a tiny 3:1 off the master point on the litter system and pulled everyone in. To transfer the patient to the Stokes, we clipped her into the main and I lowered her on a munter. After she was fully packaged, the upper team raised the litter off the rock shelf; Verena and I let out the head and toe lines; and then I let out the 3:1 system and the litter slowly swung back out into the free air. They transitioned back to a lower and everyone reached the ground safely. The OCC then ran a quick low angle back to the road to reiterate wheeled litter transport. Overall it went well, but at 2 hours the whole thing took much too long.

The afternoon was devoted to a few specific skills: rap/ascension transitions and knot passes.







Afterwards everyone went over to Paulie's place to BBQ. The best part for me is feeling like I'm finally starting to get to know some of the new crew :)




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Mid-April AMRC Activities 
Saturday, April 18, 2015, 03:45 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC
Posted by Administrator
Seems like there's been tons of mountain rescue activity lately! On Thursday, the team held a high angle rescue training to practice vectoring during edge transitions. I also worked on my system for transitioning from horizontal to vertical stokes and back: a block and tackle system tied to the master point and base of the litter is simple for building MA and getting it done - though I need more than a 30' 8 mm rope for getting it to 5:1.



Friday, I spent the day planting 10 Cypress and Austrian Pines at my house. I also got a big load of mulch to redo the backyard landscaping after years of 40-50 mph winds stealing my woodchips. By the end of the day the driveway was clear and my back was aching.




On Saturday, I was ready to work with the OCC class at the AFD fire tower, but at 6:30am a mission text came in. Andy, suggested I joined a few other AMRC folks to go out and look for a 51 year old female who was lost in Manzano Mountain State Park. We spent the day running a grid search in the Park, but with no sight of the woman. The following day, the sad news came in that the woman was found dead.



Saturday night was Briana's birthday party. I've been taking a month off alcohol so I DD'ed for the Effex revelers. Quite the scene with ~10 friends in the rooftop moshpit. I got everyone home sometime around 2am and passed out from sheer exhaustion.



Sunday, I joined Mike, Allison, Jordan, and Tom on a mountain bike ride in the south Manzanos. We did the Southern Crossing to Ponderosa, Gamble Oak, and Deadman for 16 relaxed miles in the warm afternoon. When I got home an AMRC pageout stated someone was involved in a 20' fall and had head and leg injuries. I rushed to the crest parking lot, and jogged 3 miles with Frank and Supra to the base of Chaos Crag (by Yataghan). When we got down there, we found that a UNM Reach and Treat and APD were already on scene and they said there was no head trauma, and no major swelling of the feet or legs. The helo was called off and we walked the patient to the La Luz Trail and littered him the 5 miles back down to the TH over 4 hours of agony. Fortunately, there was a lot of help and we moved fairly fast. AFD was nice enough to give us all a lift back to our vehicles and we signed out at 1:30am. I was in bed at 2:30 and made no attempt to make it to work on time Monday.





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AMRC mission, training, and the Super Monster 
Monday, April 13, 2015, 07:07 PM - Weekend Fun, AMRC, Training
Posted by Administrator
On Friday I left work early because I finally completed and submitted my big DOE proposal (102 pages, 4 partners, $5.7M, 3 years). Just as I got home, there was a page out for a mission on La Luz. I got the rig, joined Team 2, and met the police about 4 miles up the trail. The unpleasant business of performing body extractions is part of what AMRC does. As always the crew stepped up and got the gentleman out of the wilds with a lengthy wheel out.




Because I was teaching the Operational Core Curriculum (OCC) class for the new AMRC members the next morning, I left the rig at my house overnight. I wonder what the neighbors thought?



In the morning, I was in charge of teaching the OCC raises and lowers. We covered the main and belay, litter rigging, and communications. Overall everyone was very attentive and excited to be out at white wash for the day. We did 3 1/2 lowers/raise transitions and then a low angle exit with a knot pass. Fun times with the newbies!





Sunday, I woke up with the crazy idea of riding the Manzano Monster Loop from my house. Powered by a couple cold slices of pizza, I suffered the thing out over ~6 hours. It wasn't so bad except I managed to endo right away on the descent to Otero and badly bruise the palm of my right hand. That made the remaining 25 miles of dirt pretty painful. Then I stopped in the AMRC cache to get more water. The winds weren't insane, but it still hurt coming home through the canyon. 57.5 miles and 4,676 ft on knobby tires!


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Rio Grand Racecourse Rafting and Closing Day at Taos 
Thursday, April 9, 2015, 09:16 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
I was out in San Francisco for the SunSpec Alliance meeting last week. I managed to get a couple hours free the morning after the conference and rented a CitiBike to cruise around the Embarcadero. Nice to be in my old haunts on a nice warm day.



Jason was out on Friday and we hiked the rocks. Gorgeous sunset as always.



On Saturday Jeff and I met up with Mike and the outdoor rec river crew to do some laps on the racecourse. If I wasn't busy with mountain rescue the next few weeks, I would consider becoming a guide with that outfit. I layered up in my wetsuit and dry top so the cold wasn't too bad - Jason even ran it in the IK and was comfortable. We had 4 boats of 3 paddlers and ran it at 1000-1100 cfs, which gave it a nice pace, a few more options for lines, and lots of excitement when we high-sided on Big Rock (twice!). Some of us grabbed dinner at Taos Mesa Brewing and then camped out by the Taos Junction Bridge.








In the morning, Jeff and I headed up to Taos for the (original) closing day. We met up with Jason, Mugzy, and Victor and did a few runs and a lap on Kachina. I wore a onesie for fun (the tradition continues). In the afternoon, Jeff jumped in the Lego Man costume for the pond skimming competition. Only a few people made it across, and when he lost sight of the first jump's landing, there wasn't hope for him in the pond. Great time and Jeff managed to get 2nd place (primarily for the awesome costume)!






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