Facebook discussion on winter solstice 2012

I recently made a post on Facebook that gathered a few interesting responses. I’ve decided to share it here since I feel it touches some auspicious topics and has valuable content worth sharing. Below is the copy/paste version as best I could capture it from Facebook. Also, click here for the news article that inspired the post regarding the statements from Evo Morales.
Chaz Ott wrote:
12/22/2012
Welcome to the new age, the age of Pacha. This is a time we must change our ways collectively to prevent our own suffering and extinction. In the words of Bolivia’s president Evo Morales:

“And I would like to say that according to the Mayan calendar the 21 of December is the end of the non-time and the beginning of time. It is the end of the Macha and the beginning of the Pacha, the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood, it is the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism – 21 of December this year. The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a bio-centric life. It is the end of hatred and the beginning of love, the end of lies and beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness and the beginning of happiness, it is the end of division and the beginning of unity, and this is a theme to be developed. That is why we invite all of you, those of you who bet on mankind, we invite those who want to share their experiences for the benefit of mankind.”

Andy LitakLogan ScholfieldBrian Benoy and 4 others like this. 2 shares.

Eddie Schoen yep yep yep!

Tambra Garlick Driscoll I laughed so hard when I read this. Chaz, I thought the only high in your life was the mountains, but it looks likes you have been smoking something. LOL

Tambra Garlick Driscoll Of course I would not expect a young product of the benefits of a capitalistic society to see the humor, but it made me laugh. Merry Christmas kid.

Logan Scholfield as he should be, Tambra. The earth is holy. Utilize it.

Tambra Garlick Driscoll As he should be what Logan….smoking something? The earth is holy…utilize it. In what way…clean coal production? Timbering? Growing hay for housing? As a playground? Okay, I am down with it, lets use it. You know in my part of the world we have been using it for quite sometime. We utilized it so well, we built the Carnegie, the Frick, and half of America with the end result…steel. LOL Logan, before you jump into some utopian rant, you should know that I am teasing Chaz…as he will know. He will also tell you to save the rant, I am a barbarbian…a republican.hell I even read Ayn Rand for fun..so spare yourself the effort.

Chaz Ott Lemme jump in here. Tamie, you raise a great point that I’m a privileged person, a product of a society that was built from the wealth of planetary resources at our disposal. That was the industrial age. I don’t condemn it or deny it. We have worked so hard to build this society, and I have been the recipient of a prosperous life because of it. We have tapped the abundance of the planet and built great things. But we have reached a point where the continuation of such practices will challenge our very survival on this planet. It’s not nature I’m worried about here. No, nature will live on, always, with or without us. It’s us that needs to worry. Because our current way of life cannot be sustained and we now have the tools to see it and the knowledge to know it. So this is our turning point. We can either keep on trying to defeat nature and kill ourselves in the process (add “Collapse” by Jared Diamond to your reading list if you doubt this), or we can change our ways to live peacefully as a part of nature just like every other species on Earth. Logan believes that the Earth is holy because he has connected to it. This is the age in which we must all connect to it. For a long time we have seen ourselves as separate from the environment, as though it is a thing for us to conquer. That view will no longer suffice, because it will lead to our destruction and suffering. We will continue to build great things and live prosperously, but we must do so in a way that is harmonious with our living planet, our home. We must become responsible stewards of the Earth that we borrow from our children – maintaining a healthy world, watching over the delicate balance of life, increasing fertility and resource yield through technology, etc. We must leave behind the mental health disease that is greed and the pursuit of personal wealth beyond our needs, and move into a world that meets the basic needs of all people collectively. It is the way forward. Alright I’m gonna go smoke another one because I’m in Washington state and it’s LEGAL wooohooo!!! LOL 🙂

Tambra Garlick Driscoll You lucky boy…I enjoyed what you wrote…very well done. I have read the book you suggested, you see I have many friends the espouse the same ideas as yours, and of course they gift me books. All that smokin ya know…it will bring the oddest sorts to your door. I am not against changing the way we view our world and our place in the cycle, nor am I against your friends assertion that the world is holy. Such philosophies are not new to man you know? As a well read person, I have explored many, and will continue to do so. Rather, my comment was more in the spirit of gentle teasing because not only your philosophy, but your journey of discovery, are no different than those experienced by other children of capitalism, including myself. Not rock climbing for me…western skies…5 years traveling the country and out of it, would not change those memories for anything. I, too, had my nights under the stars in the Rockies, burning and talking, talking, talking, about how much better the world could be. I hope you manage to hold on to your passion Chaz.

Tambra Garlick Driscoll And the rock…for your dear mother’s sake…hold on to the f***ing rock!

Best Powder Day Ever

Best Powder Day Ever

After skiing Jackson Hole, I drove through the night (and another snowstorm) to Sandpoint, Idaho, to check out Schweitzer Mountain. I learned about Schweitzer while living in Washington state, and it has a reputation for great terrain and lots of snow. It’s a real skiers mountain that caters to locals more than tourists. It was somewhat on my way, about 13 hours northwest of Jackson.

I arrived at 10am ready for powder. Schweitzer was reporting a 100” base and 20” of fresh snow overnight. I caught the bus up the mountain road and met some very excited locals. They were saying it would be the best day of the year so far. School was cancelled for the day, and lots of high schoolers were riding the bus to the mountain instead. After winding 9 miles up the snowy mountain road in a chain-equipped bus, we were greeted by fierce winds and blowing snow. I got to the lift to find it had been shut down due to high winds. They were reporting sustained 60 mph wind at the top of the first chair. I did some laps on the bunny hill to kill time and get warmed up for the runs to come, but the lifts never opened. At noon, they made the call that the mountain would not open today. I was super bummed to miss out on these phenomenal conditions, since I could not stay another day.

I went back down and continued my drive west. While driving, I found out that the solstice gathering I was headed to was a day later than the original email said it was, so I had an extra day. I was so tempted to go back to Schweitzer knowing that the 20” of powder was sitting there untouched. However, a call from my friend James got me psyched on Mt Baker instead.

Baker is known for having the most snow of any place in the world, and this year is no exception. They were reporting 130” base and 24” in the past 24 hours, still snowing. James told me he skied there on Monday, and half the mountain was closed due to wind. He expected it to open on Tuesday, making this mountain as appealing as Schweitzer. Tuesday morning came with 6” more snow overnight, bringing the total new snowfall depth to 30”. My buddies Nick, James, and I hit the road early to catch first chair.

I can honestly say I’ve never skied so many lines this extreme, this fresh, and this deep in a single day in my entire life of skiing. The visibility was perfect, and the clouds occasionally opened to blue skies and mountain vistas. When it wasn’t bluebird it was snowing, piling on still more snow. Having worked at this mountain a few years before, I knew the lines well, but I was still blown away by how everything skied in these conditions. I was able to ski lines that are normally impossible, far too steep for most conditions.

The truly unique aspect of Baker is the snow. It gets so much, and it’s not as light or fluffy as other places like Jackson Hole and Utah. This means more work skiing, but it also means sicker lines. The heavy cascade snow sticks to everything, including the steepest pitches around, and small pines act like roots for snowpack preventing sluffing. So lines that would not be skiable at most resorts are skiable at Baker. To top it off, the attitude here is to let people ski whatever they want within reason. There are ropes and signs like other resorts, but they act as warnings more often than barriers. They let you know you’re entering dangerous cliff areas, but they don’t stop you from going there or punish you for it unless it’s truly suicidal. They keep you out of the dangerous avalanche areas, but they let you ski terrain that would never be open for skiing at most resorts.

Nick, James, and I spent the entire day on the snow devouring as much powder as our legs would let us. They had a delayed opening on chair 6, so when the opened it mid-day, we had a whole new untracked world to explore. Our first run we got cliffed out, and ended up dropping a 20 footer. The rest of the day pretty much went like that also. A typical run went knee deep turn, narrow chute, waist deep drift, pillow line, face shot, 15 footer, tree jib, no lift line, repeat. I was smiling all day, a huge powder eating grin. Nick was worried about his knee injury, but the snow was so soft he was able to ride all day dropping cliffs and all. James improved his skiing drastically since I last skied with him a few years ago. He went from an intermediate off-piste skier to stomping 20 foot cliffs with confidence, landing in big arching turns between obstacles. All of us had one of our personal best days of skiing ever. When the lifts closed we could take no more, legs completely zapped.

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Nick and I loving life so hard :)

Nick and I loving life so hard 🙂

Brie, this one's for you ;)

Brie, this one’s for you 😉

James getting ready to drop

James getting ready to drop

The few, the proud, the midweek powder hounds

The few, the proud, the midweek powder hounds

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That grin never left my face all day, except when it was occasionally blasted with a face shot

That grin never left my face all day, except when it was occasionally blasted with a face shot

The Skiing Begins

I wrapped up a very prolific climbing week in Colorado with friends Curt, Andrew, Jeremy, and Fred on Saturday 12/15. On the final day, Curt and I hit up the Animal World crag at Boulder Canyon in some of the coldest temps I’ve climbed in all year. The temperatures were a challenge, but we got in a lot of climbing and had a great last day, including my first 5.12 flash in Colorado, a route called Days of Future Past. My favorite route of the five we climbed that day was an 11c called Animal Magnetism.

So after climbing all day, Curt went to work the evening shift at his restaurant and I hit the west bound road. I’m on my way to Lopez Island in Washington State for the winter solstice gathering. I had been hoping to ski in Colorado while I was there, but the resorts didn’t have enough snow to justify the high ticket prices. I saw that Jackson Hole had some snow in the forecast, and sitting 9 hours west of Boulder it seemed like a logical choice for the next day.

I arrived at Jackson later than expected, but still in time for a Sunday ski session. The wintery driving the night before suggested a good ski day ahead. The mountain had a 65” base with 7” of fresh overnight. It was cold, so the snow was light and fluffy. The constant wind piled drifts on the leeward slopes, and I found stashes of untracked powder ranging from boot-deep to knee-deep. I learned of a new expression for days like this, “free refills”. The snow kept piling on and the wind kept filling the tracks in leaving a fresh line for every run. It was the perfect first day of skiing. I explored the entire mountain nonstop, only stopping to ride the chairlifts. The new high speed chair Casper had some memorable lines. I found a section of trees completely untracked, and the fast chair let me do 6 minute laps. I cleaned out every fresh line through those trees in about 8 laps.

Jackson Hole has a few claims to fame. It is considered the most difficult ski resort in North America. It is also home to the largest vertical drop serviced by any lift in North America – the aerial tram, which rises 4,139 vertical feet above the base area. Although I was disappointed that the famous Corbett’s Couloir and other difficult descents were closed due to low snow levels, I was stoked to ski so much vertical. I skied the tram from top to bottom nonstop, and timed my runs to catch the last tram ride of the day at 3:30. When I arrived back at the base area, I was surprised to also catch the last gondola ride back up at 4:00. This was a full value day.

The aerial tram at Jackson Hole, WY

The aerial tram at Jackson Hole, WY

Straw man. Somewhere in Montana.

Straw man. Somewhere in Montana.

Sheep in road. I saw one of these signs, laughed, then saw a huge big horn sheep right in the middle of the road. How did they know?

Sheep in road. I saw one of these signs, laughed, then saw a huge big horn sheep right in the middle of the road. How did they know?

Snowy driving for days...

Snowy driving for days…