A Couple Nice Days

2010-02-13 17:58:35.000 – Mike Finnegan,  IT Observer

Last Night’s Sunset

The last few days, although there has been little new snow, have been great for getting outside. Temperatures have been warmer than average for this time of year and winds have been fairly light as well. This is quite a contrast from last shift when we were below zero and in the fog for nearly the entire time. There has been a nice undercast hanging around for a while now too and although the models have shown us to be in the fog, we have actually stayed in the clear for the majority of the time. This has allowed all of us to get out for some skiing or hiking.

After Brian and Nick returned from their adventure to the East Icefields yesterday, I decided that rather than ride down far less than ideal conditions, I would use the opportunity to practice some general mountaineering skills. Mike Pelchat from State Park and myself headed out a little after 6:00 PM to take a peek into the fields for ourselves. Well, taking a peek is a bit of a stretch as it was dark and foggy, but we did get to experience them for ourselves. What we found did not surprise us – water ice, wind scoured boiler plate, and the occasional welcomed layer of soft slab. We traversed across the fields relying only on our boots, but with an ice ax ready to arrest a fall in a moment. With the exception of a minor slip here or there or happening upon a section of nothing but ice, we made the traverse across and back up to the road without incident.

Today Nick and I headed down to Lakes for a nice hike, joining the countless other people and dogs that moved across the landscape today. As we just finished a basic snow travel refresher on shift change Wednesday, we decided to continue on to Monroe and climb up the steeper east side, giving a chance to practice some things we had covered. We summited Monroe, greeted by Baxter, a friendly chocolate lab (can you believe that…a friendly lab!). After a giving a good behind-the-ear-scratching (to Baxter, not Nick), we removed our crampons and glissaded back down the way we came. After stopping by Lakes and chatting with Baxter’s hiking companions, we made our way back up home, choosing to hike up a few snowfields, switching it up from the way we descended. It might not be fierce weather up here right now, but it sure is fun!

 

Mike Finnegan,  IT Observer

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