Exploration of a Different Sort

When I was a child (and my parents can attest to this), I was fascinated by the US Space Program.   I lived, breathed, and dreamed NASA all day.  It was my goal to be an astronaught, and I eagerly followed everything about the space program that I could.  I still remember the day (I was probably 4 or 5) that I bought a very technical book about the space shuttle, and made mom wade through the technical copy for my nap time reading.

The space shuttle Discovery, one of the first of the orbiters, just took of yesterday on its final trip.  After this mission, STS-133, the Discovery will be retired and sent to a museum.

Space exploration dosen’t involve mountains, rock climbing, or the other usual fare of this blog, but at the same time I wanted to take a moment and draw attention to a group of people involved in a related field.


Yeah, Black Diamond!

It’s getting warmer out; the high this past week has been in the high 50’s and low 60’s, and even though it has been getting cooler in the evening, it is no longer dipping below freezing.  This means that the spring outdoor adventure season is almost upon us.  With this in mind, I headed to the slopes yesterday afternoon after work.  I figured I would grab a last day or so of skiing while I still could.  I also figured that it might be the last opportunity to try some of the hard slopes before the season ended.

It was windy; so windy, in fact, that I could stand at the top of a ski run, point my skis downhill, and let the wind push me down over the edge.  I was very happy to be using my new ski goggles.  Finally, my eyes were protected and stayed pretty warm.

After warming up on the easy and moderate slopes, I finally got up the courage to try a black diamond.  Let me tell you, it’s a long lift ride anyway, but being nervous made it feel like forever.  The view from the top was fantastic.

After what seemed like a long time spent deciding which run to do, I decided on ParaDice (Spelled funny because the owner of the resort is named Dice Hammer).  I started cutting wide sweeps back and forth across the run, so I didn’t pick up too much speed.  Even though I crashed a couple of times on the way down (and one actually hurt quite a bit), I made it to the bottom, and promptly got back on the lift again.  By the end of the night, I had done both Diamond Jim and ParaDice several times.

The best part of the evening was later at night, when the harder slopes were pretty empty.  I had both the ski runs entirely to myself, which was nice because I could concentrate on my turns and on enjoying the run.  I also didn’t have to worry about any snowboarders blasting past me or running into me (no offense to you guys, I just get a little worried when you shoot by me that close).

Just so you know, I took a friend named Brittany skiing on Friday night; there is a great video of her taking on Southern Comfort (a moderate run) on the Mountain Ramblings YouTube channel.  She wanted me to make sure to say that she wouldn’t have crashed at the end, except that I cut her off.  You can take that with a grain of salt if you would like!

Now You Can WATCH Mountain Ramblings Too!

I realized recently that simply writing about the mountain adventures that my friends and I find ourselves in isn’t sufficient. And I realized that the key to this dilemma is an old saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

However, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a moving picture would be worth a thousand pictures, which would then be equal to 1,000,000 words.

So, Mountain Ramblings now has a YouTube channel. At this point, it only has one very short video on it, but there will be more soon. Now, you can tune in and see with your own eyes exactly what we’re up to.

Simply click go to the Mountain Ramblings YouTube Channel.


Remember when I said that skiing without googles through blown snow makes it feel like your face is being sandblasted?


We got ski goggles!

They were a steal too; only $24.99 each.  We got them at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Richmond.

How Caving Actually Is.

This is the type of caving I'm more familiar with...

For those of you who read my opinion of Sanctum a few days ago, consider this a follow up.  I spent a great morning today with my Dad and a gang of boy scouts exploring a local cave.  We had no problems with cave ins, falls from heights, or any other injuries.  I didn’t have to mercy drown anyone either.

Instead, it was a routine trip.  We entered the cave, learned about cave navigation, and then explored some fun smaller tunnels.  We then put the navigation lesson to use.  I handed the guys the cave map, and said “Ok, get us out of here.”  With a few hints, they did a great job.  The fact that I’m putting this post up online should let you know I got out ok; there is no wifi in the cave!

I guess the reason why so many outdoor movies are so terrible is that outdoor adventure, when it goes right, would actually seem pretty routine if someone else was just watching.  While outdoor activities are personally deeply satisfying to those taking part in them, participants in outdoor activities seldom have to make life or death decisions, are rarely subjected to dramatic accidents, and usually don’t end up coming home after loosing all but one of the people involved.

The ironic thing is that Sanctum is based on a true story.  You can (and you really should) read the story here.  I think that the true story would have actually made a better movie…

I haven't had to mercy drown the wife (or anyone for that matter). She's always made it out of the cave with me.