Silverton Powder Days 2015

Well, its a month belated, but since its the only weekend this winter that I was able to ski some really deep and awesome powder, I figure I would post some fun powder pictures from our late March weekend down in Silverton. Our good buddy Gavin Chapman hosted us engineers on the always eagerly anticipated annual Silverton trip and this year definitely didn’t disappoint. This year was the 4th  year in doing this trip (my 3rd year) and somehow the stars align such that we honestly hit Silverton on their best powder weekend of the season year after year. I don’t understand it, but am certainly happy about it. We all packed into in the ever cozy Animas River House, had some great meals, rum drinks at Montanya’s, and of course plenty of laughs into the wee ours of the night. Yep, there was rarely any sun all weekend, and not a whole lot of visibility nor views, but we’ll take it when there is feet of new powder to ski. A huge thank you to Gavin for putting this on every year for all of us. A few pics:

Left to right: Jake, Billy, Gavin, Shawn, Nick

Left to right: Jake, Billy, Gavin, Shawn, Nick

Jake starting down one of the Tiger gullies

Jake starting down one of the Tiger gullies

I cannot recognize who this skier is, but he is part of our group

I cannot recognize who this skier is, but he is part of our group

Gavin dropping into Dolores

Gavin dropping into Dolores

Shawn on Dolores

Shawn on Dolores

Knuckledragger Billy on Dolores

Knuckledragger Billy on Dolores

Nick Timbie skiing Dolores with the Silverton Mtn valley below. This was one of our favorite runs.

Nick Timbie skiing Dolores with the Silverton Mtn valley below. This was one of our favorite runs.

Zac showboating on Twig Snapper

Zac showboating on Twig Snapper

Gavin in deep on Twig Snapper

Gavin in deep on Twig Snapper

Shawn in deep on one of the Tiger gullies

Shawn in deep on one of the Tiger gullies

Billy on Tiger Main

Billy on Tiger Main

Goodbye, Billy

Goodbye, Billy

Jake in the white room on Concussion

Jake in the white room on Concussion

Jake Blevins

Jake Blevins

Shockley spraying big with his monster fat skis

Shockley spraying big with his monster fat skis. Photo by Shawn Wright

And, one of me coming down Concussion

And, one of me coming down Concussion. Photo by Shawn Wright

Billy took this fun little video of me skiing the lower gully of Dolores:

We skied some good runs all weekend including a few of the Tiger gullies, Tiger Main, Cabin, Bowling Alley, Twig Snapper, Concussion, and our favorite Dolores. My quads were toast after this weekend as I had really not been telemarking all that much this winter. Trevor, Billy, Shawn, & myself topped off the weekend with a good soak in the Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgeway and then made the journey home. Until next year where we hope our luck in Silverton continues.

Sportswomen of Colorado

I first heard about this great organization called Sportswomen of Colorado a few years ago when our friend Christy Mahon from Aspen won an award for her ski-mountaineering accomplishments when she became the first female to ski all of Colorado’s 14ers. The primary goal of Sportswomen of Colorado is to promote women’s athletics by recognizing those exceptional achievements by very talented and wonderful women. It is the first community-based organization in the nation to do so. I always thought it would be fun to nominate Kristine for her 7 Summits quest, but at the time we were a few years off. Then, when we finally completed the 7 Summits in December 2014, I didn’t waste any time in the spring of 2015 to get the nomination rolling. Most of the awards really honor team-oriented high school athletics whether volleyball, track, swimming, or skiing. There are a few special awards for other fields of sports such as triathalons and, yes, mountaineering. And, then, the big award each year is THE Colorado Sportswoman of the Year, which the organization announces at the end of each year’s banquet. Last year, Vail Valley local Mikaela Shiffrin won the Sportswoman award for her professional ski racing accomplishments in 2013. Ironically, Mikaela was Kristine’s former art student at Vail Mountain School when Kristine taught there. After receiving wonderfully-written letters of recommendations by our great friends and supporters Rob Casserley and Diana Scherr, I submitted the entire nomination to the organization and the wait was on. Finally, just this past January we heard Kristine was to receive the special award for Dedication in Mountaineering for her 7 Summits accomplishment. We were all beyond thrilled! After all, I like to think of myself as Kristine’s biggest fan and I just wanted her to be recognized. Its not every day a woman (or for that matter an American woman) climbs the 7 Summits. In fact, as of now, I still only believe 20 or so American women have climbed the 7 Summits and Kristine is the first from Colorado.

The 2015 Sportswomen of Colorado awards banquet at the Denver Marriot Tech Center

The 2015 Sportswomen of Colorado awards banquet at the Denver Marriot Tech Center

So, we headed down to the Denver Marriot Tech Center on Sunday afternoon, March 8, to attend the very nicely done awards banquet. Only, we made one big mistake – driving to Denver on a Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, we never have to deal with skier traffic (and hopefully never will), but we hit it smack on. Good friends (Ben Conners & Brian Miller) have told us, “No one can tell you what skier traffic is, you have to experience it for yourself”. Well, we did. And, man, its awful. Nevertheless, we arrived at the banquet just a tad late for the dinner itself though we missed the hour long cocktail party. It was a fun evening, a great dinner & dessert, and really impressive to hear of all the award winners and their just plain awesome accomplishments. We were talking about how several of these high school women will likely be Olympians soon enough. The keynote speaker was Kate Fagan of ESPN fame. They had pictures circulating on the big screens throughout the dinner and we loved seeing the ones I submitted of Kristine ski-mountaineering in Antarctica and on the summit of Everest. Finally, Kristine was called on stage to receive the Dedication Award during which the announcers made a very nice introduction of Kristine, her accomplishment, and her teaching accomplishments here in the Vail Valley. I scooted near the back and took what pictures I could though the photographer at the front obviously got the goods. I was very proud.

Kristine receiving her Dedication Award from Kate Fagan

Kristine receiving her Dedication Award from Kate Fagan

There she is

There she is

Kristine on the big screen

Kristine on the big screen

The finale of the banquet was the announcement of this year’s Colorado Sportswoman and, not suprisingly, Mikaela won it again for her gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Hard to complete with a gold medal, we thought. I do wonder if adventure-type hobbies such as mountaineering, climbing, etc will ever compete with those spotlight media-hyped sports. Probably not. But, maybe that’s a good thing. Rob Casserley put it best when he said in his letter of recommendation for Kristine: “Mountaineering is not a sport replete with gold medals, cheering crowds, or podiums.” How very true. Anyway, it was nice to hear that the Sportswoman award would be kept local for one more year. Congratulations to Mikaela. We both wish we could have seen her, but she was in Europe for ski racing and could not attend. Though, she had a nice little video addressing the awards banquet crowd and thanked the organization for the award. We both have wondered if she’d remember Kristine as her art teacher.

We made a quick exit and arrived back home in Edwards around 11pm to find a sleeping Sawyer and Diana Scherr’s sweet 10 year old daughter, Piper, in the bed next to Sawyer’s crib. Diana & Piper had relieved good buddies J & Megan of baby duties halfway through the evening. We chatted with Diana for awhile and just thanked her (& Piper) so much for watching Sawyer. It was such a huge help. We got some really good friends, that’s for sure. We actually never took a picture of Kristine & myself at the banquet, so Diana was nice enough to take one of us in our living room with Kristine wearing her Dedication award medal.

Back at home

Back at home

Congratulations again, Kristine. Not only does your 7 Summits accomplishment deserve recognition and accolades, but all of your accomplishments throughout life deserve admiration and celebration. You will always be all of our Sportswoman of Colorado. Special thanks again to Diana & Rob for their outstanding letters of recommendation. You guys are really good friends. To nominate someone or learn more about Sportswomen of Colorado, check the organization out at http://sportswomenofcolorado.org/.

Sawyer’s 1st Upper Tier Outing

With temps in the 50s and the sun shining bright and warm among bluebird skies, we packed the Chalk family up and headed 6 miles west to Wolcott to take Sawyer to the Upper Tier for her first time. We were going to head to Monument Canyon in Grand Junction for the day for some crack climbing in the warm sun, but I checked out Wolcott early Saturday morning and being all dry and devoid of any snow, we chose the 6 mile drive one -way instead of a 150 mile drive one-way.

Sawyer taking her morning lounge on the couch

Sawyer taking her morning lounge on the couch

J joined us not too long after we set up shop at the base of the Bocco Area after the all-to familiar 30 minute hike. We carried Sawyer’s bouncy chair and slid it inside a collapsible, flexible mesh doggy crate Kristine had gotten for Kona years ago to provide some relief for Sawyer from the sun (and us). Despite being 7 years old, the crate is brand-spanking new. Sawyer sported her new Julbo glasses and sunhat. Sawyer has always really seemed to enjoy the fresh air and sights and sounds of the outdoors, especially this day with the gorgeous weather.

Kristine & sporty Sawyer

Kristine & sporty Sawyer

At the Upper Tier

At the Upper Tier

Sawyer in her abode

Sawyer in her abode with Rainie looking in

Kristine & I took turns watching Sawyer while the other climbed with J. Sawyer even took a good hour nap. After a few 5.8+ sport routes, we climbed this fun wide trad crack called Arrow (maybe 5.7) we had walked by for years yet never climbed. Then, J and I finished on our favorite sport route Osso Bocco (5.10+/11-) at the Upper Tier. A good 5 hours outside in some gorgeous weather with all the Chalks and J.

Kristine climbing Arrow

Kristine climbing Arrow

Wide angle of Kristine on Arrow, snow-covered hills, and the always beautiful I-70

Wide angle of Kristine on Arrow, snow-covered hills, and the always beautiful I-70 :)

J leading Arrow

J leading Arrow

Me trying to be quiet due to sawyer napping in her crate while belaying J up Osso Bocco

Me trying to be quiet due to Sawyer napping in her crate while belaying J up Osso Bocco

J pulling the crux of Osso Bocco between the 1st & 2nd bolts

J pulling the crux of Osso Bocco between the 1st & 2nd bolts

Adios, Upper Tier

Adios, Upper Tier

All About Me

June Creek Elementary School’s daycare in Edwards, which Sawyer attends two days a week, requested an “All About Me” poster for Sawyer. Kristine put together this fun little poster for Sawyer, which I thought I would share. Enjoy!

Sawyer Chalk

Sawyer Chalk

TN Pass Cookhouse & Monument Canyon

For Kristine’s birthday, the Chalks visited the wonderful Tennessee Pass Cookhouse at Ski Cooper again but it was our first time with Sawyer. Its always a plus to go on a nice, sunny day for the views and so the dogs can hang outside the yurt while we dine inside. We have always gone for lunches at the Cookhouse for the views, but I hear the dinners are awesome as well albeit more pricey. Reservations are required for either lunch or dinner. More info on the Cookhouse can be found here. Sawyer did great on the brief mile walk to the yurt at about 10,800′ and she had a ball inside always scoping out the scene and her surroundings. It was a nice afternoon.

Me & Sawyer on the Cookhouse's front deck

Me & Sawyer on the Cookhouse’s front deck

Homestake Peak (13,209') across the valley which we climbed and skied almost exactly a year go. Kristine was pregnant with Sawyer at the time, though we didn't know it yet

Homestake Peak (13,209′) across the valley which we climbed and skied almost exactly a year go. Kristine was pregnant with Sawyer at the time, though we didn’t know it yet

Taking in the scene

Taking in the scene

Love the big wood stove inside the yurt behind us

Love the big wood stove inside the yurt behind us

Sawyer observing her surroundings

Sawyer observing her surroundings

Mom & daughter

Mom & daughter

We think Sawyer is figuring out what her hands and fists are and that maybe they are hers? :)

We think Sawyer is figuring out what her hands and fists are and that maybe they are hers? :)

On the Cookhouse deck after lunch

On the Cookhouse deck after lunch

Mt. Elbert from the Cookhouse

Mt. Elbert from the Cookhouse

The Tennessee Pass Cookhouse

The Tennessee Pass Cookhouse

Back at home relaxing on the couch

Back at home relaxing on the couch

And, with that, I got to throw a few climbing pics in here. Last week I received an email from my buddy Ryan Masters to join he and his girlfriend Stephanie in Grand Junction for some warm crack climbing. I mean “you had me at hello!”. So, I drove down to Colorado National Monument for the day on Sunday and had a wonderful time in the warm high desert sun on the awesome sandstone with Ryan & Stephanie. Was great to see Ryan again and catch up on all things mountain-related.

Ryan leading Dihedral 1 - Left Dihedral (5.8+), an awesome 90' route

Ryan leading Dihedral 1 – Left Dihedral (5.8+), an awesome 90′ crack route

Ryan at the crux almost to the anchors. There is a second pitch to this route which goes at 5.12 or so

Ryan at the crux almost to the anchors. There is a second pitch to this route which goes at 5.12 or so

Me leading Luhr's Route - Right Dihedral (5.9), a 120' really fun mixed route involving some technical face climbing past 3 bolts into an awesome arcing dihedral

Me leading Luhr’s Route – Right Dihedral (5.9), a 120′ really fun mixed route involving some technical face climbing past 3 bolts into an awesome arcing dihedral. Photo by Ryan

Stephanie in the dihedral of Luhr's Route

Stephanie in the dihedral of Luhr’s Route

I then led this rather slabby, tough, and runout sport climb next to Luhr's Route called Circle, Square, & theTriangle (5.10a). Ryan then led it after me as seen here

I then led this rather slabby, tough, and runout sport climb next to Luhr’s Route called Circle, Square, & the Triangle (5.10a). Ryan then led it after me and did an awesome job as seen here. I believe its much easier & safer for taller climbers (in terms of clipping the bolts)

Ryan higher on Circle, Square, & the Triangle

Ryan higher on Circle, Square, & the Triangle

Me leading the pretty cool 120' dihedral called Wide Load (5.10a)

Me leading the pretty cool 120′ dihedral called Wide Load (5.10a). Photo by Ryan

Me in the off-width portion of Wide Load, which I climbed much better than my last 5.10a off-width at Tiara Rado

Me in the off-width portion of Wide Load, which I climbed much better than my last 5.10a off-width at Tiara Rado. Photo by Ryan

Stephanie at the crux of Wide Load - an overhanging hand jam into insecure finger jams

Stephanie at the crux of Wide Load – an overhanging hand jam into insecure finger jams

Me leading our 5th and final route of the day called Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire (5.9). This was a very stiff 5.9 in our opinion and I've heard the face climbing at the bolts is more like 5.10

Me leading our 5th and final route of the day called Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire (5.9). This was a very stiff 5.9 in our opinion and I’ve heard the face climbing at the bolts is more like 5.10. Photo by Ryan

Ryan climbing the initial fun 30' of arcing finger crack before the face climbing on Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire

Ryan climbing the initial fun 30′ of arcing finger crack before the face climbing on Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire

Beautiful Monument Canyon. It was a nice day

Beautiful Monument Canyon. It was a nice day

Happy 12th, Rainie!

I guess its only natural that we start aging from the instant we are born, but its just not fair that our loving & loved canine companions age so much faster than us. My first love, Rainier, turned 12 years old yesterday (January 11) and while part of me gets sad knowing she is in the latter portion of her life expectancy, I am very fortunate, grateful, and happy to have been a part of her amazing life thus far and to have had her be such an important part of my life. I have always loved her unconditionally and have thought many times I would be willing to trade my life for hers. I go would through and do anything to save and protect her. You know you love something so much when you love that something more than yourself. We have been on countless adventures, hikes, and climbs together and have made so many unforgettable memories. She is such a special gal, the sweetest thing I know, and has been my best friend since I picked her up at 7-1/2 weeks old in Charlotte, NC in 2003. I cannot imagine my life without her. I hope she feels the same. While she is of course slowing down and getting more aches and pains, she is still such a trooper and is able to hike very well. We have all been so fortunate Rainie has been such a healthy dog her whole life. Except for a malignant tumor over a year ago, which was completely removed and excised, she continues to amaze me and many others in her abilities & energy for being 84 years old in human years.  I have so many photos of our adventures over the years, but here are a few blasts from the past:

Rainie on Lavender Col after climbing Mt. Sneffels in July 2004

Rainie on Lavender Col after climbing Mt. Sneffels in July 2004

La Plata Peak summit (August 2004)

La Plata Peak summit (August 2004)

Rainie coming down the class 3 summit pitch on Wetterhorn Peak in 2004

Rainie coming down the class 3 summit pitch on Wetterhorn Peak in 2004

Mt. Harvard summit (August 2005)

Mt. Harvard summit (August 2005)

Tent-bound on a winter attempt of Challenger & Kit Carson Peaks in 2006

Tent-bound on a winter attempt of Challenger & Kit Carson Peaks in 2006

A friendly Kristine & Brandon with a young Rainier on the summit of Huron Peak in November 2006

A friendly Kristine & Brandon with a young Rainier on the summit of Huron Peak in November 2006

Rainie with a young Kona

Rainie with a young Kona

Me & Rainier on the summit of Blanca Peak (Memorial Day weekend 2007)

Me & Rainier on the summit of Blanca Peak (Memorial Day weekend 2007)

Me & Rainier on the summit of Mt. Wilson with El Diente behind (September 2007)

Me & Rainier on the summit of Mt. Wilson with El Diente behind (Labor Day weekend 2007)

Wilson Peak summit (Labor Day weekend 2007)

Wilson Peak summit (Labor Day weekend 2007)

Me & Rainie on top of San Luis Pk, my final Colorado14er, in August 2008

Me & Rainie on top of San Luis Peak, my final Colorado 14er, in August 2008

Her namesake

Her namesake

Crestone Peak summit in  July 2009

Crestone Peak summit in July 2009

She likes her beer

She likes her beer

Rainie & Kristine at Lake Powell in August 2009

Rainie & Kristine at Lake Powell in August 2009

Rainie ready to climb Pyramid Peak

Rainie ready to climb Pyramid Peak in August 2009

Rainie & I descending from Pyramid Peak's summit

Rainie & I descending from Pyramid Peak’s summit. Photo by Caleb Wray

Mt. Yale's east ridge climb in winter of 2010

Mt. Yale’s east ridge climb in winter of 2010

Rainier makes a high-speed descent of the steep north face of Crystal Peak (April 2010). Photo by Derek Drechsel

Rainier makes a high-speed descent of the steep north face of Crystal Peak (April 2010)

Photoshoot

Photoshoot

A 2011 Covergirl. Cover photo by Joel Gratz

A 2011 Covergirl. Cover photo by Joel Gratz

Rainie taking a rest on climbing Mt. Antero, Kristine's final Colorado 14er in August 2011. Photo by Joel Gratz

Rainie taking a rest on climbing Mt. Antero, Kristine’s final Colorado 14er in August 2011. Photo by Joel Gratz

Summit of the Spider, Gore Range, with Rainie in July 2012

Summit of the Spider, Gore Range, with Rainie in July 2012

An old favorite - Uneva Peak summit in the Gores

An old favorite – Uneva Peak summit in the Gores

Summit of Wheeler Peak, New Mexico in May 2014

Summit of Wheeler Peak, New Mexico in May 2014

So, last night, as I believe one of Rainie’s favorite activities nowadays (other than having a tennis ball in her mouth) is swiss bob sledding down a ski mountain in my lap, we hiked up Arrowhead at a nice, enjoyable Rainie pace and cruised down perfect corduroy for 1,800′ in less than 10 minutes. Not to toot our own horn, but we have pretty much perfected the human/70 lb dog swiss bob sled down a ski mountain together. She absolutely loves it. She wouldn’t think of walking/running down on her own. She just circles around me waiting for me to say I’m ready for her in my lap. It was a perfect birthday outing.

Rainie & I atop Arrowhead for the nth time before our birthday swiss bob run

Rainie & I atop Arrowhead for the nth time before our birthday swiss bob run. This was also a great outing to try and forget the Broncos’s horrible loss to the Colts an hour earlier. However, I still love my new Broncos beanie cap thanke to Ken & Dianne

Maybe a year or so ago, Joel Gratz took this iphone quality video showing Rainie & I pushing off from the top of Arrowhead on our swiss bob. While the video is dark and somewhat grainy, I think it does show Rainie’s comfort & enjoyment. I hope to borrow J’s GoPro soon enough and video the entire bob run down the mountain.

Happy 12th bday, Rainie. Love you and looking forward to the next few years together!

Fall with Sawyer

Its been a wonderful 2-1/2 months thus far with little Sawyer. Enjoy the pics.

Thanksgiving at the Ciluzzis

Thanksgiving at the Ciluzzis

Sawyer & her posse of kiddos

Sawyer & her posse of kiddos

Sawyer among her future climbing gear

Sawyer among her future climbing gear

At our local Milk Creek crag Thanksgiving weekend

At our local Milk Creek crag Thanksgiving weekend

Rainier babysitting...

Rainier babysitting…

...while Kristine climbs one of our favorite little 5.8s

…while Kristine climbs one of our favorite little 5.8s

Diaper change at the crag: no problem

Diaper change at the crag: no problem

Lounging in her swimsuit

Lounging in her swimsuit

With Gigi

With Gigi

Waking up in the morning

Waking up in the morning

Me & Sawyer

Me & Sawyer

Ready to roll to our Homestead Court Club's holiday Christmas party

Ready to roll to our Homestead Court Club’s holiday Christmas party

Very attentive

Very attentive

And, very relaxed with Gigi

And, very relaxed with Gigi

Mom and I on a little hike

Mom and I on a little hike

First Starbucks run

First Starbucks run

Racked out

Racked out

Yawn...

Yawn…

Rock climbing at Milk Creek again: Kristine on the awesome 5.9 layback

Rock climbing at Milk Creek again: Kristine on the awesome 5.9 layback

Kristine getting into the off-width

Kristine getting into the off-width

Sawyer hangin' again at our local Milk Creek crag

Sawyer hangin’ again at our local Milk Creek crag

Rainier racked out

Rainier racked out

Yep, winter is here - time to bundle up!

Yep, winter is finally here – time to bundle up!

Outpost Peak

A climbing trip can sure take a 180 pretty fast due to the ever-changing weather forecast. With Kristine & Sawyer back in Minneapolis visiting her sister & family, the dogs & I were planning on heading to the desert for some crack climbing. However, a planned  trip to Indian Creek quickly turned to a local skin/ski of a nearby 12er called Outpost Peak in the Gores due to a wet forecast for the Moab area. It was all good & dandy though and good buddies Shawn Wright & Sylvan Ellefson joined me for a nice ski tour of Outpost Peak, which turns out to be a relatively accessible Gore peak from the Pitkin Lake trailhead even in winter conditions. I had circumvented and passed by Outpost Peak more than a half dozen times on several Gore outings, but had yet to crest its summit. Plus, I wanted to peer down its northeast face/bowl and scope it out for a potential spring time ski descent. A larger snow storm was to move in starting Saturday afternoon, but the morning was forecasted to be nice and sunny. After swapping Rainier for The Gus Dog with our good friends who just welcomed their baby boy into this world a week ago and running into buddy Elliot Halverson at the Pitkin Lake trailhead who I had not seen since last spring, we all set out booting up the Pitkin Lake trail at around 8:30am. Shawn & Sylvan’s good friend Zac joined us as well plus Shawn’s pup, Fitzy. About 400 vertical feet up the trail where it starts to flatten out, you leave the trail heading initially west and then northwest and bushwhack your way up Outpost’s broad south ridge through Aspen forests and shrubs. The morning was superb, and while the lower forested terrain was thin on snowpack in spots, which made for interesting skinning, above 10,000′ the snow was much more plentiful allowing for more efficient travel.

Skinning up through the lower Aspens on Outpost's broad south slopes

Skinning up through the lower Aspens on Outpost’s broad south slopes

Grand Traverse Peak

Grand Traverse Peak

Its always a treat for me to head into the Gores. I love this range. You can be all alone with your little crew on a peak in the Gores yet look over at Vail Mountain where 20,000 folks are gracing its slopes. It was a fun and mellow skin up through the forested south slopes of Outpost Peak, which eventually narrows into a well-defined ridge. At around 11,000′ the heavily forested terrain gave way to open fields and glades, which afforded us our first real views of the day.

The boys skinning in one of the large open fields along Outpost's south ridge

The boys skinning in one of the large open fields along Outpost’s south ridge

We crested over Point 11,637′ along the south ridge and then made our through more beautiful glades along the ridge towards Outpost.

Sylvan & the Solitude massif to the east

Sylvan & the Solitude massif to the east

The dogs follow suit

The dogs follow suit

Shawn offers Fitzy to Lord Gore

Shawn offers Fitzy to Lord Gore

Nice skinning along the south ridge

Nice skinning along the south ridge

Shawn & Fitzy approaching Outpost's summit pyramid

Shawn & Fitzy approaching Outpost’s summit pyramid

I was having some serious skin adhesiveness issues (or lack thereof) the entire day. My skins are at the end of their life expectancy and honestly I didn’t think I would be skinning peaks this early in the season. Nevertheless, after my duct tape failed and they just fell off for the last time 200′ below Outpost’s summit, I just left my skis & skins in the snow and booted the rest of the way.

The final few hundred feet to Outpost's summit

The final few hundred feet to Outpost’s summit

Sylvan reaching the summit of Outpost Peak

Sylvan reaching the summit of Outpost Peak

I believe we reached Outpost’s summit about 12:45pm and you could definitely feel the wind picking up, high clouds building, and a storm brewing in the distance to the west. Our bright sun and bluebird skies had given way to those pre-storm skies. Nevertheless, it was a nice summit and wonderful views. I think all of us enjoyed the perch.

Outpost Peak summit (12,362')

Outpost Peak summit (12,362′)

All of us enjoying this Gore summit - maybe except for Kona giving me the "I'm cold and let's get out of here" look :)

All of us enjoying this Gore summit – maybe except for Kona giving me the “I’m cold and let’s get out of here” look :)

Shawn & Fitzy with West Partner Peak behind

Shawn & Fitzy with the Partner Traverse behind

Sylvan doing the "Lyndon"

Sylvan doing the “Lyndon”

Peering down the northeast face of Outpost. Looks like a very steep entrance, but an awesome bowl down to the Pitkin Creek drainage below. Hopefully, this spring

Peering down the northeast face of Outpost. Looks like a very steep entrance, but an awesome bowl down to the Pitkin Creek drainage below. Hopefully, this spring

We then descended after maybe 20 minutes on top, strapped into our ski setups, and made our way down the south ridge sticking close to our skin track for the dogs’ sake so they could use it. I loved the views of Bald Mountain and its northeast facing bowl as well as Vail Mountain.

Bald Mountain & the Vail Valley

Bald Mountain & the Vail Valley

Sylvan skiing Outpost's south face

Sylvan skiing Outpost’s south face

Shawn & Sylvan

Shawn & Sylvan

Shawn in the fun open glades along Outpost's south ridge

Shawn in the fun open glades along Outpost’s south ridge

Mt. of the Holy Cross made for a scenic backdrop here for Sylvan

Mt. of the Holy Cross made for a scenic backdrop here for Sylvan

Shawn & Fitzy

Shawn & Fitzy

And, Zac

And, Zac

We eventually made it back down to the cars around 3pm for a RT time of about 6-1/2 hours. I believe the RT mileage is maybe 6-7 miles with close to 4,000′ of vertical gain. Outpost’s south ridge made a for a very nice ski tour in very safe terrain. Thanks to all the boys and dogs for making it a memorable day. Of course I missed Rainier on this outing, but post-holing in deep snow and uneven terrain for close to 4,000′ is just not for a 12 year old golden retriever. I think she understands, but probably not. I am already looking forward to going back in the spring to ski Outpost’s northeast face/bowl.

Top of the World & Tiara Rado 3

Well, little Sawyer is now officially 1 month old and we celebrated by taking her on a 4WD adventure in my Tahoe and hiked up to one of our favorite campsites we have dubbed “Top of the World” at 11,710′, her personal altitude record thus far in her short lifetime. Its only about a mile and 600′ vertical gain to the campsite from the parking spot, but man what a view of all of our favorite Gore peaks to the north, Tenmile Range peaks to the east, and Northern Sawatch peaks to the south.

Sawyer on the hike to "Top of the World"

Sawyer on the hike to “Top of the World”

Kristine & Sawyer - I didn't even realize that Zodiac Ridge made it into the picture in the distance between the trees

Kristine & Sawyer – I didn’t even realize that Zodiac Ridge made it into the picture in the distance between the trees

A gorgeous day to be up high

A gorgeous day to be up high

Kona!

Kona!

Raindog enjoying her first snow of the season

Raindog enjoying her first snow of the season

Family Pic at the "Top of the World" campsite

Family Pic at the “Top of the World” campsite

Mt. Silverthorne, Zodiac Ridge, & Red Peak

Left to right: Mt. Silverthorne, East Thorne, Zodiac Ridge, & Red Peak

Outer Mongolia Bowl and the northern Gores

Outer Mongolia Bowl and the northern Gores

(Left to right): The Grand Traverse, Palomino Point, Mt. Valhalla, and Snow Peak

Left to right: The Grand Traverse, Palomino Point, Mt. Valhalla, and Snow Peak

At about 2-1/2 weeks old, I took Sawyer up Arrowhead ski mountain with the dogs for her first time up this very familiar spot – one which she will undoubtedly go up and down on foot, skis, & swiss bobs hundreds and hundreds of times. She did so very well and seems to always love to be “on the move”. Its comforting for her. And, she didn’t fuss about being hungry until we got back to the car. Its about 2 miles and 1,700′ of vertical gain straight up the ski slope to the top of Arrowhead. This little first adventure for Sawyer allowed Kristine to finish her paper for her master’s class.

Top of Arrowhead

Top of Arrowhead (9,100′)

Then, the day before Sawyer turned 1 month old, Mike Santoro and I headed back down to Tiara Rado in Grand Junction for some more crack climbing.

Me leading 100' Hands again...just so good

Me leading 100′ Hands again…just so good

Me leading 100' Hands

Me leading 100′ Hands

Mike on the lower corner system of 100' Hands

Mike on the lower corner system of 100′ Hands

Mikey jamming

Mikey jamming

Mike

Mike

The feet are good on 100' Hands

The feet are good on 100′ Hands

After a cruxy roof move, I gave this route called Large Surprises a try...it was interesting

After a cruxy roof move, I gave this route called Large Surprises a try…it was interesting

Me in the thick of this offwidth crack...ugh. I had to aid my way up the final 20' using two #5 cams because I could not figure out how to make upwards progress. I think I will stay clear of offwidth cracks from now on

Me in the thick of this offwidth crack…ugh. I had to aid my way up the final 20′ using two #5 cams because I could not figure out how to make upwards progress. I think I will stay clear of offwidth cracks from now on

Mike on the initial roof move of Large Surprises

Mike on the initial roof move of Large Surprises

Mike laying back to the small ledge

Mike laying back to the small ledge

Sawyer is definitely getting bigger, able to hold her head up, and growing on Rainier & Kona.

Me & Sawyer

Me & Sawyer

Kona being a good babysitter

Kona being a good babysitter

Until next time...

Until next time…

Welcome, Sawyer

On October 12, 2014 at 6:45pm, our sweet little daughter, Sawyer Elizabeth Chalk, was born on her due date. At 7 lb 8 oz and about 19.5” long, she was a great size. Sawyer speedily came into this world as we arrived at the Vail Valley Medical Center at 5pm and Kristine gave birth an hour and 45 minutes later.

Sawyer Elizabeth Chalk

Sawyer Elizabeth Chalk

Apparently, Kristine was having contractions a lot of the day even though we both really had no idea what to look for in a contraction. At 3:30pm, her water broke and the apparent contractions were getting fairly painful soon afterwards. We then headed to the VVMC in a rain storm and our wonderful nurse, Andrea, measured Kristine at 9.5 cm dilated – “almost complete”, they said. Dr. Samuels arrived 20 minutes later, scrubbed up, and after some very painful contractions in which I tried to be her support stand, Kristine started pushing around 6pm to deliver sawyer 45 minutes later. Even if Kristine wanted an epidural, which she did not, it really wouldn’t have even had a chance to take effect as she was too far along and Sawyer would have likely already been born.

Kristine exactly 7 days (to the hour) before Sawyer arrived

Kristine exactly 7 days (to the hour) before Sawyer arrived

It was a pretty evening down at our local Eagle River Preserve

It was a pretty evening down at our local Eagle River Preserve

Lookin' good

Lookin’ good

We like this one

We like this one

Kristine had done it. She did phenomenal and Sawyer was just perfect. I went out and got us cheeseburgers and fries afterwards per Kristine’s request just like we would get after a long day of climbing. However, I think Kristine would say having a baby, especially with no pain relief, was tougher than any climb.

Sawyer

Sawyer

At the VVMC

At the VVMC

Baby Girl Chalk

Baby Girl Chalk

We spent almost 48 hours at the VVMC and were then discharged on a Tuesday afternoon. We went and picked up Rainie & Kona from Sarah & Keith’s house and again were all home together with our new family member. Ken & Dianne came into town late Tuesday night and met their first granddaughter and stayed the night with us. They then left Wednesday on their 5 day road trip to Utah and the Moab area. This gave Kristine & I some good time together to try and get used to life with a baby before the real help from Ken & Dianne came our way. They had a wonderful trip visiting Arches National Park over several days and Colorado national Monument outside of Grand Junction on their way back to Vail. They arrived back at our house just in time for all of us to catch the Broncos whoop the 49ers and to see Peyton break the all-time TD pass record. Kristine, Sawyer, Rainie, Kona, & myself had a nice 5 days together and took walks down to the river and down to Wolcott for some bouldering. Sawyer really seems to enjoy the fresh air. It was definitely an adjustment period for all of us, and will be for some time now, but all for the better. I think Rainie & Kona still think we are essentially “babysitting”.

All five of us back home together

All five of us back home together

Trying to do my part

Trying to do my part

Sawyer's first little outing on Day 3 down by the river

Sawyer’s first little outing on Day 3 down by the river

She's cute, but I'm biased

She’s cute, but I’m biased

Me and the little lady

Me and the little lady

Kristine & Sawyer at the Wolcott Boulders on Day 4

Kristine & Sawyer at the Wolcott Boulders on Day 4

Ken & Dianne were a huge help, especially to Kristine, the following week while I was back at work. It was wonderful having family here. They then left this past Saturday to head down to the Front Range and then back to Maine this week. I feel like that had an excellent trip between their Utah & Colorado high desert road trip, seeing their granddaughter, and giving us so much support & help with everything.

Ken & his granddaughter

Ken & his granddaughter

Sawyer & myself

Sawyer & myself

Watching the Broncos

Watching the Broncos

Nap time for all three gals

Nap time for all three gals

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Ken, Dianne, & Sawyer

Ken, Dianne, & Sawyer

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IMG_3990Now, its just the five of us figuring things out as we go. I’m outnumbered 4 to 1 (females to males), but wouldn’t have it any other way. So, from here on out, we’ll have this blog for all of our climbing adventures as always but also for our adventures with the new lady on the block, Sawyer.IMG_3981

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