The Outdoor Junkie

The Outdoor Junkie is a blog by Ann Driggers, a backcountry bon vivant who lives to hike, run, ride, ski and climb in the great outdoors, and is most often found roaming through the red-rock canyons and mountains of Western Colorado.

Follow Ann Driggers on Twitter by clicking HERE.

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Jensen Canyon

By Ann Driggers
Monday, March 8, 2010

Yesterday was another great day in the Jackson backcountry. This time Jack Brauer, Jason King and I rode the new tram up JHMR and hiked out from the top of the ski area at Rendezvous Mountain. We bypassed popular 'slackcountry' descents such as Rock Springs and Four Pines, went up and over Cody Peak, and traversed No Name Peak.

The Teton Range spread behind as we hiked.

 

 After a couple of hours we reached the top of our line starting just beneath a cliff band on Rendezvous Peak. Our goal - a 4,000 foot descent of the south face into Jensen Canyon. 

This is a photo of our line from my beloved and much used Jackson Hole Ski Atlas, a pre-Google Earth source of ski terrain info. Our descent started just beneath the north summit of Rendezvous Peak, went through the cliff band into Jensen Canyon and dropping us on to Fish Creek Road.

 

 Jason went first, quickly disappearing into the bowl and out of sight over a convex roll.

 After a shout from below I followed. The snow on the face was quite variable and as the slope rolled steeper and steeper I found the skiing challenging. The face funneled into a steep narrow winding slot between rock walls, barely more than a ski width wide and the snow glazed with ice. Although named after a martini glass, due to its shape, let me say that it did not slip down as easily as a martini. The pucker factor was quite high.

 We all made it through safe and sound and then we were off, ripping up the rest of the descent in increasingly softening snow that was almost corn like.

 

Here Jack carves his way through the avalanche gully. The martini chute is in the top left of the picture. Celebratory drinks included, of course, a martini!

I forgot my camera and all these photos were taken on my phone. Jack has some great photos over on his blog.

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Taylor Mountain

By Ann Driggers
Saturday, March 6, 2010

Taylor Mountain from Mount Glory (photo from SummitPost)

 On occassion things don't live up to expectations. And sometimes it's the other way around. Today was one of those days.

I'm up in Jackson for a long weekend and I headed out with one of my Colorado friends, Jack Brauer, who has moved up here for the winter. Jack had warned me that there hadn't been much snow recently and the temperatures were warm so we figured the snowpack would be fried. In this popular backcountry locale anything decent was bound to be tracked up. We went out anyway - after all how can one be in Jackson and not ski?

After much debate about routes, weather, conditions and so on we settled on Taylor Mountain, north west of Teton Pass in the Teton Range, and a peak I had not yet skied. My excitement however was quickly quelled as we climbed the south ridge. The snow conditions were abysmal, the wind was really kicking and clouds were threatening to move in. Still the scenery and light were beautiful.

 We continued on, stopping to check out the south-east face of Taylor.

 The lines looked awesome but we knew the snow was windhammered, sun crusted or variable. Still we climbed but the winds really picked up. As we reached the summit the cloud bank previously stalled above Teton Pass finally rolled in. We couldn't see a thing.

 

Not feeling particularly inspired we decided we might as well ski the south-west face of Taylor figuring that the winds from the east may have deposited some snow on that aspect.

As we launched onto the face our expectations were completely dashed. The snow was far from abysmal.

For three thousand vertical feet we skied some fantastic terrain in really pretty good conditions and not another track in sight.

 

 The face funneled into a deep gully down which we rocketed back to the road where a round of high fives were in order. What a ride and way above expectations.

Check out Jack's blog for some really awesome photos (he's a pro).

I have since read the guide book for this line and discovered that it is called the Poop Chute! I think that might have something to do with the gully which 'poops' you out onto the road.:)

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Being Challenged and Enduring

By Ann Driggers
Saturday, March 6, 2010

Well the Endurance Challenge at Sunlight has come and gone. I was challenged, endured and had a super fun time at this 12 hour uphill downhill ski race held at the Sunlight ski area near Glenwood Springs. In previous years the race was a 24 hour format which was pretty hard core. Cut in half to 12 hours it seemed like a feasible option for me so I signed up. But just to make sure I wouldn't be completely annihilated I joined a team of four other ladies. The Bombay Bombshells almost spent more time on figuring out costumes than training but in the end we performed very well, coming in second place in our category.

The race started at 8 a.m. and Anne Mimloe was the first of the team to go. 

 

As you can see there were very few others who spent as much time on their outfits as us. We were complimented many times during the race. In fact it was widely believed that our tiaras held extra special powers and some racers tried to borrow them.

Over the next twelve hours we alternated climbing and skiing laps until we were almost dizzy. Here is one of the many changeovers between myself on the left and Amanda on the right.

 

Up, down, up, down.......

At the eleventh hour (literally) we decided we needed to get one more lap in to secure second place. I headed out for the final time while the rest of the team galloped towards the bar. The last lap was at night and I was sort of dreading it. But in fact it was the most fun of all. I could take it slow, knowing I had an hour and a half to complete it, chat with fellow racers who were in the same position, and catch the summit view of Glenwood's lights twinkling below. Still it was nice to be done.....

 

Shortly after the finish we were on the podium collecting our medals.

 

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Get Yer MOG On!

By Ann Driggers
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

 

Mark your calendars - the MOG fest is back! MOG (Manufacturers of Outdoor Gear) fest is the largest outdoor gear sale between Denver and Salt Lake City. New this year, there will be a bike swap to benefit COPMOBA. (COPMOBA is just a fancy word for those awesome folks who build and maintain all the wonderful trails in our 'hood.)

So what's not to like? Nada! Even if you don't want to shell out for a screaming deal on some new gear, this will be the place to hang on April 10th. Come visit with friends, watch the Telluride Mountain Film and party late into the LOKI night. Next day ride some of our rippin' singletrack, run the river, roadie thro' the Colorado National Monument, anything outdoors to clear the head! For more info check out the website. Schweeet, I'll say!

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Dawn Patrol

By Ann Driggers
Saturday, February 27, 2010

- You did what?

- Umm, well, I went and skied up Powderhorn before work this morning.

- Hang on a minute...UP Powderhorn? How the heck do you do that? And isn't it dark? And why on earth would you do that anyway?

This dialogue has occured frequently this winter. Usually on Thursday's. So let me explain.

In preparation for the Endurance Challenge at Sunlight, a 12 hour ski race up and down Sunlight Ski Area (more on that later), one of our team, Twyla Gingrich, and I have pledged to dawn patrol at least once a week. A dawn patrol for us consists of leaving town at 5:30 a.m., heading up to Powderhorn, slapping on the skins, climbing via Equalizer the 1,600 feet to the top of Chair One, skiing down, jumping back in the car and making it into work by 8:30 a.m.

Now to some that may seem to be somewhat of a chore and rather boring. Yes, it is a good work out (that's the point) but everytime has been quite different and entertaining. Here is a flavor of some of the highlights of our dawn patrols so far: 

#1: Swooping down at mach speed (3 minutes top to bottom) as a waning wolf moon sets in the western sky and the sun's rays paint the eastern horizon pink. So beautiful!

#2: Skinning up in windy, snowy conditions, second guessing our decision to be there. And realizing it was absolutely worth it as we ski 8 inches of fresh down Powder Keg.

#3: Twyla forgets her skins so she hikes with skis on her back.

This prompts me to make a "Guide to Rocking the Dawn Patrol" poster which takes me back to Elementary School (I was in my element) and we have not forgotten anything since (touch wood). 

#4: Almost getting creamed by the Beast as it zoomed around, gobbling up anything in its path, turning it into the most perfect corduroy ever seen at Powderhorn. (Prinoth loaned their premiere snow groomer to Powderhorn for a few days. And who can blame the grooming guys for taking full advantage and going nutso with it, while we ran for the trees).

#5: Bouncing around in the boulder fields, finding pockets of powder four days after the last storm.

#6: Looking for alternative uses for pipes sticking out of the snow, without being decapitated by other skiers/riders

 

and finding them. This terrain park feature at the top of Equalizer has now been renamed the 'Coat Rack'.

 

#7: And last, but by no means least, being crash test dummies for the Dummy Jump.

 

In sum, this winter's dawn patrols have been a blast. Not once have I sat at my desk and regretted spending the first hour of my day up on the mountain, with skis and snow underfoot.  Even though the race will be over and done by tomorrow, we hope there are many dawn patrols left to come.

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