Friday, September 25, 2015

Developing a good stride and Managing Failure... whatever the distance

This season has been a running year, or well kind of a running year.  With a new born, lots of work, a major live in remodel (done mostly by myself), the training isn't great.  Thanks to a good friend with a goal to do a 50 miler however, he was able to break me free from the chain and crank.

For a mountain person such as myself the midwest is a bit mysterious in its trees, lakes, swaps, dragon bugs, humidity, and general flatness.  Uncognitively (I"m not sure thats a real word) I've been traveling back to the Midwest ever couple of years and doing some type of run.  50k on the North Shore of Lake Superior, A run in the poison Ivy infested Red River Gorge, and finally the pictured rocks 50 miler in the UP (upper peninsula for those of us from the mountains).

 I often go into these runs with attitude of "I'm from the mountains, this will be super easy."  I mean, I've ran things like the little big horn 50 and the Speed Goat 50k, how hard could a flat, low altitude run be?  Like with every run, the experience is never what you expect.

In the world of mountain running we tend to have two speed groups, the up and the down.

Up in my case has two basic strides, the run and the walk.  The run is a small, quick stride that helps maintain a good cadence, yet manages the heart rate on most moderate climbs.  I often hear people use tips like: 'swing those arms a lot', 'run on your toes', 'keep your feet under you.'  My personal balanced cadence is somewhere around the 70 spm.  As the grade increases the stride length decreases.  Imagine your wearing a backpack with a rope connected to a tractor tire your dragging along behind you.

When things get really steep I transition to a sort of power walk.  Often times this can be faster than the above short fast running side, and possibly more important it uses a different muscle group.  The gluts, ham sting and the top of the quad (think groin to femoral apex) tend to take the brunt of this stride and the core relaxes a bit.  In this stride you step forward with a big step forward.  Often times you will see people with a hand on each leg pushing down to assist in the stepping.

If your a cyclist, think climbing in a small gear with a high cadence is the same as the former method and the ladder is like standing up in the big ring and powering though a climb.

On the down, the Ultra runner often uses gravity vs. using work.  So think big slow, strides.  Almost like falling down hill.  Your probably thinking that doesn't sound good for the knees, ankles, and hips.  Well your right, its not.  Some thing that helps reduce the suffering is by having a good forward stride.  This means intentionally leaning forward where the ball of the foot strikes first, and the foot plants below the knee, not in front of the knee.  This lets you use the calf muscle properly as the initial shock  as apposed to a heal strike which directly transmits everything to the knee and the hip.

The final zone is the flats.  For the record, I'm spend little to no time developing this one.  But basically its a combination of the up and the down.  A longer stride, with a quick cadence (again about 70 spm for me) where you are running forward on the toes, planting the foot under the knee and the torso, not in front.  Most people have a well developed stride in this zone regardless of if its correct or not.

This season I attempted to develop my flat stride with a number of fun runs, but I have an inherent problem of always looking up towards the mountains.  I think this was a problem for me not in the lack of stride, but more importantly in the little muscles in the core that come along with it.

At about mile 33 of 50 on my flat run I started to have the desire to Urinate every time I took a shot of water.  The kind where you start looking for a gas station or abandon lot if your driving.  For more on what really was happening, see my previous post .  After a good long slow pace zone while downing 140 oz of water, I started to feel a bit better.  With  7 miles to the finish I figured I was good to go and my partner put down a semi-aerobic pace for a quick finish.  I was a bit nervous about hitting it so hard, but went ahead and tried for it.  about 4 miles in however, the problem returned, and now with pain.  Disheartened I slowed to a walk again and returned to the water.  This time it did not go away.

How should we respond to this type of failure?  I think its important to remember a couple of things:

1.) Ultra running always has unexpected problems and highs and lows.  The theme of the Wasatch 100 is '100 miles of heaven and hell.'  There are lots of ups and downs and you don't know when they are coming, just know they aren't staying!

2.)  Even with the best preparation, sometimes things do go wrong.

3.)  Listen to your body... sometimes.  If your body is telling you that it wants to stop, you need to think hard WHY its telling you that.  If its because you've been running for 8 hours and your tired, thats not a good excuse, if its because your feet are sore, not a good excuse.  But if your can see the blood coming through your shoe because a blister has formed, broke, and is now bleeding, the answer is stop.  To the best of your ability in your exhausted state you need to ask yourself the following questions:

1.)  What are the likely consequences of continuing?  If the answer is an extra day of soreness, you know the answer.  But if the answer is a trip to the ER, you know the answer too.  The trick is deciding where your problem fits.  Ibuprofen is a common tool for helping us run faster and farther, but be careful with it as it can also mask serious problems for a long time or even cause them.    Blood is mostly a bad sign.  blood on your feet, in your urine or excriment.  On your nurps well, that's a bummer but get a band-aid.  Pain in your legs, feet, and joints can be normal, but again be careful.  Any sharp pain should be taken seriously.  Is it sharp pain in your lower leg on every stride?  This could be serious.

2.)  Ask your partner!  Chances are your partner has a bit more objective view of what your experiencing.  The more experience they have the more effective their advice.

3.)  If in doubt, drop out.  Whatever it is, even if its the Hardrock at mile 90, you can always come back another year.  That being said, this is not an excuse to DNF on every race.  You put a lot of time in, don't waste it.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rhabdomyolosis, renal failure, and bladder flap.... blood in the urine of the ultra runner.

It was my second time running the SpeedGoat 50k and shortly after starting the last and final decent from the tram at Snowbird, it happened again -- a repeated and almost painful desire to urinate with little more than a few drops of success.  I could barely run, if not barely walk fast.  Every time I would jostle the bladder, the urge would return.  Not just return as in I need to find a bathroom, but return as in the kidney stone pushing its razor edges into the lining of the Urethra.  I was less than ten miles from the finish, and my pace slowed almost to a crawl...  I guess it was better than the guy who ran past me the wrong direction from confusion and dilution thinking the course went the other direction.

The Speed Goat 50k is touted by many to be the hardest 50k in the US if not the world.  30.8 miles and 12000ft of vertical with painfully difficult climb after climb, after climb, followed by equally painful decent after decent.  A race that I am always determined to DNF, yet have somehow finished every time.  Even Killian Jornet have shown up for this sufferfest before.  Based on my observation, as many people DNF in this race as in the Wasatch 100.  For me, it wasn't new, and it wasn't going any better.  The previous year the exact same thing happened, and I had no idea the cause.  This year I was sure it was dehydration, but I just couldn't bring myself to down that last 10 oz of water.  By the time I reached the finish line I was not just going crazy from the bladder pain, but also borderline suffering from heat exhaustion.  After dousing myself with water, downing a coke or two, and a lot of water things started to come back to normal.  I figured it was the crazyness of the race and lack of training for ridiculous downhill sections that jostle the insides.  That was back in 2009.

Fast forward to 2015 and a friend and I are running just under 50 miles of the North Country Trail in flat Michigan.  34 miles in I got the same problem.  Unfortunately the trail was totally flat, the temperature was moderate, and the running was easy.  At least I knew what was coming and I quickly degenerated to walking and pounding water.

SO this time I had to ask myself what causes this problem since I can't seem to fix it on my own?  Is it dehydration, over hydration, electrolyte deficiency, or excessive electrolytes.  I figured it MUST be one of these things.  As always, the internet has lots to say, and so do runners... most of which had no real medical advice on dealing with the issue.  Here are the facts, as much as I can tell as a NOT doctor.

Symptoms:  Desire to Urinate often with little to no success, discoloration in the Urine caused by either blood or  myoglobin often describes as 'coca-cola' urine, possible pain in the lower back.

Diagnosis:  From best to worst, 1.) empty bladder (bladder flap) 2.) Rhabdomyolysis 3.)Renal Failure.

1.) Trauma to the bladder (I like bladder flap) caused by not having enough liquid in the bladder is one possible cause.  It appears to be mostly harmless, with some corrective action and verification from a physician it is actually the cause.  Dr. Bill Roberts recommendations are as follows: to relieve this form of hematuria is to void [the bladder] 20-30 minutes before your run so there is some urine in the bladder to soften the slap."  Unfortunately, when my run is longer than an hour or so, I'll be voiding a lot more times during a run.2

2.) Rhabdomyolysis is the rapid destruction of skeletal muscle resulting in leakage into the urine of the muscle protein myoglobin. 1 Myoglobin is a protein that is contained in muscle cells, and if enough is spilled into the blood stream, it can clog the kidney's filtering system and lead to kidney failure and a variety of other serious medical consequences and complications. While muscles routinely get sore after physical activity, rhabdomyolysis takes that muscle injury to a higher level.

3.) Renal failure in our case is cased by Rhabdomyolysis progressing to the point of completely blocking the kidney.3  This is a life threatening.  Some sources show as high as 33-50 percent of cases of Rhabdomyolysis lead to renal failure.  Unlike non-exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis (crush injuries, infections, drugs and toxins, for example) where the progression from rhabdomyolysis to acute renal failure is between 17 – 40 percent of cases, exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis only very rarely progresses to acute renal failure.4

So if your like me, it can be pretty upsetting when I get into the 'coca cola' Urine state.  Remember the color of the Urine in actually caused by Myoglobin, not blood in the Urine, so if you can clearly identify blood, you are not suffering from Rhabdomyolysis.

A recent article in Ultrarunning magazine has this recommendation from Tamara Hew-Butler DPM, PhD and Marty Hoffman MD:4

Because the incidence of rhabdomyolysis and renal failure seems to be increasing disproportionately in ultramarathon circles, the four basic questions and answers below are ones you should understand and share with your crew:

1) How dangerous is rhabdomyolysis? Exercise-associated rhabdomyolysis in and of itself is not dangerous nor is it an uncommon biochemical finding in runners competing in an ultramarathon race. In fact, it’s more normal than abnormal! In the rare instances where rhabdomyolysis progresses to renal failure in athletes, the “perfect storm” of additional factors must be present.

2) What are the warning signs that rhabdomyolysis is harming my kidneys? When urine output becomes sparse and very dark, it is a good idea to start monitoring fluid intake and output carefully. In many cases, runners will urinate a reddish brown urine which resolves itself over the course of a race. However, if “coca cola” urine continues or gets worse, urinating becomes more difficult, you begin to feel “bloated”, or you develop lower back pain in addition to severe muscular pain, then you need to seek the advice of a medical professional immediately – on or off the course.

3) What are some factors that put me more at risk for developing renal failure associated with rhabdomyolysis? Excessive heat, severe dehydration, NSAID and/ or analgesic usage, and prior viral or bacterial infection are well-documented risk factors for developing exercise-associated rhabdomyolysis leading to renal failure. We have found in a recent analysis that development of hyponatremia during the run, under-training (especially if an injury limited training time), and being a relatively younger and faster male runner pushing through pain to finish the race, may be additional risk factors for developing renal failure associated with rhabdomyolysis.

4) How can I prevent developing rhabdomyolysis-induced renal failure during an ultramarathon?
■ Avoid taking NSAIDs (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Celebrex, et al.) and/or analgesics during an ultramarathon race
■ Do NOT race if you had a recent viral or bacterial infection
■ Do NOT over- or under-hydrate
■ Train properly for the event; if you get injured, race only when you have regained proper fitness
■ Listen to your body; if you have any of the above-mentioned warning signs, seek medical attention immediately!

Be safe, Run far, and hydrate properly.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

10 tips for developing speed, endurance, and top CR's on Strava

This summer I transitioned from cycling to running after a number of years focused on cycling.  As I get older and life gets busier I've developed a strict training method for getting fast and going far... fast.  If your not a runner, most of these things can translate really well to cycling too, just insert 'cycling' where 'running' is mentioned.  Here are my top 10 tips:

1.) Tapering is for sissies.  Tapering requires meeting training goals, especially your pre-peak week.

2.)  Speed work is clearly for people with a max heart rate over 200.

3.)  Lube for the short runs, not the long ones.  Lube is an excellent way to stop discomfort in a number of places when you spend a lot of time running, especially the feet for runners and the you know where for cyclist.

4.)  Similar to number 3, if you have a super motivational running partner, make sure and leave him out of the long days, and bring him along for the shorts.

5.)  One of my personal favorites, plan for 10 miles and the run 30 miles.  This way you can experience things like hallucinations, dehydration, low glucose, and of course peeing rocks- with out all the hype of an ultra.

6.)  The best time for a beer is never the end of the run, why wait?  I prefer mine at the beginning.

7.)  Gu's and electrolyte mix is expensive, try an alternative like McDonald's fries and a coke.  All the same ingredients (plus a few bonus's) at a fraction of the cost.

8.)  If you're having a hard time getting out of the bottom two thirds on your favorite segments(on Strava), stuck somewhere between the geriatrics and the biggest looser (before, not the after) Try starting your own segment in a uncommon location, something like a freeway close to downtown.
Isn't the whole reason segments exist is so someone slow like us can have the CR for a day?

9.) If number 8 fails you, the  last resort is riding your bike while in running mode on Strava.

10.)  Finally, make sure to show up to every big event with the newest tech gadgets and gear.  When you make new friends be sure to throw in key words like hill repeats, interval training, V02 max, lactate threshold, PR, CR and stride development, as well as your latest power estimate (times 3 or 4).  Always make sure to note some of your training buddies who happen to be sponsored by such and such(insert newest hip company like Lulu Lemon).

Hopefully these tips have been very helpful.  If you'd like more information on the details of my training program for the moderately unsuccessful feel free to contact me at anytime.  Chances are I'll be out running on a freeway somewhere...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Risk Homeostasis, ABS packs, and Subjective Perception

It's been a while since I've written anything, but don't worry its not because I've taken on a new sedentary lifestyle.  In fact, its just the opposite, the skiing is good, the ice is thick, and the partners are many.

As the sun rises and the snow heats up for another Wasatch wet cycle I reflect on comments that I've been hearing, seeing, and doing.  Bruce Tremper, Avalanche forecaster here in SLC has an excellent blog about the effectiveness of ballon packs.  I've added it for you here.

As always please support your local avalanche forecast center, because they are the ones that help us stay alive day after day.  I really only want to talk about one thing bruce mentions, and then throw in some life philosophy to go along with it.  My thoughts are in regard to 1.) Risk Homeostasis and 2.) Subjective perception.

First off, Risk Homeostasis is basically when we have a technical device that increase our safety, we then increase our risk.  Therefore negating some or all of the increased safety.  Each individual has some level of acceptable risk and trends to unconsciously push to this level.  With the addition of increase safety, the individual will then push the limit of risk farther, because more safety exists.  Thus the cycle continues.  For more on the details check out this paper here:

In skiing, climbing, kayaking, driving, flying, eating unhealthy foods, (the list goes on) we can apply this theory.  Lets start with skiing.

Example 1, we just had a big dump of 20 inches of new Wasatch pow and we are trying to get to a safe slope, but first we must cross a small 38 degree chute.  Practicing safe travel techniques, my partner waits in the safe zone, I bite down on my Avalung and skin out onto the slope.  Stop right here.  So you must then ask yourself, did I skin onto the slope because it was the safe decision? or was it because of the perceived additional safety associated with being able to breath through my Avalung?

Example 2,  two different days I pull up to the second half of the bob sled trail (a high speed downhill mountain bike trial filled with fun features and easy outs).  One day I pull up on my Intense 6.6 with a full face helmet, long pants, and body armor.  The other day I pull up on my Epic Carbon race bike in full spandex.  How do you think my behavior will change as I charge down the trail?  Does the big travel bike with big tires, helmet and armor provide additional safety?  Yes But since things are more safe I double my speed, and take the car jump, the big double and the 12 foot drop at the end: effectively increasing my risk dramatically.  So the question is did I increase the risk at an equal rate of increased safety?  Thereby maintaining a perceived median of risk?

I think in both cases we have to deal with actual risk, perceived risk, and actual and perceived safety increases.  How often are actual risk and perceived risk equal (Ra=Rp, where Ra= Actual Risk and Rp= Perceived Risk)  Additionally how often does actual safety the same as perceived safety (Sa=Sp, Where Sa=actual safety and Sp=perceived safety).  In Tremper's example we see that advertising causes a huge confusion on actual increases in safety.  In the case of the ABS pack, the increase in safety is big, (possibly about 1/2 more saved that would have died).  But its not nearly as big as what we see from the numbers (i.e. airbags are 97% effective)  Its actually at MOST about a 8% increase in safety.  So then does Ra=Rp if we base our ideas on what we hear from the advertisers?  Not at all, in fact the advertisers would lead me to believe that my safety has increased by 97%.  In actual its increase by about 8%. My Perceived safety is now almost 10 times greater than my actual safety(Sa).  Stated another way: Perceived risk is about 10 times lower than actual risk.


As you can see, Applying Risk Homeostasis theory here actually causes us to push the perceived acceptable risk line 10 times farther than we would have previously without the additional safety. (This is just a basic example, and many important factors are being left out, but the point still applies.)

One other important note is that everyone's perceived risk (Rp) is different based on there personality type, experience, age, and knowledge in the particular area.  An Alabaman snowshoeing in the backcountry for the first time may have no idea what actual risks (Ra) they are taking on and perceived little to no risk (Rp)  Ra>Rp.

So how do we deal with Risk Homeostasis in our outdoor environments?  Well, the answer is not to leave all your safety gear behind.  But the idea MAY be to trick your mind into thinking you left all your safety gear behind.  Or maybe better yet when you are making safety related decisions to cognitively realize your natural Perceived risk and try to accurately align it with your Actual risk (Rp=Ra).  It would be helpful to ask yourself questions like:

1.) how would I deal with this slope without my avalung (insert airbag, helmet, body armor).

2.) How much increase in safety does this item really provide?

3.) What would Tremper do? (funny I know)

4.) Ask your trusted partners what their opinion is without pressuring them.

5.) My favorite, What would your significant other say, or if your wrong, what would you be giving up?

We (meaning me) need to realize that our perceived risk often doesn't actually equal actual risk (Rp not equal to Ra) and that our perceived safety isn't usually equal to actual safety (Sp not equal to Sa).  For most of us interested in this blog it likely means Ra>Rp and Sa
Human Application:  This leads to more personal realization of subjective perceptions.  All of us look at the world through a slightly different filter based on lots of things.  But the point being, its different.  And my filter isn't better than your filter, and yours isn't better than that over weight lazy guy next to you at the office.  C.S. Lewis would puts it nicely in a paper named Meditations in a Tool shed. (get it here for free )  As Lewis describes the Tool shed he talks about a beam of light entering through a crack.  Depending on how you view the beam of light depends of the perception you receive.  Such is our experience in life.

If our perception is subjective, our judgement will also be subjective.

I think this applies in everything we do.  I see the lemming suited snowboarder coming off the back side of the canyons stealing my line.  I judge him from my simple, limited perception of who he is.  But what if its Drew Hardesty on a split Board trying out some free digs?  (This isn't based on a real experience) Then would my perception change of him?  What about that crazy polygamist down the street? Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge.  I'm not judging you, by the way, only myself.  Your ideas may seem totally crazy to me, but maybe its my crazy perception.

In closing, lets do our best to objectively judge not only the risk associated with our current adventure, but also our friends, family, and other people we experience throughout life.

An addition interesting reference about risk in life is worth a read here:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Yosemite's East Buttress, and Utah's Orin Hatch

It was great to get away for five days to Yosemite national park where I didn't hear a single commentary on the upcoming election.  We spent 2.5 days of good climbing starting with the East Buttress of El Cap.  It's a route that's been on my list for a long time and I've either been too afraid, or just didn't have the time.  In fact, I haven't been to Yosemite for almost 10 years.  With a forecast for 0% chance of precip and 68 degrees, It was a no brainer.  After leaving SLC at 12:30am Sunday... er, monday morning we arrived early evening Tuesday night for a 5:15 start on the East Buttress.  After watching two parties of three in front of us bail, it was past 8:00am, time was already getting tight.  So we hammered in to pitch one with Kevin on the lead.  It was a nice, wide chimney with a squeeze section to make it interesting.

Then following that was the technical crux (however far from the real crux) of a polished 10b move off the anchor to an expanding 5.9 tube with rattly fingers in the back.  It went well, although not as easily as I had hoped.  Liking pitch 2 and 3 puts you at around 260ft, a bit longer than the rope, but after some struggling and confusion we worked it out.  Such is life with new partners.  Then Kevin took the sharp end to link 4 and 5 in a pretty cool 300ft or so section of easy class 4 up to hard 5.8 (I know, it seems the two are mutually exclusive, but not in the valley). Then the crux pitch 140ft starting with a 2 foot wide arete with 2000ft exposure to one side and no pro leading into a desperate (5.9, ya really) pin scared rail to 100ft of 5.9 offwidth... sick.  I wouldn't force this on anyone, but when you get through it its awesome.  I only almost pitched off 2 times.  Followed by kevin taking the 5.5 ramp to the money 5.7 vertical pitch.  Then I finished it off with 280 ft. of 5.7 to the ridge of El Cap.
About 2000ft off the valley floor, 1000ft up the route

After a quick clean up we headed for the east ledges decent and thankfully had someone to follow.  For all of you 'canyoneering types'  We did a single line rap of a fixed line that must have been over 300ft long, hanging down into pitch black with nothing but a dull headlight shinning on the smooth vertical granite at your feet and a void everywhere above, below, and to the side.  It was surreal.

 An excellent route I would recommend for anyone with the skills to do it.  It is not for the faint of heart, and just because you may be able to climb 10b at the gym, or in BCC, or even LCC, doesn't mean you can do it in Yosemite.  Try out some local routes before jumping on this one as there is no easy out, and the ledges are not good for sleeping after pitch 3.  Falcon has it listed as 13 pitches, we did it in 7, I've seen other who do it in 9.  I read somewhere its about 1400ft.  Not bad for a days work, but far from it's big brothers just down the wall to the west, where the real climbing begins.

 That being said, i must move on to the painful, (but hopefully quick) item of Orin Hatch.  He was the only one (other than Jim Matheson) who responded to my letters about Ski Link.  Matheson responded with a very nice clear reason why he was not supporting it.  Orin Hatch responded differently.  I've post the letter here for you to read.  It is scanned and then changed to a jpeg, sorry the quality is so bad.  Chances are you got the exact same letter since he didn't even acknowledge my position or reasons for Ski Link.  Things I think you should notice:

1.) "The bill also requires compliance to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and Endangered Species Act of 1973" yet what about the 2003 Wasatch-Cache Revised Forest Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement?  It's actually in direct contradiction to the newest, most up to date forest plan?  Why didn't you mention this senator?  Is it consider lying if you just leave some things out?  Check out this excellent article to help explain:

2.)  "Estimates show that with this new transportation system more than 500 permanent jobs could be created and infuse more than $50 million in to Utah's economy."  As one un-named state official once told me.  "No one in the utah government structure (except just a few who aren't players) actually recreates, nor do they know anything about recreating.  Rob Bishop doesn't even play golf."  For those of us who have been to ski resorts, worked for ski resorts, even built ski lifts these numbers are absurd.  How many people does it take to run a new ski lift?  Well, lets say 2 lifties at the bottom and 2 at the top plus 1 mechanic.  Total=5.  how many of them are permanent employes or NOT seasonal? Only 1. So if you hired two groups of people to cover an entire week we would have a total of 10, and lets through in 1 manager so eleven total new jobs.  Note:  No more ski patrollers would be required or groomers, because we aren't actually opening 'new' terrain.  So total new jobs=11 total new non-seasonl jobs=3 maybe?  Not to mention the other 9 are minimum wage, no benefits jobs that add maybe 10,000 in income per person.  So 90,000 total gross income increase for the part timers, and lets say 35000 for the mechanic and 20,000 for the manager (these number are very generous for utah) Total jobs created= 11 total new income for people in utah (most of them not local) $145,000.   How about total temp jobs for construction?  From my experience working with Doppelmyer Lifts Company (who builds most of the Canyon's lifts) we operated with a total crew of less than 100 people to build 3 lifts in 6 months.  So one lift, being generous 50 people.  How many of those people where actually from our state?  less than 1/3.

So hire 15 local temp jobs, and bring in 35 outsiders for one summer to create 11 new jobs and $145000 in poverty level income.  That is pretty close to '500 permanent jobs and $50 million in Utah's economy' ( I realize I'm not taking into account additional ticket sales, people coming in for the 'new' interconnect, etc)  So even my educated guess (based on actual experience in the industry)is off by 100% we are still talking almost nothing added to the economy.  I do think Canyon's will see some more tickets, and solitude may get a few mores skiers, but we will have forever sliced the Wasatch in half.

3.) "I continue to be a strong proponent fir giving Utah more local control over Utah's land, and this proposal has a lot of local support."  By giving Utah control of Utah land do you really mean giving Canada control of Utah's land?  And by local support who exactly supports ski link locally?  Why haven't they all posted their support?  I do see lots of opposition.  Please let them post their support for ski link that way we can effectively boycott their products.  Oh wait, or is this why they aren't posting it?

There are definitely other things in the letter that are incorrect and completely wrong, but I'm going to just stick with these few.  Again, I apologize for continuing to use this site for posting these things, but we must act, or as Black Diamond may do, we may end up moving out when their is nothing left.

Monday, August 20, 2012

How much do you love your Wasatch?

Well, I've had a lot of great summer, and really a great year.  Spending time in France, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, and Panama.  Yet whenever I leave for long periods of time I still dream about home.  Home for me is the Wasatch Mountains, with a short drive to the desert, the Tetons, City of Rocks, San Juans, Red Rocks, or even Joshua Tree.  But really my heart is in the Wasatch, which is why I feel I must share with you my thoughts on the SkiLink.  Talisker Corporation is a Canadian Development company that recently acquired Canyon's Ski Resort for 123 million and has since attempted to revoke Park City Ski Resort's Land Lease, bulldozed hundreds of trees, built unnecessary lifts, constructed artificial lakes, and many more atrocities against a fragile economical balance as well as devastated the land it owns in the Wasatch.  Now it is attempting to buy a strip of land right through the heart of the Wasatch to connect it with the other cottonwood resorts.  Rather than take the usual route of purchasing land from the forest service, its going straight to congress with the help of Representative Rob Bishop of District 1 to bypass the normal process and keep the public out of the public land transfer.  The bill is labelled H.R. 3452 Wasatch Range Recreation Access Enhancement Act, and it has nothing to do with Recreation Enhancement, only creating more revenue for Talisker.

After complaining for a long time, I final took some action, and more than the usual internet petition signing.  I wrote letters to my Senators, and Representatives, and Rob Bishop himself asking for some sanity in the giving away of our only real renewable resource in utah.  As you probably already know, I am a terrible writer so please be patient with the grammer, spelling, and general confusion.  Here it is:

After spending my youth growing up in Utah I spent over half a decade away in other parts of the US. Since then I have traveled to every continent except Africa, Australia, and Antarctica. There are many amazing and beautiful places on this earth. Most of them filled with their own Unique beauty. However, something even more Unique is right in front of us in Utah. A wonderful, diverse, landscape or mountains, desert, plateaus, lakes, salt flats, slot canyons and more. I understand the the economic progress of our state is very important, however, I'm writing because I also want the economic and natural future to remain in tact. This will only hurt our future economic opportunity: Think Utah lake, a once wonderful resource now ruined forever by a steel plant that now only provides an eye sore, and a toxic hole.

The Wasatch Front is one of the smallest mountain ranges in the country yet is located closer to a major city than any other recreational location in the US. It brings in millions if not billions of outside revenue into our state. Yet as ski resorts become more exotic and prices rise toward $100 a lift ticket, skier numbers have stopped growing; it is becoming a sport of the elite. However, backcountry user groups like mountain bikers, hikers, snow shoers, hunters, fishermen, are all growing rapidly. The Wasatch Mountains already contains 7 resorts within 20 miles or less of Salt Lake City which occupy a huge amount of the Wasatch Mountains. In fact, they cover so much of the mountains, its possible to ski from one resort to the next, and go to every one of the 7 resorts without the use of additional transportation other than the lifts already in place. You can already ski from the Canyons to Solitude. Or Solitude to Brighton, or Brighton to Park City, and so on. The skilink doesn't even connect the the two towns, it connects the top of Canyons Resort to the bottom of Solitude mountain Resort. There is no transportation advantage. In order to travel from Canyon's top of Solitude it would take at least 5 lift rides, and only provides an exclusive group of users to access both resorts. If the State of Utah was serious about an intermountain transportation system they would have a centralized system that is accessible from multiple resorts and efficient for more than just the two farthest out locations. With some work a system that works for all resorts could be designed that did not encroach on pristine wilderness. I.E. via the Guardsman Pass road. Adding the skilink as is, alienates Utah's own local resorts (Park City, Dear Valley, Brighton, and Alta/SnowBird) and gives the advantage to the Canadian real-estate company. Thus requiring yet multiple skilink's for the other resorts to compete, and of course cause the possible loss of the majority of the forest land. 

The addition of the 'skilink' would slice through the center of one of the few uninterrupted sections of land left in the Wasatch and permanently damage the habitat as well as degrade the natural beauty of the area. I've built ski lifts before, and the damage done to the environment to build something this size is unrepairable, especially to a wilderness that is already so delicate. Worst of all is the fact that the bill bypasses the National Forest Service, an organization designed by our government to manage our forest land in a way that is conscious of the present AND the future. If this is so important then bring it before the normal processes to sell, and let the Utah public have a say in their public lands.

Finally, the last thing we need is to give away our precious resources to yet another big company who is not even from the US! We don't need Canadian developers taking over our forest land for their own gain. How much could they possibly care? Your local outdoor Industry has spoken, just ask Peter Metcalph, CEO of Black Diamond in Salt Lake City. Are you willing to give up your local companies so that you can bring in a Canadian development company? Your purpose is to represent the people, and the people have spoken. I oppose H.R.3452 - Wasatch Range Recreation Access Enhancement Act.

 Please feel free to copy and past my letter, or change it a little to sound like someone out of elementary school.... Here is a list of my representatives, feel free to send it to them, or send it to yours.  Obviously you can write your own letter too, and I would encourage you too.

Senator Mike Lee
316 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Representative Jim Matheson
2434 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Senator Orrin hatch
104 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Representative Rob Bishop
123 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Quiet Touring on Memorial day?

Memorial day is a complexing holiday, its purpose isn't usually its use.  Most of us spend time vacationing with a moment or two of silence.  So when you chose to get out of town, staying away from the hoards of lemmings can be difficult.  We thought about a climbing trip, a mountain bike trip, even a river trip (not for very long), and settled on a 3 day touring trip.  I think some wise choices and good luck helped make for an excellent and quiet adventure.  Here is the quick details.

Day 1: Sugar House to Affleck Park
I cant think of a time when we've left touring from our house, but we did just that.  Bikes loaded we headed out at about 630pm from sugar-house towards East Canyon.  Planned camping spot: Great Western Trail on big mountain.  Actual camping spot: Affleck park.  Just make sure and get your reservation for Affleck as there's no first come first serve spots.  Another option is East Canyon State Park, which would be nice in spring or fall but maybe a little Hot in the summer.

Day 2:  Affleck park to Snow Basin Ski Resort.
The big day, and the fun day (well for half of us).  Head for East Canyon Dam, then to Morgan, the Mt. Green,  and Finally your camping spot at Snow Basin.  If you stay at Affleck, you get two big climbs, and I mean big.  Big mountain is 1300ft and 6 miles and trappers loops is 1600ft and 7.5 miles. Thats over 3000ft of climbing and 55 miles.

Day 3:  For us day three was short and only had a few climbs.  However, If I was to continue the tour I would head north to Avon Divide for my next camp site or North Fork Park.  Then on to Logan for Day 4.  You can check out some more photos at:

No tour is complete without some form of suffering.  In this case it was driving rain, hail, slush, and mud. Things that help you appreciate the sunny dry days.