|Getting some work done in LA|
|Winning the wedgie!|
Friday started with more demos and a bit of actual coding before proceeding to the main event. I've been extremely lucky to have been involved with some amazing projects at work, which have garnered a good amount of attention due to fantastic artists using my software. Thus, a bunch of us won an award, and had a luncheon party complete with great food, pointy glass thingies (ahem, called a "wediges"), and fascinating conversations with the CEO. I was jazzed and excited about my current project afterward, and got a bit more work in before boarding a plane back to San Jose, driving to Justin's in Redwood City, reuniting with my stashed gear, and driving 6 hours to Lassen National Park. Yep, that last sentence involves around 500 or so miles of travel. We arrived at Hat Creek Campground early Saturday morning at around 2:30am. We were tired, and I had been snoozing on and off in the car, catching glimpses of a conversation I guess I was having with Justin, although my contributions were weak acknowledgments and what was likely incomprehensible jabber. Needless to say, we slept in.
We awoke at 6:00am on Sunday to a car blanketed in ash from those damn campground neighbors. We both slept well, which was lucky since Justin and I both knew how intense this day would be. Lassen Peak was our goal, something we had summited without skis in 2008. It was while trudging down the soft mid-afternoon slopes on foot that I witnessed backcountry skiers scream past me in ecstatic joy, carving beautiful turns into the same snow I was fumbling on. It planted the seed that backcountry skiing was the best way to do mountaineering, even though at the time I hadn't skied more than a few times in the past 10 years.
|Lassen Peak in its full glory!|
|Steep and tiring snowfield|
We were happy to reach the summit ridge, but it was only after almost getting blown off by a massive gust of wind that caused me to press my body carefully against the steep slope, gripping my axe in fear. We found respite from the strong cold winds, relaxed and ate for a while, then headed up to the summit block where we were met by a group of three ready to descend. Justin took one look at the descent and decided to head to the ridge and take video, but only after some adventure fluting and music video filming.
I slid down the first 30 or so feet until I had to make a turn. I threw in something between a timid jump turn and a snowplow and immediately accelerated FAST. I had to dig my edges in to stop, but it felt stable as I released a large amount of sluff. I made another turn soon after, releasing even more sluff. Now, I was in comfortably maneuverable terrain, so I made a confident turn at speed, only to be hit by the wave of snow I had knocked loose. I rode through, and was free, and on a continuous 45 degree pitch with good corn snow. I threw down turn after turn, watching the clear path of beautiful snow pass by. I stopped after 1000 feet, took a breather, and did another 1000 of awe-inspiring steep snow until I reached some rocks. I whooped in joy, quickly took my skis off, and went to the rocks, reclined, closed my eyes, and relished my wonderful and preciously earned turns in solitude.
|One very happy adventure-blogger!|
Justin and I met up at the rocks, exchanged superlatives about the pitch we had done, and threaded turns down the remaining 1000 feet of steep skiing. This lead to low angle tree skiing on wet mid-afternoon snow all the way back to the car where we packed up, and drove back to home.
It was a long and eventful four days that had no shortage of good lessons and fun despite me being on the verge of biting off more than I could chew. Skis on your back makes front pointing with crampons hard and frustrating when you need to save energy to enjoy the descent. I can't wait to ski down Lassen Peak again, even if it isn't attached on the end of a wonderful trip to LA to collaborate and hang out with my awesome coworkers.