Frank's Blog

Frank Konsella's Backcountry Skiing and Biking Blog

Final Post at 14erskiers/ Frank’s blog

So, this is my final post here on “Frank’s blog”. But don’t fear, I will continue to post on “our blog“. Having entries in 2 places can be confusing and time consuming, and hinders conversations among our readers. Additionally, having posts in two places dilutes our presence on Google searches. Brittany and I would also like 14erskiers to become at least self-sufficient, and we feel that merging all of our blogs will help in this process.

We’d like to thank our new sponsor- Sportchalet. Please consider checking them out.

For those of you in the industry, Brittany and I are always open to product testing and website sponsors. For those of you who get after it, please consider submitting a guest blog entry- we’re always looking for those as well.

I’m on Twitter HERE, please consider following me. Facebook users, we’re HERE. We do our best to use social media as more than just links to our entries- when we see something interesting, we post it on Facebook, so even if you check our website regularly, it’s worth it to “like” us on Facebook as well.

Thanks, and see you over on “our blog“.

New Year on Richmond 1.1.12

It’s been a long time since I posted anything, mostly because I haven’t been in the mountains much the past month or so. Since the skiing wasn’t very good in December, I took a small job in Denver, and followed that up with family Christmas visits. Surely the skiing would be better by the time I got back around New Year’s, I thought. Sadly, the skiing went from bad to worse as December wore on. Crested Butte, like much of the West from Utah to California, is in the midst of an extremely dry winter. Certainly the worst I’ve seen here since my arrival in 1996. Don’t be surprised when I do a bike trip report- sadly the biking is excellent right now.

In any case, Brittany and I will keep trying our best to keep the faith and have fun with what little snow we have. So rather than party hard on New Year’s eve, we stayed in and were joined by our friends Ben and Jonathan on a tour up Richmond. In addition to the lack of snow, we’ve also had a steady diet of strong winds, so rather than attempt to seek out powder, we were actually hoping for smooth wind buffed snow. We found some, as well as punchy crusts and scree-covered snow. The conditions weren’t all that surprising, but what may have been surprising was how much fun we still had despite it all. On with some photos…

Skinning:
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Broken Record 12.7.11

We need snow. The alpine is one big windslab perched on facets. Lower elevations are quickly turning to 100% facets, and there isn’t enough snow to ski anyway. The options that aren’t wind-hammered and still have enough snow to ski are really limited right now. Almost all my ski days this season have been in the same spot, and it’s starting to get old. Oh well, skiing is still a whole lot of fun, so we’ll make the best of it. Plus the light was amazing, and it was my first day on my new AT boots- the Tecnica Cochise. Review coming soon…

Justin:
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Adrienne:
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Zach:
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Caption contest. Please leave comments:
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Support 14erskiers and the good guys at Dogfunk: Holiday Gifts Between $25 and $49 at Dogfunk.com

When There’s No Snow, There’s Ice: Silverton Ice Climbing 12.2.11

The silver lining during a mediocre early season? The ice is usually as good as it gets during a dry year. Climbing ice is something I really enjoy, but I tend to blow it off for pow turns. The way things are going this season, however, ice might just have to become my activity of choice.

I gave Ethan Passant a call and we decided a trip down to Silverton was in order, which boasts a number of long, beautiful, natural routes. The ice park in Ouray is fun, but I’ll take long moderates like these any day of the week. The ice was in, the avalanche danger from above was minimal due to the lack of snow (not the case anymore), and the temps were perfect. Stairway to Heaven (WI4, 280m) was day one’s objective:
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A quick hike got us to the base of the route and Ethan began leading up the first pitch.
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This was my first time using modern leashless tools (Ethan has an extra set), and like fat skis or full suspension, they change the game and make things a lot easier. We had the route to ourselves, although there were several other groups in the valley.
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Climbing is such a mental game compared to my normal activities like biking and skiing. Especially on the dead vertical 3rd pitch, there were times when doubt crept in and I thought “I can’t do this, this is way above my head”. But then I tried anyway and I made it- that sense of overcoming adversity is sky-high when it comes to climbing. It takes challenging oneself to a level that skiing and biking just can’t match, at least for me. Which isn’t to say that I prefer climbing by any stretch, only that the mental experience is a lot different.

We had to skip the last pitch- after driving from Crested Butte that morning, we simply didn’t have the time to complete the route. We still ended up rapping in the dark:
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On day 2, we went to the same area to climb 1st gully (WI3/4, 260m). This climb was quite a bit easier than Stairway, especially for me, having exercised some fear demons the day before. Following on rock usually isn’t very fear-inducing, but on ice even following gets my heart rate up. Nobody wants to fall with sharp points attached to their feet and hands- mom always said not to run with scissors, so falling with ice axes seems like an even worse idea. More photos of Ethan and the route (much of it hidden):
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Crystal Peak 11.30.11

From Mouse House Ridge, Zach and I spotted an aesthetic line on 12,632′ Crystal Peak, just a little to our West. We made plans to check out the area on the following day, and it turned out to be a great tour, my favorite thus far in ’11-’12. From the summit, we had some of the most impressive views of any Elk range peak I’ve been on, and I’ve been on a few.

Heading towards the saddle between Treasury and Crystal:
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Climbing Crystal from the saddle was a lot of fun despite some wind and even had a nice short scrambling section:
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Mouse House Ridge 11.29.11

When the pickings are slim, the slim start picking new lines. Or something like that. Typical thin early season conditions, combined with a lot of wind, have made for some rough conditions, both for skiing and avalanche stability, all over Colorado. The few sheltered areas that are easily accessible and have enough snow to ski are getting skied with regularity, further limiting the options. So, rather than follow the herd, Zach, Adrienne, Scott and I ended up picking a zone that looked safe and different from the norm. It ended up being a great tour, despite the variable conditions.

Treasury:
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The gang with Capitol and Snowmass in the background:
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The Mouse House, as it is sometimes called:
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Zach got a great shot of me dropping in:
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Scott:
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Adrienne:
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Zach, getting his low angle pow style dialed:
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Adrienne practicing powder 8 technique:
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Scott:
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Adrienne down in the protected powder in the trees:
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Zach:
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We had a surprisingly good time on the long long run from Mouse House ridge to the valley floor. There is a little snow in the forecast, so we can only hope for improvement in the snowpack. Zach and I had a great run today in the same area, and meanwhile I’ll be switching gears and climbing a little ice down in Silverton. More on that later. Support 14erskiers: Save Up to 60% at the Eastern Mountain Sports Outlet Store

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