Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy New Year...early!

I trust everyone's Christmas was enjoyable with time for family, Santa Claus, gifts, and time spent with your loved ones.  Karen and I spent the holidays in Colorado - we enjoyed Happy Hour at the Southern Sun Wednesday afternoon to "convince" fellow hop-heads that Karen does in fact exist, completed last minute Christmas shopping on the 24th, wandered around LoDo for a traditional Christmas complete with carolers, a horse drawn carriage and HOT coffee at The Market and then to Breckenridge for snowshoeing, hot tubbing and relaxation.  All in all a nice time!

So 2010 in 4 days.  Am I the only one who can't believe its been 10 years since Y2K?  Seems like yesterday but I know it's not.  So where were you in 2000?  Did you party like its 1999?  Me - I spent the 2000 celebrations at friends home for a little champagne, decorating champagne flutes, watching the ball drop in London, Sydney, Moscow and New York.  The lights didn't go out, the computers kept on crunching numbers, planes kept flying and all was good in the world.

So 2010 in 4 days.  I will be in Albuquerque, NM visiting Karen and the boy for the holiday.  We're not sure how many days or which day we'll have the boy but it will be a bit of Christmas and New Year's all in one.  A mini-bottle of champagne, good wine, good brew, good friends - what more does one need for a New Year's Eve?  As my dad used to say New Year's Eve is "the night for amateurs" - not sure which night is for "professionals!"  I'm staying off the roads that night!

So 2010 in 4 days.  Do you have a list for New Year's resolutions?  Me - don't believe in them.  Plan to keep on running (2 half marathons scheduled), keep on working out at Fitness 19, keep on climbing 14ers (10 new ones planned - 49 out of 53 completed by next years end), keep on teaching for ESRI, and keep on sharing my life with Karen.

So 2010 in 4 days.  Enjoy!  Have fun!  Celebrate!  Live!  And Climb on!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dear Santa...

It's been a long time since I mailed you a letter to the North Pole - been busy growing up to be an adult. traveling for work this past week, playing in the mountains as much as possible and missing Karen as always.  I'm sure you're busy with letters from the world's children and making sure those elves are working hard in the workshop for the big event in 6 days.  But I'd like to throw another letter on the pile with my "toy" request.

So without further adieu, here's what I'd like:
  1.  World Peace - is that possible?  It's the 21st century and we're killing each other over religion, oil, natural resources, territory...and...and...enough!  YOU!  Go to your corner until you can play nice.
  2. An undivided country.  We're still playing red states versus blue states in politics.  It's enough to drive one crazy hearing media entertainers such as Limbaugh, Glenn Beck on the "right" side and the "drive-by" media on the other spout their respective jabberings.  We're all Americans, aren't we?  Aren't we...
  3. An end to homelessness.  While you're reading this blog update, someone's sleeping on a steam grate attempting to stay warm.  Why is that?
  4. An end to hunger.  We're the richest nation in the world, yet people starve every day.
  5. A real plan for climate change in Copenhagen.  Whether one believes in global warming or not, isn't it enough to reduce one's impact for future generations rather than being hell bent on the here and now and damn the rest.
  6. An end to reality TV and a beginning of reality living.
  7. A new year, a new beginning - commit to make a difference in someone's life whatever it may be.
  8. That my "Imperial Stout" to be bottled on 12/20/09 turns out to be the best homebrew to date!!!
  9. More snow in the Colorado high country - it's been a while since we've had a "major storm event."  Bring it on!
  10. A Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Kwanzaa, Hannukah, Winter Solstice, or whatever one's call this time of the year - make it a great one!
That's it too much?  If so, then pick the best one of the list, I know it will make a difference to someone, somewhere.  Climb on Santa!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Snowy Birthday!

December 12, 2009 - I'm officially 43 years of age - simply amazing!  What's amazing about that you may ask?  Well to me age is just a number but honestly I can't identify with the fact that I'M that number.  So what did this new 43 year old do for his birthday?  Uncle Bud's Hut near Leadville, CO!

The 10th Mountain Division Hut System is a network of "huts" that folks may snowshoe/cross country ski to in the winter time or hike/mountain bike to in the summer months.  See the 10th Mountain Division hut page for details about the history, maps, memberships, and reservations for details!

Every year around this time, my friend Scott Olmer, reserves a hut for the annual Christmas hut trip.  Attendees are "required" to bring a dish for Christmas dinner - think a fully cooked turkey, fresh cranberries, potatoes, stuffing, etc brought up by folks with backpacks as well as a "white elephant" gift for the gift exchange.  This year Scott reserved "Uncle Bud's" hut - about a 6 mile trip one way from nearby Leadville, CO.  The weather was forecasted to be in the low 20's with blowing snow - as it turned out.  Our group made the hut anywhere from 3-5 hours based on fitness level, pack weight, etc. and enjoyed excellent hor d'oevres, wine, Christmas dinner and concluded the evening with the boys excusing themselves to the outside porch (temps in the 'teens) for cigars and Scott's homemade bourbon!

Sunday morning came promptly with a 7 AM "sunrise" of sorts and steadily falling snow at 11,380'.  The stoves warmed for coffee and modified breakfast burritos minus the burrito shell and eggs (the person responsible for these items failed to show!)  Afterwards, I had to leave to return to Denver to catch a 6:38 PM United flight to Redlands, CA for work...which is where I am tonight updating the blog.  All in all, a nice birthday!

Next up...Mt. Silverheels possibly this weekend as well as finishing up Christmas shopping!  Climb On my friends!

Monday, November 30, 2009 I'm ready for Christmas!

Halloween is over...Thanksgiving is over...bring on Christmas!  I don't know if it's just me or not but when I was a kid, these 3 holidays had their own month, their own time to ramp up for the celebrations, their own couple of weeks to enjoy each holiday.  These days it seems Christmas in July is a quote used by car dealerships IN JULY --- I swear I've seen Christmas stuff in the stores in late September or early October!  I've always felt that the holidays have been bastardized by unabated commercialism in order for folks to buy more stuff but that's a whole different posting...hmmm, am I being too cynical???

Tomorrow is December 1st, the Christmas lights are starting to twinkle on homes around the neighborhood, we trimmed Karen's tree yesterday in ABQ, and I'm hearing "Dance of the Suger Plum Fairies" on TV for some car advertisement.  I give...I'm ready...bring on Christmas!

Honestly, I love Christmas time - always have since I was kid.  I love seeing the Christmas trees, mall Santa's working on the lists for the real Santa at the North Pole, watching the clay-mation "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", hoping/wishing for a white Christmas (always a chance here in Denver!), and waiting for the first time I hear Adam Sandler's "Hannukkah Song" on KBCO.  What I really like is watching my nieces, Kit-Kat and Nee-Nee and Karen's son, Ethan, opening the presents - the excitement that builds up to that magical time.  Christmas Day at 6:30 AM is the absolute latest one can hope to sleep if kids are in the house!  As long as there's hot coffee - it's all good...

Off to Charlotte, NC Friday to visit Jim and the family for a pre-Christmas trip.  Airfares are excessive during the Christmas week ($600+ per person) and I'm spending it in Colorado with Karen.  Climb On my friends!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Up a Flattop...

Happy Thanksgiving early!  I'm currently in Albuquerque, NM visiting Karen and her son, Ethan, for the Thanksgiving holidays.  We're only in ABQ for a short period of time before driving to Tucson, AZ to visit friends and family.  I'm looking forward to a few days in the desert Southwest and the opportunity to wear shorts in warm weather!  For only a few days ago...

The winds were forecasted to be 20-30 MPH steady with gusts to 35-40.  Air temperatures hovered below freezing most of the day with a summit temperature of 17 degrees.  Windchills easily around zero.  Hmmm, sounds like a great day to go hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP)!

I signed up on a Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) hike to Flattop Mountain (12,324') located in eastern RMNP.  The rating system that CMC uses classified it as an easy C hike - 11 miles round trip and 2750' elevation gain/loss.  Fairly "easy" after this past summer's 14er trips.  Good friends, Anne and Kevin Martin, joined the motley crue of hikers - no one knew each other well - it's the nature of signing up for CMC hikes.  Our ascent up the snow covered trail was sssslllllooooowwww and the group is only as fast as the slowest hiker - and we had one.  Regardless, the scenery was quite beautiful with lenticular clouds around (i.e. flying saucer clouds), windblown snow and blue Colorado skies.  Longs Peak to the east was outstanding in grandeur but looked formidable with colder temps 2000' higher and high winds.  Not a good day for a summit attempt there.  We had a quick lunch near summit and abandoned our thoughts of nearby Hallet Peak - 1/2 the group was cold and ready to get back into the trees.  I'll be back for another attempt on Hallet though...

Once back at the parking lot, our group bid farewell to the other group and made our drive down the hill to Oskar Blues in Lyons for hot food and cold, hoppy brew!  Yum - tasty Gordon's IPA!

As this is the holiday week - I wish all of you a happy and safe Thanksgiving wherever your travels take you.  Climb On!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The List...

Well, the Oct-izzard of 2009 (radio DJ's came up with that one, not me!) is history.  Typical of our schizophrenic weather patterns here in CO, the 2' of snow on the ground is gone and temperatures were in the 70's today.  Strange...but that's why I love living here!

Lists.  Everyone has them from David Letterman's Top 10 list to the top movies of the weekend - we're surrounded by them.  My list is a little different than most - mine has to do with summitting all 14,000' peaks in Colorado before I'm 50.  At the moment, I'm at 39 peaks and counting.  Depending on whose list you use, there are either 53, 54 or 58 14,000' peaks in CO.  For the sake of argument, I'll get the ones listed on my profile on that lists 58.  My list for 2009 should have been at 42 but weather conspired against me on a few trips this year - mostly thunderstorms and snow (in summer).  So without further adeui, here is my top 10 list for 2010:
  1. Crestone Peak
  2. Crestone Needle
  3. Castle
  4. Conundrum
  5. Kit Carson
  6. Mt. Sneffles
  7. Eolus (and N. Eolus)
  8. Windom
  9. Sunlight
  10. Wetterhorn Peak
Other extra bonus points include Maroon, Capitol, Snowmass, North Maroon Peak, Mt. Wilson, El Diente, Little Bear, and my last one - Handies Peak.    Some will be difficult, others less so.  The picture in this post is that of Pyramid Peak that I climbed this summer.  It was by far the most difficult 14er I've done to date and ranks in the top 5 of most difficult 14ers in the state.  While it challenged me mentally & physically, I thoroughly enjoyed this peak.   So there you have it, my list for 14ers to attempt in 2010 - we'll see how the summer climbing season is after this winter that has only started.  Climb On!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Spook-tacular Snowstorm!

Well as most across the nation have probably heard by now, the Rocky Mountain West has been "buried" by an early winter snowstorm.  I think the last time I've seen this much snow this early in the season was when I first moved to Colorado in 1997.  We had been here only 2 weeks when a similiar storm dropped two feet of snow in Lakewood - unfortunately I was not present for the storm then due to a family emergency.  The storm was well forecasted by the talking heads on TV and arrived Tuesday evening initially as a very cold rain but quickly transitioned over to snow during the evening hours.  I awoke Wednesday morning to about 1' of snow in Westminster and during the course of the day it continued to come down sideways.  The drive home last night was eerily quiet as most schools and businesses closed early - I didn't mind so much.

Thursday AM brought an additional 6-8" of snow and again the drive into work was pretty easy and quiet.  The temperatures during the past week were pretty mild so the road temperatures were not near freezing - made for a quick melt on the asphalt.  Started to wrap up my afternoon around 4:30 PM to join friends in Boulder for Happy Hour when I looked out from my office and saw this rabbit who had hunkered down for the storm and was only now taking a peek out to a wintry landscape.  Thought it was an interesting pic...

Off to ABQ tomorrow to visit Karen and Ethan - it's a birthday weekend!  Karen turns the big 4-0 so much bally-who will be involved as well as bouncy gyms, perhaps putt-putt golf, a trip to the zoo and Trick or Treating!  Should be a blast!  Until next time - ski on!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Family History...

Greetings on a gray, cold soon to be snowing Sunday AM.  This week has been a struggle as I've been fighting a mean case of laryngitis for about 5-6 days now.  All of which makes it more difficult when your job is teaching and it requires the use of one's voice to project thoughts, ideas, understandings.  My Oklahoma City, OK students last week thought my raspy voice was reminiscent of Clint Eastwood so I did a liners from "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" and a varierty of Dirty Harry movies.  They thought it was great...

But I digress, for this rambling post I'd thought I chat a moment or two about family history.  I've been involved off-on with researching my maternal and paternal family history using Family Tree Maker 2005.  A few weeks ago while researching the Trumbull side of the family, I found a connection who was researching a branch of the Trumbull's that shared the same family members.  I emailed this person unsure if I would receive a response from a 5 year old posting.  Imagine my surprise when a Susan Trumbull responded and said that we were in fact related.  She is married to the son of my great-great-great-great-great grandfather's brother - otherwise my 3rd cousin once removed. In the 2 weeks of "meeting" each other over emails, we exchanged branches of our family trees and it's been a lion share of history for both.  I've filled in one branch of the Trumbull tree that was entirely missing and have provided Susan with the same for my branch.  She is active in researching the Trumbull family history as well and through our emails, we should be able to fill in more missing leaves and branches.  It's truly fascinating to see where one comes from - for example, one of my distant grandfathers defected from the British military during the Revolutionary War and took up arms for the Colonial's pursuit of independence.  If he had been caught during his escape and executed, then I would not be here today...FASCINATING!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque...

Yep, Bugs Bunny had an influence on any kid growing up in the 1970's.  For some reason, the Albuquerque of Bugs Bunny lore looks nothing like the Albuquerque of reality...hmmm... 

Well, fortunately work has taken me once again to ABQ to teach a 2-day "Creating and Editing Parcels using ArcGIS Desktop" class.  I have a total of 5 eager students who are very engaged with the software, workflow, and how it can assist them in their respective organizations.

And I get to visit Karen for a few days as well.  In a reversal of roles, I plan to pick her up at the ABQ airport this evening after she and Ethan's trip to NC to visit family and friends.  I flew into ABQ yesterday (delayed flight AGAIN with United...) and had a great dinner/brews at Chama River Brewing Company.  The IPA and Pumpkin Spice Ales were great as was the Buffalo meatloaf.  Drove over to Karen's house to settle in for the night - weird being there by myself but that will change in a few hours.  Plan to stay the weekend for "family" time and then back to Denver and another busy week - in Oklahoma City for 2 days, teaching an informal class for ITT-VIS and studying fast/furious for my upcoming SDE class the following week after next.  Cheers!

Friday, October 9, 2009


Okay - I give!  Summer is over...but my calendar says fall!  And it's snowing in Rocktober!  Seems a little early but technically it can snow in September so I'll consider myself lucky.  Fall and spring are incredibly short seasons in Colorado - winter starts about now and typically lasts until April.  Spring is quick - everything greens up quickly before the heat of summer turns on and the Front Range turns brown again.  Fall is a blast of color both in the mountains and in Denver.  And then old man winter throws the switch and it's winter again.  Not that I'm complaining, I guess I'm not quite ready for it yet.  I want to get in a few more mountains and I will over the next few months - they'll just be snowier.  Climb On!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Riding in Durango!

Fall has officially arrived according to the calendar but so far we've had a mix of wintry conditions last week in Denver followed by an "Indian Summer" in Durango.  Karen and I met in Durango for the 3rd year to ride the Durango Fall Blaze.  The previous 2 years were moderately lousy conditions - cold, rain, wind in the AM followed by sunny conditions after the ride.  Not this year...except for cold AM's the weather was warm, sunny, no clouds and perfect!

We both drove up to Durango Friday late afternoon and had a great dinner at Carver's Brew Pub & Restaurant - highly recommend this place!  Saturday AM came WWWWAAAAYYYY too early - checked the temps...39 degrees!  Brrr...wearing spandex arms/legs we cycled over to Fort Lewis College for coffee/danish and a cannon start at 8 AM.  This seems to be an "older" ride as the average age of the riders is 50's or so, but overall an active crowd.  The 37 mile ride was the right distance as neither of us had trained especially hard.  We finished around 11:30 AM and grabbed our provided lunch of huge potatoes with the fixin's, free Steamwork brew, and enjoyed the music/sun.  Saturday afternoon was Oktoberfest in downtown and a great dinner at Steamworks.

Sunday AM I had to leave early to catch a 7:30 PM flight for a work assignment in Fort Worth, TX but we did manage to sneak in the best breakfast in town at Carver's (again!) - awesome pancakes.  Teaching this climb October 10-11 on Mt. Meeker!  Climb On!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Mouse that Gorged...

With apologies to a certain 1959 movie - my climbing partner, Alan Arnette, and I tackled Blanca Peak (14, 435') and Ellingwood Point (14,042') in the Sangre de Cristo's this past weekend.  These 2 mountains are rated a Difficult Class 2 and I would term them more of a walk up with a lot of talus/scree navigation and perhaps one or two fun rock moves at the top.

The plan was for me to meet Alan Friday evening at Crater Lake at the end of Lake Como Road.  I use the term "road" loosely as the first 4.5 miles are certainly passable for most stock 4x4 vehicles but afterward one requires a "rock crawler" or ATV/dirt bike to get to the end of the road via mechanized means.  My trusty ole Honda CRV made it 1.75 miles to the car/light truck parking lot requiring a hike in of 4-5 miles and 3700' of hiking to camp.  I arrived into camp after an intense hail/rain/thunderstorm had hit Crater Lake and promptly set up my tent, devoured my dinner of noodles/tuna and turned in for a somewhat restful night.  Our plan was to be on trail by 8 AM Saturday for the dual 14er day...

I awoke at 7 AM to get my gear in order and have some oatmeal/coffee beforehand only to discover that the rattling noise I heard overnight was a field mouse or chipmunk eating 1/2 of my food supplies - gone were my trail mix, almonds, 14-16 organic chocolate cookies, 1 oatmeal bag, 3 Lara bars and mouse "deposits" in my bag pack AND coffee cup!  The food - okay, I can deal with that - but to sh*t in one's coffee cup - that's low...  We quickly got ready for the day and headed up the trail at 8:15 AM.  The morning was brisk and conditions slick with frost on the rocks and hail/groppel on the trail from the events 1 day earlier.  We made the summit of Ellingwood Point in 3 hours following the trail blazed by folks earlier and then started our traverse to Blanca Peak.  Blanca is the 4th highest peak in Colorado and the highest southern peak in the continental U.S. - one has to go to the Mexican volcanoes for higher summits.  Overall the traverse was easy although we were lower than we wanted to be and the ridge line not as imposing as we thought from our vantage point on Ellingwood.  There were one or two rock moves towards the top that made me think a bit due to the snow but overall it was great!  We spent 30 minutes on summit enjoying the views of Lindsey, Little Bear, Iron Nipple, and Ellingwood - beautiful!  See Alan's trip report: for details and a movie!

We worked our way back down the mountain, spent one more night at the Crater Lake camp, hiked down to Alan's Jeep Sunday AM and drove home.  Overall, this was a great trip and makes #39 out of 54 14,000' peaks in Colorado climbed.  I would like to get one more before the season closes but it's all dependent upon time and weather...would you believe it snowed in Denver today...Climb On!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Labor (Day) of Hiking

Ah a long weekend compliments of the Labor Day holiday.  Karen was visiting from Albuquerque, NM for 4.5 days and we took advantage of the many happenings going on in Denver - dinner with friends, a tattoo convention, a hike to Chapin-Chiquita-Ypsilon with great friends Patrick and Shannon Vall.

The plan was to meet in Estes Park at 7 AM Sunday and head up to Fall River Road - the original dirt road in RMNP to the top of the continental divide.  I had never been on this road before and it was quite beautiful early in the AM - not so much later in the day when the hordes of traffic slowly worked it's way up higher.  Regardless, we were on trail by 8:30 AM for a nice day of Class 1 hiking to 3 summits.  As it turned out, Patrick was fighting a bit of the bug and stop at the top of Chapin.  After some food/water, Karen and I continued to Chiquita (banana) and summited our second peak for the day.  We met a RMNP ranger/Search & Rescue ranger on top who politely asked us how far we were planning to go.  We said due to questionable weather in the area this was it - he concurred and wish us well.  We had a nice lunch on summit (photo) and then worked our way back down the mountain in periodic rain and 1 thunder-boom.  Patrick and Shannon were resting at the car...from there back to Estes Park through the elk jams.

Afterwards, Karen and I grabbed pizza and brew at Oskar Blues and enjoyed hanging on the porch until time to travel home.  All in all a great weekend!  Next weekend - Challenger/Kit Carson!!!  Climb On!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

BMS Graduate...

My return to Denver after 1 week in Albuquerque, NM was uneventful and on time considering I flew United Airlines.  After a sound 4 hours of sleep, I awoke at 3:30 AM Saturday all geared and ready to climb Mt. Bancroft in the Indian Peaks.  This climb was a make-up day for my Basic Mountaineering School class from the spring and was the last requirement needed to graduate the class.

Basic Mountaineering School is a class offered by the Colorado Mountain Club in Golden, CO.  It is designed to hone the skills of a budding mountaineer in the areas of route finding, crampons, ice axe, rock climbing, and confidence building.  This class did all of that and more.  While I feel good at altitude on routes that require minor rock climbing and scrambling, true rock climbing with rocks, biners, rappelling, and knowledge of rock climbing knots were an area that I had little knowledge of...this class addressed that.

Mt. Bancroft stands at 13,250' and is a class 3/class 4 climb (read scrambling/low rock climbing) with the additional cruxes of an 80' rappel, low 5.2 rock climbing and serious exposure on the ridgeline (read "a fall here is fatal).  We left the trailhead at 6:30 AM and after 4 hours of scrambling, climbing, rappeling, and trekking stood on the summit.  I have to admit this mountain pushed me as some of the "unprotected" areas were sketchy but with the instructors giving their assurance I was able to get past these areas and continue to build solid mountaineering skills that I'm sure will come in handy in the future.

Climb On!

Friday, August 28, 2009


Hello's the long lost blogger who fails to blog.  I figure if I do short blog bursts rather than long diatribes, I will blog more.

I'm currently in the New Mexico - the "Land of Enchantment" - teaching a 5-day GIS class to introductory level students.  The class goes great with a lot of "ah-hah" moments being witnessed as well as "1000-yard stares" starting to develop after 5 days of GIS lectures/exercises.  It's to be expected...

The PLUS side of my business trip is that I've been able to spend a total of 7-days visiting Karen and Ethan.  Feels more normal to be around one's companion rather than long distance phone calls several times a week.  We've enjoyed our "family" time with Bakugan brawls, Transformer cartoons, marathon Uno games, hikes to Jemez Warm Springs, and pizza!  Karen and I have enjoyed some together time as well with our dinner dates while Ethan is with his father.

I leave for Colorocky in about 5 hours - it will be nice to be home too to see Tsali the "wondercat" who's probably abandoned me after being gone for 1 week.  Then in a short 14 hours from now, I'm awake, geared up and heading to my "make-up" route finding day for Basic Mountaineering School.  Saturday will be a day of hiking, rock climbing and rappeling...more to follow...

Climb On!