LooseCrew-JeffO: December 2006


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Friday, December 29, 2006


The view from Kaladi Coffee looking west.

Denver has been hit by storm #2:part 1. Storm #2:part 2 is due this evening.
So the snow is piling deeper and deeper. This was a shock when it caused people to not get to work and the coffee shops, liquor stores, and DVD stores were closed. But today everything is open.
Since my gym is always closed during the slightest hardship, I've been getting my work-outs by shovelling snow in the 'hood. My sides are sore, but I keep shovelling. My fat cells have expanded and I've gained 4 pounds. I need to be running.
I got a good work-out the evening before the 2nd storm. I was able to go longer and harder on the eliptical. I even did some extra after the usual routines.
I-70 was nearly closed yesterday. I had wanted to climb Mt. Bierstadt, but the highway was a giant, long parking lot. I guess they had people spending the night in their cars.
Today, my other brother, Joe, is coming over to play computer games. He's been shovelling too, so we each will get a break.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More snow

We had 14-30 inches, in the last storm, depending on where you measured. We got another inch Christmas Eve. Now another storm is coming that will move slower but stay longer and is supposed to dump 14 inches more.
I love snow, but this city doesn't have enough crews out clearing the roads. There are shut-ins and crippled people who can't get out. Many of the volunteers who look after these people are retired old people who can't get around very well themselves.

I spent hours each day shovelling. It's hard work, but with my broken foot, it's the only work-out I'm getting. My gym tends to close at the drop of a hat (really irritates me - Bally or 24HourFitness, here I come).

I wish more people would pitch in and help shovel the streets and sidewalks. Especially if you know someone who can't get around very well.
Starting a 6-day vacation. I hope to get some alpine climbing in, some computer gaming with my brothers, some reading, and some very righteous partying.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Events on Mt. Hood

I've had friends ask me what I thought about the events on Mt. Hood recently. Many criticize me for climbing in winter, especially for climbing in blizzards with raging winds. So here's how I see things...

Those guys on Hood were apparently very sharp and tough, with experience to match. Even as horrible as things were, it seems they were definitely ready and able to deal with things.

What seems to have gone wrong is that they weren't equiped for a long-haul and one of them got severely hurt.

I don't know how Kelly James got hurt, but it led to the death of them all.

In winter, one of the most important things - and one of the most difficult things - is staying hydrated. When the temperatures are below freezing, there's no water in liquid form. You either have to melt snow or ice with body heat, or with a stove. If the temps are 30F, you might be able to stay hydrated from eating snow, but certainly not well-hydrated. At even colder temps, with an injury, and not moving enough to create body heat and keep circulation going, you have to have external heat.

So, fuel is water. You run out of fuel, you run out of water. You run out of water, the blood gets thick and you succumb to hypothermia.

I never saw a report specific to Kelly James' injuries, but they must've been significant. That's the mystery. It doesn't seem likely he got injured in a fall because they were near the summit. I can't think of many injuries that would keep three climbers at a summit. Even a broken femur ought to allow a painful decent. Going down is so much easier, especially with two people to help. It would seem they only had to go one mile downhill, so why did they stay?

Danelle Ballengee recently fell dozens of feet and broke her hip and was able to crawl a quarter mile up-hill.
When you're cocooned in winter gear, it's easier because thick layers of clothing protect you from scrapes. Whatever stuck them near the summit must've been a serious puncture with bleeding - only guess I can come up with.
I have a scar on my forehead. It was put there by my ice hammer. The pick came out and the hammer bounced off my thick slovak skull. My skull was fine, but my skin was cut and I nearly drowned in my own blood. It gushed and wouldn't stop.
I keep thinking: what if it had been the other tool - the one with the adze? That would've cut the skin much worse, and it would've taken a chip out of my skull.
Ice-climbing equipment can hurt you as well as save you. I wonder if, in those extremely high winds, if someone fell on an ice ax, or some similar freak and tragic event?

I've heard people criticize them for being up there. I don't think that's fair.
Climbers almost never die. People get hurt, and sometimes die, skate-boarding, hunting, skiiing, etc., but not many critisize them. Why criticize climbers?
Someone said it isn't fair that "tax-payer money" was spent on them, but that's not fair.
First, a certain amount of Search&Rescue personnel are being paid anyway, whether they're sitting around waiting, or actively searching.
Second, most of the money for SAR comes from fees paid by the people who are potentially serached for: hikers, climbers, hunters, etc.
Third, many of the people involved in SAR are unpaid volunteers.
Fourth, even National Guard helicopters and personnel are going to expend resources on training events - even when there's no one needing rescue.
Fifth, the people doing the SAR were climbers. Climbers working for climbers.
Last year, I was on a team near the summit of Holy Cross looking for Michelle Vanek. Climbers stick together and help when we can.

These three climbers were NOT stupid. That doesn't mean they didn't make mistakes. From the reports given, none of us can figure out what the mistakes were. We don't have the whole story.

Some say they're selfish to climb. But that's not fair. Everyone decides to do things that are self-serving and can have dire consequences. People drive too fast, they run stop lights, they have long, animated phone conversations while driving, put on make-up and eat while driving. The carnage is horrific.
People eat like pigs and become obese and diabetic slowly over the years - while teaching their kids through example - and end up dieing 40 years sooner. That's chronic narcisism spread out over decades! It sets a bad example and it drives up insurance costs for all of us.
Smokers! @%$!#*&

To sum up, these guys were neither heroes nor assholes. They were just a bunch of great guys who got into a situation they couldn't get out of. It was a tragedy. Because they made all the decisions, they bear responsibility. I think all climbers feel that way. I would've gladly helped out if I could.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

So THAT'S where winter went!

OK, a few days ago I was asking where winter was.

Here's rush-hour traffic this morning. Even after the massive T-Rex project widened the highway, and put in a lightrail train, the stretch on the left is usually a giant parking lot this time of the morning.
To take this picture, I just stopped my CR-V in the middle of the bridge. I didn't have to worry about my car getting in anyone's way.

Here's Washington Park. There was actually more than two feet of snow, but the wind helped pack it down. The stuff on top is very fluffy, but the bottom half is very dense.
Anyone wanna go fer a run?
A few blocks from where this photo was taken, a small army of guys, and two 4x4 Suburbans, were extricating an ambulance from a neighborhood side-street.

I didn't have any problem getting to work. The reason was that everyone stayed home. All the restaurants are closed. I brewed my own coffee this morning because I knew none of the Einstiens Bagel shops would be open. You know things are serious when a guy can't buy a cup o' joe in yuppie-ville!

Of course, I love this stuff, so I'm not complaining. My CR-V is always stocked for adventure. Hell, I had to remember to take my boots and snowpants INSIDE before bed so that I'd have them in the a.m.
CR-V's are not serious 4x4's. If my CR-V can handle this stuff, it's not too bad.

However, my brother lives in Lafayette and works in Boulder. The fine folks in the People's Republic of Boulder don't seem to be very savvy. Many of them apparently don't know you're supposed to stock up before a storm (like filling your gas tank). So many of them got stuck in traffic jams that ended up FUBAR because many of them ran out of gas. So even those who had sufficient vehicles with a full tank of gas were boxed-in! My brother's Jeep is serious, though. He was 4-wheeling over medians and driving across grass. He ended up having to just go where he could. It took him hours to get home.
Which is considerably better than the ones who were stuck for 12 hours!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

No limp

No, I'm not talking about Viagra - I'm talking about my foot! I'm officially not limping. It doesn't hurt to walk on flat ground. Maneuvering still reminds me something isn't perfect, but I'm almost there. I just need to take it easy for another 10 days or so before starting a short, easy jog. And I can start cranking the elliptical at Matrix.
I've been religiously drinking cocoa every night with Knox NutraJoint with glucosamine, copper, vitamin C, D, E, & K, Calcium (phosphorous), Zinc, and Manganese.

Plus I take calcium pills (from oyster), fish oil & flax oil.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Lazy Sunday

Yesterday I volunteered at the Rudolph's Revenge 5k/10k. I helped with registration and then at the finish line.
Unfortunately, when most of my friends were crossing the finish line, I was on the ground with a 15-yr-old who was having a life-threatening asthma attack. I swear she lost consciousness three times and was only revived by our constant yelling and squeezing her face.
She should have had her prescription handy.

After the race, my peeps and I ate brunch at Mona's.

I worked out at Matrix again. It was dead in there! Everyone is out shopping or enjoying the nice weather. Only cripples and boring people would work-out indoors on a day like this!

My love-handles are filling up again. I had them shrunk.
If my weight increases, though, I'll blame it on the beard!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Where's Winter?

It's been a really warm week. People are running in tank tops and shorts. No one is wearing a coat. Wish I could be running.
The foot still hurts, but not much. The Podiatrist wants me to stay off it, and I have, but I feel like walking on it normal. Instead, I still limp some, just to keep the stress off.

I rode my bike Tuesday, then worked-out at Matrix Wed & Thur, and probably will tonight. After being sedentary for several weeks, one half-work-out made me sore. But now I'm back into it. Muscles have memory. I toned fast. Even after two consecutive days of full work-outs, I'm not sore.
I spent 20 minutes on the elliptical. If I stay back on my heals, it keeps the stress off.

Went to a great party last night. There were LOTS of BEAUTIFUL women there!!
Met a couple of hot lawyers. One totally turned me off with negative rant about how rude runners are, and then she crossed her arms. Her friend was much nicer. She wore a red knit blouse turtleneck with a big round picture window on her cleavage. And the whole time we talked, she kept looking at my boobs. I guess her attitude was, "Here's mine, now hold still while I look at yours." It was funny. I've always done tons of pushups, so I guess I've ended up with MarineCorp pecks. So now I know what it's like when big-chested women are talking to guys with droopy-eyes. "Hey, I'm up here!"
It was a great time, lots of very good wine, especially the Beaujolais Village, and lots of great munchies.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stress Fracture

Man, I look inebriated in this photo, but I asure you I was just chilled-out!
Here I am with Aggie, my friend Scott's dog, at Scott's Keystone condo.

Found out my foot is a classic stress fracture. So it'll heal without any fancy therapy. It's healing so well that nothing showed on the x-rays - not even any lumps or bumps around the break.

No wonder those last 2.5 miles hurt so bad at Rim Rock.
The podiatrist is an old sports doctor. He says it'll be good-to-go by August for Leadville, but I hope it doesn't shorten the amount of training I can do before then. I've got some serious mileage scheduled.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Matrix Party

My gym had its annual anniversary party last night. I met my friend Jeannie, who just renewed her membership.

Pictured is "Scruffy", Marisca, Jeannie, Jason, and Marika.
Good party, bad wine (but that didn't stop us from drinking LOTS of it), and good food including sushi and pizza. I know - odd combination. I think people complained that last year we had sushi and it was fantastic - so somebody sprang for one big tray of it later in the party.
At least no guys made passes at me. Last year, three guys wanted to take me home and make me "special"! It wouldn't aggravate me if I had at least an equal number of women doing the same (gasp).

The foot is healing okay. I can almost walk perfectly normal. Jeannie and I plan to meet Tuesday like we used to. My power-walk is about as fast as her jog, so hopefully I'll do okay.
Had my foot x-ray'd yesterday. No word yet. I don't think there's anything a doctor can do for my foot. It's just that I need to know what happened so I'll know what therapy/diet I need. If it's a stress fracture, then it'll heal and that the end. If it's ligaments, tendons, sheathing, then I need to eat a special diet and special regimen to
carefully rebuild the strength with as little scar-tissue as possible. If it's cartilage - man, I'm FUBAR. Cartilage in a spot like that doesn't heal well enough to do 100-milers like I want. So I'm crossing my fingers for a bone fracture.

Monday, December 04, 2006


I went car-camping at Geneva Creek. I didn't get there until 8pm, but the nearly-full, waxing moon lit everything up like daylight.
As I drove to the end-of-the-line, I could see where some unlucky soul had gotten stuck and probably spent hours digging out. So I dug a spot off to the side to park in.
I don't know how cold the temps got, but it's always colder when car-camping. (Somehow, a tent in the snow is warmer.)
It was calm at night, but the wind was gusting the next morning.
I did lots of reading, watched a movie, read some more, and went to sleep.
In the morning, I hobbled about half a mile up the road until the view opened up, then headed back to do more reading and eat breakfast.
It's nice having a sunroof - I made coffee inside and all the carbon-monoxide could get out without the wind blowing my book pages.
Us latte-sucking yuppies have got to have our java!

Today (Monday), the foot is feeling much better. I can walk slowly with virtually no limp, but not far.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Seeing My Peeps!

I've been going stir-crazy lately. Yesterday, I went to Matrix gym for the first time in a couple of months. It was great to see some of my friends. They were wondering where I was.
Did an upper-body, but the pushups aggravated my foot. I tried the elliptical, but after four minutes my foot was starting to swell up again, so I stopped.
I saw Jeannie! She quit, but she was back trying a class and wondering if she'll renew (Matrix offerred her a deal).
I checked with the front desk and she can come to the members-only anniversary party next week.

Then I went to North Table Mtn to meet the Denver Trail Runners (party afterwards) but no one was there.
Drove to an office building and turned on my laptop. Now, what are the chances that an office has WiFi that's not locked-down? Around Denver, it's now rare (unlike a year ago). But my laptop connected instantly. I reviewed the email and saw my mistake: South Table, not North!
That's the 3rd time I've done that, and it's always when DTR meets at SOUTH Table Mtn! What is my jinx with that? I caught the last DTR person before they left and got the address, then plugged it into my PDA and pin-pointed the locations. (What a tech-weenie!)
Seeing My Peeps, Part II!
Haven't seen the DTR group in a month! Always been packing for trips or at airports or on the road. And next week I'll miss the next DTR run+party due to the Matrix party. We had a great, relaxing time at Mary's. I brought Beck's Dark - man was that popular!

I need to go to the gym more often, now that my foot is slightly better, and since I can't run (and since there's some hot, new women there).

About the fur on my face...
It wasn't a plan. I've gotten lazy in the past and let some fuzz grow, but people always complained that I look like a homeless guy.
But now that I have a tan and some gray on my chin women keep walking up to me saying, "the beard - it's workin' for me," or "I like the new look!" So I figure as long as I still have some tan, I'll let it ride.
These dark, short days of winter aren't condusive to nice tans, so I'll probably shave it off in January.