95 Years Young

George Jedenoff is 95 years old. His voice, a smooth mix of confidence and experience that could only come from life fully lived, has a way of putting you at ease. His eyes are gentle. His skin, weathered from many a day on the slopes, tells the story of what this man loves most – skiing.

George Jedeoff Alta Ski Area

George Jedenoff

I met George on Wednesday at Alta Ski Area’s Alf’s Restaurant. I’d heard about his story and was hoping to get a photo of him, and if I was lucky, make a few turns. He greeted me with a firm handshake, followed by one simple request:

“Would it be possible to make this quick and skip lunch? I want to get in as much skiing as possible before I have to catch my flight home.”

Coming from most people, this request might seem weird, maybe even presumptuous. But not George.

Born in 1917 in Russia, George and his family up and left their homeland for the U.S. via the Trans Siberian Railway at the height of the Russian Revolution. After living and working in the Midwest, George landed in Utah where he decided to take up skiing at the suggestion of Earl Miller, the inventor of releasable bindings. In 1960, at the age of 43, George skied at Alta for the first time, starting a lifelong love affair with the sport of skiing and Alta Ski Area. From taking lessons and learning the art of skiing from Alf Engen to becoming the only lifetime season pass holder in Alta Ski Area history, George has left a unique and memorable mark on Alta both past and present.

Riding up the Sugarloaf Chair with George, I got a glimpse at what makes Alta, and the sport of skiing, so special. From favorite runs and gear to historic events and developments, he spoke with a sincerity that I have yet to experience at any time or from any person in my life. I hopped off of the chair, not thinking I could be more inspired and impressed by this man. I was wrong.

Should I ski slow? Should I wait? Should I ski behind him? All of these questions were put to rest as George dropped into the run carving confident, text book, parallel turns. On piste and off piste, George’s technique and energy blew me away. With a smile on his face the whole run, George showed me that no matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been skiing, that loving what you are doing is what matters most.

I don’t know if I’m going to be skiing when I’m 95. Hell, I don’t even know if I’ll live to reach that ripe old age. But I do know one thing – I will never take a day of skiing for granted again. Rain, snow or shine, I will click into my skis with a smile on my face, thankful for the chance to be doing something I love.

As you can see, I ended up getting my photo of George. And while my photo gives you a glimpse at the man, the folks from Ski Utah were able put together this great edit that gives you a glimpse at the person. Enjoy.

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Spring Skiing

Give me blue skies, spring conditions on the slopes, and a pair of skis and I’ll be the happiest guy on the hill. This past weekend I got the chance to ski Snowbird with former Hot Dog stunt skier turned photographer/videographer, Bob Legasa. Was I nervous to be skiing with one of the stars of a cult classic? Hell yeah. The man threw down more classic tricks during that movie than I have in all of my years of skiing. Don’t get me wrong, I was still dropping spread eagles and daffys all over the place. After all, that’s what spring skiing is all about. And as you can see from the smile on my face, I was having a blast. From hot laps down Peruvian Basin and creamy turns on the Cirque to aprés beers on the tram deck and shots from the one-and-only Shotz Ski, we did spring skiing right.

Photo Credit: Bob Legasa

Photo Credit: Bob Legasa

Photo Credit: Bob Legasa

Photo Credit: Bob Legasa

Boots and flip flops - There is something seriously awesome and wrong with this photo.

Photo Credit: Bob Legasa

A big thank you to Bob, Scott Evans (Shotz Ski) and Eric Wilson for a killer afternoon. Where are you getting your spring turns in this year?

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Is Epic Necessary?

“The storm dropped more than a foot in a day and a half, and left a sparkling blue sky in its wake. It wasn’t epic by any means, but whether or not something is epic is not how we should define our skiing experiences. Perhaps one of the reasons we skiers have found ourselves in such a predicament lately is that somehow, somewhere everyone decided that the only skiing worth doing was the kind that left us gasping for air and/or scared to death. While it’s good to test our limits and seek out adventure, we shouldn’t be afraid to pull back on the reins, or god forbid, enjoy a day of variable snow. Plus, I’m tired of being scared. I’m tired of being scared for my friends. And after this winter, I’m especially tired of hearing people complain about having less than amazing snow. Just give me a skin track, a chairlift or two, free parking, and the perspective to see my ridiculous good fortune at being able to ski, period, and I’ll be happy. We shouldn’t have to ask for something to be epic in order for it to be worthy day in the mountains.” – Matt Hansen, Powder Magazine

Epic days were definitely not the drink of choice in Utah this winter. In fact, epic days were not even on the menu. I had great days. I had memorable days. And I sure as hell had plenty of fun days. But epic . . . not so much. And you know what? This doesn’t bother me one bit. Because in the end I was skiing. While some people were stuck in traffic, I was on top of a mountain. While some folks were working out in a gym, I was setting a skin track. And while some people were watching TV, I was making turns. Is epic necessary? No. But skiing definitely is.

I think every person who calls themselves a skier should read these words by Matt Hansen. The man truly hits the nail on the head. Once youv’e done that, turn your computer off and go skiing.

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Boston in Black & White

City sunsets are pretty sweet.

I just got back from a last minute trip to Boston. Seriously. I found out I was going Wednesday around 3 p.m. and was boarding my plane bound for Beantown Thursday morning at 8 a.m.

While spontaneous travel may be frowned upon in some circles (over planners, human resource departments, etc.), I find it to be one of the best ways to truly experience a destination. When you have no time to plan, or even pack for that matter, you have no choice but to go with the flow, taking whatever comes your way. And so went my first trip to Boston. I had my backpack, my cell phone, my girlfriend and a long weekend that just happend to be chocked full of signature Boston events. From catching a Red Sox game at Fenway Park and watching the Boston Marathon to hittin’ the beach at Cape Cod and almost getting in a fight with a  guido on the north end, I feel like I got a good taste of Boston.

Loved difference in the styles of buildings.

For those of you wondering, yes, Boston is worth a trip. Whether you’ve got a few days or a week weeks, the city offers plenty to keep you busy. Boston is overflowing with charm, character, history, pride and great beer. It’s a city that you’re stoked to get to, happy to be in, and sad to leave. But most importantly, it’s a city you’ll always remember.

Anyways, they say a picture is worth a thousand words so I’ll shut up and let you browse the slideshow below, taking a look back at my trip through the lens of my phone’s camera.

Lauran enjoying the beach on the Cape.

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Five things I’ll always remember about Boston:

  1. Fenway Park is life changing.
  2. Regina’s Pizza on the north end serves up the best pies this side of Italy.
  3. The Boston Marathon is inspiring. I almost want to run a marathon now . . . almost.
  4. The pride that the people of Boston have in both their city and sports teams is amazing.
  5. Bostonites can drink.

Has anyone else hit the streets of Boston lately? Sound off. I’d love to hear what you think.

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Slackcountry Saturday

I woke up Friday morning to an unexpected storm that proceeded to drop 12″ of the “Greatest Snow on Earth” on the Wasatch Mountains. This welcome, and much needed, taste of winter was then followed up by 50-60 degree temperatures. Yup, just another spring weekend in Utah. Question – What does one do with such a sweet little gift from Mother Nature? Answer – Take full advantage.

At 9 a.m. Wes, myself, Lauran and Ski Utah Powderhound, Matt Baydala, caught first chair at Canyons Resort with our sights set on 9990. From the top of 9990 we made a boot pack beeline for the infamous Square Top whose steep slopes offer what most consider the best skiing in the Park City area. Honestly, there’s no better feeling in the world than when you’re standing on the top of an untracked run, with your best friends, getting ready to drop in. It’s unbeatable. And believe me, the turns we made on Square Top did not dissappoint. Long, consistent vertical paired with deep snow is always a good combination.

After another ride up 9990 followed by a scenic boot pack to the top of Dutch’s Draw, we clicked into our skis and headed across the ridge for Main Mac. A quick side step brought us to the top of a completely untouched, untracked, and unblemished bowl. Naturally, it didn’t stay that way for long as one after the other we dropped in, arching long, deep turns down Mac’s shoulder.

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Now fully in “powderhound” mode, we slapped on the skins and headed for the zone known as “Powder Puff.” The gradual yet scenic route climbs along a ridge offering views of West Monitor to your left and Canyons Resort to your right. Once you reach the top you’re treated to a panoramic view of the Wasatch range. From the Jordanelle Reservoir to the Cottonwood Canyons and their four resorts (Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, Solitude), you can see it all. Dropping in on Powder Puff, we were rewarded with top-to-bottom turns full of face shots. Feel free to disagree, but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing better than being the first one to get to the goods.

Looking to finish strong, Wes and I hopped on 9990, took the boot pack to the top and dropped off the back side towards Desolation Lake. A quick skin brought us to the rim of the bowl that surrounds Desolation Lake. After ripping skins, we dropped in on a north facing, treed run that was so good we had to do another. Following another quick skin, we dropped in on an open face that funneled into a north facing aspect offering perfectly spaced trees and the deepest, softest snow of the day. Skinning up for the last time, we hiked out of Desolation basin and up to the shoulder of Square Top where we skied our final run, again untracked, back to Red Pine Road and from there back to the base of Canyons Resort.

Start time: 9 a.m.
End time: 3:30 p.m.
Total Runs (not including groomers): 6
Total Tracks Crossed During Runs: 0

Sitting on the deck of the Umbrella Bar with PBR’s in hand, turns were re-told, runs were relived and laughs were shared. It had ben an amazing day to say the least. We had just skied fresh powder from first chair to last skin  . . . on April 7. Some folks will never experience such a feat. But to those who live in Utah it’s just another slackcountry Saturday.

If you need visual proof of the tale I told above, check out the edit that Matt put together.

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Groomed to Perfection

Have you ever wondered what happens when the lifts stop spinning at ski resorts? Or how that corduroy looks so perfect every morning? Most things don’t happen overnight, but perfectly groomed runs do. Justin Olsen tells the story of how it goes down through this sweet time-lapse video. Enjoy.

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Have Mountains. Will Bike.

I thought I knew what mountain biking was.  In fact, if you asked me I would have told you that I’d been mountain biking.  But that was before I moved to Salt Lake City.  That was before my eyes were opened to REAL mountain biking!  Turns out riding your Huffy along the dirt back roads of small town Washington State and poppin’ wheelies off of tree roots doesn’t count as mountain biking . . . who would’ve thought?

For you unfortunate souls who have yet to visit Salt Lake City, let me fill you in on one simple fact:  mountain bikers flock to SLC like flies to . . . well, you get the idea.  Why?  Two words – Wasatch Mountains.   From tall, gnarly peaks and ridges to low-lying wooded foothills, the Wasatch’s terrain is as varied as the riders flocking to it.  Lung bursting ascents? It’s here.  Fun, swooping double track? Check.  Buttery single track? You betcha.  Breathtaking descents and scenery? Definitely!

 

I’m new to the mountain biking scene, recently purchasing my first mountain bike.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on the day, I’ve got a group of hardcore mountain biking friends looking to initiate me to Salt Lake City’s trail systems as quick as possible. Like any newbie, I’ve bonked, captain crashed and endo’d with the best of them.  I’ve been left in the dust and had to walk my bike.  But I’ve still ridden on some sweet trails in some amazing areas!  Here are a few of my favorites so far:

The Bobsled – Steep.  Fast.  Gnarly.  Challenging.  Epic.  Not to mention one of the most famous trails in Salt Lake City.  Drop into the creek bed that is home to this twisting, turning downhill trail, and you’re in for the long haul.  Over 1.6 miles you’ll drop 1,000 vertical feet, flying up and around steep banked turns, through tight single track and over jumps.  First-timer or beginner?  Take your time and enjoy the ride.  Experienced?  Cut loose, keeping your eyes open for the unique features and big air opportunities.

Clark’s Trail – Located in Corner Canyon, Clark’s Trail is perfect for intermediate riders, with the loop from the mouth of Corner Canyon to Traverse Ridge and back registering at just over 3 miles.  After a short climb to the top of Traverse Ridge, you’ll get to enjoy some awesome downhill.  Looking for a longer ride?  Hook into the Draper Race Loop, Clark’s Ghost Loop or any of the other trails in Corner Canyon.

Wasatch Crest Trail – By far the prettiest trail I’ve ridden to this point.  And that’s saying something considering I rode it at night!  The views from this trail are amazing, and I can only imagine how pretty the aspen groves and meadows look during the day.  Not to mention great views of Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City.  We started in Mill Creek Canyon, taking The Great Western Trail and hooking into the Wasatch Crest Trail for a couple of miles.  Despite a tough climb, the swooping single track on the descent made it all worth while.

What are you waiting for?  Grab your bike and hit the trails!  But know that once you start you won’t want to stop.  Check in at Two Feet to Adventure for more of my adventures.

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Ski Season Means – Hitchhiking

Powder Magazine launched its gear guide (which I’ve read cover to cover).  Ski Utah announced it’s “Ultimate Powderhound” competition.  Industry magazines are releasing their resort guides.  Season passes are going on sale.  And last week Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort received a dusting of snow on their highest peak.  Ski season is officially on its way!  If you’re anything like me, you’ve been looking forward to this season ever since you tearfully put your skis away last spring.  And if you’re anything like me, which I’m guessing you are since you’re reading this post, there is more than one reason why you live for ski season.  Is it the face shots?  Maybe it’s the après ski scene? Or maybe still it’s the people you meet?  In honor of the impending season, I present you with my latest series of posts – “Ski season means.”  From now until the lifts start spinning, I’ll be posting regularly on the things I love and look forward to most about ski season.  Consider it my personal effort to spread the stoke!

Hitchhiking – I know what some of you are thinking.  Hitchhiking?  Really?! What does that have to do with ski season?  I will answer your questions with a question.  How else do you get up to the mountain when your car is not considered “safe” to drive in the winter, you have no money for gas or you missed the bus heading up the canyon?  The answer, and my main mode of mountain transportation this past winter, is hitchhiking.

Before you judge me, let me just say that hitchhiking has gotten a bad rap.  Contrary to popular belief, hitchhiking, particularly to and from salt lake area resorts, is safe, fun and surprisingly efficient.  As evidence, my longest wait this whole winter was a whopping 10 minutes!  Even UTA can’t compete with that!  True, I could have ridden the bus or even carpooled with friends, but hitchhiking, in my opinion is part of the skiing experience.  It allows you to meet new and interesting people.  It allows you to trade stories and share secret stash information.  And if you’re lucky, it leads to a friendly beer in a crowded ski bar at the end of an epic day.

I’ve hitchhiked with and without my gear.  I’ve hitchhiked in snowstorms and on beautiful days.  I’ve hitchhiked with fellow hitchhikers and I’ve flown solo.  All have led to different experiences and results.  But all have helped me formulate a few key ideas on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to hitchhiking during ski season.  Here’s what I know:

  • Thumb positioning is vital.  Too high and/or straight screams desperate.  Too low says, “I don’t really care.”  A slight bend to the elbow with the thumb at a 45 degree angle to the ground is perfect form.
  • Tall tee = long wait.
  • Luggage = longer wait.  Traditionally, the more gear you have the longer you’ll wait.  Tip:  Hitchhike fully dressed (ski boots on).  The appearance of less gear makes you more likely to be picked up.
  • Smile.  Look excited.  And for god sakes try not to act hung over!
  • Sport resort gear.  If you’ve got resort apparel wear it with pride!  The resort name and logo gives you credibility.
  • Ditch the headphones.  Nobody wants to pick up someone who won’t say a word the whole ride.
  • Share the wealth.  A thermos of coffee or box of donuts can do wonders for your wait time – think about it!
  • Early bird gets the worm.  Show up early.  Those heading up for first chair are more likely to pick you up than those rushing to get the last of the freshies.

Consider these tips my hitchhikers guide to, well . . . hitchhiking.  Hopefully they help you in your quest for fresh tracks.  And the next time you see a hitchhiker on the side of the road, pick them up.   After all, its ski season!

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Just Call Me G.I. Joe

Have you ever had your name chanted on a crowded boardwalk in a foreign country?  I have.  Here’s my story . . .

Barcelona, Spain is an amazing city.  It’s culture,  food, architecture, nightlife and street performers are virtually unmatched anywhere else in the world.  Not to mention its beaches . . . and the people who make the beach their place of business (Yes, I am talking about drug dealers).

His hair was in dreads.  And for no other reason but that he looked eerily similar to Bob Marley, whose famous mug graced the front of his shirt.  He was deeply tanned and his bare feet were as dirty as the knees of his baggy pants from walking and working in the wet sand.  But if you were to think he was a bum you’d be wrong.  He was a drug dealer.  And a clever one at that.

You see, this guy didn’t just peddle pot.  He was an artist too.  His plan was simple, yet effective – use his artisitc ability to attract prospective customers.  I’m by no means condoning the dealing of drugs, but this guy had a good thing going. Seriously, how can you resist wanting to get a closer look at a HUGE dog or dragon made out of sand? 

His name was Matthew and our first conversation went something like this:

Me:  “Nice sand sculptures.  How long did those take you to build?”

Matthew:  “Not long.  Hey man, you want some grass?”

Me:  “No thanks, bro.”

And that was it. From sand sculptures to drugs in ten seconds flat.

With the sun out, and the sand warm beneath our feet, we spent the rest of the day lounging on the beaches of Barcelona drinking warm Spanish beer and fending off propositions for “Massageys” from the small Asian women scurrying up and down the beach.  The groups of tourists and locals came and went – some clothed and others leaving nothing to the imagination – but all providing great foder for people watching. 

As the sun retreated into the ocean and the boardwalk filled with people eager to experience Barcelona’s renowned nightlife, we pulled ourselves from our comfortable spots in the sand, grabbed our remaining beers and began the trek back to our hostile.  Weaving my way towards the boardwalk, remaining beers in hand, I realized three things:

  1. Awkwardly carrying three beers through the throngs of foot traffic on Las Ramblas would be a pain.
  2. Matthew was slaving away creating another sand sculpture.
  3. It was hot and he was probably thirsty.

Always looking to improve foreign relations, I stopped and offered the beer to Matthew.  His response was priceless.  Pure amazement and gratitude as he immediately cracked one open.  We made small talk as he drank.  He told me his name was Matthew and that he was originally from Germany, but now called Barcelona home.  Matthew then asked my name and I told him Joe.  His response:  “Joe . . . Like G.I. Joe?!” After telling him that I was from the state of Washington, we shook hands and I merged into the stream of people on the crowded boardwalk.  As I walked away I turned around and saw Matthew, to the bewilderment of many onlookers, pumping both hands in the air and chanting “G.I. Joe!  G.I. Joe! Washington State! Washington State!”

Chances are, I’ll never see Matthew again.  But you can bet I’ll always remember that evening on the boardwalk in Barcelona.  And that is exactly what I love about traveling.  New places, activities and experiences are only part of the story.  Traveling is about the people you meet.  Because it’s the stories you create with those people that you’ll always remember.

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Rock climbing at Reservoir Ridge

Have I mentioned that I love living in Salt Lake City? Since moving here permanently in July, I’ve been having one great outdoor experience after another.  I’m like a kid in a candy store down here . . . except instead of candy I’m gorging myself on cycling, mountain biking, hiking, bouldering, rock climbing, canyoneering and trail running.  Whoever said “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing,” obviously never got the chance to live in SLC.

 

After spending this past winter climbing at Momentum and the early part of this summer bouldering in Little Cottonwood Canyon, I finally got the chance to head to Big Cottonwood Canyon for some real rock climbing.  For those of you who don’t know, Big Cottonwood Canyon is a great place to climb, offering routes for beginners (such as myself) to challenging routes for the seasoned climber (such as Nick, my patient teacher).

We decided to head to Reservoir Ridge, which offers seven routes that are perfect for fine tuning your top roping skills and practicing sport and trad climbing – which is exactly what we intended to do.  To get used to climbing outside, I top roped my first two routes (Iraq In The Back Attack, Error of Our Ways).  Both were relatively easy with ample foot and hand holds – perfect for my first outdoor climbing experience.

With my confidence up and the light quickly fading in the canyon, I decided to attempt leading my first sport climb.  I returned to Iraq In The Back Attack, a 5.6 climb, and started climbing.  I quickly realized sport climbing is a whole different animal requiring patience, skill and confidence in your climbing ability.  There is much more to think about when sport climbing such as rope and carabiner placement, making it both fun and challenging.  Luckily, I made it to the top, successfully completing my first, and definitely not my last, lead on a sport climb.

Was there anything negative about this experience?  Yes.  I’m now thoroughly obsessed with climbing, which adds another expensive hobby to an ever growing list.  Can you say second job?

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