No track mind…

Snow at the Casa

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. ~ Lao Tzu

Tues 23 Mar: 00:47, 4.25 miles, Treadmill surges

An upslope storm rolled in last night and dumped about 18″ of fresh stuff on the Casa del Critters. Standard operating procedure for the Front Range this time of year. What is significantly less standard is my “meh” reaction to the whole thing. Typically, I would be standing in a line with a thousand other yahoos waiting for the lifts to start churning. This year, not so much.

Lots of factors contribute to my blah reaction to what would normally be unbridled enthusiasm for blower pow conditions. The death of my friend, Jonny Copp, in an avalanche last Spring certainly isn’t getting me overly thrilled to go out and tackle the backcountry and the shitty snow conditions we have experienced all year aren’t helping either. I tend to get into patterns of behavior and if things don’t line up, I move on.

I am a bit bummed that I bought passes again this year that have remained virtually unused. And I think my bummed-ness comes less from the money I spent on the passes than from the loss of enthusiasm for something I once cherished. I have been trying to look at it all from a more Zen perspective (with mixed results). Over the past 10 years or so, I have racked up an average of about 60 days per year. So over the long haul, I have gotten my money’s worth. I think that the overall change in attitude has to do with the quality of running I am experiencing this year. All season I have been telling myself that I would rather go for a good run than a mediocre ski and now, well… I think that I would rather go for a good run than a good ski.

Perhaps next year things will change. If the East Wall at the Basin will ever open up, maybe my attitude about skiing this year will come around. But I really only look at that as a way to cross-train for running. Apparently, I now have a no-track mind.


Rough week…

RIP Jonny (image from

At the end of life, let them say I truly lived. ~ me

Well this week has been a bit rough. As you have read, my thoughts have been focused on the search for three missing climbers in China. Unfortunately, that search has thus far come to a tragic end. The body of my friend, Jonny Copp, was discovered at about 4000m in avalanche debris on the slopes of Mount Edgar. Words really do not do justice to this loss. The search for Micah and Wade continues.

Jonny and I first became friends while working together at Planet Outdoors. Say what you will about PO (hell, I probably said it along with you) but the people who worked there did become a bit like a family. Sometimes a dysfunctional, scary family, but a family nonetheless. I made some great friends at PO. Those friendships have changed as people have grown up, moved around, had children, married, divorced, married again and some remain stronger than others. Jonny and I, though not the closest of friends, always seemed to come back together in one capacity or another. Whether climbing in Veedavu, plotting a new project, shooting in the backcountry or just hanging out, Jonny was always ready with an awesome story and his infectious smile.

Shot of me skiing courtesy of Jonny Copp (

After the demise of Planet Outdoors (actually, I believe it is still an active site in some form but without any of its original employees), Jonny and I continued to see each other from time to time. Though I was a vastly inferior climber (who wasn’t, really?) Jonny did let me tag along on occasion and always encouraged me with positive reinforcement, no matter how much I was just dangling in mid-air. This was Jonny’s way. Always smiling. Always encouraging others to reach for the stars.

When Jonny started work on the Boulder Adventure Film Festival, he contacted me to help out as both a member of the selection jury but as webmaster for the site. We screened hundreds of flims over the years some good, some great, some REALLY bad and laughed through it all. Jonny was one of those people who always put back more than he took out. He inspired others through his athleticism but did not stop there. His thoughts always seemed to come back to wishing to encourage others to love the outdoors and cherish the earth. That was the message of the Festival and Jonny’s message to us all.

I was thinking of a quote that best sums up Jonny and really had a tough time finding anything that does him justice. So I started thinking more about how he lived life and decided that maybe that would be the best way to honor him. Jonny really lived. At the end of my life, I hope others will say the same of me.


Pulling for Johann…

Southeast face of Mount Edgar. Cough ’em up, man!

Throw me a friggin’ bone, here. ~ Dr. Evil

My buddy – Jonny Copp – renowned, world-class climber and all-around good guy could use your help. He is usually a pretty independent fella but right now he and his climbing partners, Micah Dash and Wade Johnson could use some support. They are overdue by about 4 days after an attempt on Mount Edgar in the Western Sechuan Province of China.

There are several teams of climbers on their way to the same area but any help you can provide to help fund the trip would be most welcomed. If you would like to learn more, the Boulder Adventure Film Festival website has set up a blog where updates are routinely provided. Or you can donate here.

Thanks in advance. We gotta get Johann Kopenski back home. (Rach is convinced “Jonny Copp” is a fake name and gave him this one years ago.)


Flyin’ solo…

You get your ass out there and you find that fucking dog. ~ Billy Madison

Rach is covering the House Rabbit Society this week while her co-manager, Nancy, is visiting Maine so I am flying solo for the week. Just me and the critters up here at the casa – and quite a few less critters than normal. Rach took down all the critical care guys so the house feels a little empty. I have moved my motorcycle, ski and bike collection in to fill the void and get a little Spring tune-up action going so that is filling the now-empty space. (I kid, I kid.)

On the running front, I am still at it though with ill-definined goals currently. I took Tuesday off to rest and went to see Star Trek, which was entertaining. JJ needs to relax a bit on the lens flairs but it featured an entertaining story, capable acting and good action with just a fine schmear of cheese. And what would Trek be without some cheese?

I ran short on Wednesday and did some surges which got me a couple of thumbs up from passing motorists on the Beav’. I felt great, actually and was able to keep my form solid throughout my run, which is precisely what we are after. So mission accomplished. Short, meet sweet.

Thursday got away from me a little bit with some work wackiness then a quest to find Rach a new headset so that she can actually get some work done while fielding calls at the shelter. I then went to see Sandy to get a little work done on my never-en ading ab problem and by the time I got home, my desire to run had wained quite a bit. I finally levered myself off the couch and just said, “Man, get your ass in gear and go run.” And I listened! Go figure. Usually I buck authority.

The first half of the run was decidedly unpleasant. My poor attitude was coupled with really not feeling well at all. It was late (I didn’t start until after 7p) and I had wacked down some ill-advised snacks just prior to the run. Plus I was feeling a bit exhausted in general. So I ran/walked up a trail near my house with the ultimate goal of reaching Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Clunkiness continued for about 2.5 miles until I started to feel it. The second half of the run went really well and I turned on the heat to finish up with a total time of 1:04 and 6.5 miles – all on dirt and technical trails. I think this is actually as fast as I have ever done this loop so all’s well that end’s well. The lesson learned is “get off your couch, jackass… you might be missing your best run ever!” (Not that this was my best run ever per se, but it could have been and I could have missed it, jeez.)

So I am off again today and have to roll down to Boulder for a meeting. I may try to catch another movie… not sure. Tomorrow is the big race that I am not doing (ugh). I am going to volunteer at Aid Station 3 so say “hi” as you run by or just come out to watch everyone else running the Dirty 30. Sunday I volunteer at the shelter and then am shooting some video for the shelter then am going to figure out how to work in an 11-miler. May turn into my first night run of the season. We’ll see.

On a less awesome note, I ask everyone to employ their good juju and point it toward the mountains of China for a bit. My buddy, Jonny Copp and two climbing partners are past due returning from a first ascent attempt of Dojitsenga, a 5,700-meter peak in the Kangri Garpo range. They are currently at least two days late. This is not really something new for J to the C but any good thoughts you might send his way couldn’t hurt. Read more about it.

As always, I’ll keep you posted.


Trip report – Utah pow…

Luke scopes the goods atop Solitude.

Now, this is the plan. Get your ass to Mars.
~ Hauser

Ah Salt Lake City. Home of the Jazz, perpetual smog and goodness a mere 14 miles up the hill.

Luke and I headed out early on Thursday. Rockin’ the ocelot on Frontier. SLC is just about an hour from Denver. Barely enough time to whack down a beer if you are the large-headed gentleman sitting in 6C. Yes, nothing goes down smoother than a Coors Light at 36,000 feet at 8:30 in the morning. Get your vacation on, I guess.

Aside from Luke packing like a girl (his bag was a bit heavy on the outbound and we had to stow his extra pumps and handbag along with my gear), we made it out to SLC without incident. After gathering our stuff and getting into a bitchin’ Sonata, we headed straight up to Solitude for a half day of goodness. Seriously, the Denver to SLC hop is the best thing going. We were literally at the area before half day tickets went on sale. Pretty kickass.

Typical of my Utah skiing experiences, there was plenty of snow (just shy of 100″ base, something like a foot overnight) and the slopes were pretty much empty. Amazing. Luke and I were both nursing bum knees but the top was calling out so we headed up the ridge to grab some fresh tracks in one particularly tasty chute. Smooth as butter. But fluffier.

Utah is renowned for its long traverses and we took full advantage of these to get to never-ending pow turns. Solitude, as Luke describes it, is a little Alta and I would concur. There is a lot of amazing terrain and we spent the better part of 4 hours exploring around to find the goods. Seems everywhere we turned there was more great terrain just stuffed with great snow. Even with poor visibility due to a steady storm, this is definitely the place to be if you like it steep and deep.

Post skiing we headed to a local burrito joint for an early dinner then jammed down to Casa del Kenny and Jen. These guys are the best and always open their doors to the ski bum in need of a place to rest their head. Jen is a wee bit preggers right now so they aren’t getting in many days out on the slopes. She is due in April so this season is pretty much a wash for them but they seem to enjoy living vicariously through those of us less knocked-up.

About 10 on Thursday, the neighbors plowed into our rental car, denting the driver’s door and smashing the mirror. They were super cool about it and said they just didn’t even look back as there usually aren’t any cars parked in that spot. Avis said they would give us a new car and to just bring the Sonata back out to the airport at our convenience. Coincidentally, Saturday about an hour prior to our departure was convenient for us so that became the game plan.

Friday morning, we found a Wifi hotspot, got a little work done and jammed back up the hill for some backcountry goodness. Brighton has a special “One Ride” ticket for $10 that gets you to the top of the hill from where you can explore the sweet backcountry. This saves about an hour and a half of skinning, which is nice.

We got to the top and headed up Millicent Peak (I think). Luke is a machine and broke trail the way up (shit, the whole day, actually). It was seriously storming with steady snow and fairly high winds which cut visibility quite a bit. We had scoped some lines in Wolverine Cirque the day before but decided to stick to the opposite side of the ridge, which was a bit more mellow. The avalanche conditions, relatively stable for Colorado, were in the moderate range for Utah. There was some fun, lower-angle terrain to be farmed and we dropped in one short pitch prior to skinning the remainder of the way up Millie.

In case you hadn’t heard, I am one sweaty Mofo and so I quickly started having some problems with my goggles fogging up then freezing. Good times. Frankly, with the blowing snow, I really wasn’t missing much and dropped from the top skiing by braille. As soon as we got back down into the trees, I could see much better and just fully enjoyed the over-the-head face shots. Man, so awesome. I wasn’t feeling super hot but kept up fairly well on the way back up. Interestingly enough, looking way up the hill helps for some reason. We met up with some snowboarders who were actually practicing solid backcountry technique (go figure) and were quite knowledgeable about snowpack, how to read conditions, and how to ride safely. Refreshing, actually.

I was pretty whooped once we made it back to the top and mixed survival skiing with blissful pow turns back down the killer, untracked terrain. More face shots and grins on the way out. By the time we finally made it back out to Brighton, both of us were seriously exhausted and friggin’ hungry. We bee-lined it to the nearest Noodles, chowed down and then headed back to Kenny and Jen’s for a nap.

Just as we got back to the house, we got a call from our buddy Ken (different Ken) who works at K2. He demanded that we come to the show to hang out so we changed and headed out to the OR (Outdoor Retailer) show. We were pushing the time limit on getting in and found a door that had been propped open through which we sneaked into the show. Great security. It took us awhile to find the K2 booth and we ran into several people with whom we used to work along the way. Good to see old friends. We hung out at the booth for a bit then hung out with Donna from Garmont and then grabbed second dinner with our buddy, Jonny Copp then headed home.

Saturday was allotted to going to the show and heading home. We made several key connections (K2, Garmont, Patagonia) and then high-tailed it out of there back to the airport. An uneventful flight home (blue heron this time), quick drive back up to Boulder, then back up the hill for me and back in my lady’s luvin’ arms by 11p.

Great trip. Seriously, get your ass to Utah.