Posts Tagged skiing

Extreme Skiing At Courbet’s Couloir

Corbet’s Couloir – One Epic Day – Jackson Hole from KGB Productions on Vimeo.

This Jackson Hole, Wyoming, chute is notorious for the number of skiers who come down with a case of cold feet upon approach. And for good reason: the legendary Corbet’s Couloir starts with a 25-foot plunge before snow and skis connect, and then skiers are left to navigate a 55-degree slope flanked by a rock wall that turns into a run forebodingly called “Meet Your Maker.” Apparently, the chute’s namesake, Jackson Hole Mountain Guides founder James Barry Corbet, spotted the deadly stretch in 1960 and said, “Someday, someone will ski that.”

Wish I had the guts to do this…or to have done it when I was younger…I am too smart now…

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Some More Daring Adventures

extreme skiing

extreme skiing

extreme picnicking

extreme picnicking

extreme kayaking

extreme kayaking

extreme looking

extreme looking

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You Won’t Believe Some Of These

I am almost speechless after watching this People Are Awesome 2013 video. There are athletic stunts and achievements here I have never even heard of, and many are clearly somewhat established “sports.” It also reminds me how nuts some people are to take these risks…like walking a tightrope between two moving trucks about to enter two different tunnels. Still can’t believe that is for real.

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Early Life Of An Extreme Outdoorsman And Speed Junky (Part 1 Of 3)

idyllic cruising in the great outdoors

Met a new friend out West who described his life of total immersion in the outdoors and his love of fast cars and motorcycles. His stories were so astonishing and descriptive that I urged him to write them down. Who could have guessed that his prose would be extraordinary too. I told him he reminded me of Hunter Thompson’s gonzo style or other journalists I imagine writing about speed on speed…or some other hallucinogenic. You are in for a real treat! (I hope he doesn’t mind that I relocated the first paragraph from deep within the story to give you a perspective of what is going on)

For whatever reasons, not the least of which was my father having a triple bypass at 35, I always figured on needing to pack as much experience into one presumably short life as a person could. So I’ve had the pedal down as far back as I can remember. The joke is on me of course, I never developed heart disease, but I did break a few bones, lose a shitload of skin and probably deserve to be dead 30 times over doing various things. Also got a late start building a career, so I’ll probably be working until I am in fact dead—but I design/test outdoor gear. How bad can that be?

OK, a quick bio: I’ve always been bipolar or multi-polar regarding outdoor sports, grew up at the beach but was sneaking onto the Irvine Ranch (before it was developed) behind our house with my .22 to hunt rabbits and quail (yes, quail, you just have to make a head shot, and I don’t mean when they are flying) and started fly fishing in the mountains around LA whenever my mom could drive me or with the Boy Scouts, then Explorer Scouts. Luckily the Explorer group I joined was the mountaineering group in Anaheim, which gave me my first glimpse of the High Sierra’s, and I got as interested in Golden Trout as I did in peak bagging.

As soon as I got my driver’s license, it was good bye to the scouts, and I was off every winter weekend to cross country ski tour/snowcamp in the San Gorgonio or San Jacinto Wilderness areas, often alone, which would drive my mom crazy, then backpack with a fly rod in the summer. Surf, ski, climb, hunt, fish, and of course getting around when younger I got everywhere on a bike, which became a nicer and nicer bike which became another, lifelong passion including a little bit of road racing in high school. I quit that because I kept getting clobbered by motorists who in those days weren’t used to seeing humans on road racing bikes out in traffic. Last crash involved being hit from behind by a car and flung through traffic across three fast lanes of the Pacific Coast Highway. It was like playing Russian Roulette with only one empty chamber and surviving without a scratch. The rear wheel and rear triangle of my bike absorbed most of the impact and I came to a stop on the center divider balancing on my crank set, still clipped in, cars whizzing by in both directions. I did not get religion, I just left the bike laying in the highway and hitched home. No more road bikes for me.

Then one summer I came through Ketchum on a fly fishing trip and saw my first mountain bike—one of Tom Ritchey’s first hand-made bikes at the Elephant’s Perch, and my life was wrecked. I was living in Laguna at the time and the steep coastal hills were crawling with jeep roads, single track and game trails.

In a fitting way I was wrapping up my involvement with motorhead activities. My first car was a red Alfa Romeo Duetto softail Spider which I rescued from ruin and re-built myself. My second car was a raging-fast Lotus Elan which followed the same pattern, find a junker and bring it back to life one turn of the wrench at a time. I’d had a go-kart my Dad built for me when I was about 7, motorcycles, etc. so high performance driving was written into the software by the time I was a teen, and I could really drive. At one point I actually thought about it as a career, maybe an F1 pilot like Dan Gurney, but as I started hanging out at various tracks I realized I couldn’t stand the people who were involved with the sport. They were like golfers on crack.

With some irony I had long been co-evolving into a leftist tree hugging wilderness freak motorhead. I joined David Brower’s F.O.E. (Friends of the Earth) when I was 16, was reading Abbey, getting pangs about joining Dave Foreman’s Earth First gang but didn’t like the idea of prison. Note that both cars I mentioned were small, light, fast, fuel-efficient machines. But showing up to a Sierra Club meeting with my Lotus (even though it got 30 mpg) didn’t go too well. Which I found really disappointing. The leftist tree huggers turned out to be like accountants on crack.

In those years I tried everything that fit my personal ethos of small footprint, treading lightly, loving wild places, and having a fucking great time getting to those places. Think of hand-made (by me), aero cross-country ski racks and skis tucked behind the tiny roof line of a Lotus Elan howling through the desert North of LA at 2 A.M., on the way to Mammoth Tamarack lodge with the headlights off, navigating by the full moon at 120 mph with the Doors playing Riders on the Storm backed up by the sound of a nasty, tweaked-out twin cam motor pushing a low, smooth glass slipper through the void. Fuck the Sierra Club. (Continue to Part 2/3 in post below)

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Peaceful Joys Of Cross Country Skiing

My American friend from Sweden may be one of the cross country skiers in this race

Fifteen thousand skiers start the 88th Vasaloppet cross-country marathon in Mora, Sweden, one of the oldest, longest and biggest ski races in the world.

Photo taken 3/4/2012 by Jonathan Nackstrand

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Visit To Super-Athlete Land

Sun Valley snow view

I have just returned from Sun Valley, Idaho, where some friends urged us to visit them for a week and enjoy the outdoors. Though New York City dwellers most of the year, these urbanites thrive on physical activity out west, spending 5-6 weeks in the winter and a couple of months each summer. And they have found a community of compatriots who are also the most passionate athletes. Some of these SV friends are working people from cities on both coasts who come out on weekends and holidays. Others are retirees who live for sports and outdoor motion.

Four to six days a winter week, they are skiing in the morning for a couple of hours. Followed by a hot tub soak, stretches and weights in the gym, and then a hike, snowshoe or cross country ski in the afternoon. One dinner guest I met goes downhill skiing, then skate skiing, then biking—all in the same day! And he is not unusual. The summers and falls are filled with days of hiking, fishing, golfing, biking, motorcycling, hunting and of course time in the gym…NOT to build muscles, but “because I love it. It feels so good.”

Ira having fun in snow storm

How I admire their enthusiasm for so much activity. I can almost understand it, cannot relate to it, and certainly can’t keep up with it…although I did push myself to ski four times in five days, and also hit squash balls with friends two days, once after skiing. But I am not a life-long athlete. Only these last few years do more moderate daily doses of sports activity seem desirable.

The last time I was in Sun Valley in 2006, my school-age kids were with me and glued to beds the first day. I went skiing in a snow storm, struggling as a Florida-raised boy should. Exhausted by the effort, the snow, the limited visibility, the lack of being fit, I trudged back proud that I hadn’t injured myself. Refreshed by 12+ hours of sleep, my kids urged me to play squash with them (instead of collapsing and not moving forever), and I complied for family harmony and bonding. Unfortunately I tore my shoulder in three places, and that interrupted my physical life for about eight months.

This time I was more cautious, but also in much, much better shape. I could pace myself wisely and recognize signs of fatigue and strain. After two days of skiing painlessly with friends, I rested the third day and only played squash. The trails had been groomed with artificial snow up till then. I did feel wimpy that my friends were indifferent to the below zero to 5 degree temperatures. In spite of decades up north (I grew up in Miami Beach), that’s still pretty cold to me.

ski instructor Hans

The fourth day was the first big snow in two months. Two feet of monster flakes began dropping nonstop, and it was beautiful but challenging. Going out alone was too dangerous, I was told—I’d get lost, take the wrong trail, die alone in the cold. Ridiculous…but to placate the worriers, I hired a ski instructor and heard that I was doing it all wrong—the problem with not learning the sport until my 20’s. Two and a half hours later, I could turn a lot better, and my coach took me on a black diamond run with moguls. Finally I was finished, exhausted, and somehow made it back to the house with jelly-legs that would barely support me. No squash that night.

The fifth day I went out alone in spite of the falling snow. My quads were aching on the first run, and I took it real slow. Thank goodness no one was with me I had to keep up with. Two-plus hours later I was wiped and went home.

As usual, I was relieved to have survived without injury. Maybe if I’d grown up in the snow, I’d be more comfortable with the speed. I’d be eager to enjoy the cold, the slopes, a few jumps. But skiing is always a bit confronting for me, like running a gauntlet that I force myself through to prove I can do it. The truth is I will never be like the others who enjoy it so much that they buy second homes in Sun Valley and go six days a week in freezing temperatures and wind. Now when it comes to tennis…

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Another Fearless Ski/Jump/Paraglide Off A Cliff

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My Snowmobiling Jump And Crash

Just received the footage of my jump on the snowmobile last March in Park City, Utah. It’s at 3:00 in the video above. And then my crash right after that. My son, Gavin (in the red plaid hat), and his friend, Jason, are the other players I recognize. They also filmed and edited this video. Check out my earlier story about that weekend here .

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Buzz Cohn’s Humorous Ski Racing Adventures

Buzz Cohn loves to ski and wrote the following:

My 45-year passion for skiing continues with at least annual trips out West—the last being to Copper Mountain in February 2009. In the 1980’s I attended a ski racing camp which sparked my interest in NASTAR racing & culminated in my receiving gold medals at 3 major resorts at the age of 52. [NASTAR (NAtional STAndard Race) racing is a program where recreational skiers of all ages and abilities can test their skills on courses set up at resorts.]

Ira asked me to write about some ski racing adventures. Since it’s more entertaining to hear about someone’s foibles than triumphs, I’ll relate three experiences under the categories of: My most embarrassing moment, The dumbest thing I ever did & Best unintentional put-down.

buzz cohn racing—1992

buzz cohn racing—1992

Most Embarrassing Moment: I was at the starting gate at the top of a NASTAR course. Wanting to achieve the shortest possible time, I decided to do what the “real racers” do in leaning forward, with my shins & feet most posterior so that they would be the last part of my body to trip the wand. The wand in turn would start the clock. An additional maneuver you’ve seen the pros use is to jump out of the gate to start acceleration. In performing the jump-start, I did it so forcibly that my boots came out of the ski bindings. I landed several feet from the starting gate, flat on my face in the snow with my skis still remaining in place behind the wand.

There were 15 to 20 racers in line behind me who were polite enough not to cheer or laugh. I quickly reconstituted my equipment & reduced self esteem, re-entered the starting position & began the descent through the course – this time being more than happy to sacrifice the 1-1.5 seconds a more aggressive start might have gained me.

Dumbest Thing I Ever Did: I was in Taos, NM during midweek & the only racer at the top of the NASTAR course. It was laid out in such a way that I could not see the course from the lift, nor the whole course from the top. I disobeyed the tenet of taking a slow, non-timed run beside the course to check it out. Every course I had been on before or since (& what you see on TV) levels off after the finish line or even goes uphill a little.

As I was feeling especially aggressive, I did a regular timed run initially, at full speed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rudy Kellerman’s New Lease On Life—Jai Alai

I find myself, yet again, sitting and waiting at the doctor’s office. It’s been nearly a year now of visiting doctors. I remember my parent’s routine, back in what they called their ‘golden years’. It consisted of going to the bank, attorneys and doctors. My wife, who is younger and in great shape no longer accompanies me on these medical visits. She tells me that I am a hypochondriac.

professional jai alai player

professional jai alai player

Three years ago we both began working out with trainers. After a year, I looked terrific. I could do 1000 jumping jacks broken up by sets of free weight lifting of over 100 lbs. I was looking and feeling great but always looked at training as a chore and a bore. You constantly get bombarded by society with the idea that exercising is the thing that one must do to maintain good health. Probably true enough but boring.

I started to notice I could no longer sleep on my right shoulder. I had terrible pain which was becoming increasingly worse, most likely stemming from old skiing injuries. The results of repeated falls skiing the black runs in Aspen during my youth had finally taken its toll. I stopped training and started with the cortisone shots that eventually led to a medical procedure to decompress the right shoulder. That was my first operation, save for the time that I had to have my finger reattached after a bad motorcycle accident. Not bad, I guess, for a 69 year old guy to have stayed out of hospitals for all these years. I had resigned myself to the fact that the extent of my active sporting life was going to be in rehab clinics. Soon I was off to the JCC pool to meet with an aqua therapist. Next I developed a painful new condition in my leg that eluded diagnosis for nearly a year. This led to appointments with a series of different medical specialists.

One day, having nothing to do while waiting to be seen by the latest Dr. of the month, I picked up a local newspaper. Leafing through it, I noticed an ad… “Free Jai Alai Lessons”. Wow! Jai Alai, a game that was so popular in South Florida back a half century ago. As teenagers back then, we would try to sneak into the ‘frontons’ where the pros played at night. These were the days when guys played football or baseball after school and rode bicycles as a form of transportation. Moms did not drive you to soccer games back then. There was no soccer and no SUV’s in those days. We did not stay home to play with electronic devices. We were lucky if our parents had a Hi FI or a Stereo. And we weren’t allowed to touch them. We were always outdoors playing sports or delivering the newspapers after school. It was a great life.

view of pro jai alai court

view of pro jai alai court

Some of us who had just gotten our license would borrow the family station wagon. We would all pile in and sneak into the ‘fronton’ to watch the professional Jai Alai players. Most of them were from the Basque country, a part of Spain. They played with their ‘cestas’, a wicker basket and hurled the ‘pelota’, a ball the size of a baseball and as hard as golf ball, against a granite wall at 180 miles an hour. It was played in an enormous indoor court 180 feet long. It was fun to watch not only for the exciting ‘partidos’ or games, but also for the chance to bet on the game and sneak a beer. Some of us went out and bought used cestas and played with a rubber ball on hand ball and racket ball courts. It was so much fun. It was an exotic and exciting game. The girls would come and watch us play after school against the wall of the local Catholic church.

Some of us got to be so good that we were invited to play amateur league in the regulation fronton where the pros played. Read the rest of this entry »

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