Sunday, March 30, 2008


Midwest Mountaineering put on their spring Mini-Expo yesterday down at the Verm. There were tons of paddlers, grilled brats and dogs, loads of boats to demo, and enough water to make the play features a really good time.

Graeme made Railroad look like his second home, spinning endlessly and working into low and mid-angle cartwheels, I managed to hit a couple of single and 2-end wheels as entry moves from the top of the foam pile, and just about everybody got some good rides down in the trough.

Donut was it's usual awesome self and people were rippin' it up. It also proved to be a great level for bodysurfing, so I took the opportunity of getting in the first couple of bodysurfs of the year.

I didn't get any pics with my camera, but I did steal Nora's for a few minutes and took some with hers. The ones you see here were taken off of her blog, but she's got more good ones on there so check it out!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Verm II: Vermilicious

Went back for more vermilicious fun today with Nora, Caleb, Andy (Mac), Dennis, and Aaron. This time, however, we had one heck of a good photographer along with us (huge thanks Lisa) who got some great shots. Lisa also brought along her really great son, who we're trying to brainwash into being a future paddler.

We had another great day down there, but I think I wrote enough about it on yesterday's entry that I won't make you read it all again. The notable differences were 1) Andy made a an awesome addition to the crew today, 2) Huck and another guy whose name I didn't catch were also on the river, though they kind of did their own thing. Unfortunately, that included Huck trying to paddle under the ice bridge, getting hung up, and luckily being able to swim out. He lost his paddle in the process, but considering what could have happened it's a small price to pay, and 3) We've got tons more pictures, both from Lisa and Nora's camera.

Here's the pics from top to bottom:
1) The Hike
2) The ice bridge (Also our put-in)
3) D-Rad
4) Triple Drop
5) Caleb and I
6) Caleb in Railroad
7) Dennis Wheeling out of Railroad
8) Huck with his substitute paddles
9) Nora, Andy, and Aaron

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Season Opener!

WooHoo! Paddling season has officially begun. Today Nora, Dennis, Graeme, Aaron, Caleb and myself made the first Verm descent of the year. There was still a big ice bridge above triple drop, so we technically couldn't run the whole thing, but anybody who knows the river knows there isn't really anything above there anyway. Plus, that ice bridge made an awesome put-in!

Nora and Dennis started off in the pool below railroad and paddled up, but Caleb, Graeme, Aaron and I hiked up to see if we could put in above the Triple Drop. As it turned out, there was a great route down the cliff that, though steep and zig-zagging, had good footing and led us right to the ice bridge. The bridge formed from the ice shelves on either side of the river and spanned right across. The ice was still a couple feet thick, so we decided to use the bridge as our put in. Because the top of the ice was about 4' above the water, and the water below was only a few inches deep, we had to push each other along the ice, then ski-jump off the edge so that we wouldn't just nosedive into the bottom. It worked great - possibly my favorite put-in yet on the Verm.

Triple was decently sized and really splashy, which gave everybody a wake-up as the ice water hit our faces. Because of the huge ice ledges that lined the river, there were no eddies and no route except down the center.

At the bottom, Railroad hole was rockin'. It was at just the right level - big and retentive enough to keep things interesting and allow some tricks, but not so huge that you couldn't get out. There was some spin-o-matic action on the River Left shoulder, a couple of ends thrown in the pile (mostly by Graeme, who showed no rustiness at all), and a variety of interesting exit moves.

The ice really narrowed the channel through S-bend and forced you to ride right over the rocky area, but nobody got hung up too bad and everyone avoided the overhangs. The wave at the bottom was silky smooth and even allowed a couple slow spins.

That was in perfect contrast to Donut, which was raging. Because of the restricted flow from the ice shelves and the lack of plant growth and algae this early in the season, the water speed at Donut was unreal. I don't think that I've ever surfed faster moving water. To make it better, the foam pile was almost shoulder high and punchy. It would toss you around and pop you up in between your spins. Speaking of spins, wow. If you got into the right groove, you could get motion sick you were spinning so fast. The water on the shoulder was going fast enough that it would grab you ends and twirl you like a top. It was really a riot. The problem was that the river right eddy was largely blocked by an ice bridge, so if you couldn't catch the left one you were in Fisherman's before you knew it.

After that it was more ice-shelve dodging down to the take out, where nature had mercifully collapsed the shelf at the take out. Thanks to that, we could climb out pretty easily. The best news, however, was that our stairs at the top of the hill held up perfectly over the winter, making and area that normally required ropes to climb an easy walk.

All in all, it was an amazing day. Warm temps, good water, and good friends. Tough to beat. Check out Graeme's new British flag helmet! I'll try to get some on-river pics tomorrow. Until then, I think Nora should have some posted on her blog, so check it out!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Bedrace for Bridging!

Matt, Danielle, Kressen, and I spent Saturday evening on a bed together... Don't worry - it was for charity. Actually, we were racing on an inflatable mattress down the tubing area of Buck Hill to raise money for the Bridging foundation, which helps low income families get beds, tables, and other household necessities that they can't afford. There were 150 teams of 4 people participating in heats of 5 or 6 beds going head to head down the hill. To make it all way more amusing, nearly team was in costume. There was one group that went as the Jamaican bobsled team, the Blue Man Group (except with 4 members, instead of 3), some crazy guys who went shirtless as Chip 'n Dale dancers, and one really cool group that each wore 1/4 of a truck costume so that when they were all arranged on the bed it looked like a truck going down the hill. It even had functioning head and tail lights. We went as Barbie and the Rockers. Notice Matt in drag. We did pretty well, making it through 5 heats before being eliminated in the quarter finals.

The funniest part of the night, however, was our first run. We were inside the chalet having some drinks and checking out the other costumes. What we didn't know was that they weren't announcing the races inside. We went outside just to find out when we would race. Much to our surprise, we were supposed to be racing at that very minute. We ran up the hill (no chairlift), slamming our drinks along the way. We got to the top to find about 20 teams waiting on us. There was a bed waiting for us in our lane and as soon as we got to it the official said "Go!" Away we went. We had no idea of what the rules were, no strategy, and no time to think about it. We took a couple steps forward and flopped onto our mattress. Kressen didn't fully make it on the mattress and kind of dragged down the top half of the hill and yelling. I tried to reach back to pull her up, but the only thing I could reach was her huge blonde wig. By luck, she managed to climb on just as one corner of our bed caught the edge of our lane and we started to spin. I think we made 3 complete revolutions before we finally came to a stop. By some miracle we came in 3rd, which was enough to bump us up to the next round. We went 4 more rounds before getting knocked out, so it was good that we made that one.

All in all it was a really good time for a good cause. Highly recommended.

There's more pics you can see if you click on the "My Web Album" link on the side of this page. Also, for pics of the various costumes, check out

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Wednesday night I went over to Vertical Endeavors with Nora and my three nephews. We were there for about 4 hours and really had a good time. Nora going for Ironwoman status by climbing for her 3rd straight day, the boys were all progressing nicely, handling a number of 5.8 climbs. I'm still working on a couple of the prolonged overhang 5.9's, but making progress. I brought my little camera, or at least what's left of it, along. Unfortuanately it's been knocked around, dropped, and even flooded with water on a dive trip when a small pebble kept my housing from sealing properly. To it's credit, it still works. The only problem is that there's a film covering the inside of the lense from when it was flooded. So, here's a few mediocre pics of the night. There's Nora on Belay, Zach on the 5.7's and 5.8's, and one of Neil taking a run at one of my favorite 5.9's. Unfortunately Connor seems to climb to quickly - all of the pics with him in them blurred in the low light. Aside from that it was a great night, and big thanks to Nora for all the help.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Kiting at White Bear

White bear earned its name today, as the afternoon was blanketed in mist and fog. That didn't stop Caleb, Jackie, Nick, Jeni, Tim S and I from getting out and having some fun. We took the kites out and spent some time skidding around between the drifts and ice patches. Nick and Jeni were trying out Nick's new 3.6m trainer, Caleb and Jackie were taking on turns flying the 15 (while the other was chasing them around to help relaunch when the wind died), and I was having fun shuttling people back upwind with the truck, pulling minivans out of snowdrifts, and trying to get some pictures. Unfortunately I only got pics of Caleb before it started to mist/rain and didn't really want to take my camera out after that. Despite the crazy weather, I think that everybody had a good day and I had a blast just being out there with everybody. As an added bonus, Jackie got to show off both her driving skills and the off-road capabilities of a Passat. We did a few miles out on the lake caravan-style dodging (and sometimes just smashing through) the drifts. I was amazed to see some of the things that little car went through.