Saturday, February 28, 2009

Two kidney

Trevor and Dea all geared up for the great kidney swap

The transplant was a success. Two very close people in my life underwent what I consider a marvel of modern medicine. Trevor graciously donated one of his kidneys to Dea this past week. Dea is still on the road to recovery as her body gets pumped with anti-rejection drugs and bashed with needles to ensure that her body accepts the kidney. Everything looks good at the moment and Dea will once again be able to live a normal, dialysis-free life thanks to the generostiy of Trevor.

Dea has facilitated many of my trips over the past couple of years by shuttling cars and offering pick-ups at remote trailheads. Now that her schedule will no longer be controlled by tri-weekly dialysis sessions she will be able to take part in excursions that span more than a 2-day time frame. This will definitely be a new sense of freedom for Dea.

Post surgery coffee. Dea and Trevor are both recovering at the Mayo Clinic in Minnestota.

Hats off to Trevor. His generosity to pass on one of his organs to Dea in order to improve the quality of her life is a gift of insurmountable proportions. Its difficult to express the happiness I have for Dea and the sincere gratitude I feel towards Trevor.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Prusik Up

Christie dangles from a glacial ice bridge

Ice, snow and sunshine - this was the world we found ourselves surrounded by over the weekend. Three of us ventured southward to the Castner Glacier in the Alaska Range to refresh and brush up on some safe glacial traveling skills. Near the tongue of the glacier is a playground of crevasses and ice walls that can be easily and safely accessed.

Skiing up to the terminus of the Castner Glacier.

Christie and Brian scope out the surrounding mountains of ice.

We found what looked like a suitable spot to simulate a crevasse rescue. A small ice bridge that we could easily access from below as well as above. Christie probes her way across the bridge to verify that it was safe.

Setting anchors on the ice bridge.

The dead man anchor will be buried and held in place by a couple feet of compacted snow.

Augering an ice screw into the glacial ice. This will be the second anchor to hold our load.

Testing out the combined strength of the anchors.

Gazing up at the ice bridge from below.

Brian prusik's his way up the rope.

Our site selection was not ideal because we were unable to easily prusik up over the lip of angled ice. But this is probably more realistic of what would be encountered during a real crevasse rescue situation.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Winter H2O

Overflow on Fossil Creek sloshes over my skis.

It seems inevitable that during at least a few ski trips I will have to deal with liquid H2O. This year has been no exception even though much of the winter has been quite cold. Overflow is common on many creeks in the interior as water under pressure flowing beneath the ice surface is squeezed skyward up through cracks. As the water reaches the surface it typically spreads out laterally across the channel. The most dreaded situation is where water collects under the surrounding snow pack and is insulated from the cold air above. An unsuspecting traveler can cross a pristine surface of snow and without warning immediately drop into water hidden just out of view.

Here is a spot that was difficult to negotiate without metal edged skis. I decided to walk just along the edge of the angled ice where there was a bit more traction but making sure to avoid the adjacent snow pack where liquid water might be lingering. Kaplunk!!!-- the crust collapsed and I found myself in an icy water slurry up to my knees. No surprise - I knew I was flirting with a soaking. I was too lazy to put cat track spikes over my soles and walk across the ice.

Water and below freezing temperatures are an unfortunate combination. My saturated boot and pant leg immediately froze-up when they came in contact with the cold air. So I quickly chiseled the ice out, clamped my skis back on, and daintily maneuvered myself across the ice.

Another stretch of overflow or glare ice. This was much easier to negotiate because it was solid with a few windblown patches of snow to ski between. On metal edged skis this is easy travel.

Jeff has similar issues to contend with while traveling over ice and through water: crashing, breaking through the ice surface, and ice build-up on his wheels.

On this trip Jeff's bigger frustration was patiently waiting for a portion of trail that was firm enough to ride.

Some sheep wandering around the hillside were a nice distraction from all the wrestling I did to remove ice from my boots.

My lone ski tracks coming down from Cache Mountain divide.