The climbfish have now evolved to cover my life in the US - including very exiting life in downtown Baltimore (aka the wire) and ocean research expeditions with NOAA. I don't promise frequent updates but I will try and cover the most and least exiting times here. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An awe-inspiring land and a rough day

Camping under the stars in the Mohab desert, Arches National Park, Utah
My Utah detour sure started well. I spend a night under the stars in the Mohab desert and woke up to a unearthly landscape ripe for exploring. Then it started raining (which apparently does not happen all the time in the desert...) and about the same time I realized that I forgot my ski boots in Silverton two days earlier(...). The day moved on and I had a wicked day exploring the two nearby national parks Arches and Canyonlands (if you saw the movie 127 hours you know what I am talking about). I had planned to stay only a few hours but it was impossible to leave this place and I stayed until dark.
The biggest arch around
Troll lives here, almost got eaten
This one did not have a name, any suggestions? Anybody?
Delicate arch, the Utah State symbol
Balancing rock, if I only had my climbing shoes so I could give it a push!
Moving on to Canyon lands and a cup of coffee in shelter of the wind
And a nap... 

Met two lovers on their anniversary trip, I was low on gas
so we teamed up to explore the rest of the park together
Edgy views!
Sun came out little later and all pictures had to be retaken... who stepped here?
Solid as a rock? I was quite prepared to run back
Erin, unlike her husband, did not understand fear of hight and got inspired.
Her only fear was jumping across so she made sure she got enough air 
The phantoms scull cave!?
I tried my best to get into that cave, but the climb was a little
too lofty for me, besides only the Phantom is allowed in
Did I just hear somebody blow his nose?
Colorado river carving into the land
Well deserved beer and food at the local brewery in Mohab
So far so good (except the ski boot mishap). Full of life and lofty views I kept driving in the evening towards Salt Lake City on my snow storm chase and... to no surprise to anyone but myself, I run straight into a storm. I had not realized that I was going to drive through a big mountain pass and the drive got scarier and scarier when strong winds swirled snow across the road and my sporty Hyundai was sliding around like Bambi with big trucks zooming by... It got so bad I didn't dare to keep on driving but stopped on a pull off and decided to sleep it out, good to have winter gear sometimes.
Next day, waiting and waiting for the ski bus in Salt Lake city
At sunrise I finally made it safe to SLC with blue skies ahead and 56 cm of fresh snow in the mountains, needless to say I was pretty excited to go skiing. What I didn't realize was that just about everybody in SLC where excited to get up the mountain after the first powder in months, and that the mountain that I just had bought a full day pass too, Alta, unfortunately was closed due to avalanche danger for the whole morning. It seemed like a good plan to take the ski bus up as only 4 wheel drive cars was going to allowed once the road opened so I parked at the bus stop and waited...and waited...and waited... the bus arrived at 2 PM. Now all I had to do was to get a pair of ski boots. No, not that easy. Apparently the rental company is also responsible for your skies and had to perform a series of tests on my bindings, the US fear of being sued can really be incredibly annoying at times, especially on a blue bird powder day.

Finally on the hill at 14:30. took a few runs with this
gentlemen(?). Big avalanches had gone everywhere
I hit the slopes at 2:30 for my two most expensive hours of skiing in my life. The snow was not to bad, but not the fluffy desert snow I had hoped for. Also the backcountry was extremely dangerous and therefor not skiable, and probably will be for quite some time as a weak layer of old snow underneath all the new snow made the snowpack very prone to avalanches. What made my day somewhat better was all the friendly people that tried their best to make everything work out for me. I ran into another single gentleman, seemingly a good guy, and we spend a few runs together by the end of the day. He agreed to buy my unused day pass (I bought a cheep afternoon pass on the mountain instead) with a good discount and also to give me a ride down. Day was looking better! We split up shortly for him to get his car and me to return my boots, and I sat down to wait for him. and wait. and wait. and wait. The last ski bus had left the slope and it was getting dark. The guy had just left me there and apparently changed his mind without telling me. I guess not all people are what they seem. I found myself a new ride down from a friendly professional freerider and got myself to a hostel to crash into bed. Once there I received the news that my aunt, who has been sick for some time had passed away. I feel for my cousins and my mum especially, and will miss her alot.

Next day I picked myself up to a fresh start and drove back to Denver in good weather with some fine views of all the posh ski resorts along the way. I flew back this morning and just arrived back to the east coast. Although more snow is on the way in the rockies, and my trip has been incredible 16 days out of 17, I am quite glad to come home to Anna and Baltimore for a break from my own ambitious travel plans for a while... We will se how long that feeling lingers.
Last stop of the trip, Nicks trailer on his piece of land outside Fairplay (the South Park town).
I am sure it is really nice in summer but I was quite glad I only stopped by for 5 min this time.

My final route: 5 ski resorts,  3 national parks, 2 hot springs, a few beers and 1875 miles (3000 km) driving

Outside our appartment in Mt. Vernon the comforting sound of police sirens are once again filling my ears, time to pack up and start the washing machine, and maybe also my beard trimmer - Anna likes when I surprise her with a new inventive facial hair style...

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