Jim Hansen is the man, and so are his muppets.  I loved the muppets as a kid and turns out they’re still popping into my head.  I couldn’t get the image of the Snuffaluffagus out of my head last Saturday as I climbed Mt. Sneffles.  The muppets are cool and all, but I’ve moved on to other interests.  Mt. Sneffles is a spectacular mountain.  It rises above Telluride and Ouray in the San Jauns Mountains like the Eiger.   A couple good buddies made the 8 hour pilgrimage to southwest Colorado to take on the mountain for a challenging climb and rewarding snowboard descent.  Check out Jon’s report on his blog.
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Jon generously drove the long trip, Chris snagged shotgun and I was left with the jump seat in the back of Jon’s pickup.  After stopping off to grab some crampons and rappel gear, we hit the road with the pickup bed looking like we had just dropped our life savings at REI scattered with skis, backpacks, ice axes and snowshoes.
Once we reached the trailhead, the Dallas Divide ominously loomed as it dominated the southern horizon.  The sun was setting quick and we got a move on to find a place to sleep in Blain Basin.  After a tricky creek    crossing   with 80 lb pack on, we apparently  took a wrong turn and spend the next couple hours going back and forth on the wrong trail.  At midnight, all very tired, we called it a night and threw out our sleeping bags to sleep under the stars in an open meadow.
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*All Photos by Jon Jay

The next morning we backtracked to the creek and found a very visible sign pointing to Blain Basin….Great.  Snow covered parts of the trail but some old skin tracks provided some solid snow to walk on.  We hiked in the shadow of Sneffles and the Dallas Divide until we finally reached a clearing that revealed an expansive Blain Basin with Mt. Sneffles protruding into the heavens behind around 8:00 AM. 
Jon and Chris slapped on their skins and I, for once in my life, kicked their butts on my snowshoes as they dealt with a load of snirt (snow-dirt)clogging up their traction.  We got a good view of the Snake Couloir that wrapped along the Northwest side of the mountain that promised a thrilling descent later in the day.  Moving on, a long and tiresome path through the basin led us to the bottom of the Lavender Couloir on the east face of the mountain.  This would be our straight shot to the top…we strapped on crampons and unloaded our axes to tackle this simple but lengthy snow climb.  Jon provided a nice bootpack to follow.
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On top of the south col, the wind howled and nearly blew me over with my board acting like a sail above my head.  Forecasts were accurately predicting 80 mph gusts at the top but it was still turning into a gorgeous warm day.  After a quick break at the saddle, we eyed the final trough to the summit.  The short climb to the top revealed a sudden drop onto the north side of the mountain; a route around to the left put us on the summit.
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The view from the top is one of the most beautiful I have had in Colorado.  The San Juans are an artistic masterpiece that owes something to the glaciers that created them.  Telluride was visible to the West, Ridgeway to the Northeast and the Dallas Divide seemed to buttress the whole mountain to the Southeast.
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After some reminiscing on the climb, the three of us prepped the rappel off the summit anchor into the Snake Couloir.  Jon grabbed the rope from my pack and Chris was the first to descent the 90 ft drop.  I got a chance to use my rarely-out-of-the-closet harness and hopped down the face second with Jon bringing up the rear.  With all of us safely in the couloir, Jon pulled the rope through and we loaded and strapped up for the  descent.  Check out Jon’s POV footage of the whole thing here.
The snow was a bit choppy in places but the terrain was stunning.  Snow got better as we entered the high walled section and took turns ripping down the chute and out onto the snow apron of Sneffles.  Safely down and at the bottom of Blain Basin, we looked back and appreciated the great day.  I hope to be back here again as this mountain is absolutely gorgeous.  
Back to Denver  to prep for finals and hitting Maroon Bells next weekend.

-Tyler Grubb

Vail Pass Half Marathon

I just registered for what will most likely be the hardest race of my life.  It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t started training too much for a half marathon that takes place at 8,000-10,000 feet above sea level.  If I were back home in Oregon, that’d be like running up Mt. Hood a couple times teva_moutain_games_logo1over.  The Vail Pass Half Marathon is part of the annual Teva Mountain Games in Vail that run June 3rd –6th this year.  The race starts in the bottom of the valley in East Vail and ends at the summit of the pass around 10,500' feet.  All kinds of other events will blanket Vail valley over the weekend including kayaking, mountain biking, climbing, trail running, fishing and even stand up paddle boarding.  I’m hitting the training hard for the next couple weeks and hope to get up there to scope out the course sometime soon to see what I got myself into.  Check out the course profile to see just how demanding this race will be.
On another note concerning Teva, check out their contest to become a Teva Life Agent.  They are giving away awards of $10,000 for anyone to go out and achieve their dreams.  You just have to report back in the form of blogs, photos, videos and updates.  Pretty sweet deal.

-Tyler Grubb

My Engineering Work Gets Noticed

It was nice running across this article today written in the DU Clarion about a two-quarter long project I worked on last winter and spring.  Our bomb disposal robot turned out to be a pretty big success in its ability to integrate GPS coordinates and ultrasonic ping sensors to locate and remove a mock bomb.  Check out the Clarion article here.

-Tyler Grubb

The Pioneer Challenge: Too Much Burger

The Border Restaurant and Bar on campus has a new menu item labeled “The Pioneer Challenge”.  Rules are as follows:
- 9 1/3 lb patties plus buns
- 9 slices of cheese
- Lettuce, Onion, Tomato
- Eaten all in 20 minutes
I made it down to half a patty before time expired….
That’s a big burger
My cheerleading team….no wonder I didn’t make it.
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Slowing down….
The final standings….

-Tyler Grubb

May-cember in Rocky Mountain National Park

Saturday May 1st marked what for me this year?  One of the best powder  days of the year.  Insane I know. Welcome to   Colorado weather.  I drove up (with Andrew and Chris) to meet Jon, Jon and Owen at the Bear Lake  parking lot in RMNP to get in some lines of gnar before the snow season finally closed.  The park was filled with Asian tourists in loafers admiring the snow and the scenery around some of the lakes nearby but we quickly strapped up and were on our way to the top  of some chutes right above Dream Lake.  Our first attempts at route finding through the deep snow turned out pretty unsuccessful after we always found ourselves on the bottom side of a pretty gnarly headwall.  After taking a quick ski descent we found a path up and around to hit some sweet pillows in  a gully appropriately called Marioland.  Because we had gotten a late start we really didn’t have much time to rip down a few more runs before a few of the guys had to make it back for a formal dance.  A few herds of elk lingered around the park as we made our departure.  I’ll be back there soon for some backpacking…that is if the 4 feet of snow melts in time.
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-Tyler Grubb

Mt. Massive is Aptly Named

P4280015On Tuesday night Jon and I took off after class to the Mt. Massive Wilderness area outside of Leadville in hopes of summiting in the morning and taking a ski line down the southwest slopes.  With a forecast for some chilly 50 MPH winds for the night and the next day we weren’t all that hopeful for a bluebird day.  After setting up a quick bivy camp and sleeping for a couple hours we took off at around 4 AM up the road to the Mt. Massive trailhead.  Snowshoeing for 3 and a half miles wore me down pretty quick on our way to the southwest slopes we intended to scale.  Post holing through the majority of the trail in some aspen trees (I’m pretty damn close to just buying a split-board) also took its physical toll before we gained the summit ridge.  With tired legs and wind blown faces we finally called it a day at around 13,000’ and took a crusty run  back into the aspen trees.  A     miserable route finding mission took place to get us back on a continuous trail we could ski (snowboard, again, not so hot) back to the trailhead.  We ended up back at the car around 11:30 and were able to make it back to Denver for class at 2 PM.  Quite the morning before learning about the sustainable business practices in developing countries….

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-Tyler Grubb