Saturday, September 22, 2012

Playing in the mountains again!

Mattie showing us how it is done!! You are my inspiration!
My first lead in a year! Nothing fancy, but fun to be back!
This summer has been a a little rough, but I have been making the best of it and trying to appreciate the things I can do and not ever take my body for granted. Finally after four months of dealing with a broken tibia and fibula I was finally ready to get back into the mountains and back to climbing! The only small problem was my shoulder has been very unstable for the last year and has been dislocating on a regular basis. I am heading into surgery in a couple of days to fix the problem which will give me enough time to recover for ski season.This is hard on me mentally after coming off such a serious injury to my lower leg. I am trying to remain as positive as I can and I am grateful that I can now at least walk.
A few weeks ago I went climbing for my first time since my broken leg with two very inspiring women Mattie and Kim. We headed down to Wild Iris in the southern Wind River Mountains out of Lander, Wy. I was so psyched be able to get out and get on the rock again and be in the mountains. The climbing in Wild Iris is rated a little harder than I am used to climbing and especially after not climbing for over a year. Mattie, being the amzing graceful and mellow person that she is lead right up the hard stuff instilling confidence in my climbing ability. Watching her was amazing! There is nothing like going climbing with two badass ladies to get your confidence back. I had an amazing time and even lead a few pitches!
Kim Havell Sending Beautifully!
The following weekend I was excited to get into the Tetons! The past 4 months I had just been staring up at them wishing I could just be able to walk to them! I could not believe that my time had finally come I was going to climb Irenes Arete with Brian and play in the mountains. My leg and shoulder had felt good climbing in Wild Iris, which had me feeling positive about the day. I had climbed Irenes a few times before and was so excited to climb such a beautiful route. My leg was a little sore going up, but nothing major. I was feeling really strong climbing until the third pitch and my shoulder decided to dislocate, I could not believe it and I was so mad at myself for being all the way up here with not a lot of bail options and putting my partner in a bad position. I was able to finish off the pitch with it dislocated and get to Brian on the belay ledge. After about 20 minutes we were able to get then
 shoulder back into place. The only bad thing was we still had 2 pitches of climbing until the descent.
Brian moving gracefully! This move was a little hard on the shoulder. (stayed in on this one though)


The one good thing was a good friend and PA Lanny Johnson happened to be on the route behind us. He knew how to get my shoulder back in and so I felt a little more secure with trying to finish the route. Looming above be was a hard hand crack that I remember really liking but with the way my shoulder felt I was not feeling very confident on making it through the crux. Brian lead up and out of contact, I knew Lanny was coming up behind me, but I really did not want to deal with the pain of my shoulder dislocating again. Sure enough I tried to climb up and was not able to make the move due to my confidence and my sore shoulder. I fell 3 times and on the third try my worst nightmare happened my shoulder popped out again! Lannys partner Mike was just making his way to the ledge and was able to tell Brian to lower me down a bit, but communication was tough. After what felt like an eternity Lanny got to the ledge and was able to put my shoulder back in. Thank you Lanny! I then was assisted up by Mike and able to make it to Brian and climb the last pitch with mainly one arm. My shoulder was sore and I still had not done much hiking with my leg. The gully going down from Irenes was less than forgiving, but was able to make it out to the car with little problems just a sore shoulder and ankle! Getting shoulder surgery in 2 days to have be back in time for skiing!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

4 weeks into recovery!

Thanks ladies for getting me into the mountains!!
Yesterday was the 4 week mark since my accident and my second surgery. The past month has been one of the hardest for me mentally and physically. I try to stay positive and see the light at the end of the tunnel and continue to be inspired by people like Super Women Sally and other people that have gone through much more serious injuries! But sometimes no matter how hard you try it is all relative and being injured is never easy. I have been injured a lot in my life, but this is one of the worst injuries I have ever had to go through.

Seeing my leg continue to shrink more and more everyday is incredibly hard.  I am still unable to weight bear for another 4 weeks and it is hard to imagine that I am only half way there. This injury has made me realize how fast life can change and it is hard not to dwell on the past year with my injuries to losing friends. People keep telling me this injury is telling me something and that maybe I need to slow down and reevaluate my life. The fact is I love my life and the day I got hurt I could not have been happier.

Right now I am nervous about ever being able to ski like I used to mentally and physically, but that does not mean that I am not going to try and come back stronger than ever. This past season after having three injuries the previous season and this year  my shoulder dislocating sporadically before competition was the best I have ever skied in my skiing career! I need to try and hold onto that energy and carry it through my recovery.

my new leg!
Not being able to be outside doing all my summer activities is the largest battle I am fighting with at the moment, but I am hoping soon enough I will be on a bike and a horse at least!! I have been able to focus on my work and helping other people, which makes me happy and helps me heal! I just want to thank all my clients and friends for all their help with food during the time I was not able to cook. (my boyfriend Brian is in Alaska, he got me through the worse very amazing guy!!) I feel so lucky to be part of the Jackson community and have such an amazing family of friends!!

4 weeks ago

much better!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Breaking the Ankle, Tibula and Fibula!

La Grave

 My 5 weeks traveling in Europe were amazing! I was able to do a bunch of skiing/climbing that made me nervous and made for such great memories. I was so excited to come home to the nice spring weather and the off season of Jackson. I was ready to focus on my business, get some skiing in the Winds and the Tetons and prepare for a long summer of work on the river, staying strong for ski season and riding my horses. Life was going so well and I could not get over how lucky I was to have a job I love, amazing friends, and family. I also finally had the chance to realize that I was the Freeskiing World Tour Champion! I could not believe that I had made it through the winter injury free and feeling stronger than ever, especially after some of the areas I had skied and climbed.

 Last Wednesday I had a break between my classes and training. It was a beautiful day and I had not been on my mountain bike much, since I had only been home a week.  I was so excited to ride putt putt trail to sidewalk trail one of my favorite early season rides. I realized at the parking lot that I had forgotten my helmut, but figured I would just take it easy and cruise, it was something I had ridden a million times. I was cruising along day dreaming about my ski trip to the winds that weekend and possible ski adventures in the Tetons. As I was riding down the Cache Creek road about half way thru my ride,  I thought there was a new entrance to the sidewalk trail, so at the last minute I slammed on my brakes and went to turn right. The gravel on the cache creek road did not like my decision as my back tire skidded out from underneath me and I was airborne sideways.
knee where rod was inserted
 As I came down I felt my right lower leg take the entire impact and my foot release from the pedals. I sat up and saw that my foot was facing the wrong direction and the tibia was pulsating toward the skin. The pain was excruciating and my leg was mangled. I called 911 right away and as I did two ladies were running down the trail, one being Jen Sparks from search and rescue. ( I think that is her name) The other I can not remember, but thank goodness for their help. They helped stabilize me on the ground, I had just taken my wilderness first aid course and it was so weird actually being the patient not playing that patient in scenarios we had practiced for hours. I was really lucky to not have hit my head or my spine, I always wear my helmut but that day was an exception.

The ambulance was able to drive right to me which was so lucky, because I was having a hard time remaining conscious with the pain. The EMTs, paramedics and doctors were amazing on the scene. I felt so lucky to be so cared for and so quickly. Once I had some pain medicine it really helped me to function. Dr. Rork showed me my x-rays that showed I had a broken my ankle, Tibia and fibula (same leg that I had broken my fibula on last year) He said I would need to go in for surgery right away to protect everything. I was still in such shock with what had happened I did not even know what to think. I went in for surgery within an hour and woke up to nausea and intense pain.
Rod helping stabilize Tibia
This started my 5 night hiatus in the hospital that was some of the most challenging of my life. I have never done well with  pain medications and anesthesia so that first night was challenging. The next day I was told that the surgery had not worked the way they had wanted and there was still some gaps in the ankle area so they needed to go back in and tighten up the screws. This was a little disheartening, but I just wanted my leg to heal properly. The support I had from my clients, friends and family was amazing. I could not have gotten through this without the support. I went in for another surgery that was supposed to be 2 hours and ended up being a very vigorous 5 hour surgery because of complications removing the original rod.
Ankle staples keeping everything intact
View of screws keeping ankle together
The Doctors ended up having to replace the rod and redo all the screws. This was not expected, but changed once they were operating. The next couple nights between the pain pill side effects and pain itself were incredibly hard. I could not have gotten through it without the help of my boyfriend, family and the community. I have a long road ahead of me and hope to try and focus on other things and realize how lucky I  am for it to only be my leg.

 I just wanted to share my story, because it is amazing how fast your life can change. I never want to take anything for granted and always appreciate life. I thought after getting through my ski season I would be in the clear, but things happen so fast. Now I just look forward to a fast and successful recovery so I can be back doing normal activities and be back for ski season. Thank you everyone for all the love.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chamonix and Argentiere glacier valley!

Today I left Europe after 5 weeks of traveling and skiing in Switzerland and France, with a quick little side trip to Kirkwood for the freeskiing championships. Overall the trip was amazing and I am coming home with a lot more experinces. Chamonix was incredibly challenging with the weather, but I was able to have 3 really awesome days out of 3 weeks. The other days involved flat light and the foehn wind, which is an incredibly strong and warm wind that caused the lifts from opening for a few days. The last good day left me wanting to come back for more skiing in the future. We toured into the Argentiere glacier valley and we were greeted my steep 50 to 60 degree peaks on one side and long rolling cols and couloirs on the other. Chamonix had received over 2 feet of snow in the last 48 hours, so we kept it mellow toured 3,000 feet up the Col de Amethyst. The snow was deep and the views skiing down were hard to beat. I was hoping that we might get one more day to tour in the Argentiere and possibly one more day on the Agui di Midi. The weather did not participate and the foehn wind came and ruined the snow and closed the lifts. We decided to go to local crag and do some climbing in the sun, which was still fun. A little unlucky with the trip to Chamonix, I still will never forget the trip and now I have a little more idea of what to ski for the next trip! Vacation time is over and time to start saving for the next big adventure!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Les Calanques, the Mediterranean and skiing the Glacier Rond again!!!

The weather still was not cooperating in Chamonix so Brian and I decided to head to the South of France for a couple days. We were debating, because we had our place in Chamonix, but decided if we were only 5 hours from the Mediterranean and the beautiful climbing mecca of Les Calanques! We rented a car and headed south. The drive was gorgeous as we left the alps and entered into a more desert environment of southern France. We stayed in Cassis a small town the size of Jackson, right on the sea! The town of Cassis was right next to Les Calanques and such a cool town. We climbed for 3 days, amazing climbing right over the ocean. I could definitely have spent a month there climbing! The water was a little cold, but I swam in the Meditteranean all 3 days, it was very hard to resist with the sea blue color so enticing. Since we had our place to stay in Chamonix and needed to take advantage of it so we left our little beach vacation and returned home to a morning break in the weather and we went for the Glacier Rond again! This time it had a little more snow and we skied some beautiful powder into the glacier and all the way to the bottom! We got 8500 feet of skiing in one run! Climbing on the beach, swimming in the Meditteranean to skiing an exposed glacier with a couloir! Life really does not get that much better than that! I feel so lucky!!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Glacier Rond, Valle Blanche and a Ice cave!

The weather has been tough in Chamonix, but finally on Tuesday the sun came back! We knew everyone would be in a frenzy, because it was the first time that we had seen the sun in 8 days! It was Brendan and Travers last day in Chamonix, so we wanted to make it a good day. We loaded the Agui Di Midi at around 10 am hoping to be a little behind the crowds. Our plan was to try and ski the Cosmique Couloir or the Glacier Rond into the Exit couloir. As we came out of the clouds at the mid station we knew it was a possibility. It was bluebird and a beautiful powder day! We walked the snow/ice stairs down off the Agui and skied down to the Cosmique there were a few parties still rapping, it looked like a good adventure, but not as much skiing. We decided to ski the Rond, because it involved no rappeling and we could get more bang for our buck! as we traversed in to the top of the glacier it was a perfect 500 feet of 45 to 50 degree slope with powder on ice above serious exposure. Pretty exciting, this was definitely a no fall zone! As I made my first turn I wished I had sharpened my skis!!! The snow was awesome, but you were not totally sure when you were going to hit ice. We traversed left toward the exit couloir and as I looked down I could not belive my eyes, a 40 to 45 degree couloir that looked like it went on for forever! We had one more crux and that was getting into the couloir it was again an icy ramp, but not above as much exposure besides going down the entire couloir! Yikes! We all made it through the crux nice and easy and were greeted by pure bliss of powder for about 1500 feet. Then a nice traverse with the glacier and Mont Blanc to our left! We hopped back on the mid station tram and did a great run on the Valle Blanche to the ice cave and then to the Mer de Glace train right back to our aparment! What an amazing day, I just wish the weather would hold so I could have more amazing adventures!! Keeping my fingers crossed!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Powder skiing in Chamonix!

After Kirkwood it was so nice to finally arrive at my new home for a couple of weeks! I had been living out of my bag and flying back and forth between Europe, competing and ski touring! Prett amazing life, but can get exhausting! What a whirlwind! As soon as I arrived in Chamonix it started to snow! I do not mind skiing powder, but I was ready to come back here and get into the high mountains. The skiing has been great, but we have not seen the mountains or where we are skiing for the last couple days. The weather is supposed to improve by Tuesday which is good news! It has given me a chance to catch up on work and life and in all reality I probably needed the rest! Chamonix is still a beautiful town to explore and there are 3 ski resorts within a short bus ride or walking distance! We rented a house with 6 of us so we are all becoming good friends! Ha ha! Hopefully I will have more adventures to write about soon! Here are some photos of the boys in the sauna at our house, the town of Chamonix and the beautiful peaks from the top of The Grand Montets!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kirkwood and the McConkey Cup!!

This has been quite the season starting wth 3 weeks in South America for 2 competitions in August and September. Last seasin I had a tough year breaking my ribs, bringing a knee to my face and then breaking my leg in March. Competing in South America I still was in a lot of pain in my leg, so I started doubting the season. Going into this season I told myself I was going to try and win the world tour one more time and if I won that would be awesome, if not it was okay to! After winning the first stop on the Freeskiing Tour I thought maybe this could be my year! I placed 3rd at the second stop just pulling me slightly into the lead for the overall ahead of Angel Collinson. The next stop was not until January, so I had some time to rehab my leg more and continue my training at Mountain Athlete. The third stop was Revelstoke, BC and I skied one of the most amazing runs of my career in the finals, but was only able to place 2 nd behind Angel. I still felt good about the tour because we still had 3 more stops! As the winter went on one stop proceded to get cancelled, another moved to April due to lack of snow. I was starting to worry about not having a chance at the tour. As Snowbird approached, I felt a ton of pressure to do well and I also wanted a shot to compete in Verbier. After the Snowbird event the current top male and female competitior would compete in Verbier. Again in snowbird I threw down as much as I could in the finals, which won me the run but was only good enough for another second! This result along with Angels third made us tied evenly for the overall! This also meant I was going to compete in Verbier! My boyfriend and I had been planning for a year to spend the month of April in La Grave and Chamonix, France to climb and ski some couloirs. The only problem was that Kirkwood had been moved to the first weekend in April. So it was a tough decision, but with help of my sponsors Mountain athlete and Fish Creek Excavation I was going to be able to fly from Europe to Kirkwood and then back to Europe to join my team back in Chamonix!

Leaving Europe was tough I had just had an amazing 2 weeks competing and skiing, it was so hard to leave. I also felt a ton of pressure to win the world tour and it was a lot of travelling and expenses to try and do so. I was excited to go though and could not believe Angel and I were in a tie for the overall. I flew in and had to compete the following day , which was hard because I was incredibly jet lagged, nervous and wanted to do well! After the first day I was .03 behind Angel and sitting in 4 th place by 3 points. I was not happy with the way I skied and knew I needed to find the fire for one more run. Inspecting the finals venue I felt confident with my line, it had some good feautures with a lot speed coming into some inconsistent snow. My nerves were all over at the start of my finals run, I just wanted to be at the bottom!!!! As I left the start gate, I felt my energy and my fire come back! I knew I could do this! Entering my top air, I came out with some speed had to slow it down for my next feauture. My third air was the one that worried me, because it involved an air into straightlining a long chute into a pow field. As I took off I just put my hands forward and held on realizing this is why I loved racing downhill! I was able to hold onto it and coming into the finish I could not have been happier!! Now I just had to wait for 3 more girls to come down, Angel skiing right after me. She skied awesome, but got a little lost on her line costing her some points. After her score was released I was told I had won the world tour, I could not believe it! There were still 2 more ladies to ski the run. Earlier that day I could not help thinking how amaizng it would be to win the event and the overall title! I had to push that out of my mind, because that would be to hard and I did not want to get my hopes up! The next girl came down and I as I kept my fingers crossed I pulled into second, then the as the last girl came I waited for the score and as soon as it was released I knew I had won!! I could not believe it! What an amazing day! It seemed so surreal , I was so stoked to be with my freeskiing family and that my mom was there to see me on one of the happiest days of my skiing career! Winning the McConkey cup is such and honor and I want to continue to ski for those we have lost in this amazing sport! I am so lucky to have met and spent times with all those that have fallen. I know Jim Jack was watching and I carried his encouraging words with me through my skiing that day! Also I am sure Ryan was there cheering us all on as well with a big smile on his face! The two people that loved skiing more than anyone I have ever met along with Shane McConkey! These people have inspired me so much in different ways and I will never forget how lucky I am to be part of this sport. Now I am on my way back to Chamonix to hopefully do some fun skiing!!! Thanks to Arcteryx, Head, Scott, Hestra, Gu, Jackson Hole Mountain resort, Icebreaker and Mountain Athlete for making this a possibility!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

La Grave!!!!

Pulling into La Grave I felt like I had come home! This is my third trip to La Grave and I never have enough time to spend there. This time I arrived with 5 other people and we rented a house in the Terrases, which is a small village above La Grave located steep on the mountain side. Walking to the little stone home for the week we walked through chickens and barns full of sheep and goats. Our place had an amazing view of the mountains of La Grave and the Le Meije! It could not have been more perfect. It had not snowed for a couple weeks in La Grave so we decided to do more touring than skiing on the mountain. The first day we toured up the Col De Lauteret with only touring for an hour we dropped through thhe coal and had a 2500 foot run down. The second day we drove a little further past to another valley and toured about 3500 feet up and skied a beautiful face starting with a short couloir. From the top of this peak the views were unbelieveable and all of us spotted a beautiful perfect couloir in the distance. We figured that it would take more than a days trip from where we were to get there. When we arrived back at the car we started talking with a man and he told us that the couloir was just another valley over and it was a half day mission! All 6 of us had a new objective and could not wait to check out the couloir. I only had one more day left in La Grave, I really wanted to have a chance at the coulor Devin. We headed out around 8 am and were hiking toward the couloir Devin , along a beautiful creek in the woods. We skinned to the bottom of the couloir and started to climb upward. The couloir was not incredibly steep, but a perfect pitch of about 40 to 45 degrees. It was one of the longest couloirs I have ever booted up and skied about 2000 feet. It took us about 1 hour 45 minutes to reach the top from where the couloir started. As we skied down we were greeted with surprisingly good conditions with a little knee deep powder!! We all skied for Doug Coombs( anniversary of his passing in La Grave) this day , it being in his old stomping grounds and him being one of the most influential skiers in the world! I also skied for his wife Emily, who has inspired me as well and become a good friend. Skiing back down to valley and arriving at the little village in just about 6 hours since we had left! The village restaurant had some of the best crepes and omlettes I have ever had and they tasted that much better after our 5,000 foot climb and ski!! What an amazing trip to La Grave it was so hard to leave everyone and the town.
Now I am in route to Kirkwood, Ca for the last stop on the Freeskiing World Tour where I am currently tied with Angel Collinson for the overall lead. I then will head back to Chamonix to ski for the rest of the month. Going to Kirkwood mid trip was not part of the original plan, but due to lack of snow the stop was pushed back. It was a tough decision, but with a little help from Rob at Mountain Athlete and Rick Hunt I am able to make the trek back to the U.S. to try and win the world championship!!