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Matt Duffy wrote on 12/21/04 9:13 PM:

> Telenauts visit was pretty
> cool

Oh yes it was.
I've been pretty quiet about it, partly from being swamped with work on my
return, and more from being convinced that while I could certainly add a lot
of words to Matt's "Velvet Hammer" post, I couldn't add much substance.

But that hasn't stopped me before, so why should it now?

Here's one piece of substance I can add: Yes, skivittlers, if you have the
chance to visit mapadu, high (a mile high) above Denver, don't pass it up.
The hospitality and the guide skills are top tier.

And so is the elevation. I never got sick from the altitude. But I never got
acclimated either, even after 3 nights in Denver (and days in the peaks) as
preparation for staying with Matt at 10,500'. The price of no altitude
sickness was sleep deprivation. I drank water til I could drink no more, and
woke to pee every hour on the hour.

Hospitality.
Aside from Matt, two willful and intriguing hostesses await the Blue River
visitor. One is Winter, who you all know. She is sweet, stubborn (there was
some disagreement over who was entitled to sleep on the couch), and a
stronger climber than anyone on this list, I am sure. To see her snow
stamina and enthusiasm is to be, simply, astounded.

The other is Matt's roommate, the well-traveled and fascinatingly
independent Yvonne. She is a character. Mother of two, extraordinarily
friendly, and--I can personally vouch--extraordinarily, I mean really
extraordinarily, strong.

Don't take this the wrong way (Peter S., don't even _read_ it). I'm not
trying to say anything other than what the words on their surface mean, but
to be surrounded by mountain man Matt and mountain women Winter and Yvonne
is a somewhat intoxicating experience. OK, lack of oxygen may have had
something to do with it, too.

Lack of oxygen certainly got to me on Matt's and Winter's and my hike up
Matt's backyard Red Mtn. The day started gentle enough, if you don't count
an old geezer having to stop and wheeze every twenty steps. But by the time,
1000+ verts later, we emerged from the trees, me air-starved in the whipping
wind and near tractionless on the wind-blown hardpack, a walk-in-the-park
this no longer was.

I had started the hike nervously looking forward to the cornice drop Matt
promised at the top. By the time we got there, I was way too brinked to want
anything to do with it. It took full and total concentration to de-skin, zip
up, tighten boots, and haltingly make my way across what, under any other
conditions would be an easy, easy, ri-dic-ulously easy traverse off mountain
saddle and into a slight sheltering gully. Actually, it _was_ easy... after
I fully believed I was not going to drop off a sudden wall, hidden beneath
my feet in depth-perception-less white.

But after... what sweetness. The wavy, powdery mountain folds were as
blissful as they look in Matt's
http://www.uvm.edu/skivt-l/image_upload/World/20041215rd4.jpg

And the following gentle bobsled run, down the tracks we'd laid on the way
up, was a ski--fast, soft and narrow--unlike any other I've ever done.

And watching Winter race down, just inches behind Matt's skis... pretty
funny, pretty amazing.

Long climb and quick downski ended suddenly and satisfyingly.


++++

The day before we did laps on a ski run that's been on my to-ski list as
long as I've had a to-ski list, Loveland Pass. Actually, it's still on my
list--the South face, towards A-Basin. Avi danger ruled that out. But the
short North slope was cool. 800 wooded verts, pop out on the highway, catch
a ride and quick do it again. Winter chasing all the way. (And a truly
astounding contortionism demonstration by Matt, squeezing his ski-booted
self into the back section of a micro-station wagon that was already, to my
eyes, fully packed. Still don't quite get how he got in.)

++++

Then a short trip down the road to Keystone for a ridiculous, laugh-filled
rental car adventure. We drove that baby Pacifica up a mile of snow-packed
road, where certainly no one expected anyone but a snow-cat to go (but since
no signs said "don't," we "did"). Traction and steering came and went, often
on the verge of leaving us a-spin, but always, somehow, reappearing at the
decisive moment. At the top, an exhilarating, effortless (sort-of) Keystone
romp.

++++

Conditions at Loveland Pass and at Keystone were way more than adequate, but
way less then spectacular. There'd been no snow for days and the weekend
skiers had tracked everything out. Plenty of fun left, but just a hair more
than zero freshies.

++++

My last morning before the plane ride home was a quick couple hours at tiny
(by Colo. standards) Loveland. PaulT told me I'd love it and did I ever.
(Some fresh snow helped a lot.) Tree runs easily, easily found--more than I
had close to enough time to ski. Boot top freshies readily available. And
then, the front stuff off Lift 2. Cool, challenging, undulating steeps. I
felt like a flying rock star.

Too soon, I was flying home.

++++

It was a great trip. Snow quality was adequate. Scenery and variety was
invigorating. And the company was spectacular. Yes folks, if you can swing
it and Matt will have you, a pilgrimage to the SkiVT-L Blue River office is
highly recommended.

--tn

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