So far this season, it seems as if the weather is perfect during the week and raining on the weekend. Luckily a lot of the lower elevations are clear of snow already, so when you can’t harvest spring then you might as well ride some single track. I had a great time taking two friends out for their first mountain bike experience. Happy they returned safe and are stoked to ride again!
I often get my photos shared from Instagram accounts like REI, Mountain Hardwear, Evo, and so forth. One of my goals for putting out content is to really inspire people to get and explore our beautiful world, so I’m always happy when they share it. Today Mountain Hardwear shared one of my photos of a friend getting wind-blasted on Mt. St. Helens at the beginning of the year. I threw together a quick edit, just to show what went in to making the photo. I think we are often always faced with the question when we are having type 2 fun… Should we pull out the camera or not… I think the correct answer is ALWAYS.
On this trip, my friend Eric Han was in town for the holidays and I promised to take him up a mountain. As the weather forecasts revised the night before, we saw that the winds were going to get a little intense. Given it was going to be a perfectly blue bird day, we decided to go for it anyways and my friend Sean Chiasson agreed to jump on board too. After a pretty eventless few hours getting above tree line, we faced the wrath of our decision. Hunkered down as the wind kept picking up a 2″ rain crust and assaulting us with it, I snapped the photo that Mountain Hardwear shared. This footage is a quick edit of the trip, please take notice to the safety we took on the ride out. The strong winds were starting to form a 5″ cross-load wind layer, so we carefully leap frogged each other down and kept our terrain choice very mellow.
With my camera in the shop and inconsistent cloud levels forecasted for Mt. St. Helens, we bailed on our climb and headed out to Stub Stewart this weekend for some dry trails. Come check out this great trail network that’s within 40 minutes of the Portland Metro area! You’ll find everything from a freeride park down to beginner XC trails here. But snag a trail map before you go here, MTB project and Trailforks didn’t have 90% of the trails that exist there.
The skies opened and unleashed winter upon us this past weekend at Mt. Baker Splitfest. Luckily, we came up early on Friday and toured in blue bird conditions on Artist Point and the Swift Creek drainage. As for the rest of the weekend, high winds and white out conditions kept everyone doing short laps in tree protected areas. And in true Baker Splitfest fashion, a hoard turned out for the raffle party and over $9k was raised for NWAC. I was luckily enough to help capture the event for a second year in row. Until next year!
With the high freeze levels leaving most of the PNW foothills drenched in rain this past weekend, a few of us headed south to ride on two wheels. Arriving at Alsea Falls Trail Network in Oregon, we found exactly what we were hoping for, dry clay!
Since we arrived without knowing a work party was going on in the upper trails, we talked to Mike, the founder of the trails, and he gave us the run down of what was prime to hit and encouraged us to spend the day riding since it was our first time there. Spending most of our time on Springboard, a long and fast flow styled trail, we setup a few quick shots on some of the berms and rollers and took in the beautiful green and red contrast. After having our fill of 3 laps, we packed up and headed back north… into the rain.
Compared to last years horrible snow season and dry approaches for 3 hours up to 6k feet, Mt. St. Helens feels like an entirely new mountain this year. On our first attempt this season, we climbed in beautiful blue bird conditions, except for some nasty 45-60mph winds. After reaching about 6k feet and watching the gullies cross load, we played it safe and rode some stable powder down.
With clear skies in the forecast again, Erin and I headed out for an overnight mission on Mt. St. Helens about a month later. Rising to a clear beautiful morning, we were met with a complete wall of white over 6k feet. After looking at the updated weather forecast and finding out the clouds were not going to retract, we decided to play it safe and enjoy a 3k foot run down in perfect powder.
So what have I been up to since Nepal? Well… back before my trip, I started to have some serious pain in my left knee. To a point where walking became really hard. After going to a handful of doctors, we finally nailed down the exact reason. I have something called hyper-mobility in my joints, which means my joints are too flexible. In my knees specifically, they are to a point where I don’t have any PCLs left and my patellas are out of place. After two years of hauling camera gear, splitboards and overnight gear up the PNW volcanoes, my quads are too big, my knees worn down, and the verdict is physical therapy and some rest. Luckily mountain biking isn’t being restricted at all, but I’ll be holding up on producing some new videos stories for now. Let’s see how this goes…
It’s now December the snow is falling hard, I’ve done a ton of physical therapy, my knees are feeling great and I’m in a good brace. I’m going to be taking the season to really test my knees, move at my own pace, fit some mountain biking in, and ramp up for the spring climbing season. I’ll be updating more and starting to produce some more video stories.
Well… that’s the first time in a long time I’ve put my camera away on the descent because I was scared the elements would destroy it. Hoping to find a huge dump of snow around the 7.5k to 10k foot range on Mt Hood this past weekend, we instead found a torrential downpour. We made the best of it, braved the elements and had a great time. Thanks Eric Han and Kristian Gamiao for embracing the elements and getting the footage we could.
This does make you think tho… possibly even make you worried. Last year was the warmest year on record. Is this the fate of the PNW, will our winters really stay this warm and will our love for winter recreation slowly dwindle away. I sure hope not, but only we can contribute and help reverse the affects we’ve caused.
Eric Han, Jesse Hambley and Kristian Gamiao
I’m still pretty shy about this… I don’t feel like I’m some kind of super athlete or the best photographer out there yet, but Teton Gravity Research reached out to me earlier this month and asked to interview me for their Blue Collar Pros column. I hope this gives a little more insight into my goals on the mountain and what it takes to accomplish them. Thanks to everyone who has filmed or shot with me! You can read the full article here.