28 April 2014

Front Page

I found this nice little write-up in the Jackson Hole Daily today: 

Group of Skiers Almost Summit Middle Teton

On Sunday April 27 history was made as three Idaho residents made it almost all the way to the top of the third tallest mountain in the Teton range. Julia Tellman, Tyler Nelson, and Dan Rogers climbed for over seven hours, skinning and then bootpacking up Garnet Canyon and the Southwest Couloir, until ferocious winds, negligible visibility, and crippling fatigue forced them to turn around within three hundred feet of the summit. 

Rogers, a veteran, homeowner, future public official, and snowboard mountaineer, was the strongest of the three and probably would have gone for a second lap on the Middle if not hindered by his colleagues. "Tyler and Julia were riding the struggle bus, for sure," he remembers. "The wind was really blowing and the altitude is always tough to cope with." The Middle Teton is 12,804 feet tall. Says Tellman, professional granola maker, "I've never been so high!...I didn't mean it like that." 

The walls of Garnet Canyon loom over Tellman and Nelson
Photo courtesy of Dapper
Crusty Idaho native Nelson said, "We all put in a lot of preparation for this mission. Julia learned how to ski, which is really an integral part of skiing the Middle. Dan has been playing croquet almost every day to stay limber. And I've been hunting down all the good session IPAs, because when you're on the mountain, you need a beer that's high in flavor but low in alcohol." 

The action started before the group even hit the trail. As they left the house at 4 am, a cop pulled Tellman over, mistaking Sunday morning adventurers for Saturday night carousers. The drive over the Pass proved treacherous, with almost half a foot of snow on the road--the most accumulation the area has seen since mid-April. The voyage stayed exciting even after the turn-around: in Garnet Canyon Meadow, Nelson was caught in a small slab slide but lived to see another day. When asked if he had any good pointers on avalanche safety, he said, "All you really need is an airbag and a GoPro. The rest will take care of itself." On the exit stretch, the group's progress was halted by a mother moose and two yearlings, who crossed the path at a very leisurely pace. 

When the three adventurers, weary and wind-battered, made it to the local brewpub, all of the grizzled skiers at the bar stood up and applauded*. This reporter spoke to filmmaker Todd Jones of Teton Gravity Research over shots of vodka. "They are really pioneers of the sport. It's been at least a week, maybe even a week and a half since anyone got that close to the summit." When asked if he would consider any one of the three to be the newest athlete at TGR, he said, "I think another production company has already picked them up...Poorly Planned something-or-other." This claim could not be verified.  

*Added for dramatic effect; did not actually happen

10 April 2014

Job Satisfaction

I love my job for a lot of reasons. I get to wear a hat to work. On powder days my boss tells me to come in late. I get an unlimited supply of lifesaving nugs, the best possible insurance against bonking. I arrive, I work nonstop until finished, and I leave--I'm not at the mercy of the clock or the whims of customers. Every afternoon my arms and back ache, which convinces me that I'll somehow become a rock climber this summer. When I asked for a couple of days off to go to Cali, my boss bent over, touched his toes, and said, "Look. I'm flexible."

All great, sure, but one of the main reasons I love my job is the constant sensory input. As I lay waste to fifty-pound bags of oats or shredded coconut, the smells permeate the air. I hated arriving home from the restaurant reeking of fry oil; I even had to designate a jacket and a scarf as work-specific because I didn't want the rank odor on any other clothes. Now I come home smelling like granola and forget to even wash the spots of honey and peanut butter off my forearms. Measuring and mixing are agreeable tasks. I dole out scoops of hemp seeds, their shells clinging to my shirt. ("Before you get any ideas, they're not viable," joked my boss on the first day, and I, the naif, totally didn't get it.) When I'm wrestling with dried fruit, apricots and tart cherries are the best, because they're delicious, and bananas are the worst, because they're sticky and cloyingly sweet. Once in high school I let a banana squish around in my backpack for a week and now the smell of ripe bananas kind of repulses me. I drag a hand through sunflower seeds with their husks like exoskeletons, flax seeds with their beetle shine, and sesame seeds, which like to congregate at the bottom of a mix bin. I work a paint stirrer through buckets of nut butter, the hateful sheen of oil floating on top promising a layer of cement on the bottom. Once I was in a hurry with a measuring cup and splashed peanut butter oil in both eyes, but escaped with only bleary contacts, thus proving that I'm probably not even a little bit allergic (a big plus in the industry). Between rolling sheets I dart away to drink lukewarm coffee and nibble the trimmings from the previous day's labor.  We alternate between listening to my eclectic and sometimes embarrassing iPod shuffle and the "butt rock" Pandora station preferred by the others, sneaking the volume up in increments until Kate emerges from the office to turn it down. The atmosphere is decidedly chill. Sometimes I fondle the finished product in its matte plastic packaging and fancy labels and think in wonderment, I made this.
Granola porn
Courtesy of our website
And then when I've finished rolling out 105 dozen bars, I stroll home and try to decide what to do with the remaining four hours of daylight. Bike ride? Make dinner? Mail some more nugs to loved ones across the country? Or just mosey over to the pub and see how many friends are there today?