Friday, December 31, 2010

Skiing with the TREW Crew at Highlands

Yesterday I had one of those days that every skier craves. John Pew, the creative brain behind TREW gear was in town with his brothers Cary and Chris, and one of the TREW athletes, Colter Hinchliffe. Guess who got to go rip around Aspen Highlands with them all day?

I first saw TREW gear last year on Aspen Mountain, and I knew that whatever I could do, I needed to get into these clothes. Outerwear is expensive, and I love a small, dedicated boutique business with a focused mindset. The clothes look technical, but fun, like big mountain gear with a sense of humor. I'm sick of wearing black, I need a new jacket, and yeah, those of you that remember the ketchup soup and sleeping in the back of the windowless Bronco on all the back country adventures from last year know I can't afford a new jacket.

I knocked on the TREW Winnie, which was parked outside Aspen Mountain and asked if they'd be interested in sponsoring me. I know. Its a ridiculous thing to do, seeing as how I am NOT in the X Games, but whats the worst thing that can happen, right? Maybe they'll say yes! The worst thing that can happen is that they know that another person loves their gear, and I might make a friend.

Well, we finally got to ski together, thanks to the magic of Facebook, and here's what I have to say about TREW. Its an apt name. This is not just an awesome jacket and bibs that keep you dry when you crater yourself into the unseen road on the other side of that little five foot cliff drop (Nice work, Cary...) It is what these guys are about.

They are true. They are a couple of skiers that want better clothes. They hang out, make friends, go skiing, and stay focused on their mission. This is a group who have hit it out of the park. Their clothes are taking off, they tour the country skiing big lines and doing business. It would be really easy for them to develop an elitist, exclusive attitude. But what you find when you meet John Pew is a genuine smile, an open, willing person, and a good business man. He knows what he wants for this company. He knows he has to stay focused. He still likes to play. He works hard, and he has time for everyone who wants a minute from him.

His brothers are equally genuine, each has their own story, doing their best to live their dream. Just like all of us, the clothes are a vehicle for the unspoken goal.

I asked John where he saw the company going, and he gave me a thorough and thoughtful answer which makes me feel like they are going to do really well. A few pieces, developed slowly. There is talk of a down layer being added to the mix. They are in their third year of operations and in their third company for manufacturing, but this time, they are in Nepal, with a solid company. This feels like an intuitively good match.

I asked John what his dreams are and he got a look on his face that I recognized, I've seen it on the faces of so many people who love to ski... Alaska. Not just heli skiing, but ripping big spines and curtains, playing on the immense playground that is big mountain skiing in the Chugatch. It feels far off to everyone who dreams about it, but this man has so much positive energy behind him, so much baseline honesty and genuinely lives "happy to ski". I think those big spines may not be that far in his future. They might be right around the corner for him. I hope so.

Since we didn't have a helicopter at our disposal, we spent the day ripping around Highlands at Mach Chicken. This was probably, honestly, the fastest I've ever skied, and I thought to myself, my goal for today is to stay on my feet and never make them wait for me. I want to play hard, I've been skiing greens all week with my excellent clients. But its time to shake the cobwebs and see what my feet have. In the bargain, I found out that I am quite comfortable skiing that fast, and even finding things to drop and pop off of at speed. My skiing is changing. And spending the day in a pack of boys who jump off three story buildings on their skis for fun made it even better. I'm hungry for more.

John keeping Colter warm on the lift (you've gotta protect the talent...)
This journey is always incredible to me, I'm so excited to have gotten to spend time with Ski Mountaineering legend Bill Briggs, with racing legend Pepi Stiegler, with Warren Miller athletes Chris Anthony and Scotty Kennett, and now getting to visit with this new, ever evolving free ride crowd. Its all skiing. I feel like I'm getting to live little pieces of this huge picture, a picture which is becoming less and less fractured. I don't think it matters how you slide, what you slide on, whether you like racing or jumping or floating through the pow on huge sticks, we all end our runs the same way, with a big, shit eating grin on our faces.

Chasing Colter down the North Woods in Highlands Bowl, I was struck with how smooth and easy this 24 year old from Aspen, CO (now living in Salt Lake City, Utah) makes it look. I looked at the video footage later that afternoon, and aside from the very obvious difference that Colter is a freeride freak of nature who has been skiing since he was born and I am a still a newbie as a skier and an instructor (which I love, but which comes with its own brand of crazy), there were some very cool things to see in our skiing. Colter stays low and soft, he never looks like he is working hard, there is soul in his skiing in every turn, almost careless.

But don't be fooled, this kid knows right where the camera is and how to make it look good even when the snow's not that deep. I watched my own skiing, more free than it has been, but still calculated, on purpose, deliberate. I definitely was playing, but I think I have a lot to learn from this end of the spectrum. I'm stoked to visit this end of the ski pool and see what happens, and I wonder how it will change and evolve my understanding and my teaching.

I'm not sure what the future holds for me and TREW, but we've talked about going on a road trip together so I can write about life in skiing from that perspective. What a treat it would be!

Thanks, TREW for an awesome day, here's to many more in the future and best of luck with your venture!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Christmas! Gifts ABOUND!

Hello Hello! It has been a while. SO many amazing things are happening, amongst them the fact that I can sit down at my computer again!

My little sister has moved to Aspen! Yay! She lives with me and the boys and it is SOOOo good for all of us!  If you are a knitter, or wish you were, you should check out her amazing blog at

Tom, Ethan and Bodhi's dad, came down and stayed with us for Christmas. This was a long time in the works, and took dedication and trust from both of us. I'm proud of all of us, there is a gentle space, forgiveness and a desire to forge our friendship on both sides. What an amazing Christmas gift for everyone in the family! We had a wonderful time playing and living together, and I'm grateful.  Tom has decided to move to Aspen, to be close to the boys, and I can't believe how lucky we all are. He's looking for a place on the ranch, yay, the boys will be able to run from house to house, and we will be able to play all together.

My mom came out to visit, which was wonderful, as did my sister Beth, who I only get to see once a year, as she is incredibly hard working in the film industry in LA. I think they may literally keep her chained to her desk.

Bodhi has been going through some tough stuff at school, and in ski school, and I think we turned a big corner right before the break, and Tom coming down and everything going so well has just served to underline his new, happier perspective.

After many ons and offs, we celebrated Ethan's birthday at the ARC in the pool, thanks to all who came to that, and we have decided to hold the skating and broom ball party in January or February.

Christmas is always a crazy time, its when the money is made if you are a ski instructor, and so we are all working our tails off every day. Making hay, as it were.

There were about 16 days of intense training before the lesson season started, and they went really well. I'm eager to write about all of it, training with Andrew Wilson and Jonathan Ballou, and continuing to work with my MA group to prepare them for their Cert 2 and 3 exams.

I'm so grateful to be back at the computer and writing again, thank you for your patience, all will be made clear! (well, maybe not all, but I'll do my best.)

Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year to all of you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Hi, Mom!

Happy Birthday! (which was yesterday...) Thank you so much for everything you have done for us, not just in the past year, but over years and years and years. The boys and I feel blessed and grateful to you for your love, your heart, your drive, your desire for all of us to succeed.

We hope that your birthday dinner was a mad success and that you are happy to be home in WARM California!

Thank you again for helping us get on our feet. You are amazing.


Finding the Rhythm of seasonal cross over, and Fire Cupping Dennis.

Its been a heck of a week, I'm having some days where I start at 5:30 in the morning with a run, get home, shower, make breakfast for the kids, get them to school, head to the mountain, train hard all day, grocery shop, pick up the kids from after school care, make dinner, get them started on homework, teach an MA class, put the kids in bed, give a massage to a client, work out my core, shower, and fall in bed exhausted.

Its a lot, but each portion is rewarding, fulfilling and necessary. Managing how these things happen while balancing everything is challenging, and some stuff falls through the cracks, (especially when one of my kids ends up ill, wow does THAT throw a curve ball in the mix), but I'm finding that I can do this. 

Alissa has moved back in with us, and we missed her muchly, her enthusiasm for training helps me work out harder even when I'm tired, and she never gets sick of me talking about turn shape.

My little sister, Liat is moving down from Salt Lake, and we are somehow going to find a place for all of us to live after Christmas in harmonious chaos.

Meanwhile, the crossover from shoulder season to teaching is happening slowly, I'm not booked until the 17th, which is why I still need to crank out the writing and the massage, so we can pay our bills. While I feel a bit on the scramble to survive side, I also feel really positive.

I miss writing my blog, because I am making sure that I am with my kids, training hard, eating well and sleeping enough so I have patience with my kids, concentration during the day, and longevity to give a good massage in the evening.

I'm grateful to be on track, being back on snow makes me feel energized, enthusiastic and sane. Working on skiers who are also training hard is incredibly rewarding, because I feel like I can facilitate their healing, opening, strengthening, whatever they need, so that they can perform well on snow, too.

The boys and I are helping each other out, they ask me how my day is and if I am getting strong, and I ask them about robotics club and choir, reading and recess.

We just finished reading the second Harry Potter book, and Ethan is now reading the third one to us, for a change, which is wonderful.

All in all, I'm finding the rhythm of my life, and that feels good. I still need to work on managing my schedule so that the little things, (and some big things) don't fall through the cracks or get put off indefinitely, but I feel like I am gaining ground here, and there is a light ahead.