Home For the Holidays?

As a skier, I spend most of the winter travelling.  There is only one time from mid-November to early April that is safe from the hassles, haggling, and horrors of travel and that time would be the holidays. Usually following the opening race circuit or the fall semester of school, I travel back to Anchorage for the Besh Cup races and then take a little break from airlines for a few weeks with my family.  Only this time somebody threw a wrench in the system.  That somebody would be my parents.

Instead of returning to Anchorage and getting to stay there, I raced Besh Cups and then jetted off to Bozeman to visit my parent’s new house and meet up with my sister for a full family gathering. Fortunately, Bozeman is not an Arizona retirement community or some season less abode in Florida.  Bozeman does have an abundance of awesome outdoor recreational opportunities. The problem with all those opportunities is gear and time. As my airline tickets don’t indicate a return to Anchorage in the near future, hauling around gear for the short term would rapidly become hauling for the long term.  Ice axes and crampons are nice to have, but not exactly the most practical items for racing my first world cup races in less than a month or just in general in the Czech Republic.  However, just skipping the opportunities was too much to ask of me.  So along came friends gear.  Several return favors in the bank and I had enough gear for a day of ice climbing out in Hyalite Canyon as well as a day testing out the local alpine skiing at Bridger bowl. In the process my sister got to experience her first time ice climbing and we helped boost my mom’s confidence on some new backcountry equipment. Plus we got to climb next to ice climbing and Bozeman celebrity Conrad Anker! Somebody might have been a little starstruck.

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Rappelling Genesis I in Hyalite Canyon. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

Of course holidays doesn’t mean only goofing off, Caitlin and I both had to put some relatively serious training in between or accompanying the extracurricular fun. However, training took a pleasant turn for both of us as we escaped the gerbil loops of Anchorage (3 kilometers) and Craftsbury (1 kilometer). Instead four different areas treated us with hundreds of kilometers of fresh corduroy and pristine tracks. Even the gym session became something to look forward to as we utilized the fitness facility at Bozeman’s new climbing gym. Each lifting session was followed by a couple hours finishing the process of blowing out our strength on the walls.

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A bit of fresh snow at Lone Mountain Ranch. Photo: Caitlin Patterson

In between all the outdoor activities some of the normal holiday stuff took place: cookies, fancy meals, and gifts but enough of that.  The holidays are over.  Racing begins tomorrow for US nationals in Houghton, Michigan.

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Conquering the Christmas Tree. Photo: Caitlin Patterson
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Approaching the ice. Photo: Caitlin Patterson
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