Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas in San Marcos

Sadly Christmas this year isn't going to be what it was supposed to be. Because of all the flight delays in Seattle Cassie can't make it out of Alaska until the 28th and into Guatemala until the 29th, she would then have to pay $300 to change her ticket with Continental. So unfortunately she won’t get to come to Guatemala. It is ridiculous this whole turn of events. It would have been one thing to plan on spending Christmas alone, but to have it forced on you is a whole other deal.

I’m currently in San Marcos La Laguna on Lake Atitlan. It is really nice to kick back and relax here after traveling around for a few days. It took me two days to get from Utila to Antigua. I spent all of twenty four hours in Antigua before heading out to Panajachel to catch a boat to San Marcos. So after three days of traveling around it is nice to kick back a little.

The rest of my stay in Utila was really nice. I’m definitely going back there do dive as soon as I can. It wasn’t as hard to leave as I thought it would be. It seems like the only things to do there are dive and go out to the bars. I can only take so much of that. It would be nice to kayak around a little and check out Pumpkin Hill. Apparently the island is a raised reef, but Pumpkin Hill is some sort of volcanic thing. It would be cool to get over there and check it out.

Antigua was a pretty nice town. I’m looking forward to going back there and spending more time. The city its self is very European and touristy. As I was leaving around 1 o’clock yesterday you could tell that there were a lot of tourists coming into town for Christmas. It’s nice to be in a little more quite spot for Christmas after the sad turn of events.

I’m trying to make the most of it here. Things are really laid back. The town is full of laid back hippies and native mayans. There are a ton of places to do saunas, massages, and yoga. I think today I’m going to go check out the lake, do some bouldering and swimming there, then kick back and do some reading and yoga at the hotel. Maybe even a massage if I run out of lazy things to do. That pretty much seems to be the deal here in San Marcos; kick back and relax. For Christmas I’ll probably end up doing some kayaking along the lake and some more yoga. After Christmas I may head to San Pedro La Laguna and hike the volcano there before heading back to Antigua to hike an active volcano and try to poke lava with a stick ;)

The lake is gorgeous! I wish that I could post some pictures of it but the computer here flips out every time I try to load some pictures. When I get back home I’ll do a post of the best pictures from the trip, and post all the pictures on facebook.

I hope everyone is having a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I have found paradise! Utila is a really cool town/island. The atmosphere is really laid back and everyone is really nice. It is also nice that the language on the island is english, so it is not very stress full. I got in a couple days ago and am really sad that I will have to leave on Saturday.

Yesterday I started SCUBA diving school at Utila Water Sports. Scuba diving is really cool; there is a whole other world under the water. I´m really glad I was able to get this in. I had a little trouble at first with my claustraphobia, but scuba diving is all about mind over matter. This is the first time I have come into problems with how fit I am/was. With my lungs from skiing I burn through a tank of oxygen REALLY fast, and I have a hard time staying bouyant because I don´t have much fat and with my lung volume causes me to rise and fall a whole lot when I breath. I guess it will take some getting used to, I´ve only done on real dive so far.

There is the coolest bar in the world here. It is called Tree Tanic. It is this pirate ship up in the trees! The owner spent 12 years building the place, and must have done so on drugs. The whole place is a work of art! There are amazing mosaics, and really crazy stairs. You´ll have to check out my pictures on facebook.

I have finally found a place that has fast enough internet to upload some pictures. Because in facebook I can upload a large batch all at once I have been slowly putting pictures on facebook. I´ll see if I can get some here.

Well off to lunch and my second dive!


Friday, December 12, 2008

Qick Update

I'm in Copan, Honduras now. Copan is much nicer than Guatemala City. I'm looking into a spanish school here so I don't sound like an idiot. The spanish class is about a week long. I have had a bunch of nice travel locations tips so I might skip out in the sake of time. I may send home the snorkle and mask and travel back to Antigua and do trips out of there. I finally accomplished something today without bumbling too much. The class starts on monday so we'll see how frustrated I am after a couple days here. I was going to post some photos, but my time is running out on the computer. I'll post some tomorrow, after I check out the mayan ruins in Copan!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Really quick update....

Holly cow! What an experience getting into Guatemala. I am a bumbling idiot. I don´t understand a thing. After a bunch of bumbling and stumbling I got a ticket to Copan and found my hotel. The sawed off shot gun toting policia are friendly. I don´t want to see why they have shot guns.

Well while it is still light out I´m going to go stumble and bumble some more to see if I can find sustinance, and a less meandering path to the bus terminal.

I´m probably going to go to Copan and hang out there and go to a spanish school since I am a bumbling idiot.

Well I´m off.... wish me luck.....I´ll need it.


Pictures will come. I don´t want to look like a total tourist. I already have the deer in the head lights look.

Hasta maƱana

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On My Way

I'm finally on my way. So far so good, no cancellations or terrorist attacks. Keep your fingers crossed. Tomorrow at noon I'm off to Houston, TX for the night. While I'm there I get to see Mom's side of the family. On the way back I'll get to see Grandma and Grandpa Schauer. The other day I was trying to remember the last time I was in Houston. The last time I can remember for sure was when I was in 1st grade; but it seems that there was a more recent time. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

For the past few days I've been in Portland visiting with my aunt and uncle Jay and Amy, my cousins Ben and Liam, and my other uncle Tom. I think the last time I was in Portland was about 10 years ago. Its going to be nice to see almost everyone on this trip.

The first day I was in Portland I went to go visit PSU for a possible grad school. The school was really interesting in that it is mixed right in with down town. I wouldn't have known I was on the campus if it wasn't for the banners that said PSU hanging along the street. It was a really nice visit and pretty fun to check out a different school. I am kind of excited to go check out other schools and see what else there is.

On Saturday we all went to the zoo, using pretty much all of the public transportation. First we took the tram at the Oregon Heath Science Institute, then we took the street car to where we would catch the light rail to the zoo. It was really fun to go with Liam and Ben, who just turned 5. They ran from exhibit to exhibit. It wasn't long before Jay and I were carrying them on our shoulders.

The next day we kicked back a little and went out to get a Christmas tree. It was a good thing that Tom and I were around, because it was quite a chore to get the tree on the car and in the house. Part of the problem was that it was raining and the tree hand some extra water weight, but the tree is also 13 feet tall and has about a six foot diameter. As it was Jay had to trim down the trunk so that it would fit in the stand.

Yesterday Jay and I went out to the Crooked River to go Fly Fishing. I hadn't been fishing for a long time; it was nice to get out and go fishing. The Crooked is about a three hour drive from West Linn. The drive was great. We drove through a bunch of different biomes and there were some great road cuts. It really gives one a great respect for the Columbia River Flood Basalts. It is pretty impressive to think that parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho were covered in 100 feet of molten lava, repeatedly! The fishing was great. I think I caught 6 fish; 2 rainbow trout and 4 whitefish (it was hard to keep tract, as sometimes I would catch fish on each cast). They were all a pretty good size, at least 9 inches long. Sadly we were too busy fishing to take any pictures.

It has been really fun to stay with Jay and Amy and watch them with Liam and Ben. It is amazing how time flies. I can slightly remember being their age with Jay and Amy. Right now Mickey, their cat, is sitting on my lap. It is mind blowing to think that when I was Liam and Ben's age Jay and Amy had just got Mickey. What a cat, to say the least, as he has overcome diabetes, a stroke, a tumor, and Karl and me and is now patiently accepting the love and affection of two five year olds.

Tomorrow I am off to Houston, then Guatemala. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to update the blog, but it will be on my list of things to do. Until then, have fun and try not to work too hard!

One of the birds at the zoo caught an extra snack.

Jay (in red), Liam (blue hoodie), and Ben navigating a tile maze at OHSI

Jay, Ben, and Liam (behind Jay) working their way around the maze.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

No go for India

As you may have guessed I'm not going to India. After hearing about the chaos going on a couple blocks from where I was going to stay I quickly cancelled my trip to India.

Now I'm going to be going down to Portland for a few days to visit family before heading down to Guatemala. On the way to Guatemala I have an overnight lay over in Houston so that I can visit family there before making the final flight to Guatemala City.

I am planning on meeting up with Cassie in Guatemala then checking out the Mayan ruins, volcanoes and jungles. I'm arriving in Guatemala nine days before Cassie gets there so those first few days I may try to head over to Honduras and the Bay Islands for some beach time and snorkeling.

Up until then I've got to do my research on Guatemala and Honduras and learn some Spanish!

Some people go to church....

and others go to the backcountry!

There is something truely special about skiing in the mountains. I felt especially gifted last Sunday when Zach, Jason, Karl and I went skiing out at Tin Can in Turnagain Pass.

The avalanche hazard was pretty high that day and most people were going skiing out at Alyeska. Turnagain Pass got dumped on the last couple days and there was a lot of unsettled snow. The plan was to ski the low angle slopes and trees. I was a little nervus about the conditions; but I was going with some really experience skiers and climbers. Zach is a guide for Mountain Trip and is soon off to Argentina to guide on Aconcagua and Jason is a long time climber and skier with a lot of experience. Between the four of us I felt that we could make some smart decisions.

While driving down to the pass we hit real thick blizard conditions along Turnagain Arm. We stopped in Girdwood for a little while to let things settle down before heading up to the pass. Thankfully by the time we got to the pass, things had settled down and it was starting to look like a blue bird day.

The skin up was amazing! The trees were loaded with snow and the sun was just coming up over the mountains. It didn't feel like I was in Alaska any more. I was completely overwhelmed.

Jason had the perfect quote for the day,"Boys, it gets better than this; but not much." It certainly couldn't get much better than being outside with three friends on such a fabulous day. I was so thankfull I wasn't in India at the time. I could definetally feel that there was something out there keeping me from India so that I could be there that day. I felt much more of a connection that day than any time that I had spent in a church. There is something to be said about the power and majesty of the mountains.

Jason and the trees somewhere under all that snow.




Sunburst in the morning.

Karl, Zach and Jason skinning up.


Karl and Zach with the top in sight.

Knee deep skin track!


Karl, Zach and Jason (left to right) on the top

Sunburst, right before the last run.


Sadly I wasn't able to make it up to Fairbanks for Thanksgiving this year. Instead I spent the day skiing from my cabin in the mountains to the east of Anchorage. Jason, Cassie and I got an early start and set the skin track up the mountain. Unfortunately everyone else decided not to use it and skin right up the best line. Oh well, I guess they just had to deal with a skin track that gets skied out.

The snow was pretty decent up there. There was six inches to a foot of new on top of hard pack in the chute. We decided to stick to the lower angle terrain and out of the rocks due to the avalanche hazards.

All in all it was a great way to get out and share some powder with friends before gorging on excellent food!

Cassie skinning up


Jason with Cassie in the background


Jason practicing his dry tooling technique in his "manskos".

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nordic Skiing and Mixed Climbing

Without a computer it has been really hard to get the blog updated. So now that I've got some down time and access to a computer here are a few updates. (Vista doesn’t' seem to work very well with Blogger; so the spacing on the captions is a little weird for these posts.)

Last Thursday I had the day off so I figured I would head out to Hatchers for my first cross country ski of the season. The conditions out there were perfect! Ed had just finished grooming, it was extra blue conditions and I had the place to myself.

After skiing around for an hour and a half I noticed that there was another red swix drinking belt. There had been one other person up there while I was skiing, and they didn't look like the type that would have had a drinking belt. There aren't too many kilometers of trails right now at Hatchers and I was stumped on who else could be up there that I wasn't running into that would have a red swix drinking belt. I decided to go in for a closer investigation. To my great sunrise it was Karl's drinking belt. Apparently he had forgot it up there after his ski the previous Saturday. Thankfully I was able to get to it before someone stole it.

That evening Cassi and I heard that the ice was coming in at Eklutna. So that Friday we headed out in that direction for some ice climbing. We weren't sure what the river situation was so we decided to hike up the Thunderbird Falls trail rather than up the creek. The first climb in Eklutna is Mad Dog. Upon seeing that it was somewhat in and that we could repel into from the trail we decided to go for it.

We couldn't see from the top that there wasn't much ice on the bottom half of the climb. It looked like it might be over my head with the first half of the climb being mixed. Karl was nice enough to let me borrow his ice gear which was really nice because it was nice and sharp so I didn't have to hack away at the little bit of ice that was clinging to the rock. It ended up being a lot easier than I thought it was. It was really fun to tap the tools in on little placements than to hack away at a wall of ice.

You have no idea how long it took to get his shot of myself.

This one wasn't so hard.

The mystery drinking belt

Haha, look who's got Karl's drinking belt.

Mad Dog


Ice and Snow!

On the first and second of the month Cassi and I headed out for a grand adventure north of town. The plan was to head out to the Matanuska Glacier for some ice climbing then head over to Hatchers for some tele skiing. After attending a wild Halloween party, we got off to a slow start on the first and didn't make it out to the Mat until 4:00, just in time to watch the alpine glow on the Talkeetna and Chugiak Mountains as we climbed.

The climbing on the glacier was a little harder than I remembered it to be. The ice was much harder and colder than when I went climbing in July with Brian. On top of that the twilight made it hard to see where the best placements were. Anyways, no excuses, it was crazy awesome!

The next morning we met friends at Hatcher Pass for some tele skiing. We had quite the mix of people out there. Between the eight of us we had everyone from complete beginners to some awesome AT skiers trying tele for the first time. It was the prefect set up for a great day! By the end of the day the snow was pretty tracked up between the eight of us and ton of other people that were out there. If you're heading out to the Hatcher's area for skiing you'll have to work for some fresh tracks.

Cassi hiking into the glacier

Talkeetna Mountains at sunset.

The Matanuska Glacier and Chugiach Mountains at sunset.

Where we climbed on the Mat.

Jason and Adele skinning up to April Bowl

The view from Hatchers

Andrew on the top of the ridge.

Cassi and Brant celebrating an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ridge walk

Yesterday was pretty fun! On Sunday I bought a new, cheaper, camera that I could take to India and not feel as bad as I would if my SLR was stolen. So yesterday my plan was to go for a hike and test it out.

I bought a Cannon Powershot A590, which was the cheapest camera that I could find that had aperture and shutter priority as well as a fully manual option. I have been very pleased with the camera so far.

The day was perfect for a hike. When I started out from the end of Canyon road, it was perfectly sunny with four to five fresh inches of snow over a thin crust from the previous snowfall. The trail was absolutely gorgeous with fresh snow hanging on all the trees. For the first hour or so I had been following someone's tracks up the trail. It turned out that it was a my friend Danielle and her dog Bean! They had hiked out to Rabbit lake and back for Columbus day. We were both commenting on how there was enough snow at this point that we should have taken our skis rather than crunch along up, and down the trail.

Heading out from the car

Fresh snow!

Soon after running in to Danielle, I reached the section of trail that was just below the saddle between Ptarmigan and the ridge leading back to Flattop. My goal was to get up to that saddle then hike back on the ridge to Peak 3, then down to the car. Just as I was about to gain the saddle I looked up to find that I wasn't alone. There were three sheep hanging out just at the crest to the saddle grazing away. They weren't scared at all and I could get within 20 meters of them and get some great photos.

North Suicide

Looking back at all the fresh snow!

Working on gaining the saddle

Upper Rabbit Creek Valley

Sheep with Avalanche Peak in the background

My three companions under Ptarmigan

As I continued up from the saddle to the ridge, the sun disappeared behind the clouds and the wind began to blow. It was really refreshing to have the slight nip of winter on my face. There was plenty of snow on the leeward side of the ridge. In the sections where there was still a base from last winter you could have gone skiing. It won't be long until we will be back country skiing in Anchorage! The ridge was awesome. The sky was clear and you could see Denali and the Alaska Range quite clearly!

Ptarmigan, North and South Suicide, and Rabbit Lake


Anchorage with Denali on the horizon

It was a great 3 hour hike in the fresh snow. It was different to look down from the ridge and see skiers down there skiing back and forth on the power line. Its been really nice to do different stuff like this than the traditional ski training this summer and fall. I have really been enjoying the change of pace since deciding to ski recreationally this winter. Perhaps I'll get the bug to race fast again, but for now this is the life.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


When I woke up this morning I didn't think that I would end up doing intervals up the gas line. Today the UAA men's ski team was going to start an interval block with their up hill time trial. However, their plans quickly changed with the inch of fresh snow that Anchorage received last night. My plan was to meet them half way to chear them on and take pictures. Shortly after they ran by my position, just just before halfway, they stopped and started running back down the hill as if they were running intervals. It quickly occured to me that the time trial was cancelled and they were doing up hill running intervals. Karl was quick to ask if I wanted to jump in. My first thought was, "No way! I am not in nearly good enough shape to hang on with you guys.". But on second thought I figured, "Well, I've got my running shoes and tights on under my pants. Why not? I can just stop if they are destoying me." So next thing I knew I was chasing the boys up the hill.

Suprisingly enough it wasn't as hard as I thought to hang on with them. However, I did jump in halfway through completely fresh and up hill running was always my strong suit in fall training. It was really reassuring for me that if I really wanted to, with a little bit of work I could get back where I was. Here are the few pictures that I took thinking it was the time trial.

The team with the mascots


Max, all smiles despite flying up the hill

Lex (front) and Trond (back)


Karl, running out of the fog

Karl with Erick coming down the second to last step.