I read a thread on a hunting forum I frequent that talked about spiritual rituals that take place when you take an animal in the mountains. It was a good thread with many posting thoughts and rituals they perform after a successful hunt. This caused me to think about my successful hunt this past Saturday when I took my first deer ever. Here is what I wrote:


I took my first buck ever yesterday while hunting with my 10 year old son. It’s nothing for the record books but a simple 2 point, however I couldn’t be more happy with the harvest, the accurate shot, sharing the experience with my son and how it all went down.

My Weatherby .270 with the Burris 3x-9x was a present from my father when at age 16 (21 years ago) I achieved my eagle scout award. I hunted with it for a few years in Oregon but never had the chance to harvest a deer or elk for that matter. After moving to Utah for school it saw a handful of hunts, again unsuccessful ones. Then I took a few years off from hunting big game and after getting into bow hunting this year for elk I opted to get a rifle tag so that I could take my oldest boy with me.

After I took the shot the snow started coming in pretty hard so he and I hurried through the quartering and getting him ready to pack out. As we worked I talked with him about the respect I had for this animal and how we needed to take as much of the meat off the mountain that we could despite a 3 mile hike that awaited us. As we shouldered packs to leave, I offered a prayer of thanks that seemed only natural for me to do at the time.

Now after reading this thread I’m reminded of the ritual my father once told me about that his father and his father before him had done – to paint your face with the blood of your first kill. My grandfather was a good friend of the Indians in Canada and this was passed down to my father. I recall as a young man looking forward to that first kill and painting my face with it’s blood.

I am a little remiss that I had forgotten about this yesterday. But after reading the posts here I’m very inclined to return the skull and bones to the mountain where they belong, rather than tossing them in the garbage. I grew up with a father that taught me respect for animals, particularly those whose lives were taken by my father’s hand. I didn’t do any sort of ritual yesterday but if nothing else I do hope that my son will not soon forget the respect I spoke of and showed to the deer that will provide a number of meals for us this winter.


Please if you have the means or the heart to attend this event, I and my good friend and business partner Mark Strickland would be appreciative. Mason is a cute little boy with a lot of spunk for a boy with a broken heart.


In case you want more info about Mason, his condition, his family and the fundraiser dinner, check out the blog that his mom Summer keeps about Mason


Like many others here in Utah with the increase in the number of Turkey tags this year, I too am new to the ranks of turkey hunting. Although I live in Kamas I put in for Southern Region so that I could reconnect with my uncle Robert who introduced me to bird hunting (dove) nearly 25 years ago. He’d never been turkey hunting either but had seen some while driving the hills near his home in Diamond Valley just north of St. George.

So I headed south for three days of hunting and what an experience it was. It was beyond fun to connect with my uncle whose dry sense of humor had both of us laughing all weekend. We hiked long and far, which both of us enjoy regardless of the hunt but it proved to be the right decision as we found birds. I’ll never forget hearing that first Tom gobble in a small canyon, making my ears ring and my heart skip a beat. Although we saw some birds the two stalks I put on them didn’t end like I had planned, the last one being a roosted bird that spotted me from a mile away and even though I got close enough to get 2 shots off while he flew away he was on to me from a ways out. Saw some great country, some good spots for deer that I’d like to revisit and more than anything I got a good education in turkey hunting.

With the fever to still get a bird, I teamed up with a friend who’s buddy had seen nearly 40 birds in a little canyon in the southern region (I promised not to tell) and who within 15 minutes of arrival had a bird. So we set out for said location and after a boondoggle of directions, private land between us and forest service land we decided that the only way to get there was the hard way so we hiked about 3 miles over ridges and across a couple of valleys to “the spot”.


When we got there, nothing but silence, no tracks and no turkey turds. We were a little dejected. There was a guzzler down valley about 1/4 mile so we went to check it out and found nothing again. Just as we were wondering if we’d hiked all that way for nothing – GOBBLE-GOBBLE! After high fives and dancing like a couple of drunken soldiers (quietly of course), we started up canyon and wouldn’t you know it in our effort to get around into a spot we passed the turkey and it passed us. (more…)

I had to get out of the office. I’m sure you’ve had those types of days when you and the office need some time apart. The blessing in my life is that I can tell my boss (me) that I need to get out. The curse is that I don’t tell myself I need time off enough.

Despite an hour of snow-blowing the driveway today and the late arrival at Butler Fork in Big Cottonwood Canyon, I skinned up the trail and as I went my mind seemed to slough off the cares of the office.

Just before topping out Derek and Guy caught me on their 4th lap. About 2 turns into the first of two laps for me, I knew I had made the right call.

On the second lap, I was energized and managed to out skin Derek to the top, a very rare feat. It was either the power euphoria or the Honey Stinger gel and PROBAR combo that I ate. Either way, powder was on the menu for my final run. It got all over my face.


I’d suggest you get out of the office as well. Tomorrow will most certainly be a good day for it.

–image Derek Weiss

I’ve had the privelge of meeting and even skiing with a few of the Utah Avalanche Forecasters over the years. Sure, they’re just like the rest of us, putting their skins on one ski at a time (no, they don’t have magical powers that can do both skis at one time). And while they may ski a bit more cautious than some of us if you’ve met and even skied with one you’ve surely seen that there is something unique about them.little-superior-winds-350

Being a forecaster is a coveted role by many but the numbers dwindle quickly as the “many” soon realize the pay doesn’t really stack up, the hours are terrible (unless you think being up at 5am to send out updates is glamorous) and the annual hunt for a summer job can get old after a season or two.

I suspect it takes a certain quality of person, a certain character to make a successful career at being an avalanche forecaster. I’m grateful for the work they do and support them each year with a little bit of my hard earned money. I recommend you do the same.

My reason for posting this was not to guilt you into donating to a great organization, but to share a piece of today’s report that behind the low pay, the long hours and the summer job searches is a passion at the core of each forecaster.

Each day here in northern Utah the Utah Avalanche Center releases the daily Avalanche Advisory for all areas of the state.

Aside from the daily update of snow conditions, reliable weather and avalanche conditions, I really enjoy reading the little insights, quips, comments and once in a while a line or two that gives an insight into passion that the forecasters have for a life in the mountains.

Today’s report from Drew Hardesty had something in there that the quick reader/skimmer may have missed. Drew has passion for the mountains and I’m glad he shared it in today’s report:

There are those moments in life when you’re outside with good friends, or even alone, and you realize something has changed. The sun shines more brightly, the colors are more vibrant, the powder snow bottomless. It’s like a momentary glimpse of a rainbow after a just after a hard rain – and everyone looks at one another with smiles – and nothing needs to be said. We mark our lives by days like these. This was yesterday in the Wasatch.

Thanks Drew.

I took a sanity day last week and got out with old friends and new ones alike. Destination: Timpanogos.

It seems I have a love affair with this mountain. But how could you not? It’s massive, taking about the same area as Little Cottonwood Canyon if you measured the length of the massif.

Skiing from the summit, right from the top, has been a dream of mine for a while now. It’s good to accomplish a dream.

Thanks to my friend Derek for the video.

Up and Over from piton productions on Vimeo.


I hate to say it, and I know that there are still plenty of good ski days left, but the sunshine and warmer weather have me thinking cycling season will be here soon.

I’m planning on LOTOJA again this year, possibly the Tour de Park City and if I’m lucky, perhaps I’ll ride the 1000 Warriors ride. I’ve been spinning lately but am anxious to get on the Mirror Lake Highway and Wolf Creek Pass soon.

Doesn’t this look fun!?

Wells Fargo and VegasThis is a letter that my friend wrote to the editor of his local newspaper. He’s a very successful businessman who in his mid 30’s semi-retired to take on a new career – climbing rock and mountains (on his own dime of course).

As Wells Fargo (a bank that I have an account with) joined the other financial institutions in holding out their hands to accept some of my and your hard earned money, they figured it was time for a trip to Vegas and where else to stay but at the TOP, the Wynn. After the news broke they ended up canceling the rooms, but it begs the bigger question: When will the opulence stop? (that’s rhetorical)

Capitalism, socialism, whatever floats your boat, the disconnect going on in America today is on the magnitude of one of its finer geographical formations, the Grand Canyon. There are many interesting stories out there to pick from, but one that intrigued me most this past week was the Wells Fargo fiasco. Wells, like most offered, took the Federal Reserve handout to the tune of $25 billion+ with more to follow no doubt. This money comes directly from present and future tax payers no matter which printing press is used. When a whistle blower (read previous employee who enjoyed such junkets her entire tenure) pointed out the obvious, something not hidden or masked in anyway, that Wells was planning a typical annual junket at the most expensive hotels in the lower 48 (Steve Wynn’s latest properties in Vegas), it got the Washington folks thinking just a bit, which can be a miracle within itself at times.

If most tax payers, i.e. even successful entrepreneurs, would never consider $400 per night for a hotel room, particularly in a town where many acceptable rooms can be had for less than $100 per night….why should a company needing government subsidization plan a junket (with all the fixins) at such a hotel? I speak for many small business owners who have always pondered who could possibly justify such travel expenses in their business P&L statement. It is one thing to see some heiress or oil sheik peruse the Wynn lobby, but 1000 bank employees?

This is where we have landed in the land of excess, opulence and irresponsibility. I for one am betting on Wells to easily make it through this period, if for one simple fact….I trust Uncle Sam simply can’t and won’t let this behemoth fall. Wells has yet to write down its California portfolio accurately, smartly waiting out the demise of Bank of America and other competitors as they fight for shareholder survival. Every time a competitor stumbles, Wells picks up pure gold: depositors. This is a game in that the last man standing will reap the benefits of its fallen brethren. So the fact that Wells thought they could simply go ahead with such a junket after taking a 25 billion dollar handout comes as no surprise. Let’s face it, the press is not very savvy in reporting this stuff anymore. If only the infamous and sarcastic Hunter Thompson had his typewriter plugged in today.

Instead, exposure of how the “haves” are sticking it to the “have nots” is being exposed by ex-employees (of which there are a growing number), who are playing out their jealous rages as they are now tossed in with the rest of us booking our rooms at the Holiday Inn Express.

I received a note today from a guy named Eirk who was along for the cat skiing when in 2004 Bryan Rhodes and I went to PC Powdercats on assignment for FeedTheHabit.com

I guess Erik is finally putting a number of his videos up on YouTube and sent me the link.

Even though it’s old powder, it’s still good and fresh in my memory.  The funny caveat to this is that I now live just 20 minutes from this spot and do a fair amount of backcountry skiing just 2 ridges to the west of the big bowl in the video.

I’m in red:


…this good.

Shawn Stinson getting the full effect at Snowbasin

…and this good:

Jessica Kunzer of Ski Utah getting after it at Snowbasin

On my last lift ride up on John Paul I saw a patroller hiking up to the gate.  I called down to him from the lift and asked if he was going to open it to which he replied “Maybe” with a quirky smile.  Just as we crested the last rise I caught a glimpse of him pulling the closed sign to open. It was game on.

Since it was basically deserted, we were first through the gates and had one of those moments that we who slide on snow live for – untracked lines, 2-3 buddies, nobody around so there’s no hurry, and deep dry powder for as far as you can see below.

The images in my mind of seeing my friends get face shot after face shot with hoots heard over my shoulder as I too indulged will not soon be forgotten.

Shawn Stinson getting more pow at Snowbasin

And what’s a day of pow without The Point: (Nick does the honors while Shawn drops in)

thepoint-nick-shawn-launch.jpg thepoint-nick-shawn.jpg