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Thread: DIY Art

  1. #151
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    The next day the weather continued as expected. The air cooled and soothed the snow into something more manageable for the skier. The crud began to dry out and firm up as the crust evolved into being the foundation for the skiff of new snow.
    We were getting ready to cruise out with the touring gear into ‘Phazars’ when a couple of guys showed up. Turns out they were from Whistler and they had heard about the 100cm dump. They got on a plane and raced up here to ski and take photos for their website, www.doglotion.com. I got a quick interview on the camera and then some good shots down in the trees. Can’t go wrong with skiing powder in the trees with new friends.

    In the afternoon, word got around that Matchstick Productions was flying in that night and that got everyone going. The industry elite gravitating to our very own Shangri-La only further validated our devotion to Ullr. Tonight would be the perfect night to burn skis.

    Trevor had carried 10 pallets up the hill in his van that morning so the stage was set for the Lower Lot party. Get everyone stoked to drink beer and call for snow with the sacrifice of a pair of worthy boards. Trevor had a pair of Dynastar 4x4 Bigs. It nearly brought a tear to my eye to see the real life flames lick at the acrylic flames on the top-sheet. I filmed as the mighty tips, the 4x4 was known for, finally fell flat and succumbed to the heat. We sat and passed the Whisky Fireball Shooter around until it was gone and we plotted great things for the morning and years to come. We were where IT was happening and we knew it. The sky had turned clear and cold and the stars were out. Sometimes the snow has to sit around a bit before the skiing gets good. Ullr would provide.

    The next morning was a bit of a gong show with all of the weekend crowd and the hangovers making them selves known. “We’re charging off to ski where? Huh…?”

    It took some patience but it all fell together. Brad and I were aiming for the ‘Iron Curtain’, a steep spine face across the valley from Shames. We boot-packed five minutes up to the top of ‘Deliverance’, skied to the valley bottom and then climbed up the other side of the valley. It took us a good two hours to get to the top of the run. We had two cameras with us. Vesna was posted across a small drainage and had a good barbie angle while I was on a steeper, profile angle. Brad was the star as he made the first crux turn at the top over moderate exposure. He made about 6 steep turns down the runneled face and spit out in the bottom of the gulley.

    I got to go next. I choose a cleaner spine to the skiers right. It was sweet. Steep turns around tiny trees as my hip grazed the flank of the fin I was on. Vesna was directly across from me, not more then 50 meters away. She got the shot as I zinged in three more turns out the bottom and skied over to cheer with Brad. “The Iron Curtain was a hurtin’!”
    We laughed about how America slayed the Iron Curtain of Communism and now we were skiing like Americans in Canada as we slayed the ‘Iron Curtain’ of Shames. That could be a bumper sticker, “Ski like an American in Canada!” You could take that many different ways.

    Anyway, back to the snow. The crud had turned to a kind of carvable foam that was had been plastered on all aspects no matter how steep. I had made a couple of turns where, if it had been 24 hours earlier, the snow would have collapsed under its own weight and sloughed to the bottom. Instead, it was firm and predictable. Good times.
    Despite the fact that I had lost a $200 camera battery at the top of the run, we were elated with surviving the run. It is amazing what some technical skiing does for the senses. It was good day to test the snow, see what is going on in the snow-pack. We felt good about things and began to solidify plans for the morning. We were going to climb and ski ‘Geronimo’ and get it on film from across the valley. Vesna and I had been eyeing up the aesthetic, exposed fall line all season. That would be a good way to end the story I thought.

    We made a relatively early start. At 10:30 we were slapping on skins and preparing to climb. Our group consisted of Trevor, Trent (the photographer), Vesna and myself. Brad had to teach at ski school in the morning so he was going to be on radio so he could get the long cross-valley shot when we dropped in. Our skin track was there from the day before so we could move fast. I was able to make radio contact with Brad around 12pm when we neared the summit. He was set and the camera was ready. Apparently he had to cut his lesson short in order to get the shot, so with a few words of encouragement he set his students free and took up his position.

    At the top of the run there was confusion. We were looking right down the planned run and it looked ugly. The wind had come up in the evening and continued to blow under brilliant blue skies. Our run looked heinous; hard crust with wind-sculptured drifts.
    `
    “One turn powder, one turn drift, one turn crust, one turn powder”, that is what I predicted in my head. “Alright, maybe we should circle around to that other ridge? It looks cleaner, less exposed,” I offered. We all scooted around the ridge a couple hundred meters to get a better look.

    “That ridge is just as narrow,” Vesna pointed out, “there are still four of us.”
    “You’re right.” We stopped and ate lunch… took some time to mull it over. The wind had stopped for the moment and the view was fantastic. My mind could not be further away from the world of dollars and deadlines. In the discussion of our potential run we decided that it was a better filming opportunity and safer group management if we split into two groups and skied different runs.

    “Hey Jake! Can you hear me?” Brad asked over the radio, “I’m ready to go.”
    Snap back to reality! We decided on a plan. Trevor and Trent would continue around the ridge and ski the second run while Vesna and I continued with the Geronimo plan.

    As Vesna and I skied into position a red helicopter flew by on its way into the mountains, no doubt carrying the likes of Hugo Harrison and Dan Treadway. I caught myself beginning to think about how jealous I was because I wanted to be in the helicopter filming with Matchstick Productions or blah, blah, blah… then I realized that I was on top of a crazy mountain with my lovely Vesna and we had a camera guy waiting to film us. There was a task at hand! We were the professional skiers, here to shred!

    Neither Vesna nor I made two consecutive powder turns in a row on the entire run. It was sun-crusted, wind-scoured, exposed and kind of scary. In each turn the wind held the snow suspended in the crystalline sky all around my senses. Time slowed.

    Halfway down the run we tucked ourselves in a tree grove and posted up to film Trent and Trevor on their run. We filmed their sweet powder turns as they charged down the shoulder stopping just above the open glades. Trent was taking pictures as Trevor made a solid ski cut that released a decent slough that traveled to valley bottom. Radio chatter. Communication. We waited for them to make valley bottom before continuing our run, the sun was getting warmer and I wanted off that face. We worked our way slowly through avalanche gullies and steep trees. Slab here, slough there! Exciting stuff. At the bottom we raced across the run out through freight train sized debris piles, remnants of Wednesday’s storm destruction. The four of us regrouped at the bottom of the drainage, exchanged hi-fives and started prepared to climb once more.

    As we skinned back towards the resort, we continued to gain an improved vantage point across the valley on the runs we just did. It was crazy! The scale and dimensions were just beginning to seep in as we sat at the top of North Bowl watching the sun cast longer and longer shadows across ‘Geronimo’ and the second run that Trevor and Trent dubbed ‘Pressaman.’

    It was now 4:20 pm and as it turns out, Bob Marley’s 60th birthday. The crust and the mountains had yielded their conspired secrets. We paid tribute with a smoke and a moment of silence before skiing sweet, sweet powder down North Bowl, heading back to the truck and aiming for the office.








  2. #152
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    Some of you who read 'Star Light Over David' all the way through may find this next story interesting. It is the specific story that catalyzed the writing of that novel. It it details a shocking and traumatic event that shook me to deeper than at first suspected.

    On a related note, I was thinking about the intro/tag line wrote for the back cover and Amazon description:

    'Starlight Over David' is a supernatural thriller peppered with delusions of grandeur and mystical encounters.David and his companions embark on a misguided mission that inadvertently merges with the story of an ancient entity whose actions have wrecked havoc on humanity for millennia. Will David overcome all adversity and triumph in the face of Evil or will he be crushed by the weight of history and a predetermined fate?

    Does this fit?

    *Spoiler Alert! Thinking of actually telling the reader in the description that the main character is battling mental illness and drug abuse issues instead of the reader having to figure it out. That is why the chapters alternate characters and appear disjointed and unrelated but as things move along they streamline into the realization that it is all reflecting the shattered mind and memories of David.

    All and all it was a way for me to NOT have to battle mental illness and drug abuse issues in real life because I was able to put the idea to the pages instead.



    Saskatchewan Helicopter Crash

    I started working with a small local mining company in the summer of 2006 and was truly introduced to the world running a chainsaw. I told I would be ‘cutting line’ and even though I had never really cut line or ran a chainsaw professionally, I hoped I would figure it out. As it turns out, running a chainsaw all day is hard fucking work.

    Basically, someone goes ahead of you and ‘lays line’ by using compass and GPS as they make a straight line through the forest. They will use ribbon to mark trees and my job was to cut a path about one meter wide. Wide enough for someone else to come through and haul high tech electronic sensing gear to be used to look for under ground deposits. I am not paid to worry too much about what is under ground. I am paid to make the line straight as I cut through whatever the forest throws at you.

    Sometimes the vegetation is dense and bush like and it feel like you could be using a lawn mower. Other times there is ten feet of deadfall stacked up overhead as you cut a tunnel through 4 foot thick logs. Despite the heat and bugs and exhaust, I really liked running a saw from day one. My hands were cramped into claws and my back and biceps ached dearly but I knew that with time I would become strong and it would be like any other physical endeavor.

    I always put a lot of emphasis into experience and common sense developed in the steep terrain of mountain zones. I took the job as an opportunity to also become a ‘woodsman’. There are a lot of trees in BC and a lot of those trees are on the sides of steep mountains so I might as well learn how to cut them down.

    We would fly in by helicopter and build a base camp. From there, ‘the grid’ would extend out into the bush for kilometers. A typical grid consists of a baseline that runs from 2-10k long. Every 50 to 500m on the baseline a cross lines will intersect and run perpendicular from 1-5k on both sides of the baseline. Every camp was different and every day was an adventure and I was getting paid for all of it.

    In hindsight, I found it interesting that I had found such profound experience in the flat lands of northern Saskatchewan. We were working at Davy Lake, located about two hours float plane flight from Fort McMurray, Alberta and just south of the border with the Northwest Territories. The grid we were working on was huge. The base line was broke into 5-6 different ten kilometer long sections all spiraling around like a Fibonacci design. The cross line intersected at 500 meters and ran for 5k each direction. The following is my immediate recollection of the events from the previous day, the tenth day on the job:

    My head kind of hurts because I have been awake for basically 30 hours straight. I am sitting in the Saskatoon Airport waiting to fly to Prince George via Calgary and Vancouver. Once in P.G. I will take the bus home to Smithers.

    Yesterday started like any other day at work in a bush camp. We got up, had a huge breakfast, prepared the chainsaw and made our lunches. It was going to be another hot day cutting line through the forest of Northern Saskatchewan. The only thing that we did different out of our routine was fly out on the 3rd flight instead of the first. Pete and I had been on a roll the last week, getting lots of work done. On this morning we were feeling a little sluggish and Pete suggested that we go slow and drink another cup of coffee and I agreed. We were planning on an easier day compared to the last 4 days when we cut through 14 km of gnarly forest. When our turn came to fly around 8:30, we were mentally prepared for another day of bugs and chainsaw exhaust and noise and sweating.
    As we cruised along about 1000 ft above the arid forest and interspersed lakes our pilot, Yves, spotted what he thought was a caribou swimming across a lake right below us. Before I knew it we were banked into a steep, descending right hand turn with the intention of buzzing a loop around the lake, trying to not scare the caribou too much and then be on our way to our work site about 12km down the grid.

    Somewhere along the way Yves became disoriented with his speed and rate of descent and right at the low point of the arc of our turn, the skis caught the surface of the water and we went from about 200mph to zero in about 1/2 second.

    The Hues 500 helicopter was instantly submerged. My head was already under the water by the time I got unbuckled and out the door into the lake water. I could barely swim because I was wearing bucking pants and a coat. As I kicked those off I was thankful that I was now barefoot as my sandals were long gone. (we didn’t wear cork boots in the chopper because it damaged the floor and steps) Just then, Yves popped up and in another 5-10 seconds Pete popped up and we all stated swimming the 100-120 ft to shore. I made it to shore first and realized that Pete was having trouble. Maybe he can’t swim? I knew he was wearing steel toe boots laced up. I stripped naked and swam most of the way back to the chopper where I grabbed a floating seat cushion and gave it to Pete. I started pulling the cushion with Pete on it with all of my might. I was yelling with each breath to “Swim! Kick! Fucking Swim! Swim! Come on!”

    But he wouldn’t or couldn’t move very much. He wasn’t saying anything and he seemed dazed. I think he either hit his head or injured his back but either way, he was becoming heavier and heavier. By then Yves had made it to shore, stripped down and was at my side as we both pulled on Pete and I yelled at him to “Swim! Swim!” His head bobbed under and again. I was becoming exhausted. He submerged again right between us and I reached down about 3 feet to the top of his head. Yves dove under and brought him to the surface once more but he was motionless and we were beginning to drown with him.

    I had to let go as I yelled to Yves that I was going down too… I pulled to my back and looked at the sky and kicked in to shore about 60-70 ft away. Yves followed.

  3. #153
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    Once we got to shore we were kind of pacing and wailing naked in the mud. I retrieved my pants, shirt and gloves from the jet fuel-slicked water. Debris littered the whole area like the helicopter literally detonated on impact.
    We crunched barefoot through the lichen covered forest floor and found a sunny spot to dry out and marvel at being alive. All of our gear was at the bottom of the lake. I saw the orange survival kit floating along the far shore so we moved around the lake, picking though debris as we went. The survival kit was well stocked and we soon had a fire going and space blankets laid out so any passing pilot might see our position.
    At this point (10am) we had to assume that 1) The people at camp would be worried because Yves was supposed to be back in 10 minutes and 2) we had to assume that the emergency locater beacon had gone off and search and rescue was on the way. So we stoked the fire and contemplated the events so far. We guessed our distance to camp to be about 5 km and wondered how long to wait before walking. We knew that it was a bad idea to move anywhere so we sat from about 10-1pm and listened for the sound of a plane engine. Sometimes we were sad, sometimes we were happy for having made it in one piece. Our minds altered between racing domino thoughts to what if games to guilt to happiness to nothing at all.

    Then, from across a far clearing we heard a yell and saw the other cutting crew. They had heard the sound of the wreck from 5km away and by more luck then anything managed to come over a hill and see the space blanket with us nearby.
    We now had a radio and GPS to relay our coordinates to camp and the search planes. By 4pm I was in camp sitting by the lake somewhat dazed and confused. I knew that I was going home and Yves knew that he was no longer a pilot and we knew that Pete was still in the lake.
    By 7pm I was in a float-plane, wearing a neck brace flying to Buffalo Narrows to see the doctor. Once there, they decided to send us by ambulance to the hospital in Lacross to do x-rays and further assess Yves and my condition. They seemed concerned that my pupils were different sizes and kept changing size, so they called the medivac jet from Saskatoon. I was at the Royal University hospital around 4am. I was in a C-spine collar the whole time just for precaution. They wanted to do a cat scan to see if my brain was swelling or damaged. The mechanism of injury was severe enough to require a thorough examination.
    I finished testing at the Saskatoon hospital about 9am and was at the airport by 11am. I am about to read in the paper about the war in the Middle east and be thankful for breathing and walking and being alive.

    Once in Smithers I have to go meet Pete’s wife and mother of his four children and tell her that he was working hard to support them and that he loved them and that he loved what he was doing and that Yves and I tried our hardest to get him to shore.


    August 28, 2006

    I went back to see Pete’s wife again today because she called me and said that she had something for me. When I got there she was shaking and distraught. The walls were covered in crayon drawings from the kids running around. They knew that their mother was too distracted to get mad at them.

    She presented me with Pete’s 1st nations vest that had his Wolf crest on the back. She told me his spirit name was Great Swimming Wolf. He was called that because a couple of years ago he did a 1000mile kayak trip from Hazelton to Victoria. Apparently wolves do not normally like to swim but Pete was the exception, having a love for the water. As she handed me the vest we were struck by the irony that he had drowned while trying to swim to shore.

    I was honored but confused as to why I should get this treasured item. She told me that I had tried my best and that is all you can ever do and because I was there at the last moment his spirit name was transferred to me.

  4. #154
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    Man, I love reading this stuff while I sip coffee in my cozy home, on my couch. Keep on, keeping on J
    crab in my shoe mouth

  5. #155
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    ^^ Cool, glad to entertain!

    Here is some bike stoke...

    Whistler Crank Worx 2006


    Every time I go to Whistler it changes me, usually for the better. I leave as a different person, someone changed by experiences you can only have in Whistler. For years, Whistler has been known the destination resort within the skiing community of North America. It has the longest vertical, the most acres and the most rocking nightlife. In Whistler it is easy to spend money but it is even easier to access gnarly terrain with awesome snow.

    Someone on the chairlift said that people come to Whistler for the winter but stay for the summer. I can easily agree as I sit in the warm sun and drink a latte while enjoying some world class people watching on the village stroll.

    Tuesday July 25, 2006

    9am: I arrived in Whistler last night after 13 hours of solo driving from Smithers, BC. I have never been here in the summer it is pretty nice. I am here to DH bike on chairlifts for the first time. It should be a mind-expanding experience. I am also going to compete in the Crankworx triple crown of racing as I am entered in the Air DH, the Biker X and the Enduro DH. Time to go.

    3pm: I am like 10 times a better biker then ever before after just 3 hours in the Whistler Bike Park. Air to air to bank to air… It is pretty fun, to say the least. I am taking a break now and going back out in couple of hours. Have to train for tomorrow.

    8:45pm: I am exhausted. It was a big day yesterday, a big day today and it will be a big day tomorrow… A-Line DH race! I think I know the course. Should be interesting.

    Wednesday July 26, 2006

    8:30am: I am drinking coffee and mentally preparing to race. I feel worn out from yesterday but I am going to push on through.

    11:45pm: My head spins as I recall the days events and the Tylenol 3, beer and weed kick in. I guess I’ll recount the day as things happened:

    10am-12pm: I did 3 more laps on A-Line trying to get a few more runs. Yesterday being my first day on a lift, I figured 10 laps would be enough to run it fast and clean. On each of my laps, I kicked my chain off, leaving me powerless to pedal. Frustrated, I tried in vain to properly adjust my chain guide. The chain kept coming off. I rushed into a bike shop asking if they could do a quick repair on my rear wheel. I figured that it was the freewheel bearing that was causing the trouble. They were all too busy.

    I adjusted the chain guides again and set off to do another run. Right when I got to the chair I realized that I had a slow leak in my rear wheel. I also soon realized that I had lost my mini tire pump that was in my camel back. So now I am at the top of the lift borrowing a pump from some dude. I told him to take a run and I’d leave the pump at the top shack.

    Right when he took off I tried to use his pump but I could not get it to work. Just then another guy comes up saying something as I am pumping the pump that does not work. So I borrow his pump and I am now pumping the tube up real huge trying to find the leak. Can’t find it. It was hot out. I am dripping sweat with this guy and his family looking at me. He told me there were free bike rentals down in the village. That’s a good idea. So I decided to put the tube back on and race down the access road to the village to find a sweet ride.

    12:30pm: I paced around the milling crowds in the sweltering heat with my dilapidated bike. It doesn’t help that I have a huge motocross fender on my front wheel and that seems to attract stares anyway. I went by each team tent looking for those ‘free’ demo bikes. No one knows anything about free bikes. These were tents and bikes for pro riders and who are you? It started to become comical at this point. I walk from tent to tent calling out for a ‘free DH bike to ride just one lap on A-line!’ No takers.

    Next I tried to go rent a bike for $40 but I did not have a credit card. It was getting closer to my start time. I had one last hope that the fellow Americans I had met were in the parking lot and also able to help.

    1pm: We’re feverishly taking apart my rear wheel and trying to lube the thing up as much as possible. I got a spare tube, pumped her up and sprinted to the lift half convinced that I was late. I got to the course and was told that things were delayed by 1/2 hour for some reason. So I got to chill in the shade for about 20 minutes.

    I managed to run the course clean in 4:57. I thought it was pretty good considering that an hour before I thought I would not even be able to race.

    While I am watching the top pros come in under 4:20 and a whole heap of people under 4:30 I crunched my molar on some sort of seed shell that was in the muffin I was eating. So I went and had my first Canadian ER experience. It was slow. I emerged with a couple of Tylenol 3 but by then the liquor store was closed so I could not get a bottle of Jim Beam to commemorate the Air DH. I might have my tooth pulled in the morning.

    July 27, 2006

    My tooth split apart this morning when I forgot I had cracked it and chomped into some jerky for breakfast. It does not seem to hurt. Another day in Whistler…
    I started training on the Biker X course. It is gnarly. Big race tomorrow. Looking forward to the Enduro on Sunday. One day at a time

    I am starting to feel strong at this level. I am biking faster and faster while hitting bigger and bigger jumps. Lot 5 is great.

    July 29, 2006

    I decided to pull out of the Biker X. It wasn’t my thing. I ran the course several times on my old Super 8 with 3 inch Gazalottis but kept having trouble on one speed section. I blew my bike apart on the stutter bumps. Whatever. I needed a mental break. Aiming for the Enduro tomorrow.

    I awoke in the back of my truck hung over and with rain falling lightly on my face. I am worn out. I did not know what to expect coming here. It certainly is Whistler but summer time now. The bike scene is huge. I see huge potential in myself for improving on bike and skis here. This Enduro race should be fun. Tech, single track, natural…

    9pm: Just came back from watching the Crankworx Slopstyle competition in the Village! Craziness. We are at the center of the bike universe. It is going to be a big day tomorrow. I am making dinner on the tailgate.

    July 30, 2006

    Another morning of pissing rain. Today I am competing in the Enduro DH. I can finally put this giant fender to good use. This race is more my style. I have become so much better on my bike in the last week it is crazy. Just when I am getting warmed up to keep riding for another 2 months, I have to go home.

    Last night we had a bonfire in the parking lot even though there is a province wide ban on fires. Good times in Lot 5. It is always fun to make new friends. I did not know what to expect coming to bike in Whistler. My ideas ranged from blind arrogance to prudent timidity. In reality I have squeezed somewhere in between. I have seen quick development around my strong background but have had only enough to get a taste of it. We’ll see how today goes. I’d like to have a solid race. Pedal, pedal, pedal.

    Yesterday I heard that you are supposed to dream in your 20’s, work on that dream in your 30’s and live off your hard work in your 40’s and beyond. Sounds like a pretty good plan.

    12:15pm: I have about 1 hour to race time. I just ate some mushrooms. I am going to go fast and steady.

    3:40pm: Crazy shit. High-speed gnarl. Tripping out. I am going back to Smithers right now. See how far I can drive.





    I started driving at 4pm and did not stop, except for gas, until 5:45 the next morning in my driveway at home. When my eyes became heavy between Prince George and Burns Lake I pretended I was enduring some sort of military training scenario and that I had to make it to Smithers in order to pass the test. What test? Who’s judging whom? The clock, the objective machine that first gives us time and as a result, space. Point A to Point B. Simple, universal, unarguable…

    I really enjoyed my time in Whistler because it introduced me to a whole new world of exploration and opportunity. It is humbling indeed, to be cruising along at what I though was a respectable clip, and have Cedric himself pass and move ahead with such ease and grace. I physically could not keep him in my sight for more then 30 seconds. While I was huffing and puffing, he was standing, nearly motionless as his bike bobbed and weaved over the roots and rocks. And in another moment, he’s gone into the mist and foliage ahead.

    I tend to get philosophical when it comes to trying to understand the experience that arises from bending time and space with speed. I have a theory that people who are faster on the bike, skis or freeway even, are smarter. By that I mean that they can mentally compute and assess the terrain at a faster rate and therefore command their body to move accordingly, at a faster rate. By that argument you can make yourself smarter by going faster. Just command your body to ease off the brakes just a little more or make one more pedal stroke before the next turn.

    Your head would have no option but to try and compute this higher rate of data. It might be too much, there might be a glitch and a momentary thought about your income taxes or the looming war in Iran and you CRASH! Holy shit. Too fast, I guess I’m not that smart yet.

    I gave it my best. I pedaled every turn that I could and I charged and sweated and grunted. But I did not crash. I went from Point A at the top of the Garbanzo Chair to Point B in the Village Square in a time of 18:48. That sounds about right and I am happy with that.

    I think I can go faster. I might need to upgrade the bike and move to Pemberton but those are small steps on the path of knowledge. I’d like to stand on the podium with the gurus and then I’d know that I worked my hardest.

  6. #156
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    Great

    Quote Originally Posted by carpathian View Post
    I like it, very impressive

  7. #157
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    ^^Thanks JONG! here is another

    'Torch Light Parade from 10'000 ft' (on aluminum)

    Name:  Torch Light parade on Aluminum.jpg
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    Every year on New Years Eve the resort runs a torch light parade down the mountain, you can see it there on lower left.

  8. #158
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    Tasu Sound


    Immediately after the crash Vesna and I decided to go to Whistler, BC to do some downhill biking. I figured that if life is short we might as well follow through with something that we had always wanted to do. I would miss Pete’s funeral but I felt like I had already seen him off to the next life.

    Downhill biking is extremely fun and extremely dangerous. The Bike Park in Whistler is the worlds best and we wanted to check it out. After a week of biking we both decided that we wanted a change and it would be fun to move to Whistler full time. We would rent out our house and see what the Lower Mainland had to offer. But before that could happen we had to go back to Smithers so I could face my new demons and go back to work in the bush.

    My destination? Tasu Inlet on the exposed West Coast of the Queen Charlottes Islands. The crew five, myself included, had two days in Charlotte City to organize gear and buy groceries. When everything was ready we met with the boat captain who would carry us out through the Skidegate Narrows and south for 8 hours to Tasu. His boat was a 54’ seiner that was definitely more suited for a fishing crew of two without addition of a mining crew of five.

    The crux of out operation in general was the sight unseen purchase of a small lake boat that would serve as our job site water taxi. Our boss bought the boat on the Internet and we went to pick it up on our way to camp. I kind of wanted to test the outboard motor before setting sail but apparently we had to ride the tide ASAP. The little boat was sad looking. The canvas top was all collapsed and the windshield was busted.

    We cruised along south until a small opening came into view through the vertical faced west coast. The passage was maybe four lanes wide with cliffs rising thousands of feet on each side. I was trying to not be paranoid, but ever since Saskatchewan I had the habit of constantly scanning for my ‘exit strategy’ in case we went down. With the pounding surf and cold rocks there was not many options.

    Our home for the next three weeks would be in a little canvas tent tucked into a tiny cove on the end of the Booth Peninsula. My crew consisted of Kevin and Bryan, who were both in Saskatchewan, along with John and Eric who were technically prospectors. Kevin, Bryan and I would be responsible for soil sampling every single stream that flowed to the ocean off of the strip of land that we called home.

    Amazingly the little outboard motor started. Since I had the most ocean experience I was nominates as Captain and we named our small vessel The Belle Hopper. I set about making an anchor out of rocks and bailing wire and I constructed an anchor system that allowed the boat to free float despite the high and low tide fluctuations.

    After a day of prepping camp it was time to go to work. We would zip from camp in search of flowing water. Some creeks were so small that they just trickled off the rocks into the ocean. I would pull the boat up to the cliffs and Kevin would jump off the bow and scramble up the cliff into the dense forest. I idea is to collect soil samples from the stream beds every 50 meters along with a GPS coordinate. Some creeks would go less then 50 meters before they dispersed into the loamy ground or as a spring or seep from a steep bank.

    One creek was pretty good sized on the map. It flowed down between he green dripping mountains from a lake some two kilometers upstream. The problem was that every time we would cruise by the creek on route to somewhere else, there would be four or five large black bears hanging around on the beach, apparently waiting for us or challenging us to come on their turf.

    About a week into the trip we decided it was time to venture into ‘Bear Valley.’ All the other creeks on this side of the peninsula were complete except for the creek that flowed from the valley of the bears. Sure enough, when we pulled in here was a momma bear and two cubs watching us. They moved away as we approached and as long as we did not surprise each other things would be all right. Once you were in the dense vegetation however, by the time you would see a bear you are only three feet away…

    Three of us made our way up the creek under huge fallen cedars and over deep pools of crystal clear water. It rains a lot in the Charlottes. This day it seemed to let loose a particular deluge as we sweated and steamed through the jungle. Sometimes there were ten trees, each ten feet in diameter, all crisscrossed overhead, making it dark in the caverns below. It felt very “Lord of the Rings.”

    After several hours we made it to the lake just as the sun poked through the clouds. We took lunch o a beach and prepared to journey back to the ocean where the bears were waiting. On the way out, we opted for the bear trodden paths that run parallel to the creek up above the stream bank. These paths seemed to be as good a place as any to run into a bear. Sure enough we saw one come around the corner and it zipped off the path and circled around to where it seemed to be following us.

    As we popped out on to the beach the tide was up and there was the momma bear and here cubs right on route to our boat. We decided to go up into the forest and circle around knowing that the other bear was nearby. It came to a point where the momma bear was right in front of us as the other one came from the side so we had to actually run up on to this little knob to get our of the way. Right as we were crouched behind a log I looked down at my feet and saw a perfect bear skull and skeleton right at my feet.

    I picked up the skull up for a moment contemplating this awesome memento from Bear Valley. Right then the stalking bear seemed to advance and I decided it would be best to not disturb the bear graveyard. We ran through the thicket and scrambled to the boat. The bears appeared to be satisfied with our departure and so were we as the Belle Hopper zipped us away to safety on the open sea.

    We departed our camp after three weeks of rain and adventure. The fishing boat picked us up at midnight and we chugged into the night. An hour later as we rolled in the pitch black waves of the pacific, the deck hand checked on the Belle Hopper and discovered that she had broken loose and disappeared in the inky night, never to be seen again.

  9. #159
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    Politics at Work

    I just finished working my first season in the booming mining industry here in BC. I have had the opportunity to travel all over the province and beyond, make good money, learn new skills and make new friends. At most jobs you are spending days and weeks out in remote camps working and living with random co-workers. I have enjoyed talking with people who have different backgrounds then myself. Though most of the time, my co-workers are locals of America and Canada, I have had the opportunity to talk politics with people from far off lands.

    Back in August and September I was working with a young Mexican fellow named Eric. He was born in Mexico and moved to Northern BC as a young boy while his family kept strong ties back home. He is a second-generation minerals prospector and we were working on the remote and rugged west coast of Haida Gwaii looking for evidence of gold and copper.

    As we clambered through the dense jungle foliage one afternoon I asked about the political scene in Mexico. We don’t really here about our third neighbor here in North America other then stories about illegal aliens or how to pay off the Federales or the Banditos if you are a traveling gringo.

    I asked what it is like in the media and the way people talk about the president and politics in general. He bluntly said that you can’t really say anything that undermines federal policy or you will
    “…disappear. You don’t criticize the president publicly because that is not tolerated.” I asked if that has to do with the flood of immigrants in the U.S., as that seems obvious. He said, “They are never going to completely shut down illegal Mexicans crossing the border because they work at a lot of jobs that Americans won’t do.” I had to ask if it was that “or the fact that they are illegal and that is the only job they can get?” Even the lowest paying illegal work in the states will pay more then the average legal job down south, if there is any jobs in the first place.

    On my next job a few weeks later, I met my work partner at a motel diner in Houston, BC. So here I am having breakfast with this young, bookish looking geophysicist and an older man named Thomas, who had a thick Eastern European accent. I recognized the same sound in my father-in-law’s accent and guessed correctly that this guy was from Yugoslavia. He was about to hit the road to head home and I was his replacement. After a few minutes of chitchat, Thomas was somehow telling us this story about a confrontation he had had with a Vietnam draft-dodger.

    Apparently the dodger had said something about “getting out of Vietnam ASAP” and Thomas told us how he told the guy that he “should be ashamed of himself for being cowardly and ignorant.” The geo and I kind of looked at each other and I piped in about how I had dodged the imaginary U.S. draft of May 2004. But I quickly explained that I had come to understand the threat of Communism and more recently the threat of Islamo-facism.

    Then, as if on que, he goes into this story about how back in the 80’s he was visiting an old friend in Moscow who happened to be a fairly high ranking military officer in the army of the USSR. Sometime during dinner with the officer and his large family, Thomas asked a question about the politics in the USSR. The officer’s face darkened and he silenced the room with a brief, icy stare and a turn away to other conversation.
    “Whoa!” he thought.

    Later, after dinner, the officer took the friend aside and scolded him for endangering his life and career and family by asking anything about politics. “I don’t know who at that table would say something to someone and the next day I would be taken away, never to be seen again.”

    Most recently, I was working on a job with a 21-year old guy from East Germany named George, who is working legally in Canada on a tourist visa. As I fueled the chainsaw or sharpened the chains cutting teeth, we’d go over world issues. One day I asked if Germans take offense to people comparing Bush to Hitler as if they are some how similar. He said, “You can’t compare Bush to Hitler because Hitler was a great man.” He was quick to follow saying, “I know he did all the bad things and that is bad but he still had more charisma and moving power over the people because he was a dictator and Bush is just a front man.”

    After I picked my jaw off the ground I asked if “he or his parents miss Communism?”
    “Not at all, socialism is just not working,” he continued, “though, even the system they have now is not really working because there is still strong communist undertones in the memory of the people.”

    I said, “There seems to be a few people around here who don’t know anything about the Holocaust in general so they might be more inclined to believe someone like Ahmadinajad. You know, how the Holocaust never happened because it is part of the Zionist revisionist plot? What do Germans think about a president of a country saying something like that?”

    “Well, that is our history and we know that it happened” George said. I then asked about “the apparent mass influx of Muslim immigrants coming to Europe and not integrating while at the same time making more demands for ‘cultural respect’ and eventual Sharia law?” George then asked me if I had heard about the Van Gogh murder or the theatrical play that was censored by sensitive multiculturalists. “That will be the end of free speech,” he lamented.

    Then he asked if I had read Orwell’s “1984”? I laughed because I knew where he was going with it. “That is what it is like in a Communist/Fascist state. Islamo-facism draws the same passion from its followers no matter how disastrous the results.”

    I kept chain sawing through another tank of gas. Later I asked about “how difficult it was to start a business in Germany?”

    “Very difficult,” he said, “you need $30-50,000 of backup money and there are tons of government loops to jump through.” I told him about how I had come to Canada and started a small video production company with a $16,000 grant from the Canadian government. The program is used to keep people off of welfare and to diversify the economy.

    “Wow, that is opposite of Germany! I need to move here.”
    “You should,” I said and drop started my chainsaw and went back to work, feeling like a redneck.

  10. #160
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    Warning: political rant from over a decade ago. Life was so simple then...

    Adbuster Essay


    I am amazed at how neatly the editors at Adbusters managed to stack pure swill between the covers of this months issue. Apocalypse soon? You wish. This magazine and its contents are inspired by people who hate themselves so they project this hatred and blame the world around them. I was amused by the comparison of the inept suicide attempts made by the depressed westerner and the suicide bombers of the Middle East. Are these people serious? Am I supposed to feel sorry for you because you lack the will or creativity to promote change within yourself? How do you expect to revolt and change the world if you can’t even look at your self in the mirror?

    And what exactly is it that you want to change about western society anyway, the freedom to bitch and moan? That is easy, just move to any one of the dozens of countries in the world that is run by one of those megalomaniac/despot sorts. That would solve two of your problems; life would become simple because you would not have to make any decisions for yourself or your beliefs and if by chance you did have the grand realization that you might not agree with the Mao or the Mullahs they would be all too happy to assist in your suicide.

    I see a lot of turmoil coming out of this Israel/Palestinian conflict. Obviously there are two sides to the story. What are the Jews options? They could all pick up and move to New York and walk away from the land that was originally theirs in the first place. They were already bumped out of Europe and had to settle for the 150 square mile hell hole scrunched in the middle of a very hateful and confused Islamic culture.

    Meanwhile, the Palestinians can continue to lay siege and hopefully run the Jews out so they can retake the land by sword, just like Mohammed instructed. Or maybe they can get over it and move to Iran, it seems nice there. My wife actually lived there for two years as a toddler and moved to Canada six months before insanity took power. I’ve seen the pictures and it looks beautiful but unfortunately natural beauty does not always inspire harmony within the human culture living there.

    Religion has not been very trendy these days in the western world unless it is romanticizing some 3rd world, medieval conception of man and god. Obedience, faith, fortitude… these are all great. Maybe you could role play it out in the bedroom tonight,
    SPANK! ‘Thank you for I have sinned’ SPANK! You are afraid of Christian fundamentalism? At least there are shades of grey in their tolerance for what you are up to in the bedroom in the first place.

    How come you can rip on the Pope and not worry that his minions won’t bang your door down in the middle of the night, gang bang your wife and kids and then take you away to be tortured to death? Because that is not reasonable or acceptable in the Christian faith. Tolerance for intolerance is not tolerance. It is appeasement, it is getting bullied on the playground, it is rolling over and playing dead.

    Is the U.S. and Israel the ‘Axis of Aggression’? Yes, if you are a power hungry, delusional advocate for Sharia rule on Earth. Yes, if you are a disillusioned editor at Adbusters cheering for the end of days. And yes, if you are ignorant enough to not recognize the freedoms you do have because of the original aggressive move for democracy back in the American Revolution. Sometimes you gotta kick ass and I believe the giant is stirring from his slumber as we speak. But that might put me in the same category as Chomsky by rationalizing violence in the name of what I think is some greater good.

  11. #161
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    It’s a Shame!


    The chairlift stopped. Our conversation continued along oblivious for some time. We did not take notice for a while because the chair stops all the time and it never seems to be big trouble. We sat and wondered and admired the snow caked in the trees. Conversation wound back to praising the previous run, our first of the morning. It had snowed 40cm that night on top of 20 and 20 from the previous 2 days. Could be considered bottomless. My line down through the treed run, ‘The Voids,’ was amazing and I was amped to get to it.

    Chairlift was still not moving. We could see the top of the lift not so far ahead. We were just over three towers from the top. Tick, tock…Tick, tock…

    “The cable came off! Pass it up!” an adolescent voice hollered from a couple of hundred meters behind us.

    “What did he just say?” we questioned out loud. Could be a joke. Laughing kids heard in the distance. They are just joking.
    A moment later the same statement, “The cable came off! Pass it up!”
    “No way! It’s *&%$ powder out there! We just got a taste of it!”
    “The cable came off! Pass it up!” The kid started to sound genuine. Right then, a snowmobile came cruising up with the lift mechanic. We watched and waited. We had been sitting there for almost 1/2 hour. We watched as the sun began to warm things up a bit. The snow was staying in the trees still, so that was good.

    It seemed like the patrollers were gathering up at top of the lift. Preparing for something. Sure enough, a patroller began cruising the lift line telling us that they were going to manually unload us soon.
    “That is a bummer,” one could only say too emphatically.
    “Serious bummer,” was the only response.

    On the bright side we were fairly close to the top of the lift so we had to only wait another 20 minutes before it was our turn to be unloaded. To anyone who might already be a bit nervous about heights, this may have been quite the challenge. The way it works is that a patroller climbs one of the chairlift towers and tosses a line with a metal ‘T’ over the main haul line. Two patroller on the ground then drag the line along the cable until they reach a chair with people on it. We had a good chance to see several successful downloads before it was our turn, so we felt confident in our rescuers.

    A snap here and a shimmy there and before I knew it, I was whisked to the ground straddling the red, T-shaped contraption. Vesna was a moment behind me.

    “The t-bar is still going, we will be the only ones on it!” I pointed out. We hiked up the 150 meters to the top of the dysfunctional lift and cruised down to the t-bar lineup to join the elite few who managed to not get stuck in the first place. Not so bad. A little delay there, but we were back on track with our powder skiing agenda.

    An hour later I began to get thirsty and hungry. The snow was holding up pretty good, but it was getting warmer. We had to keep skiing the t-bar because if we went down, we would be swamped in a sea of displaced teens and children who had arrived via school bus only 20 minutes before the lift broke down. We continued to lap the 500 ft run in the trees.
    “Beginning to tire… Need water…”

    Our next option was to ski to the bottom, grab a bite to eat then take out backcountry gear out in to the wilds. We assembled the crew and made a dash for the bottom. On the way down it became apparent that we were skiing the last of what could be called ‘powder.’ Getting warm.
    At the bottom of the hill it was a scene out of a school yearbook. Children, teens and adults all hanging around the ski racks enjoying the sunshine. Lots of smiles. We took note of the last run and decided to take a bit of a seista from the search for powder. Kicking it around the camper in the parking lot. Trent materialized with a pack of beer and our afternoon was set. It was funny to watch as we migrated from the chairs next to truck up to the giant snow berm at the end of the parking lot. In a way, we degenerated from ‘adult, backcountry enthusiasts’ to ‘punk teenagers’ throwing snowballs at cars and doing flips off the berm without spilling our beer.

    Brad got industrious and built a kicker down into the lower lot. We drank, laughed, threw snow and hit the kicker into the twilight of the day. At some point, around 2pm, there was a false alarm that the lift would be reopening but that proved wrong. It did not matter though because it was now apparent that the day was not for skiing bottomless powder. It was meant to experience some true parking lot camaraderie. We were to learn that there is more to the sport the hucking and straight-lining. It is the finer things in the sport that make me appreciate the whole.

  12. #162
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    The Power of Perception

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    So I finally went and saw the new TGR movie and had a good time. The show was held at the Glenwood Hall outside of Smithers. Any event at the Glenwood, aka Driftwood, is sure to be a classic Smithers occasion.

    We rolled up at five minutes to 8, which was show time. I had a beer on the porch and then eased into a chair in the back row. This was Vesna and my first night on the town in a long while. All in all I was entertained. The jibber costumes were colorful and my favorite Haines 'getting out of the plane on the runway' shot was dead on. Sage has been training for AK again and Ian stomped some large airs.

    I have to say that I was most entertained by the drunk heckler over to my left. TGR should hire him to the voice overs because it went over real well with the crowd. His dramatic gasps in disbelief and shrieks of “Oh my god! Did you see that?!” got me chuckling. The best was the more cautionary “No, don't do it, don't do it... HOLY Shit! Did you see that?!” You get the picture.

    I saw dudes pushing the limits and some wipe outs and some hideous fashion. It is one thing to be a slave to corporate America, but to be a slave to fashion as well?! At the end of Sage's AK section, I was not really feeling the lime green suit and the half hearted rebel 'fist in the air.' Was that shot scripted or totally freestyle with the hair and the David Bowie posture...? My favorite line he skied was that super fun looking one with all the steep pillows and it just kept going and going.

    I am honestly the most entertained by Seth when he keeps his skis on the ground and charges lines. I get kind of bored of the mellow line leading into the 80 foot front flip. Just my opinion...

    The show ended and then the real entertainment began. There was a 'recycled material fashion show' that I decided to miss and went back to the front porch for more beer etc. The people were festive and the drunk guy was real excited about winning the raffle prize for the Heli skiing out at Bell II. He claimed very dramatically, that his “whole life would be complete if he had just one heli run, so help me god!” I pointed out that sled skiing is over all more fun, but he wouldn't hear it.

    We went back inside just as the MC girl was telling everyone to clear the chairs from in front of the stage. There was a live rock band coming on in a few minutes but she apparently had some sort of game to play with the crowd to kill time. She called all the single guys to one side of the room and then all the single girls to the other side and then made the announcement that “this is what you have to work with...”

    She them went down the line and made each person step out in the front as she rattled off a bunch of personal info about each person. “He's easy... she's an engineer... she's bisexual... he's super smart...”
    I was really beginning to ask my self if this is weird as my buddy turned and said “This is fucking weird!” I agreed but was still impressed that the MC girl kept the ball rolling. The atmosphere teetered between awkward to hilarious to finally being relieved when the little game was over. The point? Unknown.

    The time came for the drawing of the ticket to win the day of heli skiing with Last Frontier at Bell II.
    They called the number. My last three digits were 460. I knew that Vesna's number was one up at 461. The number was called... 441! Vesna stuck her ticket in the air and strutted forward and everybody cheered! She went to the front and managed to get her hands on the mic as she made a cheeky speech thanking the world for her good fortune. I knew that they called another number and was slightly embarrassed that she would be so bold and try to bluff her way into a free day of heli skiing.

    Some one started chanting “Vesna! Vesna! Vesna!' and the whole room followed suit. She stuck the envelope in the front of her shirt and walked back to where I was standing amidst much uproar. Just then another girl came forward and said that she had the number. Vesna was drunk and not paying attention. I was trying to tell her that she did not win. She genuinely thought she won! The other girl was kind of standing there and Vesna was kind of yelling “No way! Not after that speech!” The MC said something about how this was 'awkward.' Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Vesna went back to the front and offered to fight the girl right there! (she has been really into KickBo lately).

    Just then the owner of the heli company jumped up on stage and said “I guess there are TWO free days of heli skiing!” Everyone cheered. My buddy was awestruck that Vesna had basically talked her way onto a heli. I was proud now and it looks like I might get in the bird too.

    The band took the stage and soon the drunk guy was up front really getting into the music. He was all sweaty and pounding his fist on the stage to the beat. At the end of each song he would start yelling “Don't stop, Don't stop!” in kind of a sad desperate drunk voice. His friends tried to drag him off the dance floor several time but he kept breaking free. He actually made his way on the stage and said something into the mic but I can't remember what he said. I'm sure it was priceless, if not more memorable then another year of ski porn.

  13. #163
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    The Furthest Temple


    What do you do when the sun that you view becomes skewed and the Earth gives birth to the thing that you dread in your head and the signs point to the things that you know will grow and go round and round in your head to the call with the sound of your voice?

    A choice must arise, though you despise the result of the vote to build a moat and go on a float with a gun and a boat. By rote, they try to convince me to wash my soul in a bowl made of the skull of some dude with an attitude?

    I’m me and she is she and there goes He across the gape in the flap of this thing called space/time. By rhyme I say the thing that is meant to sting if not by tact then by fact. And the fact if the story? It might bore ye, so drink and be merry!

    What you think you know is all the show of the campaign of rain and sorrow. If tomorrow I’m slain… then you’ll grow if not by chance then by direction. And in your perfection the truth will take root and out of the Earth a shoot will be birthed without the curse of sad introspection.

    You are alive in a hive of thought and quantum tendency that renders thee into a person of history that carries forth the torch of the Son that was once one in the sky of my eye.

    Part 2

    The littlest angel flew abreast of the rest of the suffering with the point to anoint and contest the sound of the darkness.

    It all harkens to a time in the past which is fast on the brim of a new day!

    I say it is here and now in the gold of the leaves in the trees and in the gardens with streams running through them.

    So don’t despair because the repair is fair and this request is not in jest.

    In context and logic, frolic in the resonance of light that is bright in these words and remember to be sure of where you came from and where you want to go.

    If down is up then I’d better shut up because all is already lost at the cost of liberty and justice for all.

    Part 3

    Stuck in the past, the mast alone rises above the fog engulfing the ship of fools; all tools of the myth of a man with a plan of world domination. Nation by nation, patience wears thin in the grin at the U.N. and in the minds of man the conflict carries on as if there are borders in your brain and pain to endure just to be sure you are cured of being human.



    Who can’t count the years on the mount near the rock and the history of creation post hoc to validate the word of a man? Cheers and tears 6 times over years of emotional attachment; distraction and factions of violence no less. A pest in the breast of the West and the rest won’t rest until His stories visions manifest. I must confess my stress at civilizations potential demise.

    Part 4

    Though, it is good as it should be, can’t you see? The wind at you back and shelter from attack leaves time to procreate and not deviate from your path here on Earth.

  14. #164
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    Vanity Fair Essay Contest

    (note: I didn't win the contest)

    Re-al-i-ty:
    actual being or existence, as opposed to an imaginary, idealized or false nature

    I assume that this contest is being held for your benefit, Mr. Carter. I read your September editorial and it seems you may be feeling lost so with all the respect in the world, I would like to explain some things to you.

    That large group of people who watch TV every day or get their news from CNN or the BBC or Vanity Fair are brainwashed into thinking very small in the sense of history. It is interesting to see this resurgence of feeling good about Communism. Anything the U.S. has done since the collapse of Soviet Communism has been held under the microscope because the U.S.S.R was seen as the necessary economic counter balance to the potential excess of Capitalism. The Communist public was brainwashed into thinking that any deviating individuals were a threat to the security of the whole. (i.e. a threat to the people who were doing the brainwashing.) The people were chained to the man named Stalin in the sense of their belief and their spirits died.

    The security of the whole was assured by the economic structure, which was promoted by force; which requires control. The economy had to be controlled by the mind that created it or instituted the idea. This control is like trying to control life, the people!

    “The people” under communist rule were the ones who were controlled while being promised freedom. A lot of people realized that they were not actually free and they spoke out and they were tortured for years and then murdered. Or maybe just murdered or maybe just tortured… Why doesn’t Vanity Fair do a story about the persecution of Falon Gong members in China? Now THAT is how a true dictatorship works. Severely punish 5% of your population so the rest toe the line. You want to define torture? How about a cattle prod up your ass versus panties on your face? Or consider solitary confinement standing chest deep in raw sewage instead of losing your Koran down the toilet? Even today, dissent or disservice to the party line means death. Sounds similar to the Islamic dream of Sharia rule on Earth.

    I just thought of something. You know how people like to point out ‘eerie’ similarities between Orwell’s “1984” and America today. You know, they use him as the reference of how it really is. Well, that is how it really is in China or North Korea right now, but not America. So anyway, let’s look at those silly Americans who seem to be brainwashed into buying shit. Now, who is to say that just because I live in a secular-consumerist-capitalist society that I too cannot be deeply spiritual and grounded in the ultimate reality that created this?

    By giving the people the freedom to do whatever the fuck they want you get a lot of spoiled, ignorant brats who don’t realize how good they actually have it. And their even being allowed to get on the TV and write editorials that make fun of the President or criticize national and international policies is the giant loophole in their non-argument.


    The liberal tendencies of the U.S. media shape the U.S. mind into anti-Republican ideas for obvious partisan reasons but also aim for economic structuring based more on the social democracy which tends more towards communism which any true tyrant knows is the surest way to make a buck. Kill your own people and take their shit. That is not to say that Al Gore would have instituted Sharia law for the sake of being politically correct, but France will, followed by Norway and Denmark etc. etc. until people realize that Bush was the light in the darkness in the first place. It was a close one with the Germans and the Japanese. We’ll see how it goes this time around, I guess.

    I have been reading about the impending, if not current, world confrontation with Iran. It seems like some people are confused about what is going on. If by practicing multiculturalism you think that no culture is worse then the Western culture that you live in, that can lead to trouble. And if you subscribe to a sense of cultural relativism that believes that those in power have no right or ability to judge other groups of thinking for what they are, you may not be in power for much longer.

    People like to apologize for Islamic-fascism. They argue that the Muslims have grievances against the West because of Israel and oil and our decadence etc etc. You have to think longer in terms of history and realize the fascist nature of the terrorist parties, Hezbollah and Hamas. True, fascism originated as a nationalistic trend in Italy that spawned the Nazis and to some degree Soviet Communism. Those ideologies were rooted in the political agenda of annihilating any other way of thinking. Islamic-fascism is similar in that its followers believe that they are acting towards world domination. However, their ideas are religious based versus the secular political religion of the Nazis.

    Critics say that it is impossible to democratize the Middle East and that we should leave those ‘traditional people’ to their own devices. Unfortunately those people have a tradition of killing anyone who is not like them i.e. Muslim. Infidels are ‘moderately’ described as pigs and apparently liberal law has no jurisdiction over followers of Allah. Sounds like a recipe for chaos in the civilized world. The funny thing is that they use the technology of the Great Satan to meet those ends.

    People always say that the U.S. is only backing Israel for the strategic purpose of maintaining a foothold in the Middle East. Well, no shit! We pulled out of the Gaza strip and Hezbollah attacks. We show any sign of weakness and they think they are winning. If we give them Israel (the Jews) there is 0% chance that terrorism will stop. Zero. Anyone who apologizes for a lunatic Iranian president, to some extent, must agree with him. Maybe the Holocaust didn’t happen? Maybe the Jews are controlling the world? And if by chance Hitler did kill 6 million Jews and another 5 million unsavory types, maybe he was on to something…?!

    You can’t have a half-assed argument. If you extend and put into historical context the popular ‘neo-con’ conspiracy, it all comes down to scape-goating the Jews… again.

    Is the U.S. an Imperialistic superpower aiming to globalize the world via trade and commerce and MTV? Yes, in that our political system offers stability, equality, opportunity and empowerment to everyone. People who have a socialist leaning tend to be lazy, I think. They want the government to take care of them. They don’t want to be responsible or perhaps are just looking for someone or something to blame for their own inadequacies and insecurities. Or maybe some of the smarter advocates are aiming for the top of the bureaucratic structure and plan on benefiting from the collectivization that is required of the communal participant.

    Can you call the U.S a totalitarian/fascist regime? Hardly. With a free economy, we have a free press and freedom of religion. There might be threats to take away your freedom to abort a baby, but whose freedom are we talking about, yours or the baby’s?

    I see a cultural clash of historic precedent and I think it would be wise to try and recognize good and evil. Oppression versus freedom. Death versus life. The U.S. can’t be all that bad when half the world wants to move there to enjoy life. Oh wait! How does that work? Since the U.S. has puppet regimes all over that oppress and kill the local people it would seem that the U.S. mainland itself, would be seen as the heart of that evil and that people there would be the most oppressed and the most controlled. Why would some person in one of these countries want to go to the heart of the evil that has destroyed their life? Do they want to experience oppression in a concentrated dose? I doubt it. Economic necessity? Who needs money when you are happily dirt poor in Cuba? You have culture and voodoo and beaches! But money is bad, you don’t need money to be happy do you?

    You can call me an ex-anti-American. I had lost touch with reality for a while there but managed to use critical thinking and logic to see through the smokescreen being spread by hypocritical media outlets such as Vanity Fair. You too, can do the same.

    Mr. Carter, don’t feel guilty for being human, for being Canadian or for being your self.
    In reality you have been living the North American Dream so why don’t you want the rest of the world to share the experience?

    Sincerely,
    Jacob Young

    P.S. real estate is the way to go.

  15. #165
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    Part 3

    Move to Whistler

    By November 1, 2006, we had finally relocated to Pemberton, BC. Located 35km north of Whistler, Pemberton offers small town atmosphere with world-class recreation opportunities all around. I had a job already lined up when I rolled into town. We would be living with an old friend of Vesna named JJ, who owned a lovely house out in the country. He also landed me the job and would be my foreman.

    Unfortunately the work season came to a close after only a week of work because the new season of snow arrived sooner then later. Our cash flow was tight… I wanted a season pass for the massive ski hills that we had moved here to ski. I had to go back to work so I called my old boss from back in Smithers. They had a running contract going up in northern Saskatchewan. I had to go, to really face my demons.

    On the surface we had moved to Whistler to ski and bike but in reality I was running from the harsh memories associated with Smithers and the heli crash. They had shut down that camp after the crash for a couple of weeks and then ended up bringing in new workers to finish the job. This time I was aiming for the UEX camp which was more to the north east of Davy Lake, near Wollasten Lake. Where Davy Lake was in heat of the summer, I was returning to this god-forsaken land in just as winter was setting in.

    On the opening day of the ski resort, Vesna drove me through Whistler and south to Vancouver where I got on a plane and flew to Calgary then Saskatoon. The next flight was on a small ten passenger plane that aimed due north. I could not believe that I was doing it, to be honest. The last time I was in Saskatoon, my head was not screwed on straight. Had it been ever since?

    The little plane stopped at tiny runways where local native people either got on or got off. The inside temperature of the plane was dropping. Finally we arrived at the UEX camp, a weird industrial complex in the absolute middle of nowhere. It is land of big trucks and a lot of porn magazines on the magazine rack. Actually I take that back, there has to be a regular gas station in order for there to be a magazine rack in the first place. There was some miscommunication as to who was picking me up. I was kind of confused because I was not sure where I was going and thought I was already there.

    I ended up hitching a ride with some guy who just putted along not really in too much hurry to get anywhere. All of the sudden he handed me a .22 rifle from under the seat and told me to shoot the ptarmigan that was sitting on the side of the road. He warned me that the sight was off, but after a couple of shots, I got it.

    I got to camp and was relieved to see Kevin and some of the other guys from previous jobs of the summer. Most of the large canvas tents in camp were comfortable despite the –30C. The first night I stayed in a tent with Teddy. I soon picked up on the fact that Teddy was certifiably crazy. He was half Indian and half Metis or some such and would go on about how he had “ beat the shit out of so and so,” or “I drank so much that…” or “I got arrested for…” or “I put him in a wheelchair.” As he laughed with a sly smile like he was testing me. His pigeon English was barely passable at best but I would soon learn that he would be my translator for the rest of the crew.

    A couple of hours after I got to camp I was hanging out in Kevin’s tent and they had a huge tiger torch propped up on a board as it was blasting a three foot flame in the air to take the chill off. He broke the news to me that the all the guys I knew and trusted would be leaving and I would be the new foreman for the new crew. They had already been there for six weeks and were getting the heck out while they could. My new crew was on route as we spoke, as they were riding in on snowmobiles from their village an hour across the lake.

    I would be in charge of Teddy and four other locals for the next few weeks. Even though I had a constant pit in my stomach, it seemed to grow the next morning when all my friends finished loading their truck and jumped in and drove away, back home to Smithers.

    Teddy was the joker. He was always quick with the punch line but also quick with the punches, from what I gathered. The other four guys were quiet. Two of them were my age and spoke a painful garbled English. Their native language was Dene and it was mixed with a French/ English combo. I had to really concentrate on what they were saying and the two other guys were much older. They were in their mid-fifties and were technically elders in the their community.

    On the first day one of the older guys was saying something about cigarettes and chew and I was like “Yeah, yeah, I’ll get it tomorrow,” as Teddy chimed in with “listen man, you want a mutinee? You gotta get chew now.” This was my first job as foreman and apparently I am responsible for providing for my men, NOW!

    The days went by slow. The temperature kept dropping to –35C then –40C. I kept the diesel truck running 24 hours a day because it would not start if left off for more then half an hour. I would gather the men in the morning and we would drive 10k down the road to where the grid crossed every 200 meters. I would set Teddy and the elders off cutting line that I already laid out. My partner and I would set off into the bush with GPS and pickets. Once the line is cut, we had to go back and picket every 50 meters for the entire 5km length. The seismic crew would come in after us and they use the pickets as reference points. They haul cables out that are connected to a generator and basically create an ultra sound of the Earths core. In this case we were looking for uranium.

    Well, we were not looking for uranium technically. Technically we were trooping across frozen lakes in a barren land. The pickets did not want to stand upright in the ice so we just laid them there. One day I looked across the ice and saw smoke rising on the far shore. We walked over to see what was going on.

    It was so cold that the ‘power saws’, as the locals called them, would not run. “You should get Husky,” Teddy would implore referring to the Husqvarna brand of chainsaw versus the Stihl brand we were using. “They work in cold,” told me as he sat by the fire he started to warm his saw.

    I took note of production for the day. The next day was the same thing; too cold for the saws. On the tenth day the cook quit. It seems that the pipes kept freezing in the kitchen. The topper was when the giant ‘shitcicle’ that had been growing in the outhouse finally poked its ugly head above the blue foam toilet seat. The camp manager had been chopping it down with an ice axe but it looked like the base finally caught up with the head and it would not back down.

    I recalled how Vesna had called me to tell me how good the skiing had been. I did not need to hear it from her though. Somehow, doe to the atmospheric acoustics, we would pick up a Vancouver radio station as it blared about the best skiing conditions in ten years.

    The more I thought about it, I realized that I had had enough for the season. What more did I have to prove? I called my boss back in Smithers and basically told him that he was losing money because production had gone through the floor. He quickly agreed and told me to get the heck out of there. It was the middle of December and we were the very last crew in the field for the season.

    I was elated! I went and told the crew and they were not impressed. It seems that these guys were real locals and they had no problem working in –40C. They only lived an hour away and where else were they going to work? I knew that I was the weak white guy and I knew it was futile to try and explain that the skiing was good back in Whistler. We were in another world. By this point I was thinking and talking in a pigeon English of my own.

    When Teddy found out, he was outraged! Apparently he had called the boss on his own an hour before I did for some reason or other and had told him that things were going great. I did not know that he had also called the boss. Teddy took this into his twisted logic and decided that I called him a liar! He bellowed in my face that nobody called him a liar and that he had maimed people for less. We stood toe to toe for maybe 20 minutes and I felt like I was facing an enraged brown bear and in the end I managed to call his bluff.

    I was awestruck by his rationale and was seriously afraid for my safety. I took refuge in the camp manager tent and place my tiny camcorder up in the corner under a coat in case Teddy came busting in with a knife or Tiger Torch. An hour later Teddy came over and had calmed down a bit. We had both called the boss again and he managed to sooth Teddy’s offended ego. I was till not in the clear. I was responsible for driving the work truck home to Pemberton where Kevin would come pick it up later in the winter.

  16. #166
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    I was also responsible for driving Teddy 10 hours south to Saskatoon on my way south. What followed was some of the most harrowing driving conditions I have ever endured. At –40C diesel fuel will start to gel and it will not flow to the engine properly. The road was single lane and pure ice. Huge big rigs would surprise you around a corner and nearly put you in the ditch. The basic rule of the road is the more axles, the more seniority on the road. If you were lucky you would see the dragons tail of exhaust flowing towards in your direction, giving you plenty of warning.

    It does not matter though, if you are broke down. We had been using fuel out of a portable tank and it probably had some moisture in there as well which contributed to our problem. The truck would lose power in 4th gear then 3rd and then down to 2nd. We would be crawling along in 1st and then she would die. The other problem was that the truck batteries were already weak so if she did not start after a few turns we would be sitting ducks. I knew all of this because as it turns out, Teddy was some kind of diesel mechanic on the side. We had long settled our differences as we stood in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere.

    A small truck came by and offered a tow. So now we are cruising along being towed two feet behind this pickup as the sun is just coming up over the flat horizon and directly into my eyes. I could not see anything except for a six-inch corner of the bumper I was trying to not run into. My power steering and brakes were seizing up and I had to muscle everything. Even Teddy seemed nervous as he finally stopped talking.

    An hour later we tried to pull start her and she roared to life. Another hour later we limped into the first gas station for fresh fuel and diesel conditioner. After a total of ten hours of driving and Teddy’s 15 beers we were in Saskatoon. Teddy went off to find a hooker while I called a tow truck to make an appointment for a 7am pull start.

    At 7:10 am I bid Teddy farewell, hopped in the truck behind the tow truck as it pulled me down the boulevard. I downshifted to 1st gear and she roared to life for one last haul.
    17 hours later I pulled into Pemberton exhausted and happy to be home. I then dreamed about the drive with Teddy all night, every night for the next three weeks.

  17. #167
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    Nov 11, 2003

    The Taoist and the Confucians describe what it means to be human in different ways. Both rely on harmony to bring their respective concepts of the true self together.

    The Taoist search within the person to discover the true nature of self. Chuang Tzu describes the perfect man as using his mind like a mirror. “It grasps nothing, it refuses nothing. It receives but does not keep.”

    The perfect mind is not swayed by the subjectivity that is the byproduct of emotion. (or is emotion the byproduct of subjectivity?) The mirror mind accepts things as they are without passing judgment or remaining attached to results of actions or circumstances. The Taoist seeks to bring the self and nature into harmony. Through the concept of the mirror, the Taoist can visualize the self as

    “transcending the dichotomy between the self and the world.”

    The Confucians differ in several ways in their mode of understanding the nature of the self. While Taoism is primarily intuition based, Confucianism is predominately reason based and while Taoism finds the self to be the product of inner qualities of the individual, Confucianism looks to external factors to cultivate the nature of the self.
    Confucians describe the self as the nexus of all interactions between the individual and his social environment. The self is said to be at the center of 5 concentric circles. The self interacts with the family, community, country, and then the world in that order. As the individual learns how to relate to these different groups of people in his life, he is also learning how to relate to himself. It is a network of people, all the center of their own circles, trying to figure out how to be happy with their lives.

    Mencius, a Confucian, believed that people were inherently good and that we possess a natural sense of what is right and wrong. This natural tendency plays a factor in the learning process one must follow in order to come to understand our true self. Once our self is realized, we then respond to our family and friends in such a way that it promotes their own understanding of themselves. Hsun Tzu, on the other hand, believed that people are naturally evil. But since we have a higher intellect than other animals, we have the ability to understand the difference between good and evil and we can do good.

    The general Chinese thought is that all people have the potential to become sages, but it is only a matter of combining the intuition of Taoism and the reasoning of Confucianism into a harmonious understanding of our place and function in society and the universe.

    The Tao is expressed as beauty. Webster’s defines beauty as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”

    Where is beauty found and how do you know it is beautiful? If the observer was at one with the Tao and since the Tao is the perfect combination of opposing forces for the moment, anything that is being perceived by the observer could be considered beautiful.

    If one sees the beauty and inherent goodness in all people and things, is that a reflection of your clear mind or is your clear mind just reflecting the purity of that which is observed? Which comes first?
    I think it is beautiful the way nature is constructed. There are no parts that are left out or do not serve some purpose. Everything is supported by everything else in the ecological web, the purest expression of the Tao. Are people not part of the ecological web? Why are things we create not considered natural and in that case, beautiful? Is it because in the process of socializing ourselves we have managed to convince ourselves that in order to survive, we need to have a certain amount of economic flow as opposed to “going with the flow” of the Tao? The flow of the Tao is natural and abundant. By appreciating the beauty in natural things, you are cultivating the beauty in yourself and that in effect teaches you to appreciate the beauty and goodness in other people. People pick up on that appreciation and it is reflected into their appreciation of themselves and of nature. It is a perpetuating cycle.

    When you are choosing to see the beauty in a person or situation you are choosing to assume that that person or situation is there for your own progress towards goals and spiritual education. Self-realization truly is a communal effort. Those who function with this simple assumption of goodness and appreciation of the others innate beauty have the ability to be sustained by the web of cause and effect that we are immersed in every moment of our lives. It is beautiful to me to see all of my needs met by forces outside of myself. The Tao is infinitely responsive to those who are aware and looking.

  18. #168
    What a self-indulgent steaming pile of shit

  19. #169
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    ^^ Lol , ok sorry, too much politics. I know those last few sections were a bit much for our more sensitive readers.

    More self indulgent ski stoke coming up! Pay attention, you might learn something


    101 Ski Day Meditation
    I was done working for the season and had a lot to go over in my mind. I thought of doing a 101-day ski meditation to first clear my mind then make it receptive to new ideas. After the crash there in Saskatchewan and my more recent trip to that God forsaken province, I felt like I had a new lease on life and that I should take advantage of that.

    A ski meditation is simple. You can make a meditation out of a single run or a day or a single turn. Or maybe ten turns in a row or maybe ten days in a row. By meditation I mean that you operate in a state of blank focus and healthy intentions. Sometimes a blinding epiphany can carry forth through the deep apex of a turn. Or just the opposite: if I crash and loose a ski… what was thinking about when I crashed? Obviously something other then the turn, that is why I crashed.

    I was aiming to be in a meditative state from January 1, 2008 until March 31, 2008. I would ski six days a week with Sunday as a rest day. I would stretch and contemplate life thus far. You can reach a meditative state through different specific exercises or modes of expression on skis.

    There is the ‘high rep/ high speed’ practice that focuses on endurance of the mind as it controls the body through highly variable and potentially volatile motions. For example, every Wednesday Vesna would work as a volunteer avalanche tour guide on Blackcomb. She would ski around and discuss avalanche mitigation techniques with curious tourists. So for my Wednesdays, I would do as many ‘Spanky Laps’ as possible. Spanky’s Ladder is a short hike that will access Ruby Bowl, Diamond Bowl and Sapphire Bowl. You can do a lap every half hour on the minute if you keep the same pace. No time for pissing or drinking water. Over the day you can max out at 13 laps if there are no problems like people trying to talk to you or anything such inconvenience. I might add that it is not the best way to make new ski friends. After about 15 minutes of skiing you have approximately 15 minutes on the chair to sit in silence or make chitchat with a tourist. They always seem real impressed that you live in such a beautiful place, so it is good to remind yourself of that.

    The opposite end of the spectrum is in the backcountry. Your day is now split into climbing and skiing. A three-hour climb might yield 20 minutes of ski time. You meditation becomes focused on the exercise of propelling yourself up hill for however long and then on getting yourself down in one piece, considering avalanches etc.

    As it turns out the two biggest days of my season were on the first day and the last day of my 101-day meditation.

    I had been staring at the mountains from our new studio apartment just outside of Pemberton. Dead south was the long, low angle, tree covered ridge that cuts northeast from the summit of Mt Currie. From the Summit I could trace the horizon line behind and above the lower northeast ridge as it cuts due east back around to another prominent peak that we called the Bastion.


    Off of the summit of the Bastion a beautiful coulior cuts straight through the craggy cliffs and intercepts a cut block some 2500 feet below. Those cut blocks are immediately adjacent to the base of the treed shoulder that leads to the summit of Mt. Currie as described earlier. It is a big loop.

    My objective for the day was to climb and ski the coulior. I had reconned the parking lot the day before and since I was going solo, I had that special nervousness. In the silence only found in absence of idle chitchat with your climbing partner, you can really hear the little voice as you determine the safety and outcome of every step. When skiing solo in rugged terrain I have the tendency to look for every reason to turn around. There is an odd satisfaction in turning around and calling it a day in mid climb. In this case I had ample reasons to call it quits.

    After negotiating through the cut blocks I cruised up the lower avalanche path with ease. The area was big and broad and low angle. For a while I could stay under cliff features to minimize the chance of an avalanche coming from above. About an hour into it, the path started to steepened and narrow.

    The new snow was slabby and kind of drummy. I tried to do tight zigzag turns along the right wall as long as I could. I did not want to cut out on to the face because there was a hanging pocket up on the left. I stayed right, stayed right until a point when I had to go left. I was above the offending chute and only had to contend with the main chute now.

    I poked the snow and sniffed the air. I had to go light and fast. I traversed nimbly almost willing the snow to launch out from under me because I was ready. I reached the safety of the left wall and continued making steep zigzags on the left wall. I could only maintain that technique for a while until it became too steep. The problem with boot packing is that the snow was weird breakable crust and thigh deep. Every step was a tremendous struggle. I pushed tight along the wall always being prepared to leap and grab solid rock if the snow moved.

    I got up towards the top to where the chute hour glassed the opposite direction and became wider while getting steeper yet. I am at the end of my will and capacity. This is the first climb of the year and even though I have years of remembering what it is like to climb a route like this, my body is not so sure. With every step my left hamstring was cramping into a ball and then my right leg started doing it too. I had only drunk a half of a liter of water for 4 hours of work.

    This is where the snow holds the most wind load potential, right at the apex of the pitch. I sensed that the snow was boxed in by the narrow section below and the way the snow seemed to be ‘cupped in’ by the natural contours. The snow was at my chest and I struggled upward until I broke over the crest and the sun shined in my face for the first time all day. I still had ten minutes to gain the real summit so I strapped on my skis and plodded on.


    On the summit I could barely manage a gulp of water. I scanned the horizon line that circles the Gravell Creek drainage. It is the route that I can see from my house and I know I will do it someday… but not today. I must descend quickly and carefully. I made easy turns down ridge and then tight, steep turns down the gut. The snow was not even sloughing as I only sank in an inch or two. Down low my legs burned but my skis begged to let it run a bit on the smooth open slopes. I skied to the end of the snow and walked the last bit to the truck and knew that it was going to be a good season.

  20. #170
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    Z is for Zorro


    Vesna is over eight months pregnant now. Soon the baby will be in our world. I feel compelled to get these stories on paper before the baby gets here. Before that new adventure begins.

    Sometime in the middle of February I got a call in the evening after skiing powder all day at Whistler. After the crash I decided to follow my dream and move to this special mountain town and see what life had to offer. Pete’s wife’s voice sounds stony cold. She told me that the autopsy report came back and it turns out that Pete had only suffered a broken rib in the accident and since I had said in my original report that I thought he must have been more injured since he was not working to save himself, then I must have not tried hard enough to get him to shore and therefore she explicitly blamed me for her husbands death.

    It did not matter that he had a coat on and laced up heavy boots and he COULD NOT swim anyway. And it did not matter that the pilot crashed the helicopter in the first place. She blamed me and told me to mail back his vest. By the act of mailing the vest I was relinquishing my spirit name as well. Did she have the power to give it to me in the first place? All I could do was hang up slowly with a pit in my stomach. I promptly mailed the vest.

    For the most part, Smithers and all of that seemed so far away. The problem was that every time I looked around at where I was living I was reminding of the accident and how I was skiing around in Whistler lala land and her husband was dead. Maybe I did not try hard enough…

    Bougie and I had scoped our line the day before and wanted to get after it while the snow and weather held. From below, about half way back North Joffre Creek, we could see the whole run top to bottom. But we both knew that by the time we got to the top it would not be so simple. From below we could see a nice clean chute coming in from the ridge top. The chute ran for about 1000 feet and then opened onto a broad open area that ran for another 1000 feet. Below that the pitch rolled over very steep for the last 1500 feet to the valley bottom. On this lower pitch there was one clean line that made three huge zigzag turns across the cliff strewn face with each slash running about 400 feet across the face while dropping 300 feet. We knew that from above it would all look the same so we picked some tree features to aim for the next day.

    We started climbing around 10 am. It was warm and sunny and there were other groups skiing in the area. We were in no rush because we knew that no one was going where we were. Our group consisted of Bougie, his friend Jonas and myself. We circled around the south side of the mountain through the forest and it was a very nice day indeed.

    It took about two and a half hours to find the entrance to our run. It seemed innocent enough as we dropped in through the small cleft in the ridge line some 20 feet across. The north facing run was in deep shadow and the snow was staying cold. We dropped in one at a time and enjoyed wide, open, beautiful turns through the chute and the mid pitch open area. We regrouped at the appointed cluster of trees and prepared for our next move.

    From our position, on a knob to the skiers right of the first slash, we could see the next pitch and begin to realize how steep things were getting. It was a long left traverse on skiffs of snow. The whole time the pitch rolled away from beneath us, 1500 feet to the valley below. I could actually see our tracks from yesterday when we had looked up to our now precarious position.

    We made our way across the first slash one at a time. At our next rendezvous point, things officially became tense. From below this right hand turn had looked simple enough, but from our new vantage point actually on the feature. We were stumped. It was about 100 vertical feet of snow pushing into ‘extremely steep’ range that was also an obvious wind slab. The only way to mitigate the instability would be too ski cut the slope but that would put you out over about 500 feet of mostly vertical death.

    Bougie and Jonas were both seasoned ski patrollers at Whistler and I humbly deferred any ski cut responsibilities to Bougie even though he was less then keen to follow through. All three of us were registering alarm bells in the self-preservation department in our brains. It actually came to a point when we decided to side step our way out the way we came in. After ten minutes of it was clear that option was out and the only way to go was down.

    My legs were becoming tired from standing on the edges for so long in such a position. From where we were perched I could stick my elbow straight out to the side and touch the slope. Bougie cautiously side slipped out on to the hanging slab. He jumped a little and it seemed to hold. He made a jump turn and zipped right and out of sight as the pitch somehow rolled over even steeper.

    A few minutes later we could here a holler so Jonas made his move and disappeared. I was left standing by myself, like a literal fly on the wall. I kept taking deep breaths and remaining calm, it was my turn. The snow was scraped to waterfall ice now but was consistent at least. I managed five of six of some of the steepest jump turns of my life over huge exposure. On the last turn I zipped right and tucked into a gulley feature and was safe.

    The run was not over yet! There were some weird rock pillars jutting out below and I made some more steep turns and finally cleared the last slash to make the Z for Zorro complete.

  21. #171
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    Into the Heart of Darkness


    The Conquest of the Earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses then ourselves, it is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.” J. Conrad


    The names of characters and actual locations have been omitted to protect the people, property and powder involved. (edit: Ferguson, BC)


    My wife and I were excited when we rolled into town. The land had been ours for years but we had not made use of it until now, December 24, 2007. We had moved our camper here back in October then came back again in November to build a snow shed to protect the camper from being crushed by the huge annual snowpack. We drove in late at night and spent most of the next morning cleaning and organizing camp, ski gear and sleds. You see, this place is a secret spot and we as landowners, thought we were in.

    The locals across the street had set up camp 10 years ago. A group of dudes had gone in on a piece of land located right at the foot of a mountain. Immediately adjacent to the land was a mining road that led up 3000’ through perfectly spaced, tall trees and another 1000’ of rolling alpine terrain. Our camper and land sits so that we look right over the intentional snow berm and see the secret gem of a trail snake from behind the Barn and curve up and around the corner into the forest.

    All morning we saw people tandem on sleds and disappear up the trail as truck after truck pulled in. We had heard that the locals might be a little protective so we brought beer and good cheer to see how far that would get us. Guys and girls milled around and gassed up as we cautiously peered over the snow bank. Back in October and November we had met a couple of ‘friends of the owners’ who seemed cool but then too cool when the obvious talk came around to how good the riding must be come winter.

    Around 2pm we decided to go for it. As I strapped our hand-built custom Carpathian skis to the sleds, I remember thinking that it does not matter how cool we think we are, here we are nothing. Half way up the steep north side of the mountain we came across a gatekeeper on his way down, trailed by two women, all on sleds.

    As introduction he said “You guys should go down now. You don’t live here, we don’t know you, where were you this morning when we were breaking trail?”

    I responded in summary, “We just got here, we know so and so and we are here with beer and shovels and Merry Christmas!”

    “Exactly! You just got here and there is enough beer in the world and you should just turn around!” He was getting excited. “Yeah!” one of the girls chipped in, “we are all friends here and we don’t need more.”

    “And on top of it, “he finished, “you guys are on skis, there is a binding ban on the mountain, no skis allowed.” As he points to his ‘no board’ strapped to the back of his sled. A ‘no board’ is a snowboard without bindings, only a rubber stomp pad for traction. As it turns out this old mining road was the center of the universe to a bizarre micro cult of no boarders and we were not welcome.

    I stood firm and we told him that we would continue up the trail and deal with the next guy, whoever that might be. In a fuming ‘haroomph!’ he got on his sled and we continued somewhat nervously up the trail. The next guy seemed more friendly on the surface but turned out to be more menacing. “Let me tell ya, you should turn around right now. We saw you pull in last night. There are other roads to go on. You should just turn around now,” he said with a smile as the hairs on my neck went up. “I came out with these guys five times last year and now look at me, I am in. You guys should come by the barn later and introduce yourself, that is all I can say.”

    By now I knew the trick was on us and I would not be surprised to return to the truck and find the tires slashed or some other cliché, protective act of surf inspired vandalism these guys could come up with.

    We sat in the camper in a state of social shock. The next move was a tough one. I grabbed the 24 case of bottled Kootenay and we shuffled up the long driveway to the Barn. Groups of people, loitering around sleds, fell silent and dispersed with no eye contact as we made our presence known. I find the main door of the Barn in the twilight under thick tree coverage and knock. I can’t believe I am doing this. Silence. A second louder knock. They know it is Us because friends wouldn’t knock, they would walk right in. I hear a distant “Come in” and we enter Kurtz’s lair.

    It is near black inside the fairly large main room. There is a stove in the middle of the room and behind that, in the far back corner we see a single Tikka headlamp bobbing around. There are three or four people standing in the shadows. Silence. I make my way through the dark with my case of beer stretched out before me as I literally crouch and put the beer on the floor and nudge it closer with my foot and step back at the same time, ready to make my exit.

    The gatekeeper nodded that we should stay but I was still on my way out as my wife nudged me to be calm. The other people melted back into the dark and we sat and made tense second introductions. He made his case for lashing out earlier as I apologized profusely. I said that I would rather be friends and neighbors than ride his trail without permission. The bad vibes were not worth the best powder in the world. He explained that if they let anyone on the trail then word would get out and it would quickly devolve into another bumped out, messy sled access road.

    I was thinking in my head about how, several times now, writers for different snowboard magazines have made their way to this place and were immediately taken in and showed the best time of their life. In exchange the terms of location have thus far been sworn to professional secrecy.

    I was thinking that these people are bold to commandeer a public space and then use group intimidation tactics to keep people out. Too bad I was not under cover for Powder Magazine and was taking copious notes in my head on how to blow this scene out of the water just because I could. I could see posters in every sled shop in BC, Alberta and Washington calling for the first annual XYZ sled rally. Wouldn’t that be great to have 1000 sled heads roll into town, forever swamping the valley in 2 stroke smoke?

    It was a moral dilemma. My presently wounded pride versus my desire to shred secret powder with my soon to be friends. Be patient and be rewarded or be a dick and ruin it for everyone?

    We shook hands and left on good terms. The next day we went and broke trail up the other side of the valley and had a blast. A couple of days later, we were invited by the King of no boarding to follow the group far back into one of the more remote drainages. They were going this way only because their private playground was tracked out. We both tried no boarding for the first time and we were hooked. The next day we followed again, this time the Queen’s sled broke down. My wife let her use her own, saving the day, as we shredded more no board turns.

    So by and large things went well. We were never actually allowed to ride the good trail over the 10 days that we were there. I swung between being extremely bitter to rationalized indifference. “I have all the mountains from here to AK to call my own, but I want to ride THAT mountain!” I guess a little gang initiation process never hurt anyone. I want in on the darkness, the antithesis of alpine skiing. Maybe next year if we show up on custom Carpathian no boards, we will be in the club.

    A funny thing happened, though, when we returned to Whistler sometime after New Years. Everyone seemed so… nice! The whole world was a beautiful place after being buried in the memories of ghosts and savage rules in that deep, snow filled valley. For good or bad, there is a vortex of energy there that people should not know about.

  22. #172
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    AK vs BC skiing

    Skiing in Alaska makes you weak. I have only come to that conclusion after having moved to and become assimilated into the town known as Whistler. I now see why all of the best skiers these days (according to the IFSA) all come from Whistler. It has the most vertical and more varied terrain then anywhere else on the continent. And besides that, the terrain is mean. Rocks, cliffs, trees and inconsistent, if not unpredictable fall lines all add to the overall difficulty of skiing.

    Skiing in Alaska is easy. I don’t know if I’d be the first to say it, but all of those shots you see in the movies are generally technically easier then any number of lines through Spanky’s or off Peak Chair. The steep fins with obvious avy start zones and run-outs are conducive to easily skiing at high speed at all times.

    When people ask if the skiing in Alaska is really that good I have to say yes. Easy access to steep, clean lines with bottomless powder on geographically smooth terrain all add up to a good time on skis or board alike. I find the mountains in BC in general to be bigger and meaner. Go touring in the Duffy and soon see that any one of those mountains is a full day endeavor with minimum of 5-6000ft to the summit. So when it comes to becoming a better skier or a stronger ski-mountaineer, BC is the place to be. I feel like I cut my teeth in the mountains of AK but I have been humbled by the mountains of BC.

    To some degree, I believed the ski media of the last 15 years. Who hasn’t heard the story about the pro from the south, who goes north, gets plopped on some peak in Valdez and promptly shits their bibs? But you soon see the Jim or Bob rip clean big mountain lines top to bottom. After their first run they are in on the secret… skiing in Alaska is easy but the media won’t tell you that part! (chuckle)

    That is why my skiing style basically evolved towards speed. If you have this giant, powder covered slope you might as well ski as fast as possible just because you can. Where as skiing these BC mountains I find it much more difficult to maintain, if not attain for that matter, the speed you would enjoy lap after lap on Alyeska. But it is all relative, I guess. You may not be going as fast technically, but because of the technical nature of the terrain, you feel like you are going fast anyway.

    So when I say skiing in Alaska makes you weak, I mean it. If I am hiking 2 hours and making 10 turns per 3000ft in AK vs hiking 4 hours and making 100 turns per 3000ft in BC, where am I going to more quickly and efficiently develop strong skiing skills?  BC! And if I have to climb 6 hours and make my way down some super steep, rock pillared, avy prone, off-camber fall line over exposure, I better have put the old thinking cap on.

    I have been following the ski industry for years now. I know which mountains the guys with TGR skied around Girdwood and Haines. Some of the biggest lines from Further, Mind the Addiction, The Realm or The Prophecy are all within a 3 hour climb from the highway. So with a little gumption, one can easily ski the ‘big mountains’ the pros are skiing. It is not to say that the mountains in Alaska aren’t dangerous or worthy of a skier’s utmost respect, however. Skilled mountain people die every year because the mountains ARE big and dangerous. I have had close calls, watching friends ride 2000ft to a near death experience but at the time it had little affect on me. Maybe I was too young and hotheaded to appreciate the dangers of the mountains in Alaska.

    It wasn’t until I immigrated to Canada 4 years ago at the age of 24 that I realized that it was more luck then anything else. I climbed and skied a lot of lines in my ‘youth’ that I would not go back to repeat. There is only so much experience one can attain by the age of 21 or 22. Maybe that is it? They say that with age, comes wisdom and an appreciation for your time here on earth. As I’m sitting here pushing 29, I sometimes feel like an old man, like I’ve seen it all… but then I go for a day tour up the Duffy last week and experience true apprehension, a true humbling of the senses. Nothing adds perspective like getting in over your head and seeing how your own lack of judgment or experience got you there. I guess you can do that anywhere when it comes down to it.

    So in reality, I have not seen shit. I know AK and BC pretty well but am mostly terrified of the south or east of North America and the world beyond.

    Do I need to go experience some foreign culture in order to find my self? Why can’t I drive 20km up Route 99 to enjoy the record snow pack and maybe gain some insight into my own intentions? Or better yet, after skiing go to the Village and sit outside Starbucks to just watch the world walk by?

    Whistler is a happy place. It is balanced by the natural energy contours of the land. The lack of electro-magnetic pull on the collective conscious in this area (west coast in general) is conducive to ‘change’ and ‘progress.’ People adapt here. If Whistler Mountain is the phallic male and Blackcomb Peak is the volvic female then we are the indigo children blessed with the freedom of choice and the volition to do good.

    I see skiing as a meditation with each turn attempting to touch the divine. The better the skier, the higher the meditation, the better the person, the better the environment… There is a lot of talk in the local media these days about how we, the privileged people of Whistler, are in the position to create positive change in the world at large. But there seems to be some confusion as to how to exactly do that. I say go skiing and be happy.

  23. #173
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    Penguin Ridge Traverse


    Summer time in Whistler is pretty nice. Besides the down hill biking there are hundreds of quality swimming holes and rivers to help you cool off. Whistler can get hot and Pemberton can get even hotter. On a regular basis it broke 40C on our front deck. For weeks at a time it would be over 30C and I had to work in these temperatures. Imagine that going from –40C to +40C in the same year. Overall, running a saw in the cold is easier I figure. You can always put on another layer and keep moving. But in the heat there is nothing you can do once your core temperature reaches a certain point.

    In the true heat of the summer we would go on fire hours. Basically be up and working by 5:30am and done by 1pm. I enjoyed that schedule because I would have plenty of time for swimming in the local lakes.

    Overall I became stronger by acclimatizing to the heat. I can cope with the cold but the heat was my weakness. I always thought I was prone to dehydration but I figured it is a matter of drinking enough and really using the shade and listening to your body.

    Back on Aug 13, 2001, I came closer to death than ever before, and in such an embarrassing way!

    Abe, Hans and I climbed the entire length of Penguin Ridge in 6 hours. At that point, I started to feel sick. My legs felt like they did not want to work, like they were seizing up. I felt like I could not drink enough water even though it was not that hot out. Hans chided me to continue for the rest of the proposed trip (another 10 hours). I had to decline as I could feel myself losing control.

    I decided to climb down to the house with Abe while Hans continued around California Creek drainage. 1/3 of the way down the 4000ft descent, I started to drift in an out of consciousness. I became delirious from the heat and needed to get home ASAP. I could feel myself losing it as I staggered down the hill, out of control, crashing through the alders, trying to avoid the sun. I was acting like a vampire. I wanted to lay down but I knew I would not rise. I had left Abe in the dust as I made haste through the dense underbrush. I really got scared when I started to get cold. I blundered ahead for what seemed an eternity. I finally made it off the side of the mountain but now had to make it through a 1/4mile of dense forest before I hit the road.

    I remember thinking that I did not want to get to the road because it was not sheltered from the sun. Maybe I should just cut through the woods right to the house...? Bad idea. Getting panicky... I remember looking up, thinking the wind was blowing or there was a jet overhead as I peered out the forest to the sky. I looked and looked and then realized that it was a little stream right at my feet. Water! I didn't even think of looking for a stream! I drank and bathed in the tiny stream for
    a 1/2hour as the flies covered me while I wept. Whoa!

    Abe showed up and we made our way out to the road. Once home I was no more then a ghost. I drank about 10 liters of water over the next 5 hours. I had never drifted off that far and it was unnerving. I diagnosed the problem later as a combo of heat, dehydration and the use of Ripped Fuel, an ephedrine based supplement you can get at the store. I nearly did not make it, but I am stronger now.

    It took me a full week to recover. I could not walk for the following two days because I had run myself so dry. In retrospect I should have gone to the doctor.

    Silly indeed. I could not drink coffee for a year after that trip because my system was so fried. It was about a year later when Hans, Todd and I went to ski up on the Alyeska Headwall in late June. It was quite hot out for Alaska standards but there was plenty of snow to be skied.

    Hans was circling around the drainage over to the North Face of Max’s and I was going to film from way across the valley. Todd was coming along just for the exercise. He had been on a slow recovery after breaking his back nearly three years prior. He had fallen during one of these extreme ski and snowboard competitions and was almost paralyzed from the waist down.

    He was happy to be out in the mountains again. Hans skied his run and Todd started making his way down back to the tram. I had skis and easily zipped across the bowl and waited for Hans. I looked back and for the life of me could not see Todd.

    I waited for a bit and Hans eventually showed up and we kind of paced around waiting for Todd. I thought he might have kept going down accidentally. The all of the sudden I saw some movement at the edge of a glide crack. A glide crack is like a crevasse in the snow where the snow partially slides away from the snow above it. There was Todd staggering out of the crack and kind of looking dazed. He made is way to us slowly and recounted what had happened.

    He was cruising along and had what he thinks was a heat stroke sort of pass out and he just slid into the hole. While we were waiting, oblivious to the hole being a danger in the first place, he was struggling to gain his bearings and get out of the hole.

    If it is not hot then it is cold, what is a mountain man to do?

  24. #174
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    Birth of Carpathian Ski Company


    On March 31, I finished my 101-Day ski Meditation. My friend Mark and I were to ski out to Tremor, a nice day tour out behind Blackcomb. Mark was one of my successful ‘project skiers.’ Like Hans years ago, Mark had a keen mind and quick reflexes suited for high danger in the mountains. More importantly he was ready to be beaten down in order to grow in the long run.

    I had met Mark back in Smithers the previous winter. He was new to the skiers lifestyle, as he had just moved out west from Ontario. At the same time I had also met Tom, who was fresh from Vancouver. He was equally keen but slightly slower upstairs, if you know what I mean. So here I am, this jaded, wannabe pro skier from Alaska, paling around with two rookies. I enjoy being the teacher though and we had fun. We would go out into these super steep, short runs in the trees with the objective to see who had what it took to make the cut. Mark soon proved to be the stronger skier both physically and mentally, as Tom seemed to crack under the pressure, despite his macho posturing.

    The season came to a close, Mark went back to Ontario to work and a summer passed. Vesna and I made our way to Whistler where I got a call from Mark back in Smithers in right after I got back from Saskatchewan. He was ready to ski and I told him to get down to Whistler if he wanted to take his skiing to the next level. I was able to find a place for him to rent and two days later he showed up, ready to go.

    The tour out to Tremore was a beautiful day. We traversed up and around four smaller peaks on route to our objective. On the summit ridge there is worn path from heavy traffic. We sat on the summit and contemplated the season so far.

    Back around Day 80 of my meditation I had an insight. I decided to start building skis for a business and Carpathian Ski Company was born. It was perfect! I already had the film company on the go and I had acquired skills with epoxy and fiberglass construction from back in the day when my dad paid me $3 and hour to do work on his boat while he was at work. I would put two and two together and it made more sense then anything I a long time.

    When I told Mark of the idea originally he was pretty keen to be part of it. It was painful but I had to make it clear that I was setting out on that journey solo. I had 20 years of skiing with intention wrapped up I all of it and or paths might have to soon part.

    The air was warm and the view was splendid in all directions. We decided to ski. Our line was off the north face and it was very hard ice. Luckily though, the pitch starts out steep but rolls out smooth across the glacier below. I went first and was amazed that despite my skis being turned sideways, I was not slowing down. I kept turning for show as I also kept accelerating until the lower pitch where I could turn them straight and them run. Way down the glacier I turned to see if Mark was following just in time to see him blast past me at about Mach 3 with a flapping coat and wild grin on his face. I turned in pursuit and raced down the mountain as fast as we could. I knew that Mark would be all right and that we would ski again someday.

  25. #175
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    Review: The Dark Side of Oz


    We were right on schedule. It was 9:40pm as we had a little smoky-smoke out in Lot 3. The show started at 10 and we wanted to be in the right headspace to appreciate and assimilate the wonder that is the “Dark Side of Oz.” A cult classic, this rendering of the 1936 “Wizard of Oz” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” is a must-do for anyone who wants to trip out on the supposed synchronicity displayed between the two disparate pieces of 20th century media.

    The audience was in a festive mood, as everyone seemed to hold the same ‘high’ expectations of the night’s entertainment. Once the movie got started, it was entertaining right away. I started to try and figure out the symbolic meaning behind the Floyd lyrics and how it related to the images on the screen. Who is Dorothy? What spiritual odyssey is she conjuring as she seems to ‘call up’ the tornado to take her to the higher dimensions of Oz. (maybe she’s the witch?)

    Enter Munchkins… Oh look how the house landed on the evil witch of the East. Maybe that means Communism is dead only leaving the evil of the witch in the West? Are we in some sort of utopia right now? Dorothy seems to represent western Man in general now as she embarks on to the Yellow Brick Road, her path of evolution.

    Her first friend she meets is the Scarecrow who immediately struck me as being some sort of Christ figure, being up on his stake and all. Is he Christ? Who is going to play the Buddha and Mohammed? As it turns out the Scarecrow is religion in general as brainless as he may be. He and Dorothy carry on, on shaky legs no less. Soon we meet the Tin Man who I figured to represent man’s industry or ‘result of creativity.’ With just a few dabs of precious oil, the machinery of man’s invention moves smoothly forward.

    As the three friends skip into the dark woods they encounter the guy who looks like a lion or something. I guess he is supposed to be ‘primal man’, sent to remind us of where we came from…

    People are rustling in their seats. I’m trying to pay attention. Don’t they realize there is a message here?

    The party of four has made it to the big green city. Are they at the doors of heaven? Will St Peter let them in? Is Floyd being cynical by relating money to western man’s understanding of heaven?

    I have a flash of my own cynicism. What am I doing here watching a silent movie? I think the songs are repeating… does the album repeat songs?

    A group of people get up and leave. Why are they leaving? Don’t they want to see how humanity turns out? We have to stick it out. I want some answers.

    They are meeting with God now. Scary, punitive. A classic liberal ‘expose’ on religion and the façade put on by the Church/Government/Corporation etc. that are controlling the world. Is it all a sham?!

    People are becoming restless. I am trying to remain awake and focused. The scenes seem to keep dragging on. The music is only synchronized, at this point, by the human tendency to bring order out of chaos. I feel silly.

    Just then the DVD has a minor glitch. A skip. No way, I think. Keeps going, pause, skip.

    God is giving his rewards to the contestants; Brains for religion; a heart for evil industry; and courage for primal man to persevere. Sounds good, what does Dorothy get, our female representative of all humanity now? The DVD skips again and again. Another skip. She’s looking at her shoes… about to go home… “Click”  pause, pause, garble…

    Is this it? Man is coming to a premature demise because his own technology let him down in the time of need? The movie finally ground to a halt on Dorothy’s pixilated face. Some people laughed while some groaned in disgust as the lights came on. No closure, no satisfaction in really knowing. What does it all mean? Does it mean there are no answers and man is doomed? No, it means that I get to take a leak now and then drive home.

    p.s. I must add that I like the way the snow fell on Dorothy at one point and she found the strength to continue… I really did feel connected to all of the skiers in the room at that point.

    So if any of you out there have experienced the ‘Dark Side of Oz’ in its entirety, let me know how it and humanity in general turn out.

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