Thursday, November 30, 2006

Working in the North...

Okay, so its been another couple of months since the last update... Too bad, but I promise to work on my blogging frequency - maybe one every two weeks or so.

I am searching for a new home for this thing too. Something that is easier to access and loads faster. Anyhow, here is the low down since my last post.

Up until October 29th, I was onboard the Norwegian Spirit, working away at many things: My job, killing my liver, ignoring my growing debts. With my work ethic deteriorating, my enjoyment onboard the ship soared. I actually enjoyed most of my last days onboard and sorely miss a bunch of the people I had met onboard. Not to mention that I can no longer drink before, during and after work.

When the day finally came, after two nights of 65Ft waves and no sleep, I was off the ship in New York and on a flight to Vancouver. I spent a few nice days in Vancouver spending money that I certainly do not have and enjoying the somewhat cool air. It was about Zero degrees in Vancouver, and after a summer in thirty five degree heat, it seemed rather pleasant.

Two days later, I was home in Fort St John, enjoying the great weather. Snow on the ground, and minus 15-20 temperatures! It was like walking into a joyous winter wonderland for me. Without wasting any time I set out to work for Compliance Plus and quickly outfitted the business for the winter season.

After a frustrating start, spending countless days in town without work, training new staff and enjoying a few long days in camp, work has finally started, I am writing this from my small hotel room in Red Earth, Alberta.

The weather finally warmed somewhat. The last week has been no warmer than minus 35 degrees with lows much colder than that. Today it was about minus 15 in the heat of the day, and that seems surprisingly warm after a week of deep cold.

I am sporting a new look. I haven't cut my hair yet, and quit saving about three weeks ago. Looking more rough by the day, I iced the look with a very swollen black eye courtesy of a complete stranger. Seems that I had forgotten that any wrong look, word or place would earn you a quick punch in the redneck ran north.

Anyway, for those of you who didn't know, all of my pictures are located online at www.flickr.com/photos/stuntmanjeff (just cut and paste it)

The photos are updated much more regularily than this blog.

Enjoy

AND for those who were wondering Red Earth looks nothing like the Red Planet

Saturday, September 16, 2006

THE NFL

OKAY… Since nobody asked for it, I thought I would force it on you.

The NFL season is a week old and I did not make pre-season picks, so I get a one-week advantage but I am no going to tell you who is going to play in the super bowl…

The Chicago Bears will LOSE to the 15-1 Baltimore Ravens.

Steve McNair will be your MVP of the regular season

Ray Lewis wins Super bowl MVP award.

Did you see that 14 play season opening drive, that was the Baltimore Offense telling you they are for real.

Other things from the NFL that I feel need saying:

TO will not get the Cowboys to the playoffs. Bledsoe is over

New England will win the division again, even without a WR

Shawn Alexander has the madden curse – will not score 10 TDs

Reggie Bush will get 2000 all purpose yards

The Raiders will WIN 4 games, maybe

Baltimore will go 15-1

And the 49ers have more TD passes after the first game than we had all last year – maybe we will win more than the RAIDERS!

I will be home on November 1st to begin accepting praise for my football brilliants

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Utter Mayhem

Imagine taking a skier, a person who endures freezing cold weather, resort priced drinks and a guy/girl ratio of 10-1, an sticking them on a cruise ship in the Caribbean for 2 months of hot, humid weather. Now imagine giving the skier drinks so cheap that its impossible to spend $10 in one night, a guy/girl ratio of 1:10 and unsupervised work conditions.

I may not be enjoying my work on the Norwegian Spirit, but I am making the most of my time here before Father Winter beckons this fall. Although I may seem somewhat mild-mannered and under control when partying at home in the mountains with so many like minded people, the same behavior here does not go unnoticed.

Our ship visits Bermuda, the US and British Virgin Islands, Port Canaveral and Bahamas. I have been off the ship in all of the ports, and although too expensive, Bermuda is by far the nicest. Great beaches and amazing homes/cities highlight the entire island. The Virgin Islands are the poor mans Caribbean and it shows in everything there except the hundreds of yachts in the harbors. Bahamas is nice, with some good tax-free shopping, interesting markets and a few nice beaches. Port Canaveral is next to Coco Beach, so that is an easy option. It is also the chance to get a decent Internet connection, go to Disney and Universal Studios or simply hit Starbucks.

To more important matters: I have woken up from the same dream for over a month now. Although I have had dreams of skiing before, never before have they seemed so real. I am standing above Air Jordan riding my Prophets, looking down at the crowd at Peak Chair. As the crowd roars its approval, I send the top cliff with a clean 180, stomping the landing. I then continue switch, airing a huge 0 spin off the second air. Then I wake up, just as my skis are sinking into the deep fresh snow.

Taking this dream, and other conscious thoughts, into account, I have made a few decisions. I will be returning home to Fort St John by November to work a few months Snowmaking in the north. Taking the money I earn there, I will return to Whistler from March to June. I will then continue to South America for their winter.

Although I had planned not to return to Whistler, I have decided there are a few things there that I need to complete. I want to bag the Spearhead Traverse over a two-three day period in the spring. And of course there is the dream, to land Jordan’s switch, maybe a dream will become reality.

In South America, I will base myself out of Bariloche, Argentina and Cerro Cathedral. Although I plan on doing a ton of traveling while there, this will be the home base. For any of you who might be thinking of a South American winter next season, after reading all the glorious pow they have had this summer, let me know.

Anyway, Must be getting back to the ship soon, can’t be late.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Busy Six Weeks

Well, its been about 6 weeks since I arrived back on Canadian Soil, and will be at least that long before I return - on the east coast! Summing up the last 6 weeks, there have been great times and horrible times, promises made and broken and ethics and morals abolished.

When I first got home I spent the first weeks sitting in my parents basement resting. And downloading... I managed to fill a 250GB harddrive with TV, Movies and Music - all at the expense of our beloved entertainment stars! With a fresh batch of entertainment and a growing restlessness, I began to look for work.

Ending up in Grande Cashe, Alberta with Adam for a 2 week stint, I learned the ins and outs of pipefitting. Two weeks was lots of work, and enough to make the decision to work on a cruiseship in the caribean a great one. On the final night in Grande Cashe, we through an impromtu stag party for Adam.

Needless to say that I cannot share any of the details here; James, Adam and I definatley painted the town red. Believe what you want about Grande Cashe, but with the right crowd a legendary party can be had. All the things I could say... lets just say we were a little emmbarrased the next day.

Back home with a fresh batch of Cash, I did what I do best: SPENT IT. Armed with new clothes, less credit card debt and more, I awaited for Adam's wedding. The big day came, and I had to wear a tie. For those who don't know, I have quit 2 jobs in the past because I was going to have to wear a tie - I have always said I wouldn't do it. But this wasn't my wedding, so I did what had to be done.

The ceremony flew by, and soon I found myself pacing Diana (bridesmaid) in the drinking games at the reception. 6 Bottles of wine later, we were drunk to say the least, and having a blast. Before long the party cleared out, and a few of us continued it until the wee hours of morning.

Thats when the hell really started. The next day, armed with a hangover that could kill; I swear if I ever find the little man that attacked my head with a hammer I will kill him!;I was on the road to Vancouver with Dad. It would be over a week until we realized we were driving an uninsured vehicle...

A 14 hour drive, 1 missed ferry, 6 hours sleep and we were on the Island, seeminly only a day away from some quality fishing. Trouble was, nothing would go as planned. Progressive Diesel wasn't done working on the boat, so we lost a day waiting. Then they realized they didnt have the parts, so we had one FEDEXED from vancouver. Towing the boat to Port Alberni to have the kicker put on, and the radar installed, we lost two days to sick employees and more missing parts.

DUring the 2 down days, we ran around Campbell River looking for a good summer camping place for Mom and Dad, before finally heading to Ucluelet to camp ourselves. Then we returned to Port Alberni and got the boat, launching it later that same night. Excited about an early boat trip, we headed out early the next morning. About 1 minute into the boat trip, the vacation took another step back - there was no depth finder, and nobody at either boat shop had bothered to mention it.

So I rushed off to Victoria to get the parts we needed, setting multiple speed records on the way. Back in Ucluelet, I installed the parts the following morning and we headed out on our first boat trip. The only problem was the fuel situation. About an hour into the trip, we realized that we were pumping diesel, straight out of the tanks and into the ocean. WHY? it took us about 15 gallons and 3 hours to find out, and I wish to appologize to any fish that got so excited it swam upside down.

With the fuel problem sorted out, and everything working perfectly, we headed out the next day for a very great day, the first of this 10 day ordeal. We saw Bamfield, little fishing camps and large flyin lodges, whales, sea Lions and lots of scenery. It was the perfect ending, for I was off to vancouver the following morning to head towards NYC and my summer employment on NCL's Norwegian Spirit cruiseliner.

Leaving Ucluelet early, we were still speeding when we hit Port Alberni and our friendly neighborhood RCMP decided to give us a ticket. This is when the uninsured status of our truck came into play. Shortly after being pulled over, and handed a hefty $700 fine, we were hooked to a tow truck and seriously jepordizing the chancs of making that ferry. Getting towed to the insurance dealer, and getting straightened out, we were back on the road, speeding again to make the ferry.

Successfully arriving in Vancouver, I can say that I became overwhelmed with the though of me, the skier, being stuck in the caribean for 5 months. It would be paradise for many, but I question if I can take the heat. I am now only an hour away from my flight, and time will tell how I enjoy it. Talk to you all from the Islands.

JEFF

Monday, May 08, 2006

Europe Completed

Well, I am back from my first adventure in Europe. Did I ever learn alot about myself, avalanches and history!

Starting off with three weeks skiing in Tromso, we encountered anything but ideal conditions. The snow was avalanche prone everywhere we went, except sweden, where there was no snow!

We did have a few amazing days, highlighted by our tour of Daltind in the Lyngen Alps. It was quite possibly my best day ever. Perfect blue skies, mild temperatures and a smooth, if somewhat long hike, put us 1500m above the Lyngen Fjord. The views that we encountered on this climb and summit are hard to describe. Simply Perfect. Spending the day hiking with a good friend, in perfect weather and then having a 1500m untouched decent makes for some good memories!

Another memorable day was our hike on Skitntind, a smaller peak of only 1000m located on an Island closer to Tromso. Although this hike was quite short, the views were again stunning on this perfect day. Views of numerous Fjords, and the ocean itself made the entire journey worth it. Skiing from the peak down two wide coulouirs that opened up to a verywide bowl proved to be our most challenging decent. We were forced to ski tentitavly to avoid the slides we were causing. All ended well though.

A quick trip to Sweden left Anna rather surprised to find me riding the kids lift at her home mountain in Sweden... Riksgransen did prove to be quite a disappointment, not living up to the hype that both Lars and I had heard. The snow was horrible, but the mountain small and mis-managed. After spending one night in my tent, Lars almost froze to death, so we were forced to leave.

After a few more mild ski days, and many nights of party in Tromso, a great university party town, Lars had to return to college. I left on the coastal steamer, the traditional method of travel among the coastal towns, to take in the Lofoton Islands. A very scenic journey that lasted 18 hours left me in Svolvaer. Little did I realize, that nothing in Lofoton is open in the winter, so I was forced to simply hitchhike north. Although I found some easy rides, and a great camp site for the night, Norway is not a place to hitchhike. Finally making it part way to my destination, I jumped a express boat back to tromso.

Finally leaving the north, I flew to Copenhagen to visit some Whistler friends. Seeing Henrik, Aske, Emilie, Rie, Casper, Christopher was quite fun. The weekend was great, and Dan came over from Sweden for a day. Henrik and I quickly developed into the biggest partiers, and left the others behind.

Finally, after getting over the worst hangover in the history of Mankind, I was off to Oslo for the final days of my trip. I stayed at a hostel, just down the street from Fred and Chris, two fellow Whistler fans. They quickly showed me the Oslo nightlife, partying until the we hours. They also proved to be very good tour guides, and spent the 4 days that I was there showing me all around the city. Fred, his girlfriend Stina, and Chris were great, even borrowing a car to show me around.

Finally, after much beers and too little skiing, I was on my flight home to Vancouver, totally broke and without employment. The entire trip, I was asked for my passport once, upon my return in Vancouver to the very unpleased customs agent...

check out all the pictures from my trip at www.flickr.com/photos/stuntmanjeff The pics from this trip are all in the "Norway 2006" set.

EnjoyYourself!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Norway Accomplished

Good Morning!

I have just over 24 hours left in Tromso before heading out to Copenhagen. Tromso is located about 400km north of the Arctic circle, or equal to Baffin Island in Canada. With this in mind, I have been very disappointed to wear shorts and flipflops on occasion.

The skiing here is world class, might be the best alpine environment on earth. With mountains sticking straight out of the ocean, its just a matter of driving and spotting a good line to ski. Unfortunatly, this has been one of the easiest winters in Lyngen, and the snow packs are quite thin, layered and unstable. Couple the unstable snow with high temperatures, and avalanches are something of concern.

The day after my arrival, we set out to ski a fairly ambitious chute, but turned back after Lars and I were almost caught in an avalanche. A week later, I would learn that a group followed our skin track and were caught in an avalanche, two members sustaining injuries. the choice to abandon the attempt paid off.

Our next ski day was meant to be Daltind Mountain, in Lyngen. After several wrong turns, cursing and lots of driving, we were gearing up at the bottom of the climb. This is when we discovered that Lars left his jacket at home, so we could not go for the tour. We drove back to Tromso, and headed to a neighboring island and did a short line on Skitntinn Mountain.

We returned to Daltind on our next ski day, and headed out the access under clear blue skies. 5 Hours and 1600m later we were standing at the summit looking out over the Lyngen Fjord and the famous mountains. It was one of the most rewarding days - clear blue skies, good powder and amazing views. As a second group arrived at the summit, we started out decent in the powder. Although the snow was slightly wind affected, the turns were still wonderful and the decent took about 5 minutes. Feeling tired on the way back to the car, we stopped to rest and refuel on glacier water taken from a nearby creek, less than 1km from the source!

After a much needed rest day, we returned to Lyngen in attempt to ski Istinden Mountain. The weather was beautiful again, with hardly a cloud in the sky. With temperatures rising to nearly 10 degrees, we climbed with the sun to our backs. After a few hours of climbing, we stopped to eat near the halfway point of the climb. Although we knew their was a group ahead of us, we were somewhat frieghtened to watch several avalanches slide on the steeper slopes above us. The warm sun was causing the rocks to heat the snow deep into the snowpack and was triggering slides. After a brief discussion, we decided that it was not worth the risk, and headed back to the car.

Riksgransen, Sweden was rumored to have more stable snow, and colder temperatures, so we left Tromso in search of powder. Our arrival at Riksgransen was in the early hours of evening, and we quickly set up camp and retired for the night. The temperatures plummeted overnight from the forecasted minus 4 to more than minus 10. Although i maintained my warmth, Lars nearly perished in his lightweight sleeping bag. We skied the resort that day, and found very sunbaked, windblown snow, stable but hard. I met up with Anna, a friend from Whistler, while riding the kids lift up! The amusement and shock on her face was worth the drive down.

Leaving Riksgransen with a bit of sorrow, we headed home. Trying to figure out what we could ski with limited risk and a bit of good snow, we decided to head back to Skitntinn Mountain and attempt to reach the summit. After a day of rest, we set out to Skitntinn.

The weather was perfect again, although very warm. Lars and I were determined to salvage the day, and pushed on through questionable snow, witnessing several small slides along the way. The climb proved to be quite easy and we were soon standing at the summit. No words can describe this view, but we were standing on a mountain summit with views of the Atlantic Ocean, three Fjords and endless peaks! After a lengthy photoshoot on top, we finally readied ourselves for the ski down. A last minute desicion, and we decided to ski two chutes from the peak that looked like they could slide.

Skiing down, cautiously to stay behind any sloughing snow, we farmed the edges of our chutes and found some fun, slushy turns and quickly aloud or speed to pick up. I was soon carving huge, fast turns down an open bowl, with very little sliding snow. It was a perfect end to our ski trip, and proved to be one of the best days of our lives!

In celebration, we hit the bars hard for a few days, as the weather would not permit any ski touring. Tromso is a university town, and if you go drinking after a soccer match, it quickly gets out of hand! What a blast, even if i got lost and could find my way back to Lars house without the aid of an understanding taxi driver who took my 50NOK as payment for the much more expensive ride.

Once Lars returned to school, I headed out on a coastal steamer to see the Lofoton Islands. The boattrip was incredible, and I saw more boat access skiing than I had ever imagined existed. The weather turned sour as I arrived in Lofoton, so I quickly hitchhiked north, returning to Tromso after two days of sightseeing.

Since then, we have just been hanging out in Tromso, and I am eagarly awaiting my flight to Copenhagen. Norway has been incredible, the landscape, women and skiing living up to their reputations. Its quite nice to see families out nordic skiing and having campfires on the weekends, as opposed to staying home and BBQing like in North America. I seems that every person in Norway has nordic or telemark skis, and they all use them regularily.

The people are all wonderfully friendly, and have really made my time enjoyable.
Until next time - Keep Ripin

I am a skier

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Mighty Fjords


Mighty Fjords
Originally uploaded by stuntmanjeff.
Finally the snow co-operated - we were forcing the issue, refusing to give up hope. We were rewarded with two peaks and the most amazing views.

Daltind Mountain in Lyngen topped out with amazing views of the Lyngen Fjord and the famous mountains. Simply amazing views. Then we had great pow conditions for 1600m back to the sea!

Skitntind Mountain in Kvaløya was smaller, only about 1000m but offered the most amazing views I have ever seen. From the peak we could see 2 fjords, the Atlantic (or arctic) ocean, endless peaks and small islands off the coast! We skied a nice chute from the peak, causing some small slides. the snow was heavy slush, but still quite fun.

Lars had a heart attact when an avalanche broke off the sun baked cliffs above him but thankfully he was not in the path!

Its nice to finally get some really good riding in here in Norway!