Monthly Archives: February 2007

Epic

Canadians have a tendency to use the word Awesome to describe anything remotely better than ok. Today however, when in lift queues I heard a couple of people describe the conditions as Epic. They were not wrong. In the last 4 days we’ve had about 60cms of snow.

I met Craig and his mate Mike this morning and with the weekenders gone there were hardly any other people about. At the top of Motherlode we headed for Powderfields, at the top there were perhaps 2 or 3 other sets of tracks leading down the hill so we got fresh lines all the way down, at points the snow was over my knees. I’ve said previously that from this trip I wanted at least one powder day and one faceshot. Well the powder days have been plentiful and this morning I got faceshot after faceshot, so many that I stopped counting.

Anyway, the run down was so good that we decided to do another there and then we followed that up with a couple down Orchards which again was just perfect with maybe 6 people having ventured down it before us.

After a quick blast down Mini Bowls I met with Rob and Nathan for some lunch at the Paradise Lodge. After that we headed to Short Squaw, a run that had been recommended by a local and that didn’t disappoint with yet more of the good stuff. I think we did another 5 or 6 runs, each time managing to find fresh tracks before calling it quits at about 3.

I might have said previously that I’d experienced my best day on a snowboard, they’re actually getting hard to distinguish between at the moment, I would have to say though that today currently ranks up there as number 1. I do hope that I get to experience more days like this. If I don’t though, so be it, I’m happy to have been able to experience the ones that I’ve had so far.

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The Good, The Bad And Well, The Good

The title pretty much describes my last 3 days.

On Thursday we only did 2 runs. We hiked up Mt Roberts twice, the snow was incredible, it took us about an hour to get to the top on the first go, we lunched up there and it was freezing, I mean really cold, my gloves froze up to the extent that they were solid but oh my goodness was it worth it. We dropped off the ridge and in to at least knee deep powder, I got some amazing turns in and even managed to find a couple of lips to drop in off of. I got down to the Paradise Chair and was grinning like a Chessire Cat. It was incredible.

The second turn however was a little more arduous. The legs were burning, the sweat was pouring, my legs were telling me to stop walking, my mind was telling me to carry on… Again though we got to the top and turned in fresh powder, our tracks already covered from the previous run. I will never get bored of this.

We had an amazing day, another best day ever on a snowboard.

Friday came round and we did a few easy runs as there had been some drinking the night before. I think I did one run and decided that I was not an active participant in my eventual emergence at the bottom of the hill so I retired to the Rock Lodge for a bacon and egg bagel followed by a Cheese Burger all washed down with lots of good coffee. Satiated and when the rest of the boys turned up I suggested that we try the hike up Gray Mountain. The hike was incredible, I’m really starting to get in to this touring, if I continue though I will definitely be purchasing some snow shoes. What wasn’t so incredible though was us getting a little lost in the depths of the forest that we rode in to and it taking us a couple of hours to walk ourselves out. There were a few lessons learnt yesterday.

Today however made up for all of our troubles yesterday, we went to the pub last night for some food to celebrate our day and watched 17cms of snow fall in about 3 hours. It was incredible. Today was amazing, we’ve done about 8 or 9 runs, maybe a few more, my legs are aching but the smile is back and with another 20cms due tonight I don’t think it will be dissapearing for a while.

links for 2007-02-20

Ugly Duckling

So Saturday came round and with it our first day’s Cat Skiing with Big Red Cats. As I mentioned the other day we had about 10 cms of snow on Friday which made it all the more promising. We weren’t to be disappointed. We were picked up from the hostel at 7.20, a little bit of a rude awakening now that I’ve well and truly got in to holiday mode but still. We got to the hill and were given our Avalanche Transceiver briefing then we loaded in to the vans for the half an hour drive to their base. Once there the kit was transferred to the cats and off we went. The first trip was another half an hour or so. We did about 9 runs through some lovely powder and I even managed to get a face shot in which is something that I have always wanted to do on a snowboard. The day was fantastic, run well and we were well looked after. I look forward to the next one in March.

For the last couple of weeks or so I’ve been experimenting with my stance a little resulting in me riding with a pretty duck stance, mainly because I wanted to try riding switch but also because it’s good to experiment with these things. Anyway, I took Friday off on account of my knee, to give it a chance to rest up before the cat skiing and as Rob’s board was in the repair shop he borrowed mine. He came back at lunch time as he was having such an issue riding it and said that I should consider moving the back binding back in. After some consideration I did so. It’s made a lot of difference, I can hold a heel edge a lot easier in a straight line and it would appear that it is also putting less pressure on the knee which means that for the first time in a while the knee feels ok which is good news.

It was Brian’s, the hostel owners Birthday on Saturday which meant a big night for the hostel, we got ourselves warmed up with some Calimochos before heading over the road to Nowhere Special the local bar. Suffice to say that we all drank a little too much, I did some dancing (never a good sign) and probably spoke a lot of rubbish at anyone that was prepared to listen (perhaps those that weren’t prepared as well). I was found wandering round the hostel late at night by Ali who steered me to my room and showed me my bed before I accused her of poking me in the eye. She hadn’t. More rubbish. Sunday was spent moping round feeling sorry for ourselves. I’m never drinking again. Until the next time that is. At least I can be glad of one thing, there were no tubes / buses to fall asleep on / lose belts / gain action men etc etc…

links for 2007-02-18

All good things come to those who wait

It’s been a few days since my last update, so a quick round up is in order.

As I mentioned the other day we had about 10 cms of snow the other day and upholding a promise to us Ali and Phil took us out for a tour of the best areas in the powder on the mountain. We did a number of runs, all of which were a lot of fun but with the Paradise Chair down a long run out to the Motherlode chair for the return trip to the top of the mountain. Luckily the chair happened to reopen when we were at the lodge for some refreshments so we all finished up and raced down to gain access to some of the terrain that wouldn’t have been tracked out. We rode a groomer down to the lift and put some fresh tracks down which was a lot of fun and then hit a couple of more runs before our last of the day down Beer Belly. Rob, being the internerd that he is took his GPS device out with him and recorded our data from that data to allow him to load it up in to Google Earth. The picture of our route can be found on his post here.

Yesterday we went up quite late, I took the first lift to the hill which turned out nicely, when the next person stopped Rob stuck his board in the back of the van, he then told Rob that he would have to get in the back, thinking that he could sit in the back of the cab Rob made for the front door only for the driver to say “no, no, the back” as I understand it, the 15 minute drive to the hill was cold, very dark and a completely new experience for Rob. I’ll be sure to be mindful when hitching next time. Anyway, I think we ended up doing 3 runs before calling it quits for the day, we did the hike up to Wolf Ridge again and the conditions were ok but not as good as we had expected, I think both Nathan and Rob left some dummies / toys on there somewhere at various stages of the descent. The hike slightly exacerbated my knee so I called an early halt to the day. I think a trip to the doctors is in order, I will make an appointment for Monday.

The good news though is that there was another 10 cms or so last night with another 5 – 15 due to fall today, I am sat here in the hostel now as I have chosen to take today off to rest my knee before our day with Big Red Cats tomorrow. The forecast is for blue skies tomorrow, which with all of this new snow will make for an amazing day I am sure, I will update you all on my return.

Tell me a story

Having posted about Requirement Packs the other day, I noticed this post on Brian Marick’s blog, at the time I read the PDF that he supplies with some interest, Esther Derby then linked through to Brian’s post and caused me to give it some further consideration.

During the skunkworks project that I ran before Christmas I tried to get the steering group to deliver their requirements to us in a story like manner and largely in line with the templates that I mention in my previous post. What the Steering Group ended up delivering to us were what I would consider Epics (I have started reading Mike Cohn’s book User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development which discusses his perception of an Epic versus a Story but neglected to bring it with me on this trip.), given the time constraints the Delivery Team ended up having to take decisions during the time that they used to break the Epics down in to stories, thankfully it worked well for us and the steering group were relatively content to allow us to continue to operate in that manner.

I had a discussion with a couple of colleagues prior to my departure in which we were discussing how we approach projects. One of them stated that she thought that we should be more mindful of who the customer is when we are beginning a project and that we should consider how we engage with them to draw requirements and run the project. I agree with this and I think there are a couple of points to note.

The use of the word customer is interesting, whether it is just my perception I am not sure but I think we sometimes neglect to remember that we are a customer facing division and that business effectively justify our existance by usage. Furthermore, I think it’s important that we understand how best to engage with our customers, I would suggest that one of the issues that our customers have with us is that we go through a requirements gathering phase and then produce a large document with the requirements as we understand them at the time and then expect them to sign off on that document.

Perhaps Stories could be a useful tool on the road to overcoming both of these problems. In fact I noticed this post on Digg the other day which mentions that the Mozilla Developers and Drivers behind Firefox 3. In it they mention a Product Requirements Document which interests me further solely because of the word product. When I worked on the Skunkworks project it was very easy for me to implement an Agile approach as we were clearly delivering a product to market, the majority of the projects that we currently undertake as a division don’t necessarily view what is being delivered as a product, perhaps this is something that we also need to give consideration to to enable people to understand the Agile Concepts in books a little more.

I am aware that there are other methods such as UCD and BDD for gathering requirements, the latter of which I found an interesting post relating to how stories are used within the other day. It will be interesting to see how Dan’s document evolves but I think it gives a great explanation about the use of Stories already.

As I mentioned in the Requirements Pack post the other day, I think that each of the future Skunkworks projects should have a 2 page document outlining the perceived business value and the headline requirements for the project, I wonder now if it should take the form of a Product Requirements Document, I googled for a template and found a number of alternatives, maybe we should even consider this as a document to replace / support some of existing documentation.

links for 2007-02-13

Back in Black

After the hill received around 10 cms of fresh there was nothing that was going to keep me in the hostel for another day, so I ventured back up to the hill.

What a day it was, we did a run down Long Squaw so that I could see how my knee was holding up and it seemed fine so we went up and did Couloirs, then Beer Belly and then having been split up from Rob and Julian I met with Phil and Ali the people running the hostel and did Oil Cans all of which were tree runs with plenty of fresh powder to be had. I spent a lot of time on my arse but did get some really nice turns in in deep powder. I can safely say that today has been the best day I have had on a snowboard so far. I came off the hill at about 2 with that really nice warm afterglow and a very big grin on my face.

The knee has swollen up a bit this evening and is a little painful but it was snowing as I left the hill and there is quite a bit more forecast for tomorrow so I will not be staying back here with the prospect of another day like today.

I came away on this trip just wanting one good day on a hill and to be able to get a wall of powder up from a heelside turn, whilst I didn’t fulfill the latter, I certainly did the first expectation and I now I just want more and more.

We’ve got a day with Big Red Cats on Friday which I am looking forward to immensley so I will stay in the trees tomorrow to try and get some practice in.

links for 2007-02-11