|Feather River College||
Most of the Adventure Based crew on our final day at camp
I've been trying very hard to think of a phrase that could really sum up the Adventure Based winter camping trip. I've tried everything from "Waking and walking in a winter wonderland" or "Snow angels and sleds" to "Wish we were warm" and even "Sleeping in a snow cave makes you slimy". None of these worked for me, and they were all much too alliterative. I now believe I have found the truly perfect phrase to fit the entirety of our winter camping trip. Ready for it? "Butter Looks Tasty." Now, before you judge my choice allow me to explain the basis for this phrase (and also recall that I have creative license here and there is nothing you can do about it).
You are probably thinking, who doesn't like butter? It makes so many things taste great! Let me stop you right there. I am aware that things credited to have buttery goodness often are quite delicious, but this is not what I mean when I say snow camping can be summed up with the phrase "Butter Looks Tasty". Let me paint you a mental picture.
Imagine you are well fed. In this hypothetical day you have already eaten a full three meals and are now cleansing your palette with a post-dinner snack. From your seat on a luxurious foam pad placed on the outer rim of a ditch dug into the snow you notice a rectangular shaped food item wrapped in a brilliant cloak of gold and red paper. This thing suddenly commands every bit of your attention. Seemingly of their own accord your fingers begin to undress this marvelous treat. Your mouth begins to water as your salivary glands have lost all control in anticipation of the bliss that is to come. You hear nothing but the ripping of paper, you feel nothing but the desire (stop freaking out, this is about butter, remember?) to devour every last bit of yellow goodness beneath the paper outer garment. This will not be a nibbling affair, oh no, this will be all chomping and gulping. Nothing else matters, save for this moment...
If it was unclear to you, what was just described was the intense desire to eat an entire stick of butter. This is something that will undoubtedly happen to you should you choose to spend many hours camping in the snow, and I shall tell you why. Snow camping you see, is an awful lot of work. This became rather apparent to our Adventure Based class at Feather River College as soon as we ventured away from the dual wheeled van and into the backcountry of Lassen National Forest.
Though all this work was necessary to be relatively comfortable on this trip, the payoff was amazing. Every tour we took through the backcountry was fantastically beautiful. Very few things can compare to the scenic value of a mossy conifer forest blanketed with pillowy sheets of snow, and our class was lucky enough to spend over half a week in this environment. We received a full variety of gorgeous weather on our trip. Rain, hail, and snow greeted us when we arrived at camp, however when we left our little clearing there was nothing overhead save the sun in a cloudless sky. The class took in incredible panoramic views of snow covered peaks above the greenest of trees, saw rolling grey clouds reflect the topography of the Lassen caldera, kicked our way through fog and ice to Brokeoff Peak, and a lucky few were witness to the rarest of occurrences as Saylor Flett, our class instructor and renowned champion of the longboard skis, gloriously ate snow in what I'm told was a skiing wipeout of epic proportions.
Our stellar instructors Rick Stock (left) and Saylor Flett (right)
Now for the big question: what does all this have to do with "Butter Looks Tasty?" Prepare yourself for the big answer. The above anecdotal description serves to accurately depict the large amount of work and play which is required to successfully and happily camp in the snow for several days and several nights. All of this energy spent in the snow makes a person quite peckish. This hunger extends far past wishing for a nice meal. The peckishness (which IS a real word...creative license, remember?) one develops grants them two things. One: a caveman-like desire for the bare essentials their body needs to continue to function. Two: What is commonly referred to as an iron stomach, or if you prefer, MBS (Mighty Bowels Syndrome). Add these two together and what do you get? An overwhelming desire to consume a stick of butter. The fat helps to keep you warm, the salty-sweet taste is more delicious than anything else you've got with you, and you're in the middle of the backcountry surrounded only by people with the same cravings as you, therefore nobody will judge you. Therefore, "Butter Looks Tasty" is the only phrase which can correctly capture all the feelings of exhaustion, contentedness, longing, and wonder that are created through the experience of camping in the snow. I now refer you back to paragraph three, in which was described the feeling of wanting the blessing of a butter stick more than anything else. That my friends, is what snow camping is all about.
Written by Jonathan Simenc
Photos by Izak Lederman
Because photos are fun. Credit to Izak Lederman and Lauren Tango
The winter camping trip has been completed, marking the end of the snow season in the Outdoor Rec Adventure Based class at Feather River College. Now, since we are officially between Adventure Based seasons (snow and river) I feel it is a fine time for a fully out of season post (also I need more time to figure out how to write about the snow camping trip). Here comes a piece about rock climbing!
Rock climbing is a sport which has a plethora of its own unique terms. Non-climbers find it difficult to understand what all these words (which are seemingly absent from the English dictionary) mean. Even climbers often have trouble keeping track of all the language and lingo used in their favorite outdoor sport. To mitigate every person's confusion I have compiled a list of some of the words and phrases a climber may use along with their definitions. I hope you can all find this to be helpful.
The author climbing a rock. Truly, a real life rock. Photo Credit: Jason Weinrich
Glossary of Climbing Terms
Alpine Butterfly - A mythical insect which leads climbers on the safest path to the top of the mountain.
Arete - "A rat" pronounced with a Russian accent.
ATC - A magic device which grants the holder the strength of many men, allowing for Ape Type Control.
Belay - An unpopular form of dance derived from ballet, the cause of many craning neck injuries.
Beta - New Zealanders use this term for when someone is performing at a greater lever than they were previously. "They are doing beta than last time."
Black Diamond - The ship commandeered by Captain Jack Sparrow after the Black Pearl was destroyed.
Bomber - An affectionate term used for the seagulls which circle popular ocean crags.
Bowline - The act of using a bow and arrow to place a rope at the top of a climb for safety (a very old technique, not highly recommended).
Camelot - The legendary home of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Everyone knows that.
Crimp - A way to make the edges of a pie look crisp and neat.
"Climb on!" - Rock. Rock is usually what you should climb on.
Clove Hitch - An ancient marriage rite involving garlic.
Daisy Chain - Bling worn by hippy climbers or simply the florally inclined.
Dyno - A common tribute climbers make to the Flinstones family pet.
Flake - Yet another sought after attribute for a delicious pie (see ‘Crimp’).
Gaston - The villain in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, attributed as lead vocalist in the manliest song ever sung in a musical.
Gri-Gri - A word which truly makes you question whether the letter R should ever follow the letter G.
Harness - A less well known lake near Loch Ness containing an even more elusive monster.
Heel Hook - A synonym for 'spurs'.
Hex - A dangerous type of spell used in various forms of witchcraft.
Jug - My favorite instrument, by far.
Knee Bar - A popular New York pub for knee height dwarves.
Live Rope - A snake.
Mantle - That wooden thing above your fireplace.
Nut - A delicious snack which provides the body with necessary fats and proteins.
Offwidth - When a crack you wish to climb is not the perfect size, rendering it useless and unclimbable.
Pitch - Boiling hot tar poured over castle walls to scald intruders on ladders. Very useful in climbing.
Multi-Pitch - When attackers are persistent and 'Pitch' must be used more than once as the pitcher climbs higher.
Piton - A powerful goddess of the sea (male form: Triton)
Prana - A popular climbing brand. You thought it was an Amazonian fish? What a ridiculous notion.
To Be Pumped - When a device (pump) is used to provide oxygen to a climber at high
Quickdraw - A term used for the way a cowboy must react if finding himself involved in a duel.
Sling - Your arm goes in this after you fail to use it properly to set an anchor and fall to the ground.
Soloing - Spontaneously bursting into song on a mountaintop.
Toprope - *See 'Bowline'
Tufa - Ugly cousin to the tuba. To play a tufa you pinch it between thumb and all other fingers while screaming at the top of your lungs.
Whipper - A mean and brutal climbing instructor.
Zazzerbranz - Not a real word, but the real end of this term list.
Two climbing photos of me that I think are really awesome cool. Photo Credit: John Holt and Joe Simenc
Written by Jonathan Simenc