The Mont Blanc Traverse

On July 2, 2008 Jenny and I summited Mont Blanc (4810m) with our friends Matt and Jamie Coleman. (Click here to see all of the pictures from the climb.) The climb was filled with spectacular views, sustained glacier climbs inclined at around forty degrees, but only a few crevasses. We did what is known as the Traverse Route (up the Three Monts Route and down the standard Gouter Route). This route begins by taking cable cars from the Chamonix valley (1050m) to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi (3800m) which towers over the valley. The cable car ride alone is enough to give you vertigo as it climbs at almost a ninety degree angle for the final few hundred meters. From the Aiguille du Midi you get a great view of the first part of the Traverse Route which begins by descending on a steep snow covered slope to the Col du Midi (3600m) then up a short ways to the Refuge de Cosmiques.

On Tuesday July 1 we emerged from a snow tunnel at the Aiguille du Midi onto a small platform of snow surrounded by steep drops of at least a thousand meters. This little platform is the place where climbers rope-up (or un-rope if returning), attach crampons, and begin their climb (or at this point a descent). The four of us got ready and began the descent. My heart pounded a little faster due to the altitude and the inescapable thought that this was a serious and dangerous journey we were undertaking. As I looked in the faces of the climbers returning from that days summit bid I couldn’t help but see how tired and worn they looked. I wondered if I would look the same way the next day as we passed others heading to conquer the mountain.

We carefully descended slushy snow which had melted and loosened due to the heat of the day. The sun was shining brightly that afternoon. This is the time of day to be off the mountain since as the snow loosens avalanches are more probable, rocks are dislodged and fall, and the snow bridges covering crevasses become less stable. To avoid these conditions we would aim to leave for the summit the next morning at 2am.

We reached the Cosmiques hut around 3pm and got situated – gear was readied for the morning and our bunk beds were assigned. We played spades and speed scrabble while we waited for dinner. Jamie is a professional speed scrabbler – calling “go” once every three seconds. Over a tasty and filling dinner we discussed our plan and details for the next days climb. We had originally reserved two nights at the hut so we would have some flexibility in case of bad weather. After talking to the hut warden about the weather we decided that we would not wait until more acclimated but rather try to summit on Wednesday. Thursday’s weather was predicted to be bad and Wednesday’s weather was supposed to be very nice until late afternoon. Also based on the warden’s suggestion we decided to do the traverse route. Originally we planned on going both up and down the Three Monts route but the descent is somewhat dangerous since the route is steep and can be icy (which is easier to ascend than descend). After dinner we made last minute preparations and then headed to bed at around 8pm – setting our alarms for 12:15am.

Around 12:25am Jenny woke up without an alarm (lucky since neither of our alarms had gone off). The whole bunk then also woke up and began getting ready. Breakfast was at 1am so we threw our climbing gear on and headed down to eat. It’s hard to eat breakfast that early but we needed the calories so we shoved down bread, jam, and giant bowls of coffee and hot chocolate. We headed out of the hut, roped up, and began the climb. The sky was full of stars as there was no moon out. In the pitch black all we could see was what our head lamps in front of us illuminated, the stream of small dancing lights from the headlamps ahead of us, and the lights of Chamonix 2600 meters below us. In the dark we climbed Mont Blanc du Tacul – the first of the three monts. At night the climbs never seem very serious since you tend to forget about the cliffs around you and just continue to put one foot in front of the other. The route zigzags up around crevasses and exits the steep face a little ways below the summit of Mont Blanc du Tacul at around 4050m. There were a few short sections with slopes around 45 degrees but most was sustained a bit less than that. The snow was in great condition and we could easily follow the path of the climbers in front of us. After about 2 hours we reached the Col Maudit.

Despite being almost 3000 meters higher than we had been in Chamonix everyone’s stamina and energy levels were high. As the sky began to brighten the surrounding peaks revealed themselves and it was easy to continue climbing while taking in the amazing views. As we began climbing Mont Maudit, the second ascent of the route, the slope steepened. We were then able to begin taking some pictures. On the rope I was up front, Jenny was behind me, then Jamie, and Matt at the end. Ten meters of rope separated each of us. This was sufficient space so that if someone were to fall in a crevasse the others could self arrest (stop a fall by digging an ice ax into the snow). To exit the face of Mont Maudit onto the Col du Mont Maudit there is a snow bridge which crosses a bergschrund (the large crevasse at the top of a glacier) and then about fifty feet of very steep ice. Here we had to wait for a bit as other climbers one-by-one ascended the ice. Traditional mountaineering ice axes are not meant for steep ice so these sections can be dangerous. If the conditions had been worse we probably would have used ice screws and a belay but since many others had gone before us there were decent foot holds. I climbed first and then set up a boot ax belay from the top (a simple form of belay just using the belayers boot and ice ax). The others easily made it up to the Col du Mont Maudit.

As the sun rose the views were spectacular. All around us were the jagged peaks of the mighty Alps. We traversed across the Col de la Brenva to the base of the last climb we would have for the day. Now at around 4300m we were within 500 vertical meters of the summit. We ascended a section of steep snow called the Mur de la Cote. From here on to the summit there were many short switchbacks. This made for slow going since at each switchback everyone has to stop, switch hands for the ice ax and ski pole (you always want your ice ax on the uphill side of you), and also switch the rope to the downhill side. With a few dozen of these switchbacks left this became tedious and time consuming. We climbed past the Petit Rochers Rouges and then the Petit Mulets (little outcroppings of rock on the final summit slope). At this point the altitude began to have an impact. We were at around 15,000 feet – about 12,000 feet higher than we had been just 24 hours earlier. Every step took more energy but the end was in sight.

The slope gradually flattened and we reached the summit of Mont Blanc – 4810 meters – the highest point in the Alps! We took pictures, absorbed as much of the 360 degree surrounding scenery as possible, and then decided to begin the descent. The traverse route begins by descending a well trodden path down the Bosses ridge. Since many people had summited earlier in the day on the Gouter route it was easy to see which way to go. The weather was beautiful with only a few clouds in the sky around us. The forecast was for afternoon thunder storms so we tried to move quickly. When we reached the Dome du Gouter we decided it was safe to unrope so we could descend faster. At about 1:30pm, after over 3 hours of descent, we reached the Gouter hut at about 3800 meters.

We were all getting hungry and tired and began to have some lunch. I looked in the guide book to see how long the descent would be from the hut down to a train, which we would take to a ski lift, then down the ski lift to the valley. According to the guide book we still had about 3 to 4 hours ahead of us. Matt realized that the train probably stops running sometime in the afternoon. It must have been the affects of altitude that caused us not to think through this part of the journey. We had to make that train to get down to the valley that night. None of us wanted to spend another night on the mountain and we had reservations at our hotel in Chamonix. Matt found a train schedule which indicated the last train would be at 4:35pm. It was now about 2pm and we had to decide if we could make the descent which was supposed to take at least three hours in two. This would mean quick down-climbing on the first section of the descent and running on the rest. We all had our mountaineering boots on which are not very conducive to running – mine especially since they were old clunky plastic boots. Matt found out there was a hut near the train station so if we missed the train we could spend the night there. We decided to go for it. We began a sketchy descent from the Gouter Hut on a steep slope of snow, rock, and ice which constantly crumbled under your feet. We had to move quickly but also didn’t want to fall or get hurt. Some sections had to be down-climbed and on others we had to take careful steps so that rocks wouldn’t get knocked onto those below us. In about an hour we had descended around 600 meters and reached the Glacier de Tete Rouse leaving us about another hour to descend another 1000 meters to the train station at Nid d’Aigle.

Matt and Jamie took off running as fast as they could in their boots. I lagged a bit behind since I was carrying a heavy pack and wearing those dang plastic boots. Jenny was nice enough to not ditch me. We moved as quickly as possible across steep rocky trails and sometimes snow. The snow patches were good because we could move more quickly across them. We caught up and passed some others who were also trying to make the last train. The time ticked towards 4:35 and the train station was no where in sight. We continued descending. I was hungry but there was no time to stop for a snack; thirsty but no time to stop for a drink; had to pee… As the watch showed 4:15 it seemed there was no way we would make it. But we kept running and soon saw the hut near the train station. Filled with hope we kept going and made it to a large road. We knew we were close but didn’t know if the train would still be there. We rounded a corner and about 100 meters away was the train getting ready to pull away! Jamie and Matt were standing outside the train. Jamie yelled “Three minutes!” We kept running but knew we had made it! Matt and Jamie had arrived there a few minutes before us and already purchased tickets. We met the train, Matt, and Jamie and jumped aboard.

Adrenaline filled but exhausted we had made it! We had done the Mont Blanc traverse! From the Chamonix (1030m); up the Aiguille du Midi (3800m); down to the Cosmiques hut (3610m); up to Mont Blanc (4810m); down to the Nid d’Aigle (2370m). And we were now on our way back to the valley. On the train ride down we laughed about being so unbelievably close to missing the train. We joked that not only had we summited Mont Blanc that day but we had also run a 5K!

Rained filled the next day which gave us time to rest and recuperate. We were very thankful that our summit bid had been on a day with perfect weather. Had we tried to go the next day we certainly would not have made the summit.

The Mont Blanc Traverse was communion with friends. Held together by a rope we absorbed the beauty surrounding us. Back in the valley we broke bread, drank wine, and toasted life.

30 Miles Across The Karwendel

Our hut to hut trip (see all the pictures in our gallery) began in Innsbruck, Austria – which at the time was full of EURO 2008 football fans. On Wednesday morning we took a train from Innsbruck to the small mountain town of Scharnitz on the border of Austria and Germany. Crossing into Germany we started our hike by taking a wrong turn – which I assured Jenny would lead us to the right trail. Two hours and 2300 vertical feet later the hut was in sight and only 600 meters away according to the GPS. Unfortunately there was an impassible ravine between us and the hut. Jenny finally convinced me that we should turn back and go find the right trail (I can be a bit stubborn sometimes). So we made a good decision and headed back down. Upon reaching the place where we made a wrong turn we decided to start over. From now on I would not be stubborn and listen to my cute wife. The rest of the trip was more delightful. :)

We found the right trail which seemed like a highway compared to what I had earlier called a “trail”. There were also signs guiding us to our first hut – the Brunnsteinhutte. We followed the signs for about an hour and half up another 2300 vertical feet – all the way to the hut. The Brunnsteinhutte (5117 feet) was perched on the side of a mountain with spectacular views of the Alps. There were a few other people up at the hut, mostly people who were just there for dinner or a beer. One family was especially helpful in translating the German menu for us. We enjoyed some beer which we didn’t need translation for. At every hut we went to all I’d have to order was a “bier” and I’d get a cool, delightful beer.  You could also order a “Weizenbier” to get a wheat / Hefeweizen style beer or a “Radler” to get a beer mixed with Sprite. The food at the Brunnsteinhutte was all locally grown / raised and was very yummy. Having hiked double what we should have and since there were only a few others in the communal bunk room we slept pretty well at the Brunnsteinhutte.

Thursday morning we had the usual bread, jam, cheese, and ham breakfast and took off on our second day of hiking. The hike went to the top of a small peak, the Linderspitz, then descended to the top of the Karwendelbahn – a cable car which brings tourists from Mittenwald down in the valley up to the tall peaks. There was a nice restaurant at the top of the Karwendelbahn that we had lunch at. We then took the easy route through a long, cold, drippy tunnel instead of going over another peak. The tunnel lead us to a giant snow field which allegedly is a ski run in the winter – one which I’m not sure Jenny or I would be brave enough to ski down. We slowly descended the snow field, then traversed the snow field, then traversed a skree (little sliding rocks on a steep slope) field, and finally ascended a short slope to the Predigstuhl (6298 feet). From the Predigstuhl we could see our next stop, the Hochlandhutte (5346 feet). To get to the hut we had to traverse some steep snow fields and were lucky that it had been warm and sunny which makes the snow soft so you can create foot holds. We didn’t have our crampons or ice axes so this was a bit scary. A fall would have launched us off a thousand foot cliff. We were glad to make it to the other side of the snow fields and easily descend down some cabled rock and snow sections followed by scree and then an easy traverse to the hut. The Hochlandhutte was a quiet and quaint hut with a friendly warden. That night there was only one other couple at the hut and we enjoyed some yummy Bergsteigeressen – “Mountain climber’s food” – a starchy and filling yet flavorful meal.

Friday we had the usual breakfast and set off on what would be the hardest day of the trip. The route ascends up to the Wornersattel (6524 feet) and then traverses below sheer cliffs before ascending the Barnalpl pass back into Austria. The traverse was like our traverses the day before except the snow was not yet soft and the slopes were steeper. This was a bad combination. We pulled the baskets off our poles to create some form of an ice axe in case we needed to do a self arrest on the snow (which I actually did have to use after loosing my footing and falling). There were a few places where the snow was piled up next to the sheer cliffs and the safest route was to climb between a small gap in the snow and the cliff then shimmy to the other side. This quickly became cold, dark, and dangerous. At times we had to remove our packs and pass them through the small gaps in these snow tunnels. Emerging on the other side of one of these snow tunnels we were a bit disoriented and were not sure if the trail was below us or above us. Luckily a group coming from the other direction confirmed that the trail was below us. We carefully descended down the hard snow field (probably around 40 to 45 degrees – very steep!) to scree. A few more scary traverses, another shimmy between the snow field and the cliff, a steep ascent up cabled rock, and we were very relieved to make it to the Barnalpl which seemed to be a purgatory between the hell now behind us and the heaven (hut) ahead of us. From there it was a few hours across a root covered trail – but luckily there were no more snow fields.

The Karwendelhaus (5809 feet) was visible in the distance and the wild flowers covering the ground all around us helped to lift our spirits. We reached the Karwendelhaus and enjoyed some beer and soup. Andreas, a server at the Karwendelhaus, helped us to forget about the treachery earlier that day as we talked about the ease of tomorrow’s hike. He assured us that the rest of our route would be much safer and easier. That evening we met a group of people who were Young Life leaders around Europe but all from the States. We enjoyed talking with them about people we all knew and our journey through the Alps.

The view from the Karwendelhaus was great and many people came to enjoy it for the weekend. There were many mountain bikers and people on short weekend hikes. We paid a bit extra for a smaller room which we only had to share with two others. That should have allowed us a great night’s sleep but for some reason we both slept pretty bad (maybe we were reliving the hellacious parts of Friday’s hike in our dreams). We slept in seemingly to live up to the “Lazy Americans” title. The Young Life crew and us were the last ones to leave the hut – at around 9:30 (there were already mountain bikers arriving and having their morning beers when we departed for a small peak nearby. We left our gear at Karwendelhaus and did the 1000 vertical foot ascent in under an hour, took some pictures, returned to the hut, grabbed our gear, and headed out for the day’s hike.

Saturday’s hike was pretty uneventful. We hiked down a beautiful valley full of flowers to a grassy field surrounded by mountains then up to the Falkenhutte (6088 feet). There were many mountian bikers making the same journey, even passing us on the up-hill portions which made us wish we could have rented bikes for the day. The Falkenhutte was packed with day hikers and people staying for the night. We were pretty exhausted from the hike the day before, the bad sleep on Friday night, and the hot sun from the day’s hike. But we were determined to stay up for the “Sonnwend” – a mid-summer celebration traditionally involving creating fires on the peaks. Since we were in a fairly remote part of the Alps there were not any fires on the peaks but one of the kids of the hut staff created a bonfire for the guests to enjoy. We enjoyed listening to the locals play guitar and sing American songs around the fire. That night we slept well despite being crammed into the crowded communal bunk beds.

Sunday we had the usual breakfast and headed out at our regular time (9:30) well after most of the locals. We headed towards the Lamsenjoch Hutte (6406 feet) – over a flower covered pass, down to the small town of Eng, and then up to the hut. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in Eng where we ate cheese made from the many dairy cows on the outskirts of town. As we descended to Eng we could hear the clanging of cow bells long before we saw any cows. It’s a delightful – almost musical – sound that fills many of the valleys we passed through. The locals used to put bells on the cows so that they could easily find them if they got lost however now it’s done more for nostalgia than necessity. We made our final ascent of the trip up to the Lamsenjoch Hutte in the hot afternoon sun. When we got to the hut we were refreshed by polishing off a few Radlers (beer and Sprite). The hut was fairly busy but thankfully not as crowded as the huts were on the weekend nights. Other than a thunderstorm in the middle of the night we both slept well and were ready in the morning to begin the long descent (over 4000 feet) back to the valley.

Jenny and I were both ready to return to civilization. I was badly in need of a shower (Jenny had taken one at Karwendelhaus) and we looked forward to something out-of-the-ordinary to eat. We travelled by train back to Innsbruck and made it back to our hotel where I was able to clean up before we went out for some Thai food. It was excellent food and a nice change from the brats, potatoes, sauerkraut, bread, and pasta.

We are now on a train to Zurich where tomorrow I speak at a conference for work. On Thursday we head to Wengen, Switzerland (near Grindelwald and the Eiger) for two days of spa relaxation and day hikes. Then to Chamonix! We hope you all are well and wish that you could be enjoying the Alps with us.

Hutte to Hutte in the Alps

We just arrived at the Hochland Hutte in Germany. Last night we stayed at the Brunnenstein Hutte. I gotta say… Hiking hut to hut is the way to go. You don’t have to carry food, tent, cooking supplies, sleeping bags, etc. You show up, have a beer, eat some yummy food, then fall asleep in the warmth of a cabin and provided blankets. The huts so far have been exceptionally clean – as seems typical of Germany. The wardens and other guest have been friendly. Today’s hike was a bit long and involved a lot of snow field and skree crossings. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant at the top of a tram which brings passengers from the city of Mittenwald to about 2100 meters. We have been surrounded by beautiful mountains, green fields full of colorful wild flowers, and had great weather. We have really enjoyed having some quality time together and will have tons of pictures to share when we return to Innsbruck on Monday. We wish you were all here with us and hope you all are doing well.

Into the Alps

Well. We’re off! Jenny finished her third year of Medical School so we will be spending 3 weeks in the Alps to celebrate! Here is the tentative itinerary:
June 15 – 17 Lucerne Switzerland for Matt Coleman’s Wedding
June 17 – 18 Innsbruck, Austria
June 18 – 23 Hut to Hut in the Austrian Alps
June 23 – 24 Innsbruck, Austria
June 24 – 26 Zurich for James’ work conference
June 26 – 28 Wengen, Switzerland
June 28 – July 1 Chamonix, France
July 1 – July 4 Cosmiques Hut and Mont Blanc Summit Attempt
July 4 – July 5 Chamonix, France
July 5 – July 6 Zurich and the party is over

This blog is a little late since we got here safely.  Not without adventure though.  Due to some nasty weather in DC we were rerouted to Munich instead of Zurich.  Our luggage didn’t get the memo but we eventually got it.  So we made the scenic drive from Munich to Lucerne in about 3 and a half hours.  We hope that we didn’t get any speeding tickets since we later found out that the autobahn which I was driving 200km/h on has an unmarked 120km/h speed limit and the cameras to enforce it.

Today we were the photographers for my friend Matt Coleman’s wedding to Jamie – who we think is adorable.  It was a beautiful ceremony at a Swiss farm.  The flowers, cute little chapel, cows with real bells, and the fog rolling down the mountians made us feel that we were in the heart of the Alps.  We’re glad our vacation coincided with their wedding.  It was an honor to be able to see Matt and Jamie exchange their vows.  For those who will be at their Denver reception in July, here’s a little preview of the pictures we took today:

Tomorrow we are off to Innsbruck Austria and can’t wait to go on our first hut-to-hut in the Alps.  We hear that the locals like to get drunk and sing all night in the huts!  Hopefully we will have some pictures to share.  Keep watching this blog for more updates and some pictures.

Spring Break at 11,660 Feet

Jenny and I just returned from a wonderful Spring break in Colorado. We were able to see many of our friends and do our first winter hut trip. We rented tele skis and skinned (skiing up hill) about 2000 vertical feet over 4.7 miles. It was quite the adventure. Despite the huge advantage I have with longer legs, Jenny hardly broke a sweat while I gasped for air. Surrounded by the Rockies, the hut had amazing views and was very quaint & peaceful. The snow was very icy on the way down and since I’ve never really skied before, after falling about 20 times, I gave up and walked down. Time for some ski lessons! Overall it was a great hut trip. Check out our pictures!

In other news, Jenny is doing really well in school. She studies all the time but had honored two classes. She only has about 8 more weeks until she finishes her first year! This summer she is hoping to shadow a doctor for 5 weeks, possibly in San Francisco.

My job is going well. I’m now working for Adobe since Macromedia was acquired back in December. Recently I spoke at a Java conference in Seoul Korea to an audience of around 600. It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to speaking at more conferences soon.

We are getting pretty adjusted to life in Omaha. We found a good church and home group. And our neighbors are very friendly. Chris & Fred, next door, have even raked our leaves and cleared our driveway of snow! It’s still hard being away from mountains, good friends, and family, but we only have about 3 years left. Thanks for reading, and if anyone wants to come see us in Omaha, we would love it!

In need of gardening tips…

Hi all. Well, Jenny and I are just getting settled in our new home in Omaha. We decided that we are not city dwellers and we needed a more peaceful setting. So thanks to our wonderful realtor, Patty Kunsemiller, we found a cute little house in the Happy Hollow neighborhood. You can see the pictures in our Photo Gallery. As you will see from the pictures, we actually have to take care of grass, plants, and a garden! This is quite a stretch for Jenny and I, considering that Jenny is in school and studying around 100 hours a week and I travel frequently. Hopefully our plants and vegtables don’t all die! Please let us know of any gardening tips or taking care of an old house tips you might have… We really have no clue what we are doing. :)

In other news, not much is new and exciting. Jenny studies all the time. She is doing well in school. Her cadaver’s name is Charles… And although three times a week Jenny tells me what she cut out of Charles or what his Chordae Tendinae looks like, I will spare you all the gory details. Currently Jenny is thinking about becoming an ER doctor. I think this fits her personality well considering she actually likes running up hills! I think she’s crazy. But oh-well, I get to retire as soon as her quarter-mil in school loans are paid off.

My new job at Macromedia is going really well. I travel almost every week, but since Jenny has been so busy with school, it is a good time for me to be travelling. Last week I was in Duesseldorf, Germany speaking at an SAP conference, this week it’s off to Boston to spend some time with my boss, Christophe Coenraets, and in 2 weeks I will be in London conducting a Sales Engineer training session. So, aside from racking up frequent flyer miles, I am doing what I love… Spreading the good news of Macromedia Flex. :)

Other than that not too much is going on… We were in Denver a few weeks ago for Phil Mildren’s wedding, then missed my cousin Clayton’s wedding because we had too much going on (Sorry Howes family!), and then last weekend, right after closing on our house, we drove straight to Kansas for Shelly and Scott’s wedding. After Shelly’s wedding we drove back from Kansas and moved the next day. Luckily my dad was able to help us move since he was only a few hours away in Iowa after just helping my grandparents move into their new place.

For all of you who have told us about what to expect from Omaha, pretty much all of you were wrong! It’s NOT flat, there ARE trees, and most of the people are not that nice (except Patty!). But as some of you did say, there really is NOTHING to do here except go to the Zoo, humidity still sucks, and “cold” is way colder than “cold” in Colorado (and it’s not even Winter yet!).

That’s all for now, Jenny has to get up early to study and I need to get get up early and make coffee (Jenny actually gave into the dark side and got hooked on caffeine!). We miss you all and hope to see you all soon. Feel free to come up to Omaha and stay with us!

BTW: If you need a realtor in Omaha, Patty is seriously really wonderful. Give her a call!

Home sweet home…almost

So we made it to Omaha and are staying at an extended stay hotel for a week until our apartment is ready (on the 17th)…kind of a bummer, but it’s been ok.  I (Jenny) have had two days of orientation so far and it has been good but really overwhelming at times.  It sounds like the first year of medical school is hard and requires a lot of ajustment and figuring out what works best for me as far as studying and time management goes.  I’m nervous but also very excited for what’s in store.  It is pretty humid here, which we’re not used to at all and of course there are no mountains, which is sad.  But Omaha is actually a pretty cool town that offers most of the things that bigger cities do but with a small town feel.  Our apartment is in a fun neighborhood in downtown called the "old market," where they have farmers markets and lots of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc..  It will be nice to have some great places to walk to when we feel like getting outside.  There also seem to be some good running trails near our apartment and there is a great park nearby with a huge fountain that changes colors at night.  We’re also within close walking distance to the Missouri River.  So, all in all, we like Omaha so far (besides the humidity).  James is enjoying staying at the hotel (while I’m at orientation) and working on a small project for a friend’s company.  He will leave next Wednesday and head back to CO for the Wild at Heart retreat.  There’s really not too much else to say at this point.  We’ll keep you posted when I start school ’cause I’m sure we’ll have more to say at that point.  Thanks for reading :)