Category Archives: Winter Gear

Crystal to open tomorrow

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It’s official. Crystal will open tomorrow. Still very thin snow cover, and early season conditions exist. By that I mean rocks, creek beds and unconsolidated snowpack. Bring your rock skis and enjoy this fresh snow! Woohoo!

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First Turns of the Year!

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Conditions were sweet in Lower Grubstake

Today I skinned to the top of Crystal in blustery conditions. While it continued to shower elsewhere, we were blocked by Mt. Rainier, and stayed dry most of the day.

Our telemetry reads 14″ in Green Valley, and that felt about right. The wind has blown the snow into a smooth skein of great base-building material.

I only hit a few rocks

 

All we need now is one more good storm, and we are golden.

My first turns of the season were a bit ginger. I hit a few rocks at the top, but  found some quality snow on Lower Grubstake. As long as I stayed as light as possible, I was okay.

I didn’t have to take my skis off until I was almost all the way to the base area. Not a bad first day of the 2011-12 season.

Bring it on.

NWCN Television Interview

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If you missed my interview yesterday on Northwest Cable News, here it is. In addition to talking about my book, I also reminded skiers and snowboarders how to ski safely this winter. The old maxim, “No friends on a powder day,” might need to change. In deep snow conditions, your friends could save your life. Just saying. Click on the video below to play. And notice that under my name it reads “Crisis Expert”. Who knew??

Weekly High-Five Report: The Push to The South Pole

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On January 17, 2012, two adaptive athletes, John Davis and Grant Korgan, both paralyzed from the waist down, will attempt to reach the South Pole under their own power. Davis and Korgan, along with Doug Stoup and Tal Fletcher, will push themselves 100 miles across Antarctica, planning their arrival to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Robert Scott’s expedition to the South Pole. According to The Push to the South Pole website, the goal of the expedition is to demonstrate,

The capacity of the human spirit to overcome life-altering injuries.  And, perhaps more importantly, the team hopes to inspire people in all walks of life to help others achieve the seemingly insurmountable, to push their own everyday limits, and to live up to their ultimate potential.

Check out this video highlighting the trip and the goals of the expedition. These athletes are beyond inspiring. They are amazing.

The Push – A South Pole Adventure from p2sp on Vimeo.

They even have a countdown to “High-five at the South Pole.” Only 84 days left. Bravo guys. Bravo.

Powder Highway Ski Bum Contest

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So you think you’re the ultimate ski bum? You think you’ve laid it all out on the line, thrown in the corporate towel, are ready to go big or go home? Can you go head-to-head with some serious ski bums to win the ultimate prize? Check out the Powder Highway Ski Bum contest and see how you stack up. You could win a 3 Month Epic Ski Adventure. And when they say epic adventure, they mean it. Here’s what you get:

So, you might ask, what’s the catch? Well, you should ask anyway. You need to post a photo and and bio explaining why YOU are the ultimate ski bum. Before you post your entry, go and have a look at the competition. From “West Coast Pow Slasher” to “Hillbilly Pow Hunter” these bums are the real deal.

Here’s a little video to whet your appetite:

What do you think? You got what it takes to live the dream this season?

Marmot “Backyards” Series

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You know how when you buy a new, previously obscure, brand of ski pants, and all of a sudden everyone seems to be sporting the same brand? Call it synchronicity or selective attention, or perhaps even Red Car Syndrome (where you buy a new red car, drive it off the lot, and see a whole slew of the exact same car).

For a moment there, you might even think you conjured these identical examples out of thin air. And then you ask yourself just who you think you are kidding.

That’s precisely how I felt when I sat down to watch the new Futuristic Films/Marmot short series, “Backyards”, which follows Marmot-sponsored athletes into their ski areas to showcase their lives on and off the mountain.

In the first of this three-part series, Mike Leake of Grand Targhee ski patrol, shows Pip Hunt around his home mountain. I think Futuristic Films is onto something here.

Watch Part 2 and Part 3 by clicking on these links. So what do you think? The athletes aren’t going that big, but the soul is there. These are real skiers having an authentic ski town life.

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If I could make a ski movie…

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Every autumn my husband and I watch ski movies, letting the scenes of deep powder and steep skiing fill us in like the first snowfall. I always have high hopes. This time of year I’m ready for the season to start, sniffing the morning air for incoming storms, keeping my eyes on the winter forecast, and sharpening my skis. Skiing is in my blood, and after a few months without the feel of metal edge on forgiving snow I start to feel a little lost.

Enter the high hopes of ski movies.

Some of them meet expectations: The recent Art of Flight knocked my socks off and classics like Steep and Deep and Blizzard of Aahhhs, never get old. Lately, however, I’ve been waiting for something better. As much as I love to watch pros ski incredible lines that I can only dream about, isn’t there something more?

Perhaps because I’m a writer, I want more out of ski movies. I want to be told a story. In Creative Writing 101, a writer learns that a compelling story must have a narrative arc. Interesting characters must transform in some way through the inevitable action of the plot. I’m not saying that ski movies should adhere to the rules of fiction. Yet, when every season starts anew with all-too similar spines, helicopters nosed in to sunlit ridges, skiers jumping over cliffs, I start to wonder how the ski movie industry is going to move forward.

A friend and reader recently lamented the glorification of cliff jumping in ski movies. As a mom, she worries that her kids will associate the kind of skiing in the movies as the norm. I guess I just wish ski movies were a little closer to the experience of real skiers.

Cody Townsend's Tracks with Bombhole, courtesty of codytownsend.com

When Cody Townsend is injured during the filming of Matchstick’s Attack of La Niña after jumping a 70 foot cliff, Scott Gaffney later admits that while watching the fall, there was a moment when he thought, “I may have just watched a friend die.” Townsend came out relatively unscathed (if you consider a knee injury and tibial plateau fracture unscathed). But still. Watch the video and the interview here.

For most of us who plan on skiing until we’re old, even a “minor” knee injury could cause lasting damage to our skiing careers. But professionals–whether ski racers, big mountain film stars or Olympic-bound freeskiers, injury seems inevitable.

If the film-going masses expect the tricks and jumps to get bigger and more impressive every year, skiers and riders will continue to raise the bar. Instead of throwing ever more impressive stunts, I hope for a different direction in the movies.

Here’s my idea for a ski movie: Take a crew of five or six professional skiers; choose individuals who can string a few sentences together without having to rely on mind-numbing uhhs and dudes and various expletives. Visit five ski areas in the world. Follow the pros as they meet locals and learn where lay the goods. The local that shows them the best lines, the best time, maybe even hooks them up with a place to stay goes with them on their next stop—heli-skiing in Kamchatka or cat skiing in BC or fjord-assisted touring in Norway. I would love to watch that guy or gal, who previously found only brief stashes of powder at his or her local ski area, approach an entire mountain of fresh lines. Call the movie, “Ski Bum Karma.”

In this way, viewers learn about individuals, real skiers sacrificing money and prestige to ski every day. These are the dedicated. These are the individuals that make ski towns worthy places to live. As much as I enjoy watching Eric Hjorleifson talk about how well Ingrid Backstrom can ski, I’d really love to hear what he has to say about Ross Gregg’s dedication and joie de vivre. Ski bums are the true heroes of the ski industry.

In the introduction to this month’s The Ski Journal, editor Mike Berard laments the recent losses in skiing, including Shane McConkey, Arne Backstrom and Kip Garre. It’s important, Berard claims, that such loss “should remind us there are more important elements to life than sliding down a mountain.” And yet these tragedies “are reminders to continue pursuing what is closest to our heart.”

To pursue what is closest to our heart—isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s really not about watching others drop big lines that stoke the fire of a million-dollar industry. It’s not about that Redbull sponsorship or those K2 skis or the Smith goggles that help you keep your eyes on the slopes. Nor is it about Crystal Mountain or Big Sky or any other ski area.

Really it is about pursuing a sport close to your heart. It is about the sparkle of snow crystals caught in a glint of snow; it is the triumphant moment just before you drop in, when your ski tips hang over the lip of the run and the wind rises up to meet you; it is that first turn—whether ripping corduroy, jumping a cornice or letting fly a million powder crystals that sweep you up and envelop your heart.

So all you ski filmmakers out there, feel free to steal my idea. It’s there for the taking. Give us more than another round of a lucky few hitting predictably big lines. Give us a story. Show us real skiers reaping big rewards, living close to their hearts.