Monthly Archives: December 2008

Happy New Year

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Eric from Red Resorts snapped this pic of me skiing the Powderfields yesterday, and which I appropriated from http://www.redresort.com/. With new snow everyday and mild temps, our snowpack keeps deepening and consolidating, to the point that most of the mountain is now skiable (other than the super steeps and a few  lines that have been bombed into oblivion). I’ve slowly been discovering the full extent of this summer’s brushing and glading program, and it’s revolutionary. Rather than short open fields linked by grovelling sections, there are now a bunch of new top to bottom fall-line runs.  I’m working on getting  some longer and fatter boards. The forecast is for 2-4ft of snow over the next week.

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Powder for the People

We didn’t get any new snow overnight, and I’m exhausted after 4 days of hard charging, so am taking a day off skiing to rest and reflect. I won’t minimize the challenge of managing risk on a mountain as hazardous as Granite, and I certainly appreciate how a ‘soft’ closure of most of the terrain on Granite provides endless untracked lines for a few locals, but most effectively managing the snow-pack requires a more proactive strategy than simply roping off everything and waiting until the 28th to run the regular control routes. For the skiing to be as great as it could (surely our shared purpose), we simply needed more skier traffic on more terrain. The low density snow we received prior to Dec 27th required skier compaction to stabilize and create a base for the more typical higher density snow we’re getting now. A few of us tried to put in all the essential traverses and hit as many of our favorite lines as possible prior to the 27th, and yesterday (with 20cm of heavy new snow) it was only those very lines that were ski-able. Otherwise, the upside-down snow-pack (heavy snow on top of light) was and may remain absurdly difficult to ski. Some critical lines, such as Short Squaw (Booty’s) didn’t receive any skier traffic (due to initial bombing) and became so critically unstable with the new heavy snow that it has now slid down to bare rock, and will not be ski-able for the foreseeable future. Other resorts utilize progressive measures such as: beacon checks to vet access, manual packing to stabilize slopes, and prescriptive targeted control programs to balance safety with snow retention, and we should too. I know change is difficult for some, but it’s about time Red staff and management engages in a conversation about more effective policies regarding opening terrain and stability management. 

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Boxing Day Update

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Jordy – Sunshine Powder!

For third day in a row it’s been top to bottom epic powder skiing at Red. Today the sun was shining, and the snowpack has consolidated enough to make a whole lot more of the mountain skiable (all the moderate angled open lines are in great condition, but it’s still marginal on the steeps and in the tight trees). Inexplicably most of the mountain remains closed, but the rope lines at Red mean as little as ever, and most of the obvious  areas have already been heavily tracked.  It’s dumping hard this evening, so yet another powder day tommorrow.

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Merry Christmas

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Steve – Face-shots every turn.

With 39cm of new snow and the Motherlode chair operational at last, all my Christmas wishes have come true. Skiing conditions at Red have suddenly gone from marginal to epic, and I can’t wait to get out there again today for more incredibly deep turns. The forecast is calling for a couple of feet on Friday night – Bring it on!

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Opening Day @ Red

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8.50am this morning at Red.

The lifts finally started turning at Red Mountain this morning. Unfortunately only the Silverlode chair was operating, but nevertheless a crowd of keeners were out and having fun. There were powder turns to be had on the few pitches steep enough to keep moving, but Silverlode is beginnner-only terrain, and I was getting cold from lack of effort, so only lasted a couple of runs. 

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Brigitte – Dropping into Third Slide.

Third Slide was looking picture perfect from the bottom, so looking to stay warm and find some challenge, Brigitte and I skinned up Main Run skied it.  Appearing absolutely flawless in the sunshine we had plenty of quality turns, but it was pretty exciting navigating through the maze of  rocky fins and snow snakes hidden just under the surface. It’s still a long way from being ready for the public.

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Garmont Radium Review

Following Lee’s query, I thought I’d share some more detailed opinions on my new Garmont Radium boots after 5 days of skiing in them.

Skiing

When skiing they are noticeably stiffer and more responsive than other AT boots I’ve used – Megarides, Denalis, Lasers, and Concordias. When buckled down they really are close to downhill boots in performance, certainly everything I could ever want for backcountry powder skiing. The single locking position feels quite upright, which works for me, but perhaps not for others. It seems that it would be difficult to provide aftermarket components to modify the angle. The power-strap is too long for my skinny legs, and appears to be of the same low quality sewing and materials as those on my Megarides, so I’ll replace them when I can.

Walking

In walk mode they’re perfectly acceptable, relatively lightweight, with a good long stride, but are perhaps less easy to loosen off than the Megarides – as even when unbuckled they hug my foot tightly. The locking upper buckles already seem like a very convenient feature, and have worked flawlessly. Unfortunately I was noticing a minor pressure point on my instep (never an issue in tongue style boots) and I was experiencing some toe bang when walking on flat terrain. The boots are easy to get into, though inexplicably difficult to get out of.

Fit

I stuck with Garmont because I find they fit my low volume feet better than the alternatives. I had deliberately purchased size 28.0, even though I’m technically a 28.5, because I wanted to take up extra volume, but even when cranked down (and I was maxing out the top buckle) I was still getting unacceptable heel slop (even with Medium-weight Smartwool ski socks). Detailed inspection confirmed just how low volume the new G-Fit liners are – at 5cm forward and to the side of the heel, my molded liners are only a few mm thick. Sure they’re fancy looking, with all sorts of extra sewing and materials(why they think sewing on stiffening patches accomplishes anything is beyond comprehension), but just like the older style G-Fit liners that came with the Megarides, they are not even close to providing the support and fit of Intuition liners, which expand to fill empty space. So I simply took the Intuition liners that I’d been using in my Megarides, and the problem was solved. With Intuition liners, they fit like a glove (in Ultralight Smartwool ski socks), I’ve now no pressure point on my instep when skinning, and the much higher volume tongue holds my foot back in the heel pocket alleviating any toe bang.

Conclusion

Overall I’m pretty happy with the boots, though it’ll be interesting to see how they handle extended trips, but for the money they’re charging it’d be nice if they came with liners and a power-strap I didn’t have to upgrade (like Scarpa is doing with the Skookum).

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Deep Freeze

Damn it’s cold out there. -20 degrees is just plain absurd.  On Sunday Jordy and I skinned and skied down Main Run on Granite. I was a bit concerned on the way up, particularly in the Bowl, as there was no base whatsoever on top of the rocks. But by picking our line with care, skiing fast and staying light on our feet, we managed a clean run in nice powder. It was too cold for photos.

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The crew at Wildhorse – Checking out the new toy.

Yesterday we had orientation at Wildhorse catskiing. In the sun and out of the wind it actually wasn’t too frigid, and we got a chance to play around with one of the new tracked Suzuki pick-up trucks we’ll be using to transport guests up to the Pass.  With seats and some weather protection installed on the back, we expect they’ll be an improvement over the snow-mobiles towing trailers that we’ve been using. Here’s a short video of the truck in action.

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