Monthly Archives: March 2011

Salomon Rocker 2 Review

Of all the new models released of late, these are the skis I’ve been most curious about. Pre release reviews have been gushing, and it from what I’ve read they seem targeted at exactly the type and level of skiing that I do. So about to jump on the lift for yet another day of powder skiing at Red, I was stoked to see a pair in my size (192cm) available for demo, and with a minimum of fuss I got to take them out for half a dozen runs on Granite.

They’re long and fat (122cm waist), light weight and soft flexing, with a pronounced rocker at the tip and tail. From first turn to last they were easy and predictable. On the limited amount of groomed snow that I skied, they carved relatively short turns with a soft smooth railing sensation characteristic of Salomons. In open powder they danced through turns of any radius, and when it got tighter and steeper they whipped around the tightest of arcs with the subtlest of initiation. They were light and fun, and are my favorite of the bunch of new model skis I’ve demoed this year.

However because they’re so soft I found it easy to over ski them with my usual aggressive angulated technique. Channeling my inner jibber I found that a centered body position and rather passive technique worked best, though above a certain speed I felt that I was skimming rather than carving, and I couldn’t ever really get into top gear. In smooth consistent snow I didn’t have any problems, but they’re deflected by heavy and inconsistent conditions. In situations like lumpy high speed run-outs and cut-up crud on groomers I had to adopt a bit of a survival stance, whereas on my regular boards (185cm Dynastar Sixth Sense Huges) I’d just rail through that shit without thinking.

In conclusion I think Salomon are onto a winner with Rocker 2, and should cut in to sales of the popular Rossignol S7s and Armada JJs at places like Red Mountain. They’re a perfect do everything ski for most intermediate to advanced off-piste skiers, but (like the aforementioned skis) are just too soft for real charging. I still haven’t found anything that can compare to my beloved Dynastars.


Filed under Gear

Horseshoe Glacier

I’d been talking for months with Dave about getting out on a ski touring adventure, and yesterday we made it happen. Dave, Cam and I headed into Glacier Creek to ski off the Horseshoe Glacier. After early start and a 3 hour drive from Rossland, I towed them (water-ski style) both in for 30km behind my sled to the end of the Jumbo Pass road. A straightforward affair under ideal conditions, but sledding through the isothermic slop (lower down) and fresh snow, and dealing with precipitous water bars took us another 3 wearying hours.

Finally at the base of the glacier, we broke trail in knee deep snow for 4000′ of climbing. The clouds were wafting in and out, with occasional power flurries and sunshine.

Getting higher.
From the high plateau at 9500′, we enjoyed some of the deepest and lightest snow of the year all the way down to valley.

Although we now had a track in for the sled, it was still pretty challenging going on the way out, and we were all well spent by the time we reached the truck.

Back at the sled.

Skiing through cow shit.


Filed under Backcountry

Sunday Morning.

My Church.

What can a Sunday morning mean to those of us who dismiss the naïve certainties and empty ritual of institutional religion and flaky spiritualism, yet remain aware that being human is in some essential sense the process of creating meaning. When and what are we going to create?

Sunday. A day like any other, yet loaded with the baggage of my European Christian cultural heritage. Drawn together organically, by common purpose rather than any formal organization, we gather on Sunday mornings, to ski or ride depending on the season, and sometimes we even declare that these mountains are our church. A good natured jibe at those who would gather in actual churches at this time (though I hardly know anyone that does), part affirmation to ourselves and each other that we have made superior choices, and perhaps an acknowledgement that this is for us a ritual. A ritual that we can claim as our own, that at least for a little while answers the unanswerable questions we all have. What is this thing called life all about?

The coastal mountains of Alaska are subject to specific combination of weather that makes for exceptional skiing. Storms off the ocean dump snow at mild temperatures, which adheres to the steepest of slopes. Often this is followed by cold continental air which sucks out the moisture from the surface of the snow, creating ideal conditions for skiing deep light powder on steep terrain. We’ve had a version of the some phenomena in the Rossland Range recently, and this morning the steep lines were about as good as it gets.


Filed under Backcountry

Frog Peak

Frog Peak in the Fall (Check out this link for more from this photographer)

Jordy and I had ambitious plans for his days off, but it keeps snowing. We headed into the Valhallas yesterday, hoping for sunny breaks that would have made it worth heading into the alpine. Instead we decided to tackle Frog Peak, a spectacular (if we could have seen it) 7963ft outcrop, with enough tree coverage to keep visibility reasonable.

Peering into the Precipice.

Jordy had climbed the peak once before in the summer, and had some idea that the route we chose might make for good skiing, but it came together better than we could have imagined, and we were on the windless cloud veiled summit by noon.


The snow was a little thin and faceted on the summit ridge, but the 3500ft north facing descent provided effortless boot deep turns all the way to the valley.



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So far this March, Red’s daily snowfall totals have been: 4cm, 14cm, 5cm, 6cm, 4cm, 3cm, 1cm, 4cm, 10cm, 22cm, 4cm, 0cm, 2cm, 12cm, 9cm, 14cm, and 5cm. Enough for some of the regulars to be talking up Marchuary. The past three days seemed especially creamy and smooth, not deep, but whenever I can rip my favorite lines at high speed without any sensation of firmness, it’s good times. I was a little tired and stiff this morning, so bailed after only a couple of runs despite the continuing snow

Here’s the presentation that I prepared for the 2010 Rossland Backcountry film festival, that Sheree recently posted, with lots of shots from our annual Spring ski traverses.

I was told today that Howard, the head honcho at Red Resort, is selling his palatial residence in Rossland. Asking price $2,500,000, almost 100 times the price I paid for my first house in town.


Filed under Backcountry, Eclectica, Red Mountain

Food Drop

A Ski-touring Lunch
Yesterday was top to bottom, smooth, stay on top powder skiing at Red. We’ve had another 7cm of new snow overnight, as of 7.30am it’s snowing heavily, and forecast to continue all day. It’s difficult to do much but ski under such circumstances.
However I do have a few ski touring trips planned, so I’m sort of hoping that this wet and unsettled pattern we’ve been in for the past 10 days clears out, so that I can do some exploring. The big trip we’ve (the usual crew) planned for the Spring is a traverse from Ferguson (near Trout Lake) through to Rogers Pass. To keep our pack weight down we’re having half (4 days worth) our food flown in to the Battle Abbey hut, to be picked up en-route. I pretty much eat the same menu every day, and it’s a selection I’ve refined over the years. We’ve been using Clif products from my friends at NRG in Nelson on all our traverses. I was skeptical before using them, but products like Clif shots really do work to keep you going when you’re fatigued, and I consider them essential for completing huge days in the mountains.

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Spring Skiing Update


We’re definitely in the midst of a snowy Spring pattern. Boot deep powder on Thursday morning had transformed to the consistency of mashed potato by lunchtime, but with cold overnight temps provided creamy turns in the backcountry on Friday. Participating in a Randonee race on Red Mountain this morning, I baked in beach-like conditions skinning up Sally’s alley, but there’s lots more precipitation on the way, freezing levels unknown.

See Cornice.

Jump Cornice – Jordy.

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Filed under Backcountry, Red Mountain


On the up-track.

Ski tracks

Powder skiing in the local backcountry in the morning. Spring skiing on the hill in the afternoon.


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March Powder Pattern

Cindy – Rossland Range.
The snow keeps on coming. Nothing major, but regular enough to keep surface conditions soft and fun, with sunny beaks between.

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Jordy’s Mentally Stimulating North Side Adventure

We started in Sunshine – Jordy.

After 4 consecutive days of skiing fresh lines at Red Mountain, Jordy, Greg and I headed to Kootenay Pass yesterday for a wander. Jordy’s adventurous inclinations had been stifled on our last visit, when we skied predictable (not so stimulating) perfect powder lines in the trees, so we headed North, looking for chutes, new lines, and variable snow.


The wind had blown stronger and from more directions than we’d anticipated, so it took some experimenting (very stimulating) to find the quality snow.

Chuting – Jordy.

We kicked off (intentionally and otherwise) a few delicate cornices, and got some minor slab releases on steeper ground, but all very manageable.


By late afternoon it was snowing a couple of cm per hour, and we finished with the longest and deepest line of the day.

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