Monthly Archives: January 2014

Exploring

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Poking Around

Another day spent exploring the area for which I’ve applied for tenure. So many sweet lines. Funky snow up top, but still soft in the trees.

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Maybe next time this line will go.

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Mulvey Backdrop

 

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Powder in the trees.

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Filed under Backcountry

Wildhorse Heliskiing

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An incredible machine.

With some creative planning, and picture perfect conditions we pulled off a great day of heli-skiing at Wildhorse yesterday. It was the first time for me, and I was pretty stoked to be dropping off on the top of spectacular peaks, and skiing new lines with a group of clients.

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Baldy

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Felix

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Just another sunset.

 

 

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Up into the Sun

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A bit of a strange winter we’re having.  A week of snow, now nothing but sunshine and inversions as far as anyone’s forecasting. Jordy and I busted out the snowmobiles for the first time this season, hoping to find a bit powder in the Valhallas.  Jordy’s sled died (never to ride again) only 2km in, so we ended up breaking trail while towing, and I got stuck in a pit of facets, but we eventually got onto our skis. The snow was mostly wind packed at upper elevations, but the views were incredible, we explored a bit, and ended with a couple of runs on a protected pitch of creamy pow. Nice to be out walking.

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Good Times at Red.

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Link’s Line – Filling in nicely.

Just off 5 powder days in a row at Red. 50cm of higher density snow has dramatically improved the coverage, with today being the first time we’ve been able to charge the steeper lines. With the Grey chair spreading the crowd, new micro brewed beers on tap and a bunch of tasty treats (pulled pork poutine…yummm) on the menu in Rafters, even the strong winds playing havoc with the lifts couldn’t spoil my good mood.

 

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Filed under Red Mountain

South-West Flow

In the Rossland area it’s all about the direction of the incoming weather systems. Too much North, and being the last in line we get skunked for snow, as has been the case for most of the winter thus far. But when a big plume of moisture hits from the South West, the geography of the Rossland Range acts like a huge ski jump, lifting the clouds up, which both cools and drops the pressure of the air mass (orographic effect), resulting in snow. With South West flow in place, we got 9cm overnight with 12″ to 28″ forecast by Saturday.

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Filed under Eclectica, Red Mountain

G3 Ion Bindings

I love my Dynafit touring bindings. The fundamental design is a work of genius, and much of the skiing I’ve done over the past 10 years would have been much more difficult without them. As to be expected there were initial issues with durability (heel post fatigue) and functionality (truly reliable hold and release), but rather than methodically addressing them, Dynafit has squandered multiple major revisions  trumpeting a succession of poorly conceived and inadequately tested new features (tri-step toe-piece, comfort volcanoes, F12 stiffener, anti-rotation pin, heel pin spacing etc.).  They sometimes operate like an cliched eccentric designer  is calling the shots, when what they really need is a competent mechanical engineer. I’ve been known to rant on the subject, but suffice to say there is room for improvement.

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oooh – shiny anodized metal parts.

Fortunately we’re about to see what could be a couple of new viable alternatives, the Fritschi Vipec and the G3 Ion, which both promise to incorporate features such as fore-aft heel piece elasticity and functional brakes into their designs. G3 are based in Vancouver, and their product development engineer Cam Shute lives and skis here in the Kootenays. After underwhelming skiers with the innovative Onyx binding, recent pre-release  pics and info on their new Ion binding caught my attention. Cam recently took some time out from teaching his son to ski on the magic carpet at Red Mountain to run me through the features of his personal prototypes. Rather than reinventing the tech binding, G3 have clearly set out to create a more durable and refined version of a Dynafit Radical series binding. No one feature is revolutionary, but when you go through the list in detail it seems that each has been thoughtfully considered, and the execution appears to be of the highest quality. To top it off, they look great. G3 has coordinated an effective media blitz this week, and a thorough analysis of the various features can be found over at Wildsnow. I’m hoping to get my hands on a pair, so that I can ski the shit out them, and help determine if the Ion actually delivers on a lot of promise.

 

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Filed under Gear

Red Mountain Update – Jan 4, 2014.

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First Slide

A persistent large scale ridge over the Eastern Pacific has been blocking our usual wet westerly flow for the past month, resulting in record low precipitation in central Washington, and an underwhelming start to the winter at Red. In his Dec 31st season progress report, Tony Crocker  calculated we’ve only received 65% of our average early season snowfall. Considerably less than many of our regional neighbors to the North, but better off than many. The local snow-pack is still shy of a meter, which in many years would be considered the minimum required to open, but rain on early season snow produced 50 cm of consolidated base, which has proved just enough to keep the mountain skiable. Day by day the grooming gets smoother and more extensive, and if that’s your thing, there’s plenty of fun skiing (in the sun) to be had, but off-piste is another story. At its’ best the terrain at Red is challenging, but with an 80 cm base it gives new meaning to technical skiing. The snow-pack seems thinner on Red and Grey, so I’ve been sticking to the lines I know best on Granite. There are some smooth sections to be enjoyed, and on the 3 cm powder days we’ve been having  there are soft consistent turns to be had, but almost every line has a significant section that could best be described as heinous. I keep expecting to encounter unwitting tourists, hemmed in by windfall or perched atop a cliff,  wild eyed in terror, but there’s nobody skiing on 90% of the mountain. When I’m skiing with my brother it’s as though we have the place to ourselves. Although I’m tagging rocks every day (sometimes every run) I’m skiing on good skis, rationalizing that I can utilize every advantage available and that I’d rather sacrifice my skis than my body. There’s almost no cruising to be had. You’re working hard through every part of every turn, so the leg burn gets monumental. I’m yet to make it past 6 laps on Granite, but I must be getting stronger.

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More Lost Skiers.

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