Firstly, know that the 10th annual US Ski Mountaineering National Championships, thanks to Marmot, will be held March 20th at Jackson resort. This year’s even promises to be bigger, better and badder with a tougher course, superb organization, a terrific title sponsor (Marmot), and more. Here are the links for your informational pleasure:
Also on the rando racing front. Tomorrow the Wasatch Powder Keg will take place at Brighton resort in Utah. While sadly limited to 150 participants (groan), the race division course looks good with 5,000 vert of climbing, the obligatory booter, and an entirely new course. Should be fun to spectate, and best wishes to all racers.
Well, the WildSnow Denali backcountry skiing expedition has kept me busier than a one legged guy in a jumping contest (no offense to you one legged guys out there). Amazing how many issues crop up when you want to do an excellent rather than lackadaisical job organizing an Alaskan glacier expedition. Things like wind screens for our larger snow melting pots, whether to use a thin foam tent-floor cover or not, setting up ski boots so we don’t get frostbite if it gets super cold, not to mention exactly how does one dress for something like this? In a few weeks we’ll ramp up the blogging about all that, which will be fun. And we’re still planning on blogging from the climb using our satphone system, which has been tricky to set up but appears to work.
Meanwhile, up in the Northeast, a very cool historical ski race has been resurrected. According to local newspapers, the Thunderbolt Race is the “the most extreme thing to do in Berkshire Country.” Hearkening back to it’s origins more than 75 years ago, Thunderbolt is a rowdy schuss down a narrow slot cut though a forested mountain side. Participants hike up and ski down. More than a hundred volunteers are making it happen. Like I always say, who needs ski lifts, or “dangerous” groomers for that matter? (I covered Thunderbolt in my book, WildSnow, so read the history there if you’ve got a copy.)
Colorado is always doing it’s best to live up to being the place with the avalanche danger. This past Wednesday that rep was kept alive by the death of 20 year old snowboarder in a sidecountry gully just west of Arapaho Basin Ski Area. The rider and his two companions carried no avy rescue gear and had to dig the victim out with by using their snowboards as shovels. Sigh.
In the Northwest a few days ago, a potential backcountry disaster had a better outcome, with some amusing sides. Apparently two men at Crystal Mountain in Washington inadvertently skied out of bounds down to a closed highway. So they slogged 9 miles to an open road, asked a motorist for directions back to Crystal, then attempted to shortcut the trip back and turned in exactly the wrong direction. Another 13 miles later the pair walked into a ranger station at Mount Rainier National Park. I’ve always enjoyed the view of Rainier from Crystal, but never thought of walking there.
That’s it folks. Thanks for the fun week of backcountry skiing blogging, and have a good weekend!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.