Expedition skiing, top gear picks, boot tricks
It’s been a couple weeks since our last episode, and it’s been a couple years since I had long time friend and ski partner Gary Smith on the show. In Totally Deep Episode 36 and and 37 we recanted our stories from a three-week ski mountaineering trip to South America. Since then Gary has reunited with stronger and more motivated ski partners than I (more below) and taken on an bigger role with WildSnow as official gear editor. We had loosely planned a gear heavy episode, recapping tech tips and reviews for those of us auditory learners out there, but that was soon derailed by good ol’ fashioned ski banter.
Gary Smith and his partners Cal and Drew and climbed and skied Denali the previous spring, a peak held in sacred esteem on this site, with in depth coverage for decades. It is not only the tallest mountain in North America, but it boasts some larger than life ski descents, making it a true classic objective. I knew the trip was successful, but Gary and I had been passing each other like two cars in the night on I70 and I was excited to finally get the whole story.
I was impressed to learn that they were standing on the summit ridge just days after arriving on Denali. For some mountaineers that could be a high point with weather threatening to discourage another attempt. But Gary and the team would stand on the true summit just a few days later. In the end they skied four righteous lines including the Rescue Gully, Messner Couloir, Sunny Side, and the Orient Express.
Finally, after a few beers and stories we did get down to the gear talk. Gary always has some more insightful observations than or typical horsing around and he is true gear head. We talked top picks for new year, including the Skorpius boot and boutique WNDR ski, both with full reviews in the wings. We also discussed common boot issues including over-tightening lightweight boots to try to eek out performance. This common practice can result in losing the forward lean the boot designer intended when you are flexed into the sweet spot of the boot.
Readers and listeners should look forward to Gary becoming a more consistent voice on the site. He has the background and knowledge and unquenchable desire for tinkering with gear rivaled only by Lou himself. For more on Gary’s Denali trip, check out his Denali — What Worked, What Didn’t series. Also, stay tuned for another episode with Gary where we’ll recap the Dynafit Tech Tuesday series and what we learned along the way.
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Doug Stenclik is an avid skimo racer and ski mountaineer who lives for sharing the amazing sports of ski touring and splitboarding. Since his first time on skins he was hooked and the obsession has taken him all over the United States and the world pursuing the human powered ski turn. He founded Cripple Creek Backcountry in 2012 and took over the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Race Cup in 2014 to spread knowledge and the love of the sport. In 2019 he took a step back from the ski shop and race promoter life to become a publishing partner with WildSnow.