In a number of ways I’ve recently been reminded of Northwestern U.S. backcountry skiing. In the news, we’re watching the search for three missing snowboarders near Crystal Mountain in Washington. Backcountry skiing in the wet and scrappy Northwest can bring out the best in a mountaineer — and conversely results in some mean epics.
In terms of the former (and to prevent epics), my son and I have been studying Cascades ski alpinst Martin Volken’s new book like we’re getting ready for a final exam. I’m using the parts about roped glacier travel to make sure I’m up to speed for Europe, and Louie says he “never knew there were so many ways of constructing a rope anchor from skis.” Martin’s reach is long — he’s also behind the design of the Windstopper Softshell gear that Outdoor Research is making. I continue to use the pants and jacket from the OR Tremor collection, and have to say that the increased water and wind resistance of this stuff, combined with a softshell feel and decent breathability, makes for an incredibly versatile outer layer. That said, the Windstopper Softshell definitely doesn’t breath as well as a straight softshell such as our favorite Cloudveil jackets, but it’s an amazing compromise and the perfect “one-rig” for going into uncertain weather.
Speaking of weather, our winter here in Colorado has finally gone back to the normal cycle of two or three day storms staggered with classic bluebird days. Thus, we’ve received some significant precip the last few days, and are anticipating a nice weekend of more snow with a bit of clearing on Monday. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen while getting out a few times this past week, our highcountry has a deadly layer of sugar snow created by our long dry spell, and that’s going to spell trouble till it’s bridged over by at least a meter of solid snow, or else scoured out by a major avalanche cycle. Knowing Colorado, both things will probably happen. If the Cascades make mountaineers, the central Rocky Mountains sure get you up to speed on avalanche safety.
And how about some politics? It’s good to see Hillary Clinton is courting the ski crowd for votes. But we got a laugh out of her rubbing shoulders with Olympic medalist Penny Pitou. While Penny is not doubt as part of our ski culture as anyone, couldn’t Hillary have found a skier who was a bit more current (Pitou’s racing peaked in 1960)? I mean, how about she bring Seth Morrison or someone like that up on the platform for a bit of chitchat? After all, according to Hillary her short but now well known skiing career consisted of “… trying to get myself vertical.” That sounds like a good start to a cameo in a ski film. Come to think of it, perhaps TGR can work a Hillary segment into next year’s flick.
Lastly, to continue the chuckles some joker at Dynafit sent this startling email yesterday:
Spy shot. ATV with integral BBQ to left, Wildsnow.com’s own Lou to the right, giving the machinery his undivided attention.
From: Dynafit Marketing Department
Lou, We’re having second thoughts of sending you to Europe to the Dynafit
There is a conflicting event — The Red Neck Backcountry Approach Vehicle Show — is in Kentucky at the same time. Judging from this photo our spies caught at the OR show this past summer, of you ogling over an ATV with a BBQ attached……you probably won’t mind us sending you to the RNBAVS Show….instead of Austria?
All the best, T.K.
Salewa North America
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.