December 9, 2013

Reading the SoCal Backcountry

Reading the SoCal Backcountry

I know what you’re thinking: it’s snowing! How much has it snowed? Has it snowed enough? It is worth it to try hitting the SoCal backcountry? How do you know if it’s deep enough out there? Well, as it turns out, there’s a great and easy way to find out what’s happening in the local mountains that involves neither freeway driving nor hours of possibly futile hiking (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 4 Comments

June 8, 2013

The Winter Wrap

The Winter Wrap

Well it looks like I’m finally hanging up the skins on this unfinished-business of a 2012-2013 ski season. I’d hoped to add a volcano trip here in the waning weeks, but even that has fallen through, so I spent the day instead looking over posts and pictures from these past few months, thinking about some of the highs and lows of what turned out to be another record-dry Sierra winter (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 2 Comments

April 21, 2013

El Gringo Eskiador

El Gringo Eskiador

In 1979, Patrick Vallencant skied the west face of Peru’s 21,768′ Yerupaja. Lou Dawson describes the route as “Possibly the continuously steepest mountain ski descent ever done.” Incredibly, Vallencant’s descent was filmed, and that footage was made into a documentary called “El Gringo Eskiador.” Unfortunately, copies of the film are almost impossible to find (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 6 Comments

February 1, 2013

Skiing: The Greatest Sport on Earth

Skiing: The Greatest Sport on Earth

Telluride, Colorado. It wasn’t supposed to snow Wednesday night, but it did—nine inches of perfectly light snow on top of nearly three feet of fresh snow that fell earlier this week. And then, in that incomparably magic way, the clouds parted at nine a.m., just as the lifts opened. Snow crystals sparkled in sunlight, floating lazily in impossibly still air. Mountain tops gleamed in coats of fresh white (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 0 Comments

June 14, 2011

Split’s North Face

Split's North Face

It is one of California’s big mountains, colorful, complex, and consequential, and for ski mountaineers, it holds not one but several of the range’s most coveted lines. Split’s south face is a backcountry skier’s dream—if you can get there. Wrap around to the east, and you’ll quickly encounter an astounding abundance of ski extreme options. But it is Split’s snowy north face (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 6 Comments

May 28, 2011

Skiing Whitney’s North Face

Skiing Whitney's North Face

Whitney has eluded me. When I first tried to ski this mountain the defeat was so humbling and so absolute it was years before I dared return to the Sierra backcountry. But, every winter, the thought remained on my mind. The allure of climbing Whitney is obvious. The allure of skiing Mount Whitney, perhaps not so obvious. Like many of the Sierra’s big peaks, Whitney (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 5 Comments

May 18, 2011

Steep Turns & ‘Edge of Never’

Steep Turns & 'Edge of Never'

One of the things I love about ski mountaineering is that there’s always something new to learn. Over the course of this season I’ve been trying to improve my steep skiing technique, sparked in part by studying last season’s C2N footage. The video revealed I was using a bit of a stem to initiate my steep turns. I wanted to see if I could eliminate the stem to produce a more reliable turn (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 2 Comments

May 12, 2011

Muir’s East Buttress

Muir's East Buttress

In a way, I wished I’d never seen it. I was having a nice, easy backcountry skiing season, perfectly fine, and I didn’t need any trouble. I didn’t need to do anything special. I didn’t need to be special. I didn’t need to be obsessing about hanging snowfields and massive, dead-drop cliffs. And I especially didn’t need to start a war between who I thought I was and who I wanted to be (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 14 Comments

May 2, 2011

The Paradigm of the Extreme

The Paradigm of the Extreme

There in some understandable confusion over how, if the hazard level was rated low throughout the Eastern Sierra, two people could have been killed by an avalanche this past week on Split Mountain. Over at ESAC, Sue Burak elaborates a bit on the subject in her May 1st advisory, writing:

“Avalanche advisories do not apply in extreme terrain for obvious reasons.” (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 3 Comments

April 1, 2011

Thoughts On That Helmet Article…

Thoughts On That Helmet Article...

An article in Ski Canada Magazine examining helmet use stats in the US is generating quite a bit of buzz right now in the ski world. I’ve read the article and given it some thought, and my impression is that it’s easy to misread and/or misinterpret the article’s conclusions. Let’s take a closer look at what the authors wrote: (more…)

Posted in Science, Skiing | 5 Comments

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