October 3, 2014

Fransson

Fransson

He was one of the titans of modern extreme skiing, with a traditional, mountaineering tilt that connected him directly to the most storied names of the past. On September 29, Andreas Fransson and ski partner J.P. Auclair were killed by an avalanche while ascending Mount San Lorenzo on the Chilean-Argentinian border (more…)

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May 30, 2014

The Vertigo Machine

The Vertigo Machine

It is unlike any other chairlift I know of, and it scares the hell out of me every time I ride it. I’m talking of course about Mammoth Mountain’s wonderful Chair 23, that aging triple that gains elevation as quickly as any modern quad thanks to its brain-defying steepness. As the season progresses my own brain seems to adapt, a bit, to the optics of Chair 23 (more…)

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May 28, 2014

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

For me, the 2013-2014 winter began and now ends with Mammoth: a Thanksgiving opening and a Memorial Day close. Yes, in terms of snowfall, this year ranks easily among the most dismal in memory, and yes, too, not a single peak in my projects folder saw daylight, but in the absence of backcountry snow, it was a family-focused ski year for me, and a great one at that (more…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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…)

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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

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