My friend Dan is going skiing on Monday…for a year. After a brief tour of several U.S. ranges, he and his wife will leave for the Himalaya, with plans to summer in the Andes after that. Aside from the overwhelming jealousy I feel watching them go, I’m also so stoked that they’ve managed to turn a long-time dream into reality. I did a little bit of traveling when I got out of school, but the truth is I really didn’t appreciate the freedom I had at the time. And I certainly didn’t take advantage of it. So to those of you whose ties are currently loose and whose eyes tend to look to the horizon, I say go for it.
Seize the opportunity to make things happen. Shake things up a little. Be bold! As time passes it becomes harder and harder to get away. Traveling the world and skiing many of the greatest ranges sounds almost irresistible to me—but so does taking a nice nap on my sofa. So to Dan and his wife, I say Bon Voyage. Hope you have the time of your lives! And to the rest of us, maybe Dan’s example can inspire us to seek out a little extra adventure in our own lives, be it on the farthest corner of the globe…or right here at home.
Posted in Skiing | 0 Comments
In the unlikely event that Mt Baldy Ski Area hasn’t already flooded your inbox with announcements, I feel obligated to post notice that the Chamber of Commerce Virtual Passes are on sale again for the upcoming 2010-2011 ski season, now priced at $99. These work just like a regular season pass, except they’re subject to a daily quota of between 500-1000 passes. You must make a reservation by midnight prior to the day you want to ski. If a quota slot is available, you’re good to go. If not, show up anyway and get 50% off the price of a full adult ticket.
To me the worst part of this deal is that you have to wait in line at the ticket hut to pick up a ticket each time you use your pass. On those busy powder and weekend mornings, that wait can easily push past 1/2 hour. Then again, you are getting a pass for a hundred bucks. I’ll continued to grumble about this for a while, but I expect I’ll be buying one soon.
Hooray—sort of. It’s probably not news to you by now, but Tioga Pass Road has opened for the 2010 season as of 8 a.m. Saturday. Bummer of course is that this year’s opening coincides with psycho high temperatures in the mountains. The forecast I watch was calling for a high of 61 today at the 12K level in Palisades. Obviously, Dana Plateau and lower is probably cooking today. If you do get up there this weekend, get it early. And let me know how it goes.
Posted in Current Conditions, Skiing | 7 Comments
Looks like this weekend is it for skiing at Mt. Baldy resort. I was there yesterday to enjoy one last day on my pass, closing out what has been a surprisingly strong year at the always-quirky Mt. Baldy ski area. Rumor is Mt. Baldy got a double cash infusion this past season, first from a new investor, and then from the sale of those variously priced Chamber of Commerce passes (more…)
Posted in Skiing | 6 Comments
If there is one singularly conspicuous omission in the SierraDescents repertoire, it is unquestionably a ski descent of San Jacinto Peak via Snow Creek. There are many fine peaks and routes to covet in California, but among ski mountaineers in the know, Snow Creek stands alone. To those unfamiliar with the San Jacinto Mountains, their scale may well sound like a misprint. From the low point in Coachella Valley (more…)
Posted in Skiing | 6 Comments
This past weekend some friends and I took a professional videographer up West Baldy to try to nab some footage of Southern California backcountry skiing for a Ski Channel project.
After staring at West Baldy’s impressive west face from Iron Mountain two weeks ago, we really had no choice but to ski it. The skiing was sublime: silky smooth spring corn, baked to perfection by SoCal sunshine.
The day was clear and beautiful, with especially fine views of the L.A. basin and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Having a pro along to capture everything we did was fantastic. I think SierraDescents needs to get a professional cinematographer on staff ASAP! We spent the whole day up there, including staying for the sunset to catch shots of us skiing off toward the lights of the city below. Super cool!
Posted in Skiing | 5 Comments
I first saw it in January 2008. My friend Bill Henry and I were climbing Mount Baden-Powell for a modest day tour in Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains. As we stood atop Baden-Powell and looked across the deep chasm to our south, we noticed a pencil-thin couloir shooting down an unknown peak several miles away. The line looked steep, remote, and desperate—maybe skiable, maybe not…(more)
Posted in Skiing | 19 Comments
Maybe one of the things to remember about an El Nino year is that the storms love to ambush the Southland. I don’t think anyone was expecting the rain intensity we saw Friday through Saturday morning. I certainly wasn’t. Saturday I drove to Palm Springs, figuring the tram would get me to snow with the least amount of winter driving. That was true in only the most technical sense: the drive itself (more…)
Posted in Skiing | 12 Comments
Local climber and so-so skier Hamik Mukelyan is organizing an informal ski mountaineering race Sunday, February 21 (weather-depending), at Mount Baldy’s southeast bowl. Meet time is 10 a.m. at the ski hut. Course details are slim, but the route will be marked with wands, and Hamik expects 10-15 competitors. No sign up necessary: just appear on time at the hut, and you’re in. Prizes are limited to the personal satisfaction of crushing your competitors, or whatever other metric you choose. This sounds like a lot of a fun. I’ll be away on ski safari that week, but otherwise I’d definitely give it a go…though my current toddler-based training regimen leaves something to be desired.
Posted in Events, Skiing | 0 Comments
Back home in California now and watching these upcoming storms to see what develops. Here’s video of my day skiing the Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff, Arizona—the mountain, for all practical purposes, where I grew up and learned to ski. I still love skiing the Snowbowl, and conditions were excellent, if a bit chilly. The day started out around six degrees F.
This video probably isn’t exactly scintillating, I know, but I’m continuing to play around with my two HD cams and trying to figure out how to cut together good ski footage. So, these are kind of little training flicks for me. At some point I’ll probably do reviews of all the video gear I’m using, including my much hated but also indefensible indispensable Sony Vegas software. This time I was skiing with my Canon Vixia HF200. Image quality remains stunning with the 1080i Vixia, though it unfortunately only records interlaced video, which means we lose resolution when we create a progressive mp4 for the internet (this clip is mixed down to 720p).
The blue-jacketed skier is my brother, employing his typical bullish form. Red jacket is my dad. I asked him to get some shots of me skiing, but he ended up filming the sky for five minutes. Just a reminder that it’s always a good idea to befriend a photographer.
As you see above, I was actually doing some hand-held shots to emulate helmet cam footage. This was of mixed success. Following my dad and snowplowing slowly, for example, you can see that I’m doing a reasonably good job of getting a stable image. But as soon as I point the boards downhill and start turning, the picture jumps around. Exposure all in all is pretty good here. I am using Vegas to tweak the levels in real time, which is a slow process, but that way the snow stays white rather than gray when it dominates the frame. I may try setting a fixed exposure next time to see if I can get away with that approach. Anyhow, comments are welcome on all this.