Wednesday, February 28, 2007

All We Need is Love in the Backcountry

At the end of the day, or the beginning if you prefer to ski powder during the wee hours of the morning, backcountry skiing is about getting up so you can enjoy the down. Although images of "the masses" from the land beyond the lifts would tell another story, the backcountry skiing community is a small one. Too small in fact for the dividing asunder and the "he said she said" that seems to be going on. But the waters have been stirred and are now muddy.

From's recent article comes this rhetoric:
This "Battle of the Titans" is a war for the hearts and minds of a future generation of telemark skiers yet to discover the sport. Viewed as such, it becomes a little less threatening and far more fun to follow along. Indeed, most of us had no idea it had already begun, but as can be seen from the narrative above, the battle has been underway for many months, perhaps even years.
Mike Geraci at Base Camp Communications offers an olive branch on behalf of Scarpa to the Telemark world. Why is an olive branch needed? I think it's a "better now than later" and to draw a line in the sand. Speculation by the masses will only lead to confusion and yes, more speculation.

By now you may be wondering what exactly I'm talking about and who exactly cares. It's the Black Diamond v. Scarpa v. Garmont v. Rotefella v...blah, blah, blah and well, apparently some people care, myself not included.

I love Black Diamond. I use their gloves, the Avalung, the Slide Pack, a ratty beanie, a couple of tee shirts, their Flick-Lock Carbon Fiber poles, their probe pole. I'm a regular BD die hard.

I also love Scarpa boots. The Scarpa Spirit 3 is my new love after having owned and skied the Matrix (light and fast), Denali (original red), Denali XT (smurf blue), and the Denali TT (red again).

But then again as you can tell from the link, I fixed the heel and fixed the problem long ago. How's that for love?

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Rest Day

In the spring of 2007, I quit desk job and set out on a climbing road trip. This a post from my blog: "Wow, we're really up here" which covers everything that happened after that.

Like any major change in lifestyle, it takes a while to adapt to life as a full-time climber. As my mind starts to unwind a little bit, it's surprising to see how twisted up it had become running the the rat race of the "real world."

Life can get pretty crazy. When I'm working full time, and trying to stay active as a climber or skier, I'm pretty much firing on all cylinders, all the time. As soon as I leave my desk, I'm usually off to the crag or the gym. Or I'm cutting hours of sleep to squeeze in a few laps in the backcountry before work. Weekends are even worse - How fast can we get to Zion? How many pitches can we do this weekend? Why can't these guys in front of us hurry up, don't they know we only have 19 hours before we have to be back at work?

And in the spare moments when I'm not working, or climbing, or driving to one or the other, those random moments of silence through the day, by comparison, seem empty. The silence seems louder than a car dealership commercial. So I fill it with TV, radio, iPod, computer, cell phone, anything. So long as it's not silence. If I'm not constantly stimulated and entertained, I'm bored.

Which bring me back to today. Today, I'm finally reaching a point where the silence is tolerable again. I took a hike in Arches. I made a few turkey sandwiches. I sat outside for a little while and watched Nick work on a home made bike trailer he's building. I can feel the shift starting to happen in my thinking.

Nick working on his project.

It's a rest day, and I'm finally able to start enjoying a little silence.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Grand Teton President's Day Weekend Trip

After getting back from my early January trip to Alta with my dad, I kept waiting for it to start snowing in California. When the snow never came, I kept canceling ski trips and had almost given up on their being a California ski season this year. I signed up for my first triathlon of the season (Wildflower Olympic) a few weeks ago and had almost shifted priorities to training for that. Luckily my buddy John asked me to join him on a president's day weekend backcountry trip in Grand Teton National Park and my priorities are back where they should be.

I flew into Salt Lake last Friday afternoon. After spending the day skiing at Alta, John picked me up and we started the drive up to Jackson. I was expecting that arriving without reservations on President's Day weekend, we'd have problems finding a room. I was wrong. The town was deserted. After staying in Hoback Junction the first night, we split our time in Jackson between the Motel Six (an unbeatable deal at $40 a night) and a friend's condo. The only downside to the Motel Six is that it doesn't have a hot tub.

We met up with the rest of the group at 7 AM by a trail head near Taggert Lake on Saturday. We started off by climbing up "25 Short" and then skinning over to 10696. Due to high winds and wind-packed snow, we didn't go any higher than ~10,300'. From there, we skied down the ridge to the top of Maverick's. Just as last year, the first turns of the year in my AT boots had me wondering how I could ever ski in something so soft. But the wind-packed snow of 10696 eventually turned to soft powder when we got over to the tree protected east/northeast face of Maverick's. We had a beautiful run (2500' vertical) with 6-8" of powder on moderately pitched terrain through a mixture of trees and open fields. By the time I was a quarter of the way down, I once again had gotten used to my AT boots (Garmont G-Rides) and enjoyed every turn . The downside to skiing Maverick's from "25 Short" is that it requires an hour long skin out. We finished the day by enjoying a few pitchers of beer at Dornan's. If you're ever up that way, I highly recommend stopping there. The view of the Tetons (basically the same as the pic below) from the bar is absolutely stunning.
On Sunday, we decided to ski "Wimpy's", the next peak to the south of Maverick's. Initially, I was relieved to see that there was a skin track already put in. However, I was soon cursing Jim, the very old school owner of Norpine in San Diego, who insisted (when I bought my equipment last year) that I should just get straight skins. The skin track was obviously put in by people with fat skis and wall to wall carpet underneath. For every 2 feet that I went forward, it seemed like I'd slide back 1. (And that was after pushing as hard as I could with my arms to help keep from sliding back.) On the whole, the run down is a 2300' vertical mix of moderately pitched (25-35 degrees) trees and wide open meadows. For the first run, we skied down along the ridge to skier's left. If you go too far over, it gets pretty cliffy. The snow (6" mix of fluff and sunbaked slab on top of fluff) was decent on the first run. Right about the time we started skinning back up, it started snowing. By the time we started skiing down, there was a nice 3" of fresh snow. We skied more down the middle (to skier's right) this time and had a fantastic run. It seemed like every time we'd head into the trees it would open up to a sweet powder shot. The second run earned Wimpy's a big thumbs up. Another positive for Wimpy's is that you don't need skins for the ski out.
On Monday morning, we awoke to 5" of new snow (in the mountains..not in town) and set out to ski Albright...the next mountain south of Wimpy's. The access to Albright is the same (Death Canyon trailhead). When you hit the Valley trail, you stay on it past the turn off to the bottom of Wimpy's. We stayed on the trail until just before Phelps Lake when we started on our way up the south side of the ridge (still on the east facing part...just on the southernmost part of it) of Albright. It was a gorgeous day...sunny, low 30's, and 8-10" of soft snow. We topped out about 150' below the summit (~10,900')and ate a nice lunch while contemplating the untouched powder field awaiting us. I've said it before. But I'll say it again. One of the beauties of backcountry skiing vs. lift-serviced is that you can actually take the time to relax and enjoy the whole powder experience. For our first run, we had a beautiful 3300' vertical run sticking to the south side of the ridge (between our skin track and the main gully) through a mix of open meadows and thin glades. The snow was phenomenal. For our second run, we only went up about 2500' and then skied the same trees before finishing heading into the heart of the gulley about halfway down. The only trick to the gulley was to stick to the right side as the left (southeast facing) side was pretty baked. Towards the bottom, you need to head right to avoid a sizable (~20-30') cliff band.On Tuesday, it was just John and I. We headed back to ski Maverick's again. This time we approached it from the south using the same trailhead we used for Wimpy's and Albright. The only challenge was that the entire mountain was covered with dense clouds. So it made the whole process of actually finding the base of Maverick's from the Valley Trail a bit tricky. In the end we got lucky and guessed right. Besides lucking out in actually finding our way to the base of Maverick's, John and I also lucked out with the best skiing (by far) of the entire 4 days. Most of Maverick's was east/northeast facing (which meant it wasn't baked at all) and it didn't look like anyone had been there since it snowed on Sunday night. Due to the high winds, we only hiked up 1600'. But we did 3 full laps and got in my 3 best runs of the year. It was fairly steep (30-40 degrees) and full of surprises. You'd duck through a set of trees, catch air off of a lip and find yourself in a wide open meadow that was all yours to carve up.
Like all good things, our stay in Jackson had to come to an end. John and I drove back to Salt Lake on Tuesday night. But we got in a half day at Alta on Wednesday before John dropped me off at the airport. From the remnants of fluff we found at Alta, I can only imagine how great Monday must have been there.


Powder, Proposal Day at The Canyons

Utah is finally back in the snow business. The past couple of storms have delivered and this one that we're currently in delivered more than just a few powder day smiles for's Katie Gold.

True to form, Katie and her boyfriend Mike Sharp woke this morning and headed out to The Canyons to enjoy the 6-8" of new that was reported. But while Katie was thinking that this was a perfect powder day with a few Peak 5 laps, perhaps some Dreamscape trees and perhaps a lap on Condor, Mike was thinking that this would be the perfect proposal day. Well, with proposals on the mind there was only one spot at The Canyons that could be suitable - the top of 9990.Katie Gold and Mike Sharp starting things off right at The Canyons

So after a ride up Mike suggested a hike. "A hike today? There is untracked everywhere," were Katie's thoughts. But Mike, offering a couple of token "powder shots" lured Katie up the hike for the inbounds terrain that leads back down to the lift served area. When she got to the top, in the middle of a snow storm, Mike had the tripod set up for a "scenic photo". Sure, scenic photo in the white out? (Mother Nature doesn't always play nice)

Apprehensively Katie agreed, after all the scene was, not really there. Mike announced, "Ok, 10 seconds, just act natural" after which he walked over with skis on, bent his knee (good on ya to wear your tele set up Mike) and proposed to Katie as the camera caught the moment.

congratulations you two!

Photo - see Mike and Katie on The Canyons website today or in the image above.


Friday, February 16, 2007

On the road to Everest… the adventure begins…

Everest Prep
Sometimes in life the planets just seem to align. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way… like when you get to Delhi, India and the man who doesn't speak any English, other than 5 words required for his job, says "May I please see your visa" - what visa? This time, however, I did have a bit of good luck when a spot opened up on a spring Everest expedition with Adventure Consultants and my job was at a point where my business partner didn’t mind my extended absence.

Now, I first need to tell you that I’m not rich and I’m under no illusion that there is not a stereotype attached to those folks who attempt Everest with a commercially guided group. I am, however, a technically competent climber with some high altitude experience and a long standing desire to climb in the Himalayas. I have been climbing almost all my life on some level and, last November, my wife and I trekked to base camp and up Kala Pattar (18,500’) which rekindled my desire to participate in a season long expedition on an 8000m peak. Finally, the time has arrived. (I hope!)

With all the piggy banks broken and the IRA tapped, I’m now in the process of training for the trip and accumulating the equipment (thanks!) that I don’t have being more of a low-land climber here in Salt Lake. My plan is to post weekly updates on the preparation and, once the expedition begins, post as frequently as possible on the trek in and from base camp.

Hopefully, this will be a trip of a lifetime… wish me luck!


Thursday, February 15, 2007

My 24 hour fling with Hueco Tanks

So I was hanging out in Moab about three days ago, looking at the weather forecast. It was calling for rain and snow for the next two days. Someone I know was headed down to Hueco Tanks in El Paso, TX (once hailed as America's Bouldering mecca) for the week, and the weather looked great there. Since my current residence has wheels, I fired it up and rolled down.

I was a little concerned, just because my rotator cuffs in my shoulders have been giving me problems for the past few weeks. And bouldering can be very rough on your body – it's a good thing to avoid if you're trying to heal, for argument's sake, a pair of rotator cuffs. But I'd been doing some exercises for them, and icing every night, plus I'd been bouldering in the gym and they felt strong. What could go wrong?

The drive wasn't bad - it really helps to be able to sleep wherever you want. The van is working out great so far, it's currently winning the Gear of The Trip award. (The Carharts are in close second.)

When I got down to Hueco, I checked into the Hueco Rock Ranch, which is just a few miles outside the park. That place is pretty sweet - they've got camping, and a building to hang out in with a shower, wireless internet, a fusball table, and some couches. It's the perfect spot to chill on a bad weather day. Outside they have another little building where everyone stores their food and does their cooking. Fantastic setup, wish I could have stayed longer...

The climbing access in Hueco is kinda weird - it used to be an open door policy, but back in 1998 they restricted it due to environmental impact. Of the four main climbing areas, only one remains open to the public. You can only climb in the other tree with a guide, who you hire for the day. So these days, in order to climb, you must either:

  • Have reservations
  • Be one of the first ten people in line in the morning to walk-in
  • Take a commercial "guided tour" for $20
  • Show up at noon, when they let in whoever's standing around, in place of anyone who had a reservation, but didn't show.

Confused yet? Yeah, me too. And of course the reservations were all booked through the end of the month. Basically the beta is this: show up at the gate in the morning. If that doesn't work, go back at noon. You'll probably get in.

Luckily, I got in on my first day. They made all us first-timers sit through a little orientation video, which talked about the environmental concerns in the area, as well as the acheological history. (Basically it was a popular spot in the desert back in the day, because water would gather in the big "Huecos" or pools in the rock, hence the name Hueco Tanks. ) After the video, they set us loose on the North Mountain area.

I met a guy named Corey in the orientation, so we headed out together. The park is a little confusing, cause there are boulders EVERYWHERE. Go figure. But we found some landmarks and managed to locate a good warm-up area. After a few problems, it became apparent that I am still not a very good boulderer. The grades at Hueco are stiff for sure, definitely not a place to go inflate your ego. I was feeling pretty challenged on the V2's.

The rock at Hueco is amazing. Everywhere you look, there are tons of problems. I probably climbed about 20 problems that first day, all of which I'd call good to excellent quality, and we didn't move more than 100 feet. It's unreal.

Most of my experience with bouldering has been a bit like this:

  1. Thrash through the woods for half an hour looking for some killer boulder a buddy told me about
  2. Give up on finding it
  3. Find some other boulder with two crappy problems and one that looks alright
  4. Realize I lost one of my shoes somewhere back in the scrub oak
  5. Try the problem anyway with only one shoe
  6. Cut myself on a sharp crimp and call it a day.
But things were to be different at Hueco. My day turned out more like this:
  1. Find some pretty sick problems
  2. Flail on some pretty sick problems three grades below where I thought I'd be cranking
  3. Randomly run into a buddy from SLC
  4. Try one last crimpy problem at the end of the day, and tweak the hell out of that rotator cuff in my shoulder.

Everything was going great until #4.

I limped back to the ranch to get an ice pack for my shoulder, and to go sulk in defeat. The sulking felt good, but the shoulder got worse. I braced to see just how bad it would get, and it looks like this is pretty much the worst I've ever tweaked it. It's my left shoulder, which is weird cause that one hasn't been a problem till now. I guess that's good news – my right shoulder must be healing nicely!

Since any more bouldering was absolutely out of the question, and there's nothing to do in El Paso besides boulder, I decided to leave. It was a fantastic 24 hour fling with Hueco Tanks, but it just wasn't meant to be. In my short time there I met some cool folks, and got some fun climbing in. And I have this swollen rotator cuff to remember it all by.

A Texas Sunset, as seen from the van.

So right now I'm back in Moab, taking a few days rest with lots of icing and ibuprofen. Hopefully that'll get my shoulder back in shape, and I'll be able to trad climb again, which was what I was supposed to be doing anyway.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Canyoneering in... January?

Adventure Report: Adventure reporter Eric Godfrey gets more then he expected on a winter descent of some slot canyons in Southern Utah.

Four in the morning came much too quickly but my body swelled with excitement for what lay ahead. Our original group of seven had trimmed down to four and we were now on our way to canyon country for some winter slots. The four hour drive to North Wash, a wide desert canyon snaking its way to Lake Powell, went by quickly as some slept in the back of the vehicle and I entertained Reed, the driver, with conversation to make sure he stayed alert at such an early hour. Before long we were pulling into the trailhead for our first canyon of the day, Boss Hog, which we would soon find out was only a warm up for the adventure yet to come!

The temperatures in Salt Lake had been frigid so the highs in the upper thirties forecasted for the area we were now in sounded balmy compared to what we were dealing with back home. The outside temperature gauge in the X-terra, read eighteen degrees as the sun hid behind morning clouds. We stepped out to munch down some breakfast only to be greeted by a light breeze that chilled to the bones. We all looked at each other, hoping we made a wise decision to head down to Southern Utah in winter. I reassured myself that the weather will warm up and once we get moving our bodies will too.

After a quick breakfast we were off to the canyons head, magnificent views of miles and miles of desert were afforded us on the march in. Looking directly below us on our left a deep winding crack cut itself into the orange, solid sandstone. A feeling of excitement came over us at the thought of what lay ahead. A short cliff band separated the Carmel Formation we were walking on and the Navajo Sandstone containing the slot we wanted to descend. We soon found a break in the cliff and scrambled our way onto the rock of which we would become very intimate with for the next few hours.

The slot began as a shallow “V” in the rock, cut by accumulated rain water from the storms that reach the area, but soon started to deepen and head downward… steeply! The canyon consisted of constant downclimbing, (just like what rock climbers do, only we go down instead of up) squeezing, and stemming (placing your back on one wall and feet on the other then scooting sideways above the canyon bottom). It wasn’t long before we were scrambling through a beautifully crafted sculpture, carved by time and the raging waters that thunder through this slender space. A piece of webbing stuck out from under a rock used to anchor adventurous canyoneers using their ropes to assist them down this drop. The drop was short however and we felt we could use the foot and handholds on the way down to handle this drop without the rope. We assembled as a team offering outstretched hands for help from the top, and spots from the bottom to make sure everyone climbed down the drop safely. The dynamics of our group were extraordinary which would prove very useful later in the day.

The rest of the canyon was fantastic as it relentlessly dropped deeper and deeper through the sandstone. There were sections of slanted narrows where walking was… uncomfortable. There were extremely tight sections that we opted to stay high above, sometimes thirty or more feet from the bottom. The canyon was magnificent and the company, as good as anyone could ask for!

We exited the canyon to bursting sun rays and radiant blue skies, a big difference from the Hazy, frigid city we had come from. The canyon was challenging, but somewhat short so we still had plenty of time to climb the loose gulley back to the car, eat some lunch, and head to a second adventure.

As we congregated at our vehicle and fixed up our various lunches considering where to go next, the group looked to me to help decide how to maximize our time. I have done the most canyons in the area, and it was fairly new to the others so I had to make a decision. I offered a few suggestions and was asked what the best of the options were. Of our feasible options I offered up Trail Canyon as being the best… but we would probably run into a few unavoidable pools of water (remember this is January). The water was no more than about waist deep last time I descended the canyon, but you never know how full they could be this time.

Leaving rational thinking behind, we chose to do Trail Canyon. It was only a few miles from where we were and we decided to take our chances with the possible pools of water.



Sunday, February 11, 2007

Living in Style - climbing bum style.

I'm heading out on a six month climbing road trip, and I was looking for the perfect set-up. In 2004, I lived out of a Saturn for about five months. It wasn't that cool. For this trip, I decided I needed to roll in a little more style. I needed a van.

After watching craigslist and the local classifieds for a few weeks, the perfect van popped up. I called the number, and no joke, this is the story the guy told me:

"Yeah alright, the van. So it's parked on a vacant lot in Sandy. But it's not exactly vacant, cause it's my brother's, well the lot is, and the van is too, and he's letting a guy live there and do autobody work cause he's got medical problems. So you gotta go there. And the last guy that went there, the guy on the lot said the van was his, and he should pay him for it if we wanted to buy it. But that's not true, so don't pay that guy nothin, just get the keys from him and go take a test drive."

I hung up.

A week later, an even more perfect posting came along. A 1995 Ford E250. I knew that this was to be my ride.

The deal was dissapointingly un-sketchy, and next thing I knew I was rolling around in my new home.

But there was lots of work to be done. First to go in was the bed platform. Then some shelving, an end table, floor mats, some storage bins, a few hooks, an inverter, lots of bungee cords, and a trip to Cabella's for some other redneck camping essentials: propane heater, camping table, big ol water jug.

Big thanks to for hooking up some cool stickers, and kicking down some gear for my tavels.

Before and After photos, left and right.

This ride is now officially Pimped Out, and ready to live in for the next six months. I slept in it Saturday night, and the neighbors were only a little weirded out when I stepped out of it in the morning, yawning and stretching, as they were getting in the car headed to church. This is gonna be awesome.

Watch for more highlights of my trip on this blog, and check in on my blog for all the gritty details:


Friday, February 09, 2007

You're Biking Where? And How Far?

Long distance "ultra" bikers are a crazy lot. We've seen our fair share of them. Heck, we even help one out to keep the pedal crazed dream alive.

Somehow though, we can relate. After all, most of us at have a bit of ski bum, climbing skid, mountain junkie flowing in our veins and we know what it is to push the envelope a bit farther than the last guy.

But this guy, Mike Curiak, is pushing the envelope at least 1100 miles farther than the last guy and doing it solo and unsupported. Check out the Q/A with Mike on The Gear Junkie about his next challenge to ride the Iditarod Trail on his bike, by himself with no food drops.


A Walk In The Uinta Mountains

I really didn't feel like going skiing yesterday morning. But I did feel like going to the mountains.

Why did I feel like going to the mountains? It was a combination of a few things. Josh said he was feeling sluggish and needed some exercise. I hadn't been to the Uinta Mountains since New Year's Eve. But mostly I wanted to clear the mind.

Sadly, a co-worker chose to take her own life Tuesday night. I didn't know her too well but the impact of her passing has been felt throughout the company and in online communities that she and her husband were a part of. After hearing about this on Wednesday afternoon, one of my first thoughts was, "I need to go walk in the mountains." So that's what I did.

As Josh and I skinned up the moutain ridges, we spoke a little of the happenings of this week. But mostly we enjoyed the beautiful sunrise, the calm of the morning, talked about our own close relationships and our love of life. Skiing in the backcountry has always seemed to soothe the soul and despite the less than stellar conditions we found yesterday, the peaceful morning and vivid colors of the landscape provided the renewal I sought.

I can't really put my finger on what it is about the mountains that gives renewal to the soul that they do. Perhaps it's the solitude or the breaking down of protective layers that commonly surround us (no walls, no central heating, no paved roads, no air bags for safety - just just you and nature on Nature's terms). Perhaps it's the cold breeze across your face that stimulates the senses. I think the quiet has a lot to do with it, a lot.

Enjoy the slideshow. (click the play button)

RIP Brit.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Piton Productions - Legends of the Fall Line

One of the coolest things about my gig at (besides writing on this blog) is that I get to find opportunities within the mountain communities that we can embrace. One of those was a young film crew called Piton Productions who last year set out to tell the story of ski mountaineering history in the Tetons, the alps of the United States and the birth place of ski mountaineering in the US.

So we ponied up a bit of cash and helped push the dream along. Piton Productions recently finished this their first full length documentary entitled, Teton Skiing; Legends of the Fall Line and I've got to say that it is top notch. From their website:
The Tetons have a rich history in North American skiing and ski mountaineering. They have been an epicenter of activity for some of this countries finest alpinists and skiers.

Legends Of The Fall Line will explore the history of skiing in the Tetons from the early days of the pioneers, to the modern day ski mountaineers.
Check out the trailer: Click to download the Trailer

Want to see the film on the big screen?

The first public showing of this film will be on Thursday, February 8th.
Time: 7:30
Location: Brewvies, Salt Lake City, Utah

Proceeds from this showing will benefit the Utah Avalanche Center.

There will be other public showings in Jackson, Wyoming and likely Bozeman, Montana. Contact Piton Productions if you'd like to have a public showing in your town. will have the video for sale or you will be able to pick it up for free as a gift when you purchase select products from Cloudveil at Stay tuned.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cure the Backcountry Blues - Kick Some Cornice

I was certain it would snow while I was gone. Seems to be the case most of the time - I leave town and it snows. Sorry folks.

Well okay, it did snow but it was just a skiff of snow (3-6" at most) and what snow there was got blown around, exposing the bullet proof crusts that abound in the backcountry of Utah. If we're splitting hairs, it did snow but for most intents and purposes, it didn't. If you're like me, you're conjuring up images of Monty Python's Holy Grail..."either you're dead or your not dead"...I digress.

So what's a guy to do on a weekend in the Wasatch? Go for long walks and kick cornices. This photo and text comes from one of our blog readers:
Here's something to supplement your bad conditions post. We skinned for 6 hours on Sunday. The best time we had was kicking cornices. This cornice started and avalanched about 200 feet down the ridge.
But before you just head out into the backcountry to kick some cornice be sure to check your skill and technique with this Cornice Kicking Technique tutorial from Bruce Tremper of the Utah Avalanche Center.

Do you have a good story or picture of kicking cornices? Send them to horde @ backcountry . com and we'll publish them here.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007 Sells? Or is that Moosejaw? OR Rumors.

At the recent Outdoor Retailers Show (OR for the cool kids who acronym everything) some guy walked up to me at a party and said, "So, you guys sold?" Playing along, I said, "You bet, to some Texans. Everyone knows not to mess with Texas. We figured it would be a good mix". He replied, "Did you make out okay?" "Sure did, but I can't disclose the amount just yet". And so the rumor was spun.

Then I hear today that Moosejaw was bought by a private equity firm from, yep, you guessed it - Texas. Dallas to be specific. Mere circumstance? Unlikely.

Moosejaw will join the growing family of Parallel Investment Partners portfolio companies. Taking a look at the list of the folks at Parallel it appears that it's a good ol' boys club. Quite the contrast when you consider all the Moosejaw "mountain" chics that grace their website. Must be a selling thing.


Banff Mountain Film Festival - Still Stunning

You know that saying of (I'm paraphrasing here) "the more you come to know the more you realize how much you don't know"?

Each year that I attend the Banff Mountain Film Festival when the film tour passes through Salt Lake City, I watch images and adventures that make me realize how little I have seen and experienced. Truly there are limitless adventures and paths to pursue in the mountains and the mountain sports we enjoy.

If you're not familiar with Banff Film Festival, it is an annual presentation of short films and documentaries about mountain culture, sports and environment. It began in 1976 as The Banff Festival of Mountain Films hosted by the The Banff Centre.

The actual festival takes place in Banff, Alberta, Canada during the last week of October. The film festival goes on tour showing the best of Banff and has done so every year since 1986. Each tour stop is different as the venue chooses which films it wants to show. As of 2006, the tour visits 30 countries worldwide. Essentially, there is no excuse for missing out on one of the many tour stops.

Check out the Banff film tour stop nearest you. I can bet you'll come away with some new perspectives on adventures and issues happening in our mountain culture worldwide. I still remember a film from a couple of years ago of two guys who floated a river from it's beginnings high in Mongolia to it's end in the North Sea after cutting north through Siberia. What an amazing film that was, exposing me to cultures and conditions half way around the world. And it was just one of seven films I saw that night!

For a list of this years winning films check the Banff Mountain Festival site where they have short previews of each award winning film.

Check out the intro video. The first 2:45 is short takes while the rest is a composition of short takes and sponsor introductions.

Image credit Banff Centre


Monday, February 05, 2007

Change the Pole Length

Being addicted to bumps, I am always trying to find the best ways to not kill my legs at Solitude. It may be simple and pretty ridiculous, but I went 5cm shorter on my BD Traverse pole and it made a world of difference. The poles are great, Black Diamond paid a lot of attention to the details on the basket. They don't drag at all and are great for fast plants.

I should probably go down from a 182 Stinx to a 176 wider ski, but hey, I'm cheap. Enjoy the video! Still trying to get use to YouTube and ski filming.


Weekend In Ouray

Driving up Little Cottonwood every morning and seeing the groups out on our local ice climb, The Great White Icicle got me excited about taking that six hour drive with my wife, Molly, to the ice climbing mecca of Ouray. Molly in the park

Molly is an avid boulderer and sport climber but has never been ice climbing so she signed up for the two day beginners course with San Juan Mountain Guides. SJMG is based out of the Victorian Inn in the heart of Ouray and operated by head guide Clint Cook is one of the few American UIAGM/IFMGA certified guides.

On Saturday Molly’s group, which was a 2:1 ratio class led by guide Kevin Koprek spent the day learning the basics of ice gear, the proper technique for crampon and tool placement as well as the all important ‘triangle position’. The class then climbed in the South Park area of the incredible Ouray Ice Park. Clint rapping off Stairway To Heaven

I was fortunate enough to get paired up with Clint and, after a few warm up laps and pointers in the park, headed out in the backcountry for several routes including the Skylight and Slippery When Wet.

On Sunday, Molly’s group moved to steeper climbs in the New Funtier section of the Ouray Ice Park while Clint and I got an early start for the drive to Silverton and the classic Stairway to Heaven. After having heard and read about Stairway for years, it truly lived up to its reputation of a fun and exciting climb.

Stairway To Heaven

If you’re looking for a great introduction to ice climbing or just ticking some of the areas classics, look no further than a trip to Ouray with Clint and his crew at SJMG. The high degree of knowledge and professionalism on behalf of the entire SJMG team was impressive. We had such a great time that we’re already setting up our next trip!