Monday, March 31, 2008

Sage Cattabriga-Alosa checks in from Alaska athlete Sage Cattabriga-Alosa checks in from AK

It felt great after warming up for a day, to get out with the TGR crew here in Haines. Conditions couldn't be more perfect and the crew is charging. Dana Flair, Erik Roner, and Seth Morrison are my fellow riders. The production crew consists of Todd Jones and Josh Nielson from TGR, and photographers Chris Bezamat, and Flip McCririck. A full day left us tired, stoked and ready for more. When the snow is stable, deep, and the weather is nice its time to ride.
Alaska face
First thing in the morning we spotted this zone, our process is usally to post up at the bottom of the run or on a apposing angle so we can scope the zone and decide on what lines we want to ride. The digital camera is a critical tool in this process, with this info on hand we cross refernce our lines, hazards, and islands of safety once we are on the top.


This is the view from the top. Its always nice when you can look right down the line like this, you can see most of the run aside from the exit so now we use the camera to double check the route out the bottom that will best avoid the shrunds (cracks in the glacier below).


love the track photos!


Morrison throwing a big front flip.

Production crew Josh and Bez


Steping up to some bigger lines


The amazing views never let up! This is on the way back to the airport staging area. Haines sits just to the left of these tributairies.

For more amazing stories from Sage check out his blog


Taos Opens to Snowboarders

Jeb hiking Kachina PeakThey said it would never happen. Skiers thought they would always have Taos Ski Valley to themselves, but on March 19th, 2008, Taos opened permanently to snowboarding.  I headed home to see a bit of the action first hand, and to discover if pigs really do fly.

As a frequent snowboarder, I can remember wishing Taos would open to snowboarding and ditch the exclusive attitude fostered by many of its locals. Having to travel to other resorts when NM's premier resort was in my backyard just seemed like cruel punishment for wanting to shred pow on one stick. 

Ironically though, I packed my skis for this trip. How contrarian of me, I know, but on nail-biting, steep hard-pack where Cadillac-sized bumps quietly wait to throw the unsuspecting tourist, it just makes more sense to have four edges at your disposal than two, n'est pas? 

Burton and Forum set up demo booths at the base, and an air of camaraderie and liberation filtered through TSV. Timbuk2's Ryan H. and I hiked Kachina Peak (12,481'), chatted up some stoked rider chicks (who consequently went careening down Main Street on their butts), and tried to keep up with local stud Fred F. on the groomers. My liftee friend Dennis asked, "Why aren't you snowboarding bro?" "Well..." I paused, "It's Taos." Respect to the Blake family for taking the plunge.

Labels: , , ,


Monday, March 24, 2008

Drew Tabke takes second in World Freeride Finale ski athlete Drew Tabke unleashed on the Euro's at the Nissan Freeride World Tour 2008 finale recently held in Verbier, Switzerland to take home second place. The terrain in Verbier looks a notch above that what the kids at Snowbird were skiing for the US Nationals.

Check out his final run in the video below. (He's got the blue pants) I still don't know how he held that 360 together to land it. Might be the most unintentially tweaked out fugly 360 I've ever seen landed. A true testament to his athletic ability to pull that one off.

Congrats Drew!



Friday, March 21, 2008

Subaru US Freeskiing Nationals - LIVE

It's come down to this. The Subaru US Freeskiing Nationals at Snowbird Resort here in Utah. It's the premier event in a series of freeskiing comps from locations like Telluride, Squaw Valley, and Jackson Hole. is a proud to be a sponsor for the event and have teamed up with the Subaru US Freeskiing Series to get a live feed to the event. Keep the event up while you "work" your Friday away.

Watch it here LIVE today and tomorrow with the main event today and the finals tomorrow. If you missed the live shows you can check out the skiing action on the US Freeskiing site.



Homefront Exploration - Logan Canyon Yurt Trip

Well, I finally have some time off. Not much, just 9 days, but man does it feel good not to be guiding for a few days. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my job, you see what I get up to! But 33 days in a row is alot of work, even if it is my dream job. I think I tallied something close to 200,000' vertical feet in that stint of works-that's a lot of steeps, glades, bowls, pow and chutes so I am definitely not complaining!

I came home to Jasmin (my wife) who I have been missing lots lately...hopefully she will just be my assistant guide next season, so we won't be apart too much. My first day off I spent watching her take second in the Powderkeg Ski Race, way to go! (you can track her adventures at!) My other week off treat was getting really sick. Funny how I have seen every sickness come in from all corners of the continent with each new week of guests at Valhalla Mountain Touring and my body holds on to its health until it knows it doesn't have to anymore. Work is done? Okay, lets get sick!

So I fought the sickness and went ahead with our planned 3 day yurt trip up to the Blind Hollow Yurt near Logan Canyon, UT. Tommy from organized the trip to get some photos to work with, and just to get far away from his desk for a few days of 'field' work. We scored it just right with 3 days of cold smoke and Tommy got some killer shots, as you will see at the end of the post. If anyone in the Northern Utah area is looking for some great skiing, with no one around close to home, check out the Blind Hollow Yurt, run by Utah State. A quick 2 hour drive from SLC and you are in your own little powder oasis!

Enjoy the shots, courtesy of Tommy Chandler, and go get some adventure close to home!

The Blind Hollow Yurt

Terrain out the backdoor!

Quality snow-quality skiing.

Jasmin tracks down some untracked

More quality terrain and snow

Jenga, the ultimate in Yurt recreation!

A few Pillow on the way home

And remember if you are really trying to kill some time at work, you can keep track of the rest of my adventures at

Labels: , ,


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gnardonculous? Just Another Addictionary Werd

It's a skier thing. Just like the video that Kim posted last week of the guy thinking on the chair lift, unless you're in the ski world you may not know why it is we make up words for things like "Skiing Powder" which I often refer to as "shralping the sicky pow-pow". Then again, I'm not really sure why it is.

Anyway, to fuel the fire Ski Utah and Winter at Westminster hosted a contest for new "werds" on the Addictionary site (it’s an online dictionary of made up “werds” - you know, like the words you used to make up with your bro/brahs but never wrote down).

Skiers and swowboarders came out of the woodwork and from all over the country to submit their werds. Hundreds of new werds for the “one werd to rule them all” category poured in and another stack of werds for the lingo category piled up like the snow at Alta.

The winners:

Snowriding (n) A new winter recreation industry term describing the act
of either snowboarding or snow skiing down a slope.

Snowriding, the grand prize winner and the new werd for “skiing and snowboarding,” was submitted by: Roberta Stjernholm of Lakewood, Colo. She won a week long trip to snowride in Utah. (Am I the only one that sees the irony in this?) Perhaps after checking out how easy it is to get to the resorts from Salt Lake City versus running the I-70 ultra-marathon from Denver she’ll move to Utah.

gnardonculous: (a) gnarulous and ridonculous. The definition of this winning werd actually consists of made-up werds. So to clarify,
gnardonculous is an appropriate synonym for such go-to adjectives as: gnarly, sick, rad and/or ridiculous.

Submitted by Andrew Howard Johnson of Stamford, Connecticut, this new snowriding lingo werd took home the prize of 2 lift tickets to The Canyons Resort and 10 shirts featuring the new werd.

I’d definitely wear a tee shirt with the word Gnardonculous on it. should make Andrew a little deal for the next T-Shirt of the Month project.

Check out the other new werds from the contest on the Addictionary site.

Labels: ,


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hell Froze Over Today

Taos Opens to SnowboardingJust in case you didn't realize it, Hell froze over today. That is, Taos is now open for skiers and snowboarders starting today. Taos founder Ernie Blake was once referenced as saying that the day Taos allows snowboarding would be "when hell freezes over".

Perhaps now they'll change the name on the website from SkiTaos to just Taos. Despite that little omission they've been doing a lot of work in preparation for this day. They added a Snowboard section to the Taos website along with Snowboard School info for those skiers, like the guy in the video below, who may want to expand their mountain experience and learn a new skill.

Yesterday a pile of skier gathered to bid adieu to their skiing only ways. I think the guy who says the mountain is "too narrow, too steep" in this video sounds like a tool.

Then there was this guy whose picture was on the Taos website and likely around the web by now. This image is strong! That's core, no matter how you slide on snow.

Labels: ,


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Camp, Hike, Backpack Theme Day on SAC

My kids have theme days at school. Green day, crazy hair day (their favorite), different shoe day, hat day, pajama day, anything the principal can come up with day.

In keeping with my kids school of regular theme days, tomorrow is another theme day from the kids over there at (They actually occupy a few desks in the corner so they aren't that far away).

The theme is Camp Hike Backpack. You know the drill: 24 Hours of Backpacking and Hiking Deals so good you'll have no reason why at the end of Wednesday you're not geared up for summer adventure.

Want to know how long 24 hours is. Last weekend it took me and a few crazy friends 23 hours to go from Badwater, Death Valley at -248' below sea level to the top of Telescope Peak at 11,049' in order to ski down it. We covered over 18 miles one way and thanks to some poor beta on the location of a flowing stream we added a few more thousand feet to the adventure, coming up with just over 13,000' gained when we hit the summit. It was a sufferfest.

(That shirt was a SAC score)

I have a feeling watching 24 hours of SAC deals will be much more enjoyable and painless no matter how much you light up your credit card.

Go ahead, take the day off. Kick back with a cool frosty beverage and nab yourself a pile of camp, hike and backpack deals. You've got my permission.

If you can't take the day off get yourself one of the desktop alerts set up so you don't miss a deal.



VIO POV video with Sage Cattabriga-Alosa

The VIO POV.1 video camera on sale at Backcountry.comdesire for helmet and POV (point of view) video footage has gone through the roof lately. Just about every action sports video including mountain bike, mbx, skateboard, ski, kite-boarding, and others include some sort of POV footage that puts you and me in the cockpit.

Of all the cameras out there the V.I.O. POV.1 Camera Package is the mac-daddy. It shoots at a 720 x 480 resolution at 30fps. teamed up with V.I.O. and Teton Gravity Research to put together a quick little sampler that shows Athlete Sage Cattabriga-Alosa ripping big lines in Alaska with the POV. Check it out.

Sage wrote the following gear review for the V.I.O POV.1:

I've been using this pov set up for a while now and I love it, its easy to use, waterproof, durable and captures your unique perspective. It uses AA batteries and I found that re-chargeable last way longer and you don't have to throw anything away. the quality is better than ever and the wireless remote is super handy and easy to use. I carry the unit in my pocket so a back pack isn't necessary all the time. 2 gig card gives you 90min of rec time which Ive yet to max out in a big day.

Check out Sage using the V.I.O. POV.1 while riding his mountain bike this past fall. Just as impressive...if not more. You decide.



Monday, March 17, 2008

Chris Davenport Launches a 14'ers Forum

Chris Davenport, a new member of the athlete team and most recently known for his accomplishment of skiing all 54 of Colorado's peaks that are over 14,000' in one calendar year, launched a forum this past week called It's purpose is that it will become a repository for ski accomplishments and beta on the 14'ers of Colorado.

Although the site shares info from his original site where he kept track of the peaks skied during his quest, the two sites are independent of each other and not linked back and forth.

I'm reminded of a time 2 years ago when Davenport had just skied the Landry Line on Pyramid Peak and there was some purported controversy after other skiers repeated the line the following week. After a fair amount of armchair quarterbacking on various forums like TGR he said something to the point that there is enough good climbing and skiing in Colorado for a lifetime of skiers to get after so people should stop bitching and celebrate the accomplishments of others and share information about skiing these great peaks.

I was impressed by that statement in lieu of the uproar and so it doesn't surprise me that he's launched this site. Like other forums it's going to take time and acceptance for others to participate.

If you've tagged some of the 14'ers recently I'd hope you'll log in and post a trip report.

Each Range has it's sub-forum with each of the 54 peaks having dedicated forums for threads about that specific peak.

For now it's mostly a re-purposing of Chris' original trip reports. Like for example this original post on about Snowmass and this sub category for Snowmass where the first post is Chris' report without as many photos.

--photos from

Labels: , ,


Friday, March 14, 2008


A short piece by former Telluride local, filmmaker TM Faversham.

For the skiing enthusiast...

“Solilochairliftquist” on youtube.



Thursday, March 13, 2008

Backcountry employee rockin' out sweet pics

Our very own Re Wikstrom in our photo department killed it this last week in the Ski Salt Lake SHOOTOUT. Re won 1st place in the Mountain Lifestyle category and was awarded $1,000 for her awesomeness. The contest had 7 photographers who specialize in photos you have probably seen in your ski mag on your coffee table. The shooting took place from March 3-7th and Re had actually just started shooting with her athlete, Pip Hunt, a week before the contest.

Re said the contest was "really an amazing opportunity to be shooting with such well known photographers."

Photo: Re Wikstrom/Athlete: Pip Hunt

The picture really sums up a great ski day; sunset, bluebird, clacking your heels while balancing skis and poles. Great job Re, way to go!

Photo: Bryan Ralph/Skier: Sage Cattabriga-Alosa

Also our athlete Sage Cattabriga-Alosa was shown in the first place photo for Air shot by Bryan Ralph. It looks like he has those ski rockets from that movie Ski Patrol, classic.

Labels: , ,


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Iditarod 2008 Dog Sled Race - Part 1

This post is from Joe Runyan, sponsored athlete.

Rachael Scdoris and I are training our teams of sled dogs and preparing sleds and gear for Iditarod 2008. Although I have known Rachael’s father for years and met Rachael when she was three months old, how it happened that Rachael, age 22, and I, age 59, are entering as two teams that will travel together is one of those chance convergences on the trail of life that deserves an explanation.

Rachael is legally blind, the result of a rare genetic circumstance that leaves her color blind and severely limited in most light conditions. On snow in bright sun, her vision is a total wash and she wears very dark glasses to avoid severe headaches. I don’t know all the exact details but I do know from being with her that things getter better in the low light of early morning and evening where she is aware of forms or points of light from a bright moon or a headlamp. For sure, she can not see a fork in the trail on snow covered tundra or discern the trail in a blowing snow storm. That’s where I serve some kind of purpose as her trail partner and “visual guide” for the 2008 Iditarod.

At any rate, after a philosophical battle with a number of sled dog race entities, including the Iditarod, she was able to persuade organizers that she could finish the trail and take more than adequately take care of the dogs, a major concern of critics who doubted her competency. On her eighteenth birthday she began entering three to four hundred mile events that would qualify her to run the Iditarod. Her only request was that she be allowed to have someone on a snowmachine travel ahead on the trail to advise her of really dicey trail situations. Other than that, she was quite prepared to take care of the dogs, drive the team she had trained, and execute all the animal husbandry chores it takes to maintain a team of sixteen sled dogs. She quickly satisfied Iditarod requirements by finishing two qualifier events and gaining recommendations from the race organizers.

After considerable wrangling, some of it very boring, and enduring some outrageous and pathetic commentaries in the Alaska press which questioned her ability to travel the Iditarod trail with a severe sight disability, Rachael received the go-ahead from the Iditarod Trail Board of Directors in 2005. Iditarod allowed her the accommodation of a “sight guide,” but specified that she had to complete the race like any other musher without any outside assistance. The “sight guide” would be another team and musher traveling with Rachael and her team. Rachael of course accepted. The deal was fair enough.

Rachael entered the 2005 Iditarod, made it over the Alaska Range---the toughest part of the trail---but scratched at about mile 600 on the 1100 mile trail with a team of sick sled dogs. Learning from this experience, she entered again with Timmy Osmar, a top Iditarod competitor, as her “sight guide” and finished the 2006 Iditarod.

I should mention that she is in awesome physical shape, works out big-time with weights and running, is a master of training sled dogs, and definitely understands the simple concept of work. She and her father, Jerry Scdoris, operate a sled dog concession at the Mt. Bachelor ski resort in Bend, Oregon, and maintain a kennel of 100 sled dogs. She is the real deal.

To track Rachel and Joe's progress, check out the Iditarod site.
Right now Rachel and Joe are in 63rd out of 83 still in the race, pretty awesome tracking system!

Labels: , ,


Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Typical Week in British Columbia Powder Paradise

Last time I checked in, I was recollecting the previous high pressure cycle in BC, and how it was ending with some storms which were creating a sensitive snow pack. The last week has brought some great weather and skiing thanks to last Monday's 40-50cm of cold smoke. I couldn't believe it on the first run Monday, when I dropped in to some incredibly fast deep powder, choking on snow flakes every turn.

Needless to say, the avalanche danger was High that day and has stayed heightened for quite a few days. Lucky for us at Valhalla Mountain Touring there are tons of 1000-1500 vertical foot gladed shots right out our door. We spent Monday and Tuesday skiing lap after lap of deep fast snow, smiling all the way, and dropping into the lodge for a hot drink and soup every now and again.

Wednesday dawned clear, with beautiful fresh snow every where, and tons of fresh avalanche debris on the usual suspect slopes. No need for rocket scientists when the snowpack is like this-we just tracked down safe terrain, keeping our slope angles mellow in the big wide open spaces, our tracks away from big scary slopes and ripped around the steep trees. Lucky for me, I have about 25 square miles of terrain to find the perfect places to go no matter what the weather and snow. As you can see here, we took advantage of the blue bird days to sneak in and around the big alpine terrain of Shannon Lake:

We finished off the week exploring the amazing powder in the alpine areas, having a blast, and skiing fresh tracks everyday. The week even ended last night with a little bit of a show from Mother Nature...the first appearance of the Norther Lights for the season. At 9pm, after another great meal, we all stood around staring at the waves of green in the night sky, tired and happy from another great week in this British Columbia Powder Paradise.

This week I am going to expound on one of my new theories...consuming one calorie for every vertical foot skied!

You can read about the rest of my adventures at:

Labels: , , ,


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Greg Hill's Longest Run

OK, so stating absolutes like "THE Longest Run" may get me in trouble with the nit-picky crowd but I was checking out Greg Hill's blog today where he posted the video below recounting his 7700' ski run off of Hat Peak in the Monashee Range of Canada. While it's not the longest run in the world, it's longer than anything I've ever skied continuously, by nearly 2000', and certainly a feather in your cap. Check it out:

After poking around Greg's blog it's easy to see that this guy is getting after it in a big way but the cool thing is that he's not tooting his horn. Just sharing stoke and seems happy to be out playing in the mountains. He recently posted about ski guiding a group of older skiers whose average age was 62 with the oldest guy being 71. In that post he said:
I would like to ski till I am eighty. To be that old skier who constantly rambles to young kids about how it used to be around here before the ski hill. How Roger's pass was once a quiet solo place.

Reading that reminded me of a guy from Park City that I recently blogged about who for his 60th birthday set out to ski 60K vertical in one day and ended up blowing it away by finishing with just over 84,000'.

So while skiing a run of 7700' is definitely a long one, perhaps Greg's longest run ever will be to ski until he's 80. I hope he, as well as myself, make it that long.

--Check out Greg Hill's blog - it's going into my RSS reader.

Labels: ,


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Treasure Mountain Hut

The Treasure Mountain Hut, reached via a paved to dirt road outside of Silverton, CO, is an exquisite spot from which to explore the mountains of Southwestern ColoradTreasure Mountain Huto.
Treasure Mountain Hut
Starting from Eureka, the approach is a straight forward 5 mile skin, most of which is a slightly uphill traverse until the last vertical gain up to the hut. The views are jaw-dropping, and the journey to the cabin is a beautiful 2.5+ hour excursion. At about 11,800ft, the hut sleeps roughly 13 people and has most basic amenities to accommodate your party. The Skin into the Hut
The Outhouse
Owner Stan Prichard guided us in on Monday. Prichard is a long-time guide for Silverton Mtn and undertook this hut venture with fellow investors and friends- Blair Clark and Max Wanatka. The fellas built the hut themselves (but also with help from many others) and have spent quite a bit of time exploring the vast region that surrounds their property. They own 10 acres, which serves Drew & Ximena on Ridgetopas a jumping off point to thousands of more.

Prichard, a college buddy of one of our group members- Winslow Scott, is a world-class kayaker, but embodies the best of both water worlds. He effortlessly guides our large group around his backyard, finding us powder off of beautiful ridges and through steep trees. His laughter and humor are contagious, with his love of the mountains spilling through every chuckle and quick witted comment. His only request of all of us is that we have a good time.

View from hutView from hut

The hut has two levels, with a small climbing wall on the upper floor. The guys also built both a sauna and outhouse to accommodate other needs. With a stove, general kitchen supplies, a few sleeping bags, beds/futons, med kit, and even slippers, we all had the simple task of carrying in only our food and beverages.

Hanging in the hut

View from hut

The hut is available for rental in both summer and winter.

Owners & Contact Info:

Blair Clark/Stan Prichard/Max Wanatka

Phone: 970-387-5471
P.O. Box 429 Silverton, CO 81433

Labels: ,


Monday, March 03, 2008

Fresh Spring Corn - T-Shirt of the Month

After starting things up in February with the Avalauncher T Shirt's T-Shirt of the month series keeps rolling along with the March offering showing off the "Fresh Spring Corn" theme.

Although, I think it is one if not two months early with the spring corn them. I mean, I skied nearly 2000' of untracked powder today on a south facing slope at noon. Not quite corn season yet.

Am I the only one that thinks they should have put a yellow sun coming up over the mountains showing cause that mountain looks cold and wintry? Alas, they didn't ask me for design input cause after all I'm just the blog guy.

Ok Ok, I'll chill out on the design. It's cool and says "I'm a skier" to anyone else who gets it. As usual it's a 100% organic shirt and like February's shirt this one is just for the guys. Good thing isn't a university or we'd be getting slapped with some serious Title IX action. Dodged the bullet once again.



Do You Have a Werd for Skiing and Snowboarding?

When it comes to snow related things, more if often better. 4 inches of powder or 14? 1000' vertical feet or 3000' vertical feet? Other times less is better. Addictionary - make up and submit your favorite werds

To that end Ski Utah along with the Winter at Westminster program is about to finish up a contest they are sponsoring with the Addictionary. Addictionary is an interactive dictionary where you can add "werds" (that's what they call them) with meanings that you come up with. This werd contest's goal is to come up with the best "werd" to describe skiing and snowboarding. See, the trouble is whenever you are writing or talking about the act of sliding on snow it requires 3 words. More is not always better and in this case having one word to cover both worlds of sliding on snow would be ideal.

Tomorrow is the last day of the contest to name the best word for Skiing and Snowboarding. If you come up with the winning "werd" you'll win a trip for two to ski in Utah next month. Not too shaby.

So if you've got a werd that you use to describe sliding on snow it could land you in Utah next month to ski the greatest snow on earth.

Check out the contest
along with the prizes.

Labels: ,


Sunday, March 02, 2008

All Good Things Come to an End...or at Least Change!

The 9 days of high pressure in the Selkirks have come to an end. But one thing is for sure, we made the most of it up here at Valhalla Mountain Touring. Our last day of guiding with the good weather and stable snow led us to the first guided descents of some rowdy lines in the lodge's backyard. Two lines in particular were only skied for the first time just 3 years ago. Both lines start right off the summit of Ruby Peak, one of our closest ski objectives. One is a 40-45 degree north facing chute named Lily's Line because we skied the first descent with our dog Lily-she loves the steep and deep! The other is a 45 degree face of stunted trees and AK style runnels, called Whit's Wet Dream, because the when Whit did the first descent with us, he broke his ever present unemotional monotone behavior with shouts of joy because the line was so good! Both lines run for a steep 1,000 vertical feet. Guiding, let alone skiing objectives like these are all about patience, weather, abilities and timing all syncing with one another, and last week that happened. Jonny (my assistant guide for a few weeks) and I set us up, ski cut some scary features and let some of our guests rip on down these classic lines. The light was a little flat, but you can still get a bit of appreciation for it in the video clip...

But as the title of this blog suggests, big line and exploration time is closing down on us...because a big high pressure system creates a big persistent weak layer.

Throughout British Columbia, and many places in the mountain west for that matter, the snow surface has been weakening with the clear weather. Without getting too snow geeky on you all, basically the clear nights cause moisture deposits on the snow surface-surface hoar (feathery crystals in the photo), and in higher elevations recrystalize the surface snow to be a more poorly bonded sugary grains. As soon as it starts to snow, the layer is buried and protected, and acts as the future weak layer for avalanches to fail on. Right now that weak layer has 30cm of snow on top of it, with a few natural avalanches occurring the other day. Tomorrow's forecast calls for another 15-25cm of snow, so it will start to get spooky in avalanche terrain.

Fortunately for us, our backyard is loaded with steep, treed, avalanche safe terrain. We won't be skiing the big lines, but picking the small ones through the timber, as the white stuff piles up deep and builds to face shot depth. All good things...sometimes change into other good things!