Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Where's the Snorkel?

It might sound like a joke, but lately the snow has been coming in by the foot, not by inches. The storm hose is pointed right on British Columbia, and the cold smoke just keeps piling up at Valhalla Mountain Touring. We are in full swing here, with the 3rd straight week of operations, and this week has a bunch of friends from UT and CO up here to ski the pow. But instead of ranting and raving, and storytelling, I will let the pictures from the last 2 days do the talking.

Get up here! We still have some spaces for this winter!

All photos by backcountry.com's Tommy Chandler.

Me checking out the snow as the season starts, keeping it safe

Jasmin testing out the snow on yet another storm day.

Lindsay Yaw asks for the snorkel.

Me trying to get above the snow, but that is hard to do right now!

Jonn Webb taste testing the snow.

Labels: , , ,


Holiday Update from Don Bowie

Check out this rad Holiday update from Don, mid-climb as he sends out some Backcountry love...

Exclusive video for backcountry.com from Calpinist.com on Vimeo.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Don Bowie: 2008 Broad Peak Winter Expedition

Don Bowie and his team are attempting to be the first to summit Broad Peak in the Gasherbrun massif on the border of Pakistan and China. In spite of several attempts, none of Pakistan’s 8000ers have been summited in winter. He will be updating his blog regularly.

For updates, check out: http://calpinist.com.

Here's a vid from the first day at base camp:

First Day at Base Camp from Calpinist.com on Vimeo.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Skiing the Argentine/Chilean border

Well, after the volcanoes didn't go so swell, we headed toward Portillo and then on to Argentina to do some exploratory skiing . . . we didn't have much beta on the area, but it turns out we didn't need much - great roadside access and plenty to drool over :-)

Here's a slideshow from my favorite day - more can be seen on my blog!

Labels: ,


October turns from outside Santiago . . .

Well, I am super late in posting, but I figured the remainder of the South American adventure still belongs in blogland . . . so sorry if this gets in the way of current ski conditions, but enjoy the view anyhow!

For more of the story, check out my blog . . .


The Calm Before the Storm

Wyoming has been blessed with 5 feet of new snow this week, and everyone is in a powder frenzy due to the slow start to our season. Time to get out and get deep safely with all of your bros while mixing in face shots, but do so with caution.

Bridger-Teton National Avalanche forecasting center has been warning skiers and boarders about deep instabilities coupled with all of the new snow resting on top. It is time to practice those beacon skills and use good judgement while in the backcountry.  Don't forget to always carry a shovel, probe, and beacon while backcountry skiing. We have all season so take care.

Enjoy the photos from Togwotee Pass and Grand Teton National Park during the calm before the storm.

Grand Teton National Park before the five foot dump, and still super thin down low. Steve Romeo skins through sage and willows.
Higher elevations yielded the first official face shots of the season for Matt Lloyd.
Romeo surfing the BD MegaWatts.
So fresh and so clean! The beginning of the big Pacific front covering up tracks with 
each run.
Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season while getting in a face shot or two. 'Tis the season. 

Labels: , , ,


Saturday, December 27, 2008

East Coaster.

Oy! We got snow too! Last weekend the New England region experienced an epic dumping of gorgeous powder. Some places received as much as 42 inches…not too shabby for a December storm over here. Myself and 4 others spent the night of the storm on top of a peak in the Whites, and when we awoke the next morning we were well rewarded.

Here are a few shots of us enjoying the ride down:

Ben floating.
Rusty airing out the new Tele boards.

Labels: , ,


Friday, December 26, 2008


Date: December 9-24, 2008
Location: Snowbird, UT
Featuring: Me (Jake Kirshner), Daimon Bushi, Kyle Wehmanen

Low-Res Vimeo Version:

High-Res Version: http://www.jakecast.com/helmetcast/helmetCast11.m4v
(right-click > save target/link as...)

Tuesday was my perfect day. I had the biggest dumb grin on my face every turn and my teeth were all sparkly from all the snow hitting me in the face. This all occurred while the tram was closed too! Maybe there is life beyond the tram for me...


Labels: , , , , ,


Monday, December 22, 2008

Time to Unwind

Well school is officially out at the UofU, which means skiing is officially in! Time for deep pow and soft landings.

Here are some photos from some post-final celebrating.

I claim this fallen tree as my own!

My Favorite Landing Ever.

Allen gets his camouflage on.

Tommy struggles for air...and vision...

I'm in this photo.

I outrun my own powder wave.

Tommy cornering some snow-covered trees.

Allen tail taps some snow covered trees.

Now you see me!

Now you don't!

Can't. Wait. For. Tomorrow!

Labels: , , ,


Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Ice is coming in!

Down here in the south Wasatch, the ice is a bit late. But better late than never. Things are starting to get good!

Stairway to Heaven, Provo Canyon
Pitch 1


Pitch 2 and above, still a bit thin.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Profile Techniques Reviewed

Be aware, this video is from Monday, and things have changed out there since then, however, it is a solid review of snow profile techniques.

While the avalanche danger is rated as high through much of the Wasatch today, it's a good time to review testing techniques, wax your boards and re-read that book you haven't touched since your last avy course. First on my list of books to keep you on top is Bruce Tremper's, Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. This book is easy to read & covers virtually everything. Essentially the gold standard for the recreationist.

For the discerning snow geek on your chirstmas list, David McClung's Avalanche Handbook get's into the nitty gritty science behind, well, snow science. This book is a pre-requistie for the Canadian Avalanche Association's industry training programs. Unlike Bruce's book, this one is not easy to read. (On par with introductory/intermediate physics coursework.)

If you're a purveyor of the cottonwoods, then I'd check out Ed LaChapelle's (the "OG" cottonwoods snow guru.) ABC's of avalanche safety. Ed's wit and intutition make for a great read. On that note, if you're a Wasatch rider, here's a snipit from todays forecast:

"Human triggered avalanche are likely on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, and slides can be triggered remotely from a distance, so avoid travel adjacent to and below steep avalanche paths.
Only those people with excellent avalanche skills and experience should travel in the backcountry, and travel should be on gentle slopes and ridge lines well away from avalanche paths."

So, it's probably a good time to stay out of the Wasatch backcountry, as some freaky $h!t is happening out there!

Where-ever you roam, stay safe out there!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cold, cold smoke

The arctic air mass has taken over British Columbia. I know what you're thinking. It's Canada, you all live in igloos and it is cold all the time. But alas, no, SW BC is actually quite mild in the winter, and that is what makes skiing here so great-it's not frigidly cold! Right now it is so, so, so bitterly cold here that we can't even really ski on shady slopes. The snow is so cold that your wax just doesn't work.

It has made for some interesting plan changes for me this week. Originally I was supposed to be skiing in Roger's Pass. We did two days there, and it was literally some of the coldest outdoor recreation I have ever taken part in. We skinned up to treeline one day, only to met by 25km/hr winds at -24 degrees Celsius. For you math majors out there, that equals a -40 degree celsius wind chill (and -40 is where farenheit and celsius are the same!). This artic front also brought with it heinously strong winds, jacking all the snow at treeline and in the alpine.

We decided to pull the plug and head a bit south to the family's lodge in the Valhallas. A bit of protection from the wind and slightly warmer temps tempted us and Valhalla Mountain Touring has delivered yet again. We have just spent the last 2 days tracking out the cold powder, first a bit in the trees, and then today in the blazing sun. I gotta tell ya, it might be freezing cold out, but that is the bet time ever to ski the pow in full sun, the snow just stays as cold smoke all day long!

So, a video here to keep you psyched, and some photos from today as well...

Benny and Jas racing for the freshies!

Richard heading towards sunny powder on Rugged Peak

My Karhu Storm's getting psyched for 2 grand of cold smoke.

Richard steals some of Benny's powder

Labels: , , ,


Details of recent Wasatch avalanche accidents

Here in the Wasatch, we're dealing with a particularly tricky snowpack this season. Sunday brought an in-bounds avalanche in Little Cottonwood. There was also a size 2 avalanche along the Park City ridge line that left a young man in the hospital. The Utah Avalanche Center has posted their investigation and report from the PC ridge line avalanche on their website. You can check it out here. We can all learn from these kinds of events, I think it's worth a read and a look at the photos.


Monday, December 15, 2008

First Summit Park Turns Of 08/09

When the sun came out Sunday afternoon, a few friends and I decided to throw our skis and skins into the truck and drive up to Summit Park on the outskirts of Park City to find out how our favorite playground fared with the weekend storm.

After seeing first hand the results of a snow pit in the Cottonwoods a week ago, I wasn’t interested in going anywhere near steep, wind-loaded slopes.

Our biggest concern with Summit Park was mainly if there was enough snow without much of a base to begin with. We were starting at 7,200 hundred feet, so prior to last weekend’s dump the mountain would have been bare.

I had my doubts when we dragged the skis out of the car, but surprisingly the foot and a half that fell Saturday held up well enough for a skin track and some great turns up high.

Up on top (approximately 8,200 ft.) the turns were soft and deep. Still – there was no way I was dropping a knee into a telemark turn - that's going to have to wait for at least another storm cycle.

Labels: ,


Monday, December 08, 2008

Finally, WINTER!!!

Living on the coast of British Columbia has its pluses and its minuses. The rainy fall, when the snow line hasn't lowered down, can be quite tough. I have spent the last two weeks desperately trying to find some winter outdoor recreation: 3 skiing attempts, and 1 ice climbing attempt. Actually, the 2 days of clear and dry weather were some of the best days of bouldering I have had in Squamish!

But quietly in the interior of British Columbia, winter has started, and about a meter to a meter and a half (3 to 5 feet for the yanks) has slowly started to pile up, and just this last storm cycle a good half a meter has just been added. I did all that I could in the face of more rainy weather on the coast and packed up my truck to drive to the interior.

As my friend pointed out today, I luckily married into a backcountry ski lodge in this zone, and guide their full time in the winter. So I took advantage of that with my wife, father-in-law and dog to go test out the ski legs in our own private backcountry ski paradise at Valhalla Mountain Touring. I shot some video of the day, so I will let that speak for itself. Winter is in full swing here, and the powder is dry and fluffy. Besides we have to start training our new puppy for his winter of ski touring - as you can hear from his yelping in the video, he was having fun.

Come join the fun! We still have a few spaces left on trips this winter...

Labels: , , ,


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Mountain Bike Season Over? Not So Fast!

This weekend a group of us were sitting in Park City, UT wondering what to do on a Saturday afternoon when the resort we work for asked employees not to ski because of limited open terrain.

Someone threw out Antelope Island down in Salt Lake as a possible mountain bike ride.


I’d never been to the island, but it seemed like a good plan with low elevation terrain, sunshine and temps in the 50’s.

After our ride, I’d say the biking is still in terrific shape.

Recent rains have left the trails tacky and December’s evening temperatures have erased the location’s notorious bugs.

The ride starts off mellow on the double track gravel road that winds over to the southwest portion of the island.

However, the farther south you head, the more rugged the terrain. It’s almost as if you snapped a postcard out of Scotland’s Highland Region – well except for the buffalo…

But back to the island’s southwest aspect – the terrain is outstanding mountain biking territory with rolling, tight single track.

And if you happen to hit this corner of the island at sunset - the view will be well worth your ride.



Watch Your Landings!

Date: December 5-6, 2008
Location: Snowbird, UT
Featuring: Me (Jake Kirshner), Nik Aksamit, Sam Fox, Kyle Wehmanen

Low-Res Vimeo Version:

High-Res Version: http://www.jakecast.com/helmetcast/helmetCast10.m4v
(right-click > save target/link as...)

With close to a foot of fresh Snow and the Cirque Traverse finally open it is finally starting to feel like winter again at Snowbird. Seems like a good time to start jumping off stuff =) Watch your landings thought! Chocolate Chip rock are still abundant!


Labels: , , , ,


South America: Part 1 - skiing volcanoes in Chile

Well, I just got back from a 6 week adventure in South America in service of a Ski Cruise to Antarctica . . . Since I'm still sorting my pictures, this report is going to come in installments!

Enjoy the view (and let me know what you think about the slide show feature!)