Friday, January 30, 2009

Hangtime in Little Cottonwood

Date: December 29, 2008 - January 29, 2009
Location: Snowbird, UT
Featuring: Me (Jake Kirshner), Nik Aksamitn, Dex Mills, Brady Newton, Alex Mazurkewycz

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Things I have learned in the last month.
1) Getting skiing "out of your system" over winter break is damn near impossible
2) You don't have enough control unless your boots feel like a tourture device
3) High Pressure doesn't have to be all bad

Even though a high pressure system was in Salt Lake for about two weeks during January and made the entire town look like that Steven King book, The Fog (or the Mist or whatever, I forgot the actual title) the skiing at still remained pretty good.

Although, I was the first to drop to praise Ullr when the snow finally returned last week...

But wait! There's more...
As a bonus for the extra amount of time it took me to upload this, here are some pictures taken with awesome ski photog Adam Barker ( in early January.

Adam and I find some powder off Lone Pine.

I can ski with the sun in my eyes.

Adam shoots my skiing from the 3rd person perspective.

Mandatory lifestyle shot.

Cheers & Pray for Snow,

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Powder Video awards are a highlight of every season for me. Now in its ninth year, it’s one of the only venues where professional freeskiers, filmers, and photographers are recognized for their hard work throughout the year. This season, several Backcountry athletes grabbed the spotlight.

Ingrid Backstrom shut out the women’s field with Best Female Performance.

Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, already a legend in skiing, simply dominated. He took the coveted Best Line, Best Male Performance, appeared in the Photo of the Year by Adam Clark, and Best POV.

We’re extra stoked on the POV award, as all the footage came straight from the VIO POV.1, a sick little cam that’s taking over the helmet cam world. One of the greatest things about it is the lipstick cam can pretty much go anywhere—on skis, helmets, bikes…basically whatever your imagination comes up with. Sage has obviously figured out how to make the most of it.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Andrew McLean's Top 10 in 10

For the past week or so, there's been a lot of buzz around the Wasatch ski and climbing communities. All surrounding Andrew McLean's latest project: skiing 10 classic Wasatch lines in 10 days. Most of these involve well over 5,000' vertical climbing, and sometimes brutal descents. Today he reached #9, Little Pine Couloir. Read the full list of reports at

Andrew McLean and Doug "Doc Brock" Brockmeyer on top of Stairs Gulch.

Here's the project in Andrew's own words:
As a compulsive list keeper, I’ve had a Post-It note stuck to my monitor for a few years that said “Wasatch Top 10 in 10.” The idea is/was to rack up a bunch of Wasatch classic ski descents back-to-back in ten days in a chute skiing feeding frenzy. The problem has always been that I have put it off until too late, or there was too little snow or too much avalanche danger so I’ve never gotten around to it. But, this morning’s UAC Avalanche Report specifically stated that we were in for ten days of high pressure, which I took as a sign from the ski gods to give it a try. -AM


Monday, January 19, 2009 Welcomes Greg Hill to the Athlete Team

Athlete wrangler Jonny A recently convinced backcountry badass Greg Hill to join the team. I'll let him do his own intro (see below), but his vids speak for themselves:

"I have always defined myself in the mountains, who i really am seems to come out while playing in the hills. I have felt that we define our own boundaries and should search them out. So for years I did just that, I pushed my limits to see where they were. 30 thousand feet, 40 and finally 50 thousand feet climbed and skied in 24 hours. Or as many 10 000 foot days in a season as I could. (80..) or a million feet of backcountry bliss in a season. I did all these wild things just out of curiosity, just to see where my limits were.

Testing my mountain knowledge and constantly adventuring into the unknown also became very important to me . Skiing off new summits, or into remote areas, having to depend on my skills to safely guide us through the mountains. I have skied off hundreds of summits, in Canada, USA, Alaska and the Alps. My main stomping grounds are the Selkirk mountains where I have skied off 9 of the 10 highest summits. Always inspired by the challenges, I constantly yearn for the next unskied one. I have spent many days traversing through the mountains, the biggest epic being The Monashee range; a 21-day 21-summit, 200km pioneering ski traverse. There is nothing quite like packing up everything you need to survive for 21 days and then hope you planned well.

Now I am still in pursuit of my next summit but I have begun filming and capturing our adventures. Since the mountains have inspired so much in me I hope to inspire others with these videos. Last winter I created 8 movies and I entered "the best of" into the Banff International Mountain Film festival. "The Unbearable Lightness of Skiing" made the finals and is on the world tour. This winter I am continuing to document my adventures; check 'em out at"


Friday, January 16, 2009

Freeskiing World Tour: Subaru Sessions LIVE 2-4PM MST

Thanks for watching! The event was killer.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Watch the "Subaru Sessions – A Deeper Look at Big Mountain Freeskiing" - LIVE RIGHT HERE - Friday, January 16, 2009, from 1-3 PM MST

So tomorrow we're going to post a killer new online broadcast series focused on the world of freeskiing. Backcountry's own athlete wrangler, Jonny A, will be interviewed and show highlights from IFSA competitors on the Backcountry athlete team. In short, it's gonna be sick - check back here Friday afternoon and kick off your weekend with some freeski stoke. Here are the official press release details:

Dubbed the David Letterman of freeskiing, the Subaru Sessions is a one of a kind live webcast hosted by legendary Freeskiing World Tour (FWT) announcers Dak Williams and Frankie Alisuag and produced by Mountain Sports International (MSI). The first stop of the Subaru Sessions will stream live beginning at 1pm MST, Friday, January 16, from the Tram Plaza at Snowbird Mountain Resort, Utah.

Watch live interviews and highlight footage of past, present and future big mountain freeskiing champions. A veritable who’s who of the sport, featured athletes include Ingrid Backstrom, Cody Barnhill, Julian Carr, Kent Hyden, Brant Moles, Rick Greener, Chris Tatsuno, Scott McBrayer, and more.

The voices of big mountain freeskiing, Dak Williams and Frankie Alisuag will also be talking to Rob Greener, mentor to the next generation of big mountain freeskiers, about the new Junior Freeskiing Tour, the upcoming Junior Freeskiing Nationals at Snowbird and the progression of the sport.

Special guest Derek Taylor, Editor of Powder Magazine, will be dropping by with a sneak peek of the 2009 Powder Video Awards.'s frontman and "Athlete Wrangler" Jonny Atencio will stop by to introduce his 2009 freeskiing team and show video highlights from their adventures. Other video highlights include Nick Greener’s notorious crash during the 2008 Subaru US Freeskiing Nationals, Julian Carr’s 100-foot front-flip, clips from the 2008 Freeskiing World Tour and a 2009 FWT teaser.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another day on the pass

Well, I have to say I love this time of year for the soft light on the mountains, lingering sunrises and sunsets, and increasing daylight. Now we are in the midst of a pineapple express to conclusively end 15 days of cold and clear . . . the last day before the storm was pretty darn sweet though. Enjoy the view!!!

photos by Scott Fennell

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A Few Weeks of Fluff

Since Christmas, Wyoming has been blessed with many, many feet of fresh snow. A blessing for sure, but our avalanche danger has been quiet serious with the infamous rain crust on top of depth hore, and record amounts of snowfall sitting on top of this rotten ice cream sandwich. Reports most days have been high, warning people of disastrous consequences if caught. Seeing the Buck Mountain Avalanche really puts it all in perspective, and strikes a chord.

Needless to say, we have been scaling back our objectives during these "hard times," and enjoying some nice low angle treed runs while tip-toeing around avalanche terrain. I will never complain about too much snow and high avalanche danger. It is all about keeping it safe. Enjoy some pictures of "A Few Weeks of Fluff." Thanks to Matt Lloyd for the additional photos.
Jeramie harvesting in Grand Teton National Park:

Matt Lloyd catching an ice cream headache:
Looking for pillows on Togwotee Secret Stashes:

At least two inches of fresh in the Park:

Matt finds a nice little windlip:It has been a great couple of weeks here in Northwestern Wyoming. Looks like this weekend will be bringing the first of bluebird days in a long time. We are all praying to Ullr that the snow will start settling and those bigger lines will start falling.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Get Slotted.

More goodness from the athlete crew: getting slotted in the Pac Northwest with ripper Drew Tabke.

Get slotted. from Drew Tabke on Vimeo.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Chris Tatsuno on the State of Freeskiing

Tats (a.k.a. athlete Chris Tatsuno) just posted this great writeup on the state of freeskiing comps, definitely worth a read:
It's Our Honor


Storm Diaries

While the coast has been getting rain of biblical proportions, the interior of British Columbia has been getting pounded by METERS of snow. We have had avalanches run that have not run in anyone's living memory. Up at Valhalla Mountain Touring, we have been braving the weather in the safe tree skiing right out our door, and not stepping any further away. Making ski decisions in times like this in the backcountry is easy, avoid anything even remotely close to avalanche terrain at all costs! The clear weather is here, so now we will get to see what kind of damage mother nature has caused.

Here is a bit of a video diary from last week, enjoy!

You can check out the rest of my posts at

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Snowed In

I can't really say that I have been snowed in before at Valhalla Mountain Touring. We have so much safe tree skiing close to home, that even when the avalanche danger is High, we can still get out and have fun safely. But the pineapple express has something to say about that right now. Just a few hours to the west, the coast is getting pummeled, and people are building arks, leading their animals 2x2 to safety. At just under 6,000' feet of elevation, we are weathering out the storm as all snow, and with night falling, we should just squeak it out as all frozen precip.

However, since we finished our ski day yesterday, it has snowed almost 45cm in about 18 hours. Strong winds have been afoot as well. Waking up this morning with the warm temps and big dose of 'Sierra Cement', we knew we were in for some interesting times. But when you are at a ski lodge in the backcountry, what else are you going to do, post to your blog? So being the good troopers that we are, we set out, at an exceedingly slow pace, but eventually made it up 1200' vertical to the top of some glades right above the lodge. I don't think we could have done it with out puppy power though. My 1 year old mutt has been genetically engineered (read cross breeding) with long legs and big webbed paws, and he has lots of energy to burn. So with our old skin track just barely visible, I gotta give Benny credit for breaking about 60% of the track. At least someone earned their kibble.

On the way down, it was point 'em straight and lean back, and leap frog each other's tracks. And that was on 30 degree slopes. Anything steeper would have been too sketchy! At least it has been an amazing last 2 weeks of non stop cold smoke, and now we have a super fat mid-winter snowpack. The cold front is coming, and we should get some nice fluff laid down on top of the heavy stuff. I guess right now we have too much of a good thing. It's like eating a few too many nachos, time to sit on the couch and digest...

Here are some shots from the last stint of cold smoke to keep you psyched! Thanks to's Tommy Chandler for the shots!

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Secret Stash

The recent wave of avalanche activity in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah is a product of new snow overlying a pesky, persistent sandwich of weak layers that just won't go away. Rather than crowd into the well-known "safe slopes" in the central Wasatch (SLC area), times like these are a great opportunity to get away from the crowds and explore other areas to find some of your own safe, secret gems stashed away in the hills.

Hopefully these photos from Saturday will give you some stoke to do just that. All day long, our only other visitors were the birds in the sky! Ah, that's what it's all about.