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Happy Thanksgiving – May the Good times FLOW

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Crystal Mtn., WA – POW Day, Take 2!

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Crystal Mountain, WA – Yesterday’s Conditions

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Snoqualmie Pass, WA – Mid Nov. Conditions Report

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18
Oct

The Tusk Guide Pack, by H2O Outdoor Gear is an extremely functional pack designed by Alaskan helicopter skiing pioneer, Dean Cummings. Not only is Dean a BIG mountain guide and world class skier (former U.S. Freestyle Ski Team Captain and 1995 World Extreme Skiing Champion) but also a prominent leader in outdoor safety and avalanche awareness education (Avalaunch Educator of the Year in 2011 and 2012). That wealth of experience and passion for the Steep Life shows in the long list of features in this pack. It’s evident that the “Tusk” Guide Pack was designed by a “real” skier and it’s our pick for backcountry skiers like us who want to “Live to Ski Another Day!” It’s the largest of the H20 Outdoor Gear packs, intended for backcountry skiers and ski patrollers who carry some weight. Take a look at the video below to hear Dean tell you all about the “Tusk” Guide Pack. After you watch the review, be sure to watch the wicked ski descent that inspired the name and demonstrates how your focus in the backcountry needs to be in other places, not your pack. For more information or to puchase, visit h2ooutdoorgear.com.


“Tusk” Guide Pack Review by Dean Cummings


Dean Cummings skiing the Tusk!

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14
Oct

This past Winter our friend, Robert Jarlenäs (along with a few of his bros), spent a couple early season months in Nendaz, Switzerland exploring a little of the endless backcountry, served up by an amazing network of lifts. Below is Robert’s early season video. I also posted up a map of all the ski areas they could access from Nendaz. Huge area with so much lift served backcounty access!





















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13
Oct

October 9th, Carl Simpson, Jeff Rich, David O’Donnell, David Britton, Amar Anadalkar, and James Fletcher, all headed up the Mt. Baker Highway for the Hannegan Pass TH parking lot. Enough snow had fallen during the last week or so that the crew didn’t have to make the nasty “Summer” approach up the goat trail, above Hannegan Pass (just over 4 miles in, on the Summer trail). Instead, they were able to ditch the trail runners and go to “skins on” mode at the campsite just a half mile below Hannegan Pass. Nice to see everything filling in nicely up high… Time to wrap up all the lower elevation Fall chores, before it’s GAME ON! Take a look at Carl’s video below, showing the snow conditions up in the North Cascades earlier this week.



above: ski skinner/Jeff Rich, photo credit/Carl Simpson. Below: Carl’s edit of the Ruth day

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11
Oct

As most of you know Crystal Mountain opened last Wednesday, for a half day on the 2+ feet that fell in the Cascades. If you follow the site a little, you might have seen that the Simpsons’ were both there riding the gondy, which in a way, led them to Chinook Pass the following day (with David O’Donnell and Rory Robison). Heading North on the PCT for a couple miles led them to Sheep Lake and a pocket of goodness on any aspect.



above: Sheep Lake/photo credit Carl Simpson,


below: short edit Carl put together of their 10/2/13 day, out at Sourdough Gap.

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08
Oct

This past Friday the 4th, Jacob Mandell, Cory Tarilton and Andrew Eckels wanted to get a little of the new snow everyone has been itching to ski. Liviing out of Bellingham, it only made sense to head up the Mt. Baker Highway. This time the powder hound noses of the three schoolmates, led them into the Twin Lakes area, Below are a few words from Jacob in regards to their day.


split boarder – Jacob Mandell, photo credit Cory Tarilton



With snow levels falling and a huge low pressure system rolling into the northwest the stoke was high for some early season powder skiing. The crew of Jacob Mandell, Andrew Eckels, and Cory Tarilton headed out to chase the powder off the Mt Baker highway near the border of Canada. We were greeted with an amazing amount of snow for the time of year, with some turns feeling like they were from mid-winter. After harvesting lots of powder turns, all agreed it was some of the best skiing we had done this early in the year. Hope the rest of october keeps delivering the goods!


Below is a sweet short video that Jacob put together of the excellent October day.
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05
Oct

Big snow falling in the Cascades to kick off October, had the “year round” ski community chomping at the bit for some easy access powder turns (Or at least we thought). However, along with the government shut down, so came an end to our easy access powder skiing. The go to location for “skins on” at the car WAS going to be Mt. Rainier’s Paradise parking lot, which would have led us to some excellent skiing on Muir snowfield. Once Rainier was out, we focused our ideas towards the volcano to the North, Mt. Baker. Only to find it was a no go for many reasons, one of which might have been a mid-week shutdown of Hwy 542 for drainage maintenance (not to mention the Glacier Creek Rd still being short of Heliotrope’s TH)? Lucky for us, the Crystal Mountain ski area crew sent out their snow report Monday from the top of the gondola (apx 6,900′), with well over 20 inches of new snow. Enough snow had fallen that the Crystal management would offer a half day ski for a very lucky 75 people. Two of those lucky powder hounds just happened to be Tara and Carl Simpson. After their choice day at Crystal Mountain, Carl felt the snow depth was good enough to give Chinook Pass a try the following day (Wednesday). Bingo!!! Carl reported good coverage in the Sourdough Gap zone, so this Snow Trooper was in rally mode to head up for a little of the same on Thursday.


Below is a calming 2:22 video of the day, eh.


Our friend Cristin Kloeck, joined Trooper and myself for sunshine, a little powder and epic views. When we made the apx 2 1/2 mile slog along the Pacific Crest Trail to Sourdough gap, I thought how lucky we were to be traveling the trail with knee deep snow on most sections. On the flip side, I couldn’t help but think of all the PCT through hikers (Mexico to Canada backpackers) that are pinned down, on the trail and in hostels up and down the Cascades of Washington state, wondering if they can complete their massive journey. We made it up to Sourdough Gap just in time to catch Eric Yotz and Pavel Dolezen testing the goods. Even seeing them and their skis survive the low coverage hitting NOTHING, I was still a little nervous for the first couple turns, not wanting to end the season before it began. The turns were excellent all the way down to Crystal Lake. I think the skis will go back in storage and keep the trail runners out for a bit longer. Also, If I do bust the skis back out before Winter is ON, most likely it will be on a glacier.



above – Naches Peak/Chinook Pass as seen from Sourdough Gap

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03
Oct

Crystal Mountain, WA 10/3/13

Friends from out of town heard that Crystal Mountain, WA opened on Oct. 1st, 2013 for skiing and riding and emailed us asking: “REALLY?”. Yes, REALLY – they opened but just for 1 single half day and we have the video below to prove it. Conditions were incredible. OCTOBER 1st POW – amazing! As you can see from the photo to the left, some are still hiking to it today. In case you were wondering, all our resorts in the west slopes of the Cascade Mountains received snow this week. Some more than others – Mt. Baker already has a foot at their base. Could this mean some resorts will open super early? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, don’t forget to buy your ski pass and enjoy this fun video courtesy of Snow Trooper, Carl Simpson. Live to ski another day!

 

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01
Oct

Mt. Rainier and other National Parks are now closed due to the federal government shut down.  “Guests staying in hotels and campgrounds will be notified of the closure and given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park” – one might ask “OR WHAT? who’s going to come after me if I don’t leave?” The National Park fact sheet says that “gates to national parks will close and a limited number of National Park Service law enforcement and other employees needed to secure parks and provide law enforcement, emergency services, and firefighting are exempt from the furlough.” So, there you have it. No National Parks, no NOAA.gov, etc. – we will remember this day in history when federal government services Snow Troopers rely on everyday closed its doors.


fednps

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30
Sep

Winter Weather Warning for WA 9/30/13

Washington state’s winter weather advisory has now been upped to a full on winter weather Warning by the National Weather Service. The western slopes of our central cascades are in for another foot or more at higher elevations. Think we’re joking? Crystal Mountain, WA has already received 22″ in places and they’re opening and running the gondola from 10-1pm tomorrow, Oct. 1st for only the first 75 ticket holders. Buy your ticket here and be prepared for early season conditions -i.e. you might have to hike a bit – here’s what Crystal has to say: “Consider this to be lift-assisted early season backcountry skiing with very early-season conditions. Once you’ve made your sweet glory turns in Green Valley or elsewhere, you’ll have to either hike or skin back to the top in order to download (no other lifts will be running), or hike down to the bottom. The cost is $15, bragging rights included. We’re not going to tell you what kind of equipment to bring as it should be obvious. This is Rocktoberfest. Ski with the weeds and early-season rockstars! …. This is limited to the first [75] people to purchase a ticket online, limit two tickets per purchaser.”  We LOVE it. Live to ski another day – hooray Crystal!!

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29
Sep

This past August 24th, kicked off the 15th running of the “Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run”. The runners started this massive test of endurance, just to the East of Snoqualmie Pass, down in the tiny town of Easton. The course started down the “flat” John Wayne trail for a bit, giving the legs a nice transition to the abuse waiting on the first climb up into the Cascades. The trail then leads the athletes towards Snoqualmie Pass (which is the halfway point), offering many nice views along the way. The runners approach Snoqualmie Pass via the Pacific Crest Trail, running by Mirror Lake, under Tinkham and Silver Peaks, through Ollie Meadow and the 2 mile long historic Milwaukee Railroad tunnel (spoooky). So, mentioning the tunnel, the runners don’t actually run through Snoqualmie Pass, they run under it. The light at the end of the tunnel is not tho old electric train coming, but the little village of Hyak, WA which puts the athletes at just over the 50 mile mark. I guess there is only light at the end of the tunnel for the first half of the pack, because shortly after the leaders rolled through Hyak the sun dropped. At this time, I was now back at the Hyak home base, and had a shower, dinner, and wine waiting just 500 yards away, so I called it a day.


The video below is the “teaser” version of the CCC 100


After a good night of rest, unlike the athletes, I was off the next morning for the Kachess Ridge zone to capture more video. I happen to like the second half of the run for the best views. One section that didn’t offer too many views, because it was run overnight, is located from Hyak heading over Keechelus Ride, around the North End of Kachess Lake (little Kachess) on the “Trail from Hell” (dubbed this because after running alongside the lake you gain and loose a crap load of vert, only to end up at the same elevation at the end of the lake- mentally and physically draining). As the sun rises so does the course, climbing out the Kachess Lake zone, up to and across the stunning Kachess Ridge (stopping at the Thorpe Mountain Fire Lookout on the way). Kachess Ridge is in the 80 mile zone and is a steep tough hike for day hikers, so probably no need to mention how amazed I was to see the ultra athletes moving and grooving through this epic zone. Halfway across Kachess Ridge is the French Cabin aid station, another beautiful area that sits in a saddle just under the shadows of the French Cabin Peaks, with Mt. Rainier to the South and Mt. Stuart to the North. From this point the trail winds down through some epic meadows, dropping into Silver Creek. After the Silver Creek aid station the runners have ONLY a few miles of flat back to Easton. 100 grueling miles later, the finish line and fans were waiting at the Easton Fire Department. HARD CORE!


The video below is the “Full Length” version of the CCC 100

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