One of our bro’s and new team member this year, Jeff Rich, calls Stevens Pass, WA his home stompin’ grounds (however just like so many of us, when away from WA and being a year round skier, he calls the Cascades his home). Jeff Rich and our other good friend Zack Jessel were both captured accessing the goods in the Stevens backcountry by Jameson Florence this past December 4th. Still can’t believe how much better the conditions are to the North, just up the Cascade Crest from Snoqualmie Pass, WA (not to mention the South). BTW, Stevens Pass is rocking the Hogsback, Skyline, Kehr’s, Tye Mill, Seventh Heaven, and Daisy chair lifts daily 9AM to 4PM.
On Tuesday of this week, Jerad Merbs, Karter Riach and myself took a gamble in search for some of the goods our Brothers, to the North at Stevens and to the South at Crystal, have been slashing in recent days. The two options for the easiest ski approach, we felt, were Alpental or Silver Peak. We chose to head for Silver Peak, (making that call at 5AM Tuesday) because of two reasons, 1) Monday night’s storm didn’t produce the snow we had hoped to see on the ground when we woke up, 2) Jerad would rock his jeep with tough rubber, that could possibly get us to Windy Pass. The Windy Pass target was almost hit with the jeep, but the goods were very spotty as we reached the lower dome of Silver (just under the Cirque). If I were to head back to Silver with these current conditions, I will be rolling with crampons and an ice axe. The low angle skiing, in this wind effected zone, is your best bet, but conditions are still quite boney. Think BIG SNOW!
The temps were in the teens and Silver Peak was already blingin’ from the beautiful sunrise. However, Trooper dog wasn’t enjoying the good morning we were, due to what I call the cold weather “STINGERS” on his paws. I have found over Trooper’s 10 years (him being mostly a Golden Retriever, which has the wrong hair for snow) of skiing year round in the Cascades, there is only a couple of weeks a year when the below normal temps sting his pads. The “stingers” happen when we are in the ICE Station Zebra mode here in the Cascades and the backcountry skiing is usually locked up good and tight too. This can be a great time to take up another sport that might be at it’s best in these type of conditions, like cross country skating/skiing. In these apx two weeks a year of “frozen lock down” time, we will hit a fresh groomer for a walk/ski, but I have learned with Trooper, when the cold temps/moisture content are just right he will start holding his paw up as if he has a piece of cactus in it. Trooper, will then take a few more steps, stop, and now, he will be holding (maybe) a front left and a back rear (which would let me know he didn’t have a strain or something in his paw, but it did show his wicked balance on a funnier note).
You will see in the video, I found a fix for the rare problem he was having on Tuesday, by using a product I am currently using for myself called Gurney Goo (an anti-friction, silicone based product made for marathon runners (feet, crouch, etc… -A better example might be the Tough Mudders, mucking through a mud puddle, then running for miles with some serious mud (just call it sand paper) between their thighs). Very cool product for all sorts of ultra outdoor activities.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort is an awesome get away that offers not only the most lift served vertical relief in N.America, but also offers heli, cat, and backcounty snowriding (note: there are only a handful of base areas, that I can think of off hand, here in N.America that offer all of this action in one location). The fact that Revelstoke offers the full package (heli, cat, lift, and backcountry) out of their base area, gives you much better odds to get the goods on your trip. For example, if there is a NO fly for weather, then you have three other options. Another example, if you show up for a lift served ski vacation and the only untracked snow is in the backcountry, BINGO, there are three other options to get after the untracked (on the annual PREPLANNED trip). Another cool note about this zone, Revelstoke gets hammered with quality snow and is a stop on this month’s Freeride World Tour (which should tell you something about their BIG mountain terrain, with me having too). Go visit this rad mountain and historic BC city.
Below is a short video from our friends at Freeride Media that touches on a little of the HUGE amount of fun to be found at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
With a big dose of water hitting the Cascades under 4,500′ today, I thought a wave skiing video of Chuck Patterson riding Jaws (in Maui) would fit our current WET theme. This new passion of Chuck’s was sparked by a project of Mike Douglas back in 2009, when he and another skier/surfer brought it to life. Pretty cool video on a warm rainy PNW day. BTW, the Cascade snow level is dropping way down tonight!!!
A few weeks back, Dean Cummings (owner/lead guide of H2O “Heli” Guides ) was rolling through the PNW on his “Steep Life” tour, when he mentioned getting some footage from his heli of Chris Davenport skiing a beautiful early season line, this past October in Valdez, AK. The shoot was for a “Wild Turkey” ad, I guess that would be called a “Turkey shoot”, which features Chris Davenport boot packing up a ridge as he tells his story, reaching the summit, clicking in, and letting it flow. Having skied with both of these powerful, “World Champion” BIG mountain skiers on a few different occasions, I couldn’t wait to see the video go live and share it with everyone. A little side note about Davenport, not only is he one of the most dynamic skiers I have ever seen fly down a mountain (and happened to capture on video), but this Red Bull athlete can fly up the mountain too, using good old human power. I am certain, Chris would be a top competitor on the randonnee rally tour, having seen him climb 7,000′ to my 3,500′ on the last day of his “14 day assault of 15 NW volcanos”, dubbed as the “Ring of Fire Tour” (which gave Chris and Jess McMillian a 14 day total vertical well over 70,000′… AMAZING)! Check out the video then go live your own adventure (with in your limits)!!!
Just like most of us, Tara and Carl Simpson are ready for the 2013/2014 season to ramp up and start producing the goods for some serious lift assisted downhill powder skiing. In the “off” season, up here in the PNW, Tara and Carl are out getting after it more than most ( it also helps that their nice sized crew of awesome friends are constantly planning Summer dayz, which keeps the motivation HIGH). Now everyone is settling in at their home mountains, putting the Summer boards away, and waiting for the real GO time! The Simpons’ have spent a bunch of days this past month getting some great skiing in at their home stomping grounds of Crystal Mountain, with or with out uphill aid. Below is an edit from Carl capturing some of the highlights of November.
below Tara Simpson climbing for the goods/photo credit Carl Simpson
Last Sunday, the 24th, it was time to take Trooper dog for a walk behind the house to Silver Peak. My original thought, was to ski a little wind loaded hoar in the NW bowl… WRONG! The main reason I went for Silver was due to the snowline allowing me to drive almost to Windy Pass. Not enough snow to take the Winter route to the bowl, so I walked the road, where 1 jeep (or something) had made it all the way to the fire pit, located at the base of Silver Peak (very impressive).
below you can seen the runnels that were mostly locked up good n tight!
If I had a rad jeep, I would have missed the best skiing of the day, THE ROAD, which was mostly covered with an average of apx one half inch of hoarfrost (which is shown in the beginning of the vid where Trooper gets a nice time lapse of us – Trooper is such a great camera dog, always getting the great angles).
below is a short video of the typical conditions up here on Snoqualmie Pass, WA
As far as the skiing in the bowl, it was mostly locked up tight and the steeps were runneled with deep tight trenches, as if Paul Bunyon had a giant groomer that laid corduroy that had been rained on before the week of sun and below freezing temps ( I had some full rockerd fat boards that actually worked quite well for the funky contoured slopes of variable snow the mountain had to offer).
below – Chickamin Peak
BTW, as I was amazed by the alpenglow on my way back to Hyak, thinking the next trip this week would be on a nice SW pitch (which will take a little more work up here but, should pay off). Have a great Thanksgiving!!!
below – Alta Mountain
“The Pass Life” photo contest is wrapping up, so cast a vote for the shot that says it best… “The Pass Life”. Big things have been happening up here on Snoqualmie Pass, WA and we can thank EVO Gear’s Bryce Phillips not only for his hard work in helping move the ski industry the right direction on a world wide level, but also a HUGE thanks is needed for all of his hard work right here on his home stomping grounds of Snoqualmie Pass, WA. Bryce’s recent hard work on Snoqualmie Pass is not a ski industry project (technically speaking), but a construction project! This isn’t a cabin get away for him and his ski buddies, it’s a ski community of 50 Townhomes, a Bar and Grill, a Museum, and a BREWERY!!! 12 of the 50 units are standing and we are beyond stoked for the good things that should follow Bryce’s HUGE move to get Snoqualmie Pass into the correct century. So I’m asking a few things from everyone, 1st- Visit The Pass Life fb page and give it a LIKE, 2nd- Check out the photos of the new project in full swing, and 3rd- Please give a vote for this pic Cory Tarilton captured of our very own Andrew Eckels going huge at Alpental! visit this link to VOTE FOR CORY!
To vote for Cory’s photo above click HERE
Being a SW boy originally, I would often travel though SE Colorado. So much Southwest goodness to “soak in” on a trip to this awesome corner of Colorado, everything from young amazing mountains that offer stunning views, ghost towns, one of the 7 cities of gold (Mesa Verde – a mind blowing must see), take a ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gage Railroad, but most of all seek out the cold smoke of Durango Mountain Resort (which will put you in “Purgatory”- a state between work and responsibility ). Many thanks to our friends at Peak Travels for the video below, which will give you an excellent taste of what will be waiting when you visit this SW gem, Durango Mountain Resort.
Here’s another fantastic looking get away, located just a few clicks outside Fernie, BC. Island Lake Lodge/Catskiing offers excellent terrain for most levels, fine dining/lodging, epic views, and loads of POWDER! Remember this powder stash, especially when there is a trip being planned with a family member(s) or maybe the extended family that doesn’t ski, because they will have a blast in Fernie, while you are blasting through cold blower! Below are a few words from Island Lake Lodge in regards to the very accessible lodge and cat operation.
For 25 years Island Lake Catskiing has been at the top of the list of must ski destinations for every serious skier or boarder. Vast, spectacular terrain topped with 12 metres (40 feet) of snow that consistently makes for some of the best skiing in the world. Island Lake is the ultimate destination for luxury catskiing, spacious rooms with soaker tubs, five star cuisine, full service spa and guest service second to none. There is good reason as to why it’s challenging to get a booking at this world class resort. ~ Island Lake Lodge
Below is Island Lake Catskiing seen through the lens of Freeride Media