Colin Lantz of La Sportiva gave us a preview of their new men’s Spectre and women’s Sparkle alpine touring boots for next season. These well designed boots have several features you’ll want to check out in this video. But the first thing to get our attention (besides how nice they look) was the weight: these are the lightest 4 buckle AT boots on the market. Then there’s the new buckle design and dual density full vibram sole. The boots will be available in the fall for msrp $599 in sizes 26-31 for men and for women, 23-26.5.
Our friends over at WSDOT will begin work on reopening the North Cascades Highway SR 20 on Mar. 25th, just after the first day of spring. But unlike past years, state officials are optimistic that the could be open before the first of May this year, which hasn’t happened since 2010. On Tuesday, Washington State Department of Transportation avalanche-control specialists Mike Stanford and Harlan Sheppard ventured up and over the North Cascades on snowmobiles from the Early Winters information center to Rainy Pass. Along the way they stopped to measure snow depths at more than two dozen avalanche chutes and other sites. “There’s still more winter coming- I expect we’ll have more snow by the end of March,” said Stanford. “But we found much less than we had at this time the past two years- and at some locations, almost half as much.” Snow depths at the summit of Washington Pass measured about 5 feet compared to 7.5 feet last year, while snow was 5.5 feet deep at Rainy Pass compared to 8 feet last year. Snow piles in the Liberty Bell avalanche zone ranged from 25 to almost 40 feet compared to 35 to nearly 60 feet in 2012. WSDOT closed the highway for the winter last November 20. WSDOT typically is able to reopen the roadway early the following May, depending on conditions. The earliest recorded opening was March 10, 2005. Under drought conditions in 1976, it remained open all winter. Due to avalanches in 2011, WSDOT couldn’t begin clearing the road until April 11 and didn’t reopen it until May 25. Last year, work started March 26 and WSDOT reopened the highway May 10.
This past Feb. 18th, Andy Traslin found himself high above Wedgemount Lake on Mt. Cook wanting a great ski with good visibility, but found a great ski that was quite socked in with clouds. Making sense of his 30 second vid(below) where they had a little vis on top, but soon turned to a white out. This is a wickedly beautiful zone and if you have been on the site for a while, then I’m sure you have seen some of the Traslin brothers’ adventures in the Whistler/Pemberton area of goodness.
My next and final stop on the POW’daho 2013 tour was Brundage Mountain, an hour North of Tamarack and <20min. from the town of McCall. 17" dropped on Brundage in the days before I arrived. This was going to be a deep day. However, after 10 days of skiing and long distance driving, my back was hurting big time- I needed Brundage to live up to its tagline of "the best snow in Idaho" if I was to make it through the day. I was somewhat skeptical after hearing its slopes are West facing. Just in case, I told my Brundage contact, Jared Montague, that I might not last but for a few runs. I obviously wasn't thinking: this is the Northern Rockies, not the WA Cascades. Surely the last few days of POW'daho proved that these ID resorts get the driest, lightest snow in the state comparable to UT and CO. Lucky for Brundage, its West facing aspect on the western front of the Northern Rockies puts it first in the Western Central ID mountains to greet a Pacific storm front. Thus, more snow at Brundage than its neighbors to the East and South. Brundage is so confident of its snow quality that it offers a "Snow Check Guarantee" (you have an hour to return a lift ticket and get a Snow Check for another day).
My first run with Jared made me both nervous and excited. Nervous because: The guy rips! Keeping up with him, sore back and all, was going to be a challenge. Excited because of the snow – WOW: It was cold smoke, UT light and dry. We ventured into deeper, untracked snow -found everywhere on the mountain (so, ok, this is better than UT where we’ve seen mountains tracked out in a few hours tops). My back was feeling better. This was the kind of powder that, face shot after face shot, blows off the goggles like dust in the wind. I was in paradise – again. We had so much fun skiing untracked snow within the 1,500 acres of lift served and 1,800 vertical that I forgot about its 17,000 acres of guided backcountry -so more on that in a later post. In the meantime, I was way stoked to be skiing the best snow in Idaho, with such an awesome skier. Brundage’s April Russell, another amazing skier, joined us end of day as the snow continued to stack up. We pretty much had the mountain all to ourselves. POW’daho rocks! Check out the video for yourself and be sure to put Brundage Mountain on your hit list. Nearby McCall has as many hotels and lodges (and nice ones too) as it does blocks so you’ll have no trouble finding a place. It’s a hip little ski town that I hope to spend more time exploring next time I visit – something I truly can’t wait to do. With another 6″ new this week, I wish it could be today.
Brundage Mountain’s 2013/14 season passes are on sale NOW. Get your pass by tomorrow, Mar. 8th, for the lowest prices and ski the rest of the season for only $99. An adult (18-69) pass is only $279 for new pass holders. For more info and to purchase, please visit Brundage Mountain’s website.
Matchstick Productions in conjunction with Red Bull Media House have put together the long-awaited story of “the most influential skier ever” – McCONKEY. Today, they announced its world premiere is set for this April at the world-renowned Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. It is showing as one of their “Spotlight” films, which are described as films that blur the lines between independent and mainstream. There are 21 narratives and 12 documentaries from across the globe showing in this particular section of the festival. Shane McConkey, a freeskiing and ski base jumping pioneer, inspired countless skiers and this new film, “McConkey”, celebrates and pays tribute to his life and achievements. Here’s the trailer – the film’s going to be a jaw dropper for sure.
Here’s a super fresh one from our bro Carl Simpson, skiing up on Snoqualmie Pass this past Monday, getting some great turns off of Red Mountain. The last line they hit, I have looked up and down from the Red/lundin ridge years ago, and wish I could have done this one with them. I’m just stoked Carl cranked this edit out to bring a little jolt to our Wednesday morning coffee. Enjoy and thanks for the stoke, Carl!
Video of the day below… “video thumbnail pic” is Lundin Peak as seen from Red Mountain.
Just a little over 2hrs to the north of Boise is Tamarack Resort, my 4th stop on a tour we started calling POW’daho 2013 due to the snow that continued to fall. Tamarack, located in the scenic Payette River Mountains directly above the 21 mile long Cascade Lake, is the first newly permitted four-season resort in N. America in more than two decades. It is a true 4 diamond resort in the rough. Its lodges and facilities are in various states of completion but enough is done for all to see: this is going to be one heck of a luxury destination. The scale and well designed plan of this resort development (with its new slopeside estate homes and quaint chalets) reminded me of Moonlight Basin, MT. Tamarack is beautiful. I arrived Sunday morning at about 8:50am as the fog started to lift on a sunny POWDER day. I was the 5th car in the parking lot. It didn’t feel right – had I mixed up my days and it was Monday (when Tamarack is closed)? I would later learn that people take their time arriving even on weekends (eta 10:30am) simply because there are never any crowds at Tamarack. With Tamarack being the newest resort in the area, Boise having Bogus Basin and neighboring McCall having Brundage, Tamarack, whose slogan is “Your Trailhead to Discovery”, remains somewhat undiscovered. With great skiing (41% advanced terrain, 2800′ vertical, vast sidecountry), low prices and more, it’s surprising to see the slopes so empty. There are 900 lift served acres with over 5000 more acres of front facing sidecountry – i.e., all accessible through the backcountry gates and leading back to the base. There’s also the option to continue to the road below for car laps. I’m told that skiing/riding out of the North gate boundary to West Mountain Road yields around 3000 vertical ft. That’s just the terrain on the frontside. There’s a backside to all this but you won’t want to drop into it unless you have a snowmobile or skins to get out. Speaking of snowmobiles, sledders have it made here: the resort permits sleds to ride right up to the gates and the base lift (several were parked there during lunch). With so much out of bounds terrain, I couldn’t wait to get out and explore. After a beacon and avi gear check, Robby Russell, Dustin Simmons and I headed for runs down South Bowl and the steeper Fat Larry’s Ridge. We didn’t see a soul the entire time and these were easy to get to (5-10min. hike) sidecountry turns. I couldn’t believe it. Tamarack is sidecountry paradise. I’ve never experienced such solitude in any sidecountry on a weekend. Now I see why Robby calls Tamarack the place where powder goes to escape the people. All I can say is watch the video to see for youself. Then, plan on visiting and enjoying it while you can. Remember as you watch the video that this was a Sunday, end of a sun-filled POWDER perfect weekend – and yet, we were still skiing fresh tracks until our very last run. This is POW’daho!
Now about those low prices - how about $279 for an adult season pass, $49/day or $200/5days. Go to the resort website for more info.
Bob Legasa and his Freeride Media team just hit Big Sky. What a great mountain to get some serious vert along with some quality snow! Here are some notes from Freeride Media about big sky, along with their awesome day all summed up in the video below. Bob writes, Big Sky Resort a 3,832-acre ski resort located in southwestern Montana was the first stop of our Montana State ski road trip and what a start it was! Our crew of Desiree Leipham, Scott Evans, Tommy Frey, Dan Herby and Bob Legasa hooked up with longtime friend Dan Egan and Big Sky local Kipp Proctor. This place is big with 4350 of vert and plenty of steeps and trees to keep the most die hard riders happy, If your just getting going in the sport Big Sky has plenty to offer with 40% of it’s terrain for begineer and intermediate. Opened in late 1973, Big Sky has grown over the last 35 years. Trademarked as the “Biggest Skiing in America” through the Biggest Skiing in America Pass, skiers and riders have access to over 5,532 acres. Three-quarters of the vast terrain is Big Sky Resort, with the remaining trails at Moonlight Basin. The Biggest Skiing in America Pass combines the two resorts making Moonlight Basin accessible from the Lone Peak Summit and via the Challenger Lift.
Snow Troopers Mike and Andy Traslin heart the Heartstrings in the Joffre Lakes region of British Columbia. Here’s what Mike had to say about their tour:
Looking for great views and an aesthetic ski tour? Then Heartstrings is for you. Like most skiers and climbers, I had skied various routes on Mt Joffre, Matier, Slalok. I had heard of the Heartstrings in many conversations over the years… but only in regards to exiting the bigger objectives. I had personally always just skied by the Heartstrings, for one reason or another. It always just seemed like…. “Oh Look there is Heartstrings”. After 15 years of passing it by, the big rockwalls lured me in and I finally skied it. The snow was variable, but the views were perfect. Fun Ski! It would be great to hit that zone in powder. Next time. For more information on the area, pick up “Exploring the Coast Mountains on Skis” by John Baldwin and head to page 125. Good luck.
Dorian Densmore sent this super short and very sweet edit over from a few days out last week in his home stomping grounds of the Tetons. This edit is awesome so be sure to watch it and help him get to Tailgate AK. That way he might get to spend some time with Dean Cummings and the rest of the Thompson Pass crew that puts on the massive event.