This past Sept. 21st was a special day for a small group of Snow Troopers, as we all linked up another year of skiing. It was a beautiful day that was mostly spent at 1/2 to 3/4 speed and had a main focus of just celebrating life with friends/loved ones. A couple in our group linked up 72 months, another linked the first 12 months and I hit 132 months (but we didn’t do it on the upper Muir Snowfield as you will sadly see in the video below that Carl Simpson and myself put together – Sting, snapped the shot above of our cute little buddy). I had intended to post this video up yesterday but didn’t, due to the tragic news of two South American big mountain incidents that took the lives of JP Auclair, Andreas Fransson and Liz Daley (who was a local Puget Sound BIG mountain shedder loved by so many here locally and world wide). Even though I was never blessed to spend time with any of our lost mountain family members, I still knew them very well. My thoughts and prayers for all of them, their families and my many many friends who are hurting. R.I.P.
Washington’s Central Cascades has received its first fall snow -albeit at higher elevations. The Camp Muir webcam at Mt. Rainier shows some footsteps in fresh snow this a.m. We had just posted about the marginal conditions on the Muir Snowfield as compared to a year ago -when it snowed several inches on 9/26/13- so, Mother Nature is right on schedule with delivering the much needed/wanted snow. Our snow levels are falling to 6500ft later this week. If fall delivers the snow like last year, the 2.7 mile stretch of the Mt. Baker Highway (SR542) that ends at Artist Point (about 5220ft elevation, above the Mt. Baker Ski Area) could be closing soon. Last year, the road to Artist Point closed on Sept. 30 so the countdown begins. Go out and enjoy it while you can.
We are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of ski mountaineers, Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi, who were members of the Dynafit Double8 Expedition team. Our sympathies go out to their families and friends. According to the expedition blog yesterday, Sebastian and Andrea were caught in an avalanche below the summit of Shisha Pangma. Other members of the team, Benedikt Boehm and Ueli Steck, were unharmed. The team had set out to speed climb and ski down Shisha Pangma and Cho Oyu and travel between both base camps on foot and by bike within 7 days. Shisha Pangma was the first mountain they had planned to summit. As seen in their video below, they had turned back after a first attempt due to high avalanche dangers. At 8,013 m/26,906 ft, Shisha Pangma is the 14th highest mountain in the world. RIP Sebastian Haag & Andrea Zambaldi – you will be missed.
A year ago today, we reported from Mt. Rainier after several inches of early fall snow. What a difference a year makes – this summer, Washington state had more consecutive 80+ degree days than we can all remember and it sure took a toll on the Muir Snowfield. Below is how the Snowfield looked last Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, starting from about 9400ft. Muir has melted down to a mix of thin patches of snow, skeletal glacier ice and rock -water was running everywhere.
Compare these two photos of Mt. Rainier this past Sunday and a year ago today in 2013 (check the video from 2013 here):
TNT’s working on a video report of some skiing from about 8900′ and down. However, even at lower elevations, there were some firm and icy spots. As the sign above says, be prepared and extra careful if you’re headed up that high. Live to ski another day!
Ah, it’s that time of the year again… Getting pumped for the change seasons, the change of lifestyle that will be coming soon to a mountain zone near you, and a whole FRESH load of ski movies. Tonight, at Seattle’s Moore Theater, my all time favorite ski flick company, Matchstick Productions, will be showing their latest project “Days of My Youth”. It should quite epic, especially knowing that MSP teamed up with Red Bull Media House for this almost two year project. If you are in the Cascade snow zone, I hope to see you down there tonight (tickets here), and if you are elsewhere check the MSP schedule. Think BIG SNOW and alway remember, “Live to Ski Another Day!”
Be sure to purchase the Summit at Snoqualmie season pass by Sept. 15 before prices go up. Big pre-season savings for all, especially last season’s passholders. We’re looking forward to more deep days like the one captured below. But just in case, all Big S Gold, Unlimited, and LTD Passes now come with a 100 day guarantee: every day short of 100 days adds a 1% discount toward your following season’s pass -i.e. if during the season, there are 11 days when none of the base areas open, a 14/15 Big S Gold, Unlimited, and LTD passholder will get an 11% discount on the purchase of a 2015-2016 Season Pass.
A Middle Latitude Auroral Activity Watch is in effect for September 12 and 13. The forecast can change at anytime but right now it’s looking like there’s a chance for WA and the Pacific NW to see Northern Lights starting 8pm-ish (-7hrs from UT to convert to our time zone). Head away from city lights and look North at the horizon. We’ll be at Silver Peak to watch for a glow. See you there?
It’s that time of the year when we all start thinking about our gear. If ski or snowboard boots or helmets are on your list, read on because many use Boa Technology Inc.’s closure (lacing) system – which we like – and their lifetime warranty service is exemplary.
I own a pair of 1st generation Black Diamond Shiva AT boots that use the patented Boa Closure System – a stainless steel lace and mechanical reel winding/tightening system. For me, the Boa system has provided the most user friendly (i.e. one hand tightening and quick release) not to mention most comfortable, customized and secure fit. The fact that I’ve had the boots for 5 seasons now (skiing 60-100days/season) is proof of how well the Boa system (and Black Diamond Shiva boots) work and hold up. Only in the past year did I begin experiencing snags in the reel making it difficult to unwind/loosen the laces. Tightening and loosening a couple of times would usually work to unsnag the reel. Then one day, nothing I tried worked: one boot’s reel got stuck for good. Others have had this happen and swore off Boa. I’m guessing they didn’t know about Boa’s warranty. It’s a lifetime, no strings attached warranty of free replacement parts.
The site is easy to use and my replacement laces and reels arrived in just two days. When I reached out to Boa via email and phone for help with removing the stuck spool, their response time was even more impressive: Tyler J. responded within hours with email AND a return call proving that Boa’s warranty service is top notch. They obviously realize their parts are embedded in some of the most essential mountain gear and respond accordingly. I was able to replace the 2 parts and lace myself. The directions were clear and I followed the old lace’s path close behind with the new lace to ensure I laced it in exactly the right direction/order. Re-spooling the lace the first time took a few tries but once I got one end, the other was easy. If it weren’t for the tangled spool, the replacement would’ve taken 10-15min. tops. With Boa’s lifetime warranty and Black Diamond’s durability, I won’t need a new pair of boots for a long, long time. But if I do, I’ll keep an eye out for ones with Boa. Look for the Boa closure system in Black Diamond, Scarpa and Apex ski boots, Head, K2, Ride, DC, Flow and other snowboard boots, and Smith and Pro Tec helmets.
Looking for a little outdoor fun/competition this up coming Saturday (9/6/14)? Yes? Then come on up to our “home” zone, Snoqualmie Pass, WA, for the “3rd Annual North Bend Iron Horse Traverse”. The traverse is a fun, 4 part race that kicks off at 8:30 AM Saturday, finishing a few hours later (on average) at the 3rd Annual Adventure Sports Festival (downtown North Bend). The course isn’t hard (just long) and I’m almost thinking of entering in the solo category (hope I can find a team ). The North Bend Iron Horse Traverse begins with a 5mile paddle on Keechelus Lake, to a 27mile (mostly downhill) MTB through the old train tunnel heading for NB on the Iron Horse (John Wayne) Trail. Next leg is a 24.5mile road ride, and finishing off the traverse is a flat 6mile run that brings you downtown to all of this year’s festival action (if you are part of a relay team, all members will join the runner the final ¼ mile to the finish line). Most of the teams will do it as a relay, but if you want to go after it solo or tandem, there’s a category for you, too! Rally a team (or yourself) for this fun Cascade play day, next Saturday, The Festival was created around the FINISH line of the NBIHT, with all sorts of free activities (and you will be right next to our good friends’ shop, “Pro Ski and Mountain Service”, so swing in and see the latest a greatest outdoor gear that will make your future Cascade adventures funner, easier, and most of all safer!
Just a quick “race results” post while I work on this year’s “Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run” video. This is an event that just doesn’t seem humanly possible (at least to me, as I am very trashed after a 20 mile mountain run), especially when you do the math on the 100 miles and 20,470′ of vert gained and lost (combined vert of 40,940′) Seth Swanson covered in 17:56:50. Seth Swanson, a Missoula native and 1st time CCC 100 competitor, not only crossed the finish line first, but shattered the course record by 31 minutes. The former course record was set by Jeff Browning, 39 (at the time in 2010), from Bend, OR, 18:31:09. Prior to Jeff’s record, two time king of the CCC 100, Phil Shaw, set the bar at 19:47:40 back in 2009, for this hardcore event that begins in Eason, climbing right away into the mountains South of I-90 and heads towards Snoqualmie Pass, then crosses under the freeway, for another 50 mile leg back to Easton (which is full of epic views and wicked steep climbs). Former 2009 Champ, Phil Shaw came in 19th with an impressive 22:36:22. This event takes a ton of dedicated people to make it happen smoothly and safely, so that being said, congrats to not only the people that attempted this great feat (wether you finished or not, you are a bad ass in my book; especially knowing that one can’t just sign up to run this event, it’s earned!) and the Cascade Crest 100 event staff, aid station folks and volunteers from the trail crew to the Easton Fire Department.
Above: video screen grab – Seth Swanson @ Mirror Lake, a solid 2+ miles ahead of 2nd place.
Below: French Cabin aid station.
Below: 2014 race results