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16
Mar

Hyak Dawn Patrol with Andrew Winstanley


This past Monday evening, the snow hammered down once again and the freeway was shutdown, due to spin outs etc. Just the kind of report we love up here (as long as you aren’t stuck off the Pass). Having had only a small window of time to ski the following morning/yesterday, I decided to walk up Summit East, if the Snow Gods kept adding to goodness already on the ground. BINGO, I rolled out yesterday morning around 6:30 AM and my timing was perfect catching a fresh, “guide like” skin track up the face. Turned out that skin track was set by Andrew Winstanley, who is seen rocking the East Peak chair line in the video below.


Short recap of yesterday’s fresh, at 2,600’+.


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09
Mar

Boise is lucky to have Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area. It almost went under in the 1950s. But J.R. Simplot, Idaho’s potato king (and inventor of the 1st commercial frozen french fries), purchased and sold it back to Bogus Basin Recreational Association for $1; thus, saving it from certain demise. Today, the resort continues under the ownership of that non-profit, charitable organization created by the Boise community. Our hats off to them. Bogus Basin is an impressive ski area.

 

With 2600 acres, Bogus Basin’s terrain makes it Idaho’s 2nd largest ski area. Its terrain is spread out over two connecting mountains, Shafer Butte topping out at 7590 ft (1800 ft vertical rise) and Deer Point at 7,070 ft – all serviced by 7 lifts. Its night skiing operation covering 165 acres is Idaho’s largest. If stats and ski trivia are your thing, also consider this: its proximity to Boise (just 16.5 miles drive) makes Bogus Basin one of the largest ski resorts LESS than 30 miles from a major city.



On the day we visited, it had snowed several inches. As we approached the J.R. Simplot Lodge, we couldn’t help but notice that the base area was teaming with Bogus Basin staff greeting visitors and asking if they could help. We traded remarks about how this was the most well staffed base area we had ever seen. Even as the parking lots filled up to capacity, there were no lift lines anywhere on the mountain. The design of the mountain does a superb job of spreading out the crowd in all directions. We encountered none and skied fresh powder all day. Our team, TNT, Adam Roberts, Jeff Rich, Carl Simpson and myself, followed the “spring plan” (pictured below). TNT and Adam ended up stuck on the more advanced terrain off Shafer Butte and the Superior and Pine Creek Express lifts. We say “stuck” because they got disoriented by the 360 degree skiing off the Superior Lift, had a Groundhog Day (the movie) experience and kept ending up at the same chair. They enjoyed every minute of it but finally had to ask how to get out. So be careful: the 360 degree portion of the resort can really throw people off and make Bogus Basin difficult to navigate. But by the same token, it makes the area ski even bigger than it is. To assist folks in finding their way, the posted maps include an overhead 360 degree version (just remember you’re looking at an “overhead” map!).

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is located north of Boise, ID, at the end of a 16 mile drive up the very windy Bogus Basin Road.

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03
Mar

With an annual snowfall of 500”, Pomerelle is known for being Idaho’s snowfall leader and usually one of its first ski resorts to open. I experienced Pomerelle’s famous deep powder on a past trip -one that inspired me to coin and use the name POW’daho for the rest of that Idaho tour. This time, however, there was no new snow. But still, Pomerelle had the deepest snow pack in Idaho: snow depth was (and currently is) 100″ at their base area (8,000 ft elevation) and 112″ at the top (about 9,000 ft elevation).

 

We pulled into their small lot at 9am on a Saturday and still got front row parking. Needless to say, there were no lift lines. Despite being Idaho’s snowfall leader, Pomerelle remains surprisingly uncrowded. The lack of crowds enables Pomerelle to groom their runs in the morning. That Saturday was no different. Grooming was underway as we got on the lift so we decided to follow and be guided around the mountain by the groomer. It’s easy to see why Pomerelle caters specifically to families and those learning to ski or board. Their soft, expertly groomed runs are easy to navigate and well designed along steady but gentle fall lines. We skied all of them and found consistently perfect corduroy run after run. That made for a super fun day even though our original plan to explore the backcountry was thwarted by very high winds. Speaking of the backcountry, theirs is easily accessible via a short ski and hike along the top ridge. We’ve heard a lot about their easy to get to backcountry terrain so plan to return for that another time.

 

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02
Mar

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Below is the 2015 White Pass Ski Area Winter Carnival edit of our weekend from on 2/28/15 and 3/1/15. We all had a blast at last year’s event, charging the perfect corduroy and “boot top” cold pow we found in their bc, BOTH days. Due to the incredible lack of snow on our home pass (Snoqualmie), it was no wonder to have run into so many Alpental skiers, getting a fix too. That isn’t what surprised me though, it was how many of the Snoqualmie Pass locs had never skied White Pass, well this is what ever single person had mentioned (in some way or another), “This place rocks! The people are so friendly and down to earth, and the “earth” they have to ski in and out of bounds is LEGIT!” If you haven’t been to White Pass yet, you owe it to yourselves to put it on the hit list, then I’m sure you will be itching to go back (just like I am, right now). Speaking of inching to go back, I wanted to mention this upcoming weekend is this year’s Winter Carnival at White Pass, so click HERE for all of the details.


*Also, as mentioned before, the White Pass Village Inn has great loft rooms with kitchens to make for a cheap trip with the crew. However, as we found out, coming in from the Eastside on Hwy 12, all the grocery stores on the way, don’t open until 7AM, so stock up prior.



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28
Feb

After a day at Pebble Creek Ski Area, we couldn’t help but wonder how its steep terrain ranked. So, we sifted through U.S. ski resorts’ own published data while asking ourselves: Which U.S. ski resorts have the highest “percentage” of lift served advanced terrain while also offering beginner and intermediate runs? What we found validated our impressions: of the resorts that break out their terrain’s difficulty by percentage, Pebble Creek is one of the nation’s leaders alongside bigger name resorts. Upon closer examination of the data, what surprised us was: Pebble Creek is the nation’s #1 ski resort when it comes to having the highest percentage of advanced terrain with over 2,000 lift served vertical feet. Pebble Creek rates 53% of its lift served, 2,200 ft vertical feet terrain as being advanced. We realize that steepness is relative and this data doesn’t rule out steeper runs elsewhere. However, our experience and this finding puts Pebble Creek tops on our list for being not only Idaho’s best keep secret but also amongst the country’s best kept steepests.

 

Located on Mount Bonneville (Portneuf Range’s highest mountain), Pebble Creek’s slogan is “If you can ski here, you can ski anywhere” – something many must say that about their mountain. We say it about our Alpental which has 41% advanced/expert lift served terrain on 2,280 vertical feet. In fact, we found ourselves comparing Pebble Creek quite a lot to our home mountain and we all agreed that this area known as “the Rock” truly rocks. It wasn’t just the rocky and cliff zones that far exceeded our expectations but also the groomers. Seemingly taller than it is broad, some of Pebble Creek’s steeply, sustained pitched groomers are narrower than usual and that moved the dial many notches on the difficulty scale. High speed and steep skiers alike would love the G forces on the well groomed runs. The pitch is similarly sustained in the well spaced glades where our team found some of the best tree skiing all week.  We noticed a high number of little rippers skiing without parental units – they conjured up images of how local skier/phenom and Matchstick Productions’ rising star, Sander Hadley, must have got his start and went on to out ski us all.


 

Pebble Creek has a small community atmosphere (+ thumbs up for being a very diverse one given the international students coming from the nearby college). Everyone was friendly, inviting and attentive – from the owners, management on down. We had Stefan Berkel of ski patrol show our crew the uncrowded frontside. Then, the TanSnowman of Panda Poles showed us the even less crowded side country which we seemed to have to ourselves the entire day. Then some local rippers, took us through the terrain park. We ended up having such a good time on the frontside and side country that we never ventured beyond. We relished the thought of having to return to explore the backcountry – yes, another trip is a must. Our team – TNT, Sting, Jason Hummel, Jeff Rich, Adam Roberts, Carl Simpson – loved this place.

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21
Feb

We kicked off our 2016 Idaho ski tour with a detour to Grand Targhee Resort. We say “detour” because the resort is actually located in Alta, WY but the only way to get there is through the town of Driggs, ID.  The drive is an hour and a half West of Jackson, WY but it feels a lot shorter. The road from Jackson follows part of the Teton Scenic Byway in ID so as you can imagine, it is filled with stunning views to pass the time. The resort’s location, directly west of Grand Teton National Park, serves up what we think is the most head on, lift-served summit vistas of the Grand Teton, Middle Teton and South Teton’s rocky peaks. That and the resort’s uncrowded skiing and quality light, dry snow make Grand Targhee Resort well worth the trip.


Grand Targhee stays open longer than other Wyoming resorts.  This year, it is scheduled to run lifts daily through April 17 and then for a bonus weekend April 22-24 (conditions permitting) so there’s still plenty of time to visit this season.  Jackson Hole and Snow King close after April 3rd and Mar. 27th, respectively. It seems that no matter when we visit, Grand Targhee’s 2,602 acres and 2270 ft vertical drop always ski big.  With more than 500 inches of light dry snow in an average year, it also gets deep. In fact, Grand Targhee was ranked No. 2 for Best Snow by Ski Magazine this year. The 91″ snow base was the deepest of all the resorts we visited so far on our road trip. Unlike most resorts with comparably big terrain, Grand Targhee remains remarkably uncrowded with no lift lines. We missed the last storm by nearly a week and, yet, plenty of light powder still remained. Amongst the 3 mountains comprising the resort, our steeps seeking team (TNT, Jason Hummel, Jeff Rich, Adam Roberts, Carl & Tara Simpson) found their favorite terrain (seen in below video) off Peaked Mountain (lift served to 9,830 ft but hiked further), Mary’s Nipple (hike in bounds to 9.,920 ft) and in their backcountry.



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19
Feb

“Howe Sound Quick Hits” is a short video Andy Traslin sent over which captured a February ski day with his brother, Mike.


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17
Feb

No other U.S. ski resort destination caters to the refined, high end crowd like Aspen, CO. With 5 star hotels, private jets, celebrities, designer stores, award winning dining, beautiful people and nightlife, Aspen sounded to our team like it might be more exciting off mountain, than on. From town, the team stared up at the impeccably groomed runs. They thought about a leisurely ski day and looked forward to having plenty of energy to rally for Aspen’s big nightlife. But hold that thought because we were about to meet up with 2x World Extreme Skiing Champion and Aspen resident, Chris Davenport and ski “his” Mountain (known to locals as Ajax).


Exiting the gondola towards the Sun Deck Lodge (at an elevation of 11, 212 ft), there’s a display about Chris. Entitled “Skiing Colorado’s Fourteeners“, it’s a tribute to Chris becoming the first to ski all 54 of CO’s 14,000 ft peaks in less than a year. His book “Ski the 14ers” details the 363 day mission. In addition to pioneering big lines, he’s also a World Champion skier. Chris undoubtedly knows every steep line on Ajax. Chris also knows where to find the stashes. We were surprised to find so much untracked in bounds. After all, three days had already passed since early February’s winter storm Kayla. Granted, it dumped more than 3 feet in 3 days during the biggest storm since winter 2007-08, but we had expected 675 acres would be tracked out by now – especially, given how the high speed chairs and gondola made getting to them virtually effortless. This is perhaps the most efficiently designed steep, long mountain: 3,267 ft sustained vert. And without a doubt, it is the most well maintained – grooming and coverage is perfect.

 

Be sure to follow Chris on Facebook.


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07
Feb

Wanted to share this one from Josh Langdon out of Flagstaff, AZ, skiing his home stomping grounds of Arizona Snowbowl! If you didn’t know there was skiing to be had in Arizona, be sure to check out Josh’s “Season Edit 2016 Part 1” for a little pre-Super Bowl stoke.


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04
Feb

Ski Patrol cabin at the top of Lookout


This past week, Jeff Rich, Tara and Carl Simpson, Jason Hummel, Adam Roberts and myself, packed up two RVs to start making our way for SIA 2016 in Denver. We made our 1st “rest” stop at a super fun mountain based in Idaho with terrain that extends into Montana. Nothing trumps a lift served, skiable border crossing. The mountain I’m speaking of is Lookout Pass, ID. Being on the I-90 corridor, just under 6 hours East of Seattle, this is a mountain that gets a lot of annual snowfall. 400″ is the average at Lookout Mountain, making it one of the leaders of Idaho snowfall. As you will see in the video below, we didn’t hit this on one of their many epic powder dayz but we did have a blast skiing the “Spring like” snow -and doing so, pretty much all by ourselves. This mountain is very easy to access by a short flight into Spokane. From there make the 1.5 hr drive East on I-90 to Lookout Pass. I’d recommend staying in the really cool town of Wallace, ID, which is just 20 minutes West of the ski area, on I-90. Be sure to check out the Wallace Inn, which I noticed is offering this great deal:


  • 1 Night deluxe room, double occupancy
  • 2 Adult lift tickets to Lookout Pass Ski Resort
  • 1 Craft brew flight from Wallace Brewing Company or North Idaho Mountain Brewery

  • Another killer deal, I heard about while skiing Lookout, was the Season Pass offer, which will be available later this month. 199 bucks gets you next season’s pass plus skiing for the remainder of this season! Smoking deal! So be sure to check back to Lookout’s website later this month to find out all of the fine details. Also, while checking out their site, be sure to look at the 2,000 acre expansion which is in the not too far off future.


    Below is our day wrapped up in under 3 minutes

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