Entries in back country skiing (11)


Alaska Spring and Type II Fun

Unlike other places I’ve lived in my life, Alaska is not known for consistently fine weather. The windows tend to be short and, if you’re a skier, you need to pounce on opportunities when they present themselves. For the traditionally employed, this can prove to be a problem when good weather materializes during the week and the shit comes back in on the weekend. 

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The Bomber Traverse

The early days of the Grand Teton Speed Project, Lycra required.As most readers know, I've been playing the speed game in ski mountaineering for several years. It was a natural distraction for active Teton and Wasatch skimo racers who wanted to take their race-honed fitness and ski skills to the higher peaks. For those of us who toyed with this sort of masochism, we enjoyed pushing each other, setting standards for others to pursue and generally enjoyed testing ourselves in the mountains. We coined it the "Grand Teton Speed Project". Granted, this stuff is not for everyone. The fat and baggy crowd could care less about going fast and covering lots of ground in a day. For them, the focus is on the down. Fair enough. For sure, our skiing was not pretty but we got more of it each day and this made us happy. We still like powder skiing on fat boards but Lycra and race sticks still capture our imagination.

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Northern Exposure

Sunburst Ridge, Turnagain Pass, AKIn spite of the grim, dry and warm weather around Anchorage so far this winter, the precipitation has been pumping through the Kenai Penninsula and dumping snow up high. The road is still mostly dry requiring some walking through the alders to get to the goods but at least there's skiing. However, the funky weather patterns have created some sketchy deep layers that shed some light on the realities of Alaska skiing that I think are worth discussing. Slick rain crusts and buried surface hoar are currently persistant worries for all who venture up there.

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Giving Thanks

Hatcher PassI’ve heard people familiar with Alaska say that “she’s” like a bipolar girlfriend. When she’s good, she’s awesome but when she’s depressed, well, she’s pretty damn intolerable. These past 10 days, or so, this beotch has been in a foul mood, one not conducive to psyching up the local skiers up here. Oh, she was awesome over the Thanksgiving weekend, that’s for sure. But we’ve had way too many days of freezing rain and drizzle even up in the mountains. I’m not ready to break up yet but I’m thinking about sleeping in the other bedroom.

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Sportiva Spitfire Review (updated)

North Couloir, Tanaina Peak, Chugach, AK - photo: Mat BruntonThe insane run of high pressure finally comes to an end today and, as the clouds moved in, I realized I would finally get to write something. Some good days have been had and I’ll share those in the next few days but first I wanted to get a review out on my Sportiva Spitfire boots.

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