| October 2007
Aaron and the folks up at Sol Mountain Touring in the Monashees sent us a couple images of a recent trip up to the lodge to finish a few projects on the hut maintenance list. Unfortunately for the project list, it snowed heavily while they were up at the lodge. The good news is that they actually got some skiing done.
Many areas of the country have seen good early snows this season but the Monashees is one of those locations that seems to get an early start to the snowpack regardless of what is happening in other parts of the country. Here is what Aaron had to say . . .
We had planned on finishing the siding in the first weeks of October, early snow changed our plans. 4 wheel chaining up our road with 1 meter of snow, scrambling to finish our firewood - ended up finishing the last bit with snowmobiles. Remainder of siding is on hold until next summer. We did take a break Oct 5 for a few turns.
Our struggle with snow this year is typical in every fall we have worked up there. Seems we always have to spend some time battling in it - kind've a penance I guess for getting to play in it all winter.
Garmont Joins Rottefella NTN
Garmont recently signed on board with Rottefella's NTN (new telemark norm) binding program. This means that now Scarpa, Crispi, and Garmont will all make boots compatible with Rottefella's NTN telemark binding.
Garmont, who had previously commited to work with the new system being developed by Black Diamond released this statement about their decision to support the Rottefella NTN,
“Garmont is pleased to be invited to rejoin the NTN program. During the past year, we have kept a close eye on its progress. We are impressed with what Rottefella has achieved with NTN. The NTN boot-binding system perfectly meets and exceeds the performance requirements of the most demanding free heel and Free ride skier. Thus, the new NTN system will allow Garmont to continue on our mission of building the best ski boots on the planet,” states Achille Morlin, President of Garmont.
It should be an interesting year ahead for the tele world as the Rottefella NTN binding becomes available in North America this fall and Black Diamond continues to pursue their independent development of a new telemark boot and binding interface.
Rottefella released this statement about having Garmont's support,
“This is a crucial step in establishing NTN as the future Telemark norm. The close collaboration between Rottefella (binding) and boot producers Crispi and Scarpa has helped to create a binding/boot interface that has proven itself to give the skier a superior performance - and thus superior skiing experience - when compared to existing Telemark equipment. With Garmont joining Rottefella, it gives us added inspiration and confidence to continue developing NTN as a dependable, universal choice for all alpine and telemark skiers out there,” says Ulf Bjerknes, President of Rottefella AS.
Mt Hood Conditions
Mt Hood and the surrounding area had close to two feet of snow last week above about 5,000 feet. I have had several folks report that they found skiable conditions mid storm cycle, especially above 6,000 feet. Well, as the weather will do this time of year, things have changed dramatically this week. The sun has been out and the freezing levels are well above treeline.
A friend was up near Timberline for a little skiing yesterday and sent these photos. Here's what he had to say . . .
Couldn't go wrong up there given the weather. I'd say 50's with only the slightest breeze. The coverage was not great until you consider that it's still October. We stayed on skis the whole time. Snow was, of course, heavy and wet, essentially spring like . . .
STEEP the movie
I had the opportunity to preview STEEP, a new film from Sony Classics. This is not your normal ski porn. STEEP is a high quality documentary film that explores the history and evolution of steep and big mountain skiing. A project by High Ground Productions and the Documentary Group (formed by Peter Jennings), STEEP is a combination of interviews and impressive ski footage both historical and current.
STEEP includes conversations with steep skiing names such as Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Mike Hattrup, Ingrid Backstrom, Glenn Plake, and Doug Coombs as well as great historical coverage of early European exploits in and around Chamonix as well as Bill Briggs' historic first descent of the Wyoming's Grand Teton in 1971.
The film is very well done, includes incredible ski footage, and given Doug Coombs' death in 2006, offers what turns out to be very poignant conversations with Doug about the evolution of steep skiing, its inherent risks, and luck.
The movie launches in December and should begin making appearances at theaters in ski communities and towns around the country. Check this link for a preview of the film
Skiing in Alaska
Word from Alaska is that winter is setting in nicely. Steve Conway up in Anchorage sent this image of the snowline encroaching on the valley floor. He said that his daughter's friends already have a half dozen days of skiing up in the Talkeetna Mountains North of Anchorage, reportedly with thigh deep conditions. Not bad for October.
Meanwhile the snow is flying in these parts as well, although, I am patiently waiting for the base to grow before I head out. It is hard to hang up the bike just yet. . . . It is only October.
I just got word from Paul Butler up at North Cascades Heli-Skiing (NCHS) that they are preparing to open the season in late December, their earliest start ever. Now before I take a bunch of heat for promoting a heli-operation in Off-Piste, these guys offer some pretty cool backcountry related adventures. Their location on the eastern slope of the North Cascades makes for some incredible skiing. Sure, they offer the standard heli-day ski options but they also offer several options for the more touring minded skier including, multiday yurt trips and backcountry drops that let you tour all day and give you a ride back to the barn at the end of the day.
To promote their early start, NCHS is offering full heli-ski days for $700 until mid January and their backcountry drops, which include a guide for the day, are $375.
It is snowing in the Cascades right now! For more details on NCHS visit their website or give them a call. www.heli-ski.com
Another Blast of Winter on its Way
We just had a picture perfect fall weekend here in Oregon (see hood photo above) but it does not look like it will be like this for long. Winter is making another attempt at setting this week. This is from the National Weather Service
...SIGNIFICANT SNOW POSSIBLE IN THE CASCADE PASSES LATER THIS WEEK..
A VERY ACTIVE STORM TRACK IN THE PACIFIC WILL BRING PLENTY OF
VALLEY RAIN AND MOUNTAIN SNOW TO NORTHWEST OREGON AND SOUTHWEST
WASHINGTON THIS WEEK. A SIGNIFICANT COLD FRONT WILL MOVE INTO THE
CASCADES TUESDAY NIGHT AND MAY LOWER SNOW LEVELS TO AROUND 4000 FEET.
SNOW WILL LIKELY INCREASE IN THE CASCADES WEDNESDAY BEFORE FINALLY
TAPERING OFF LATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT. SNOW ACCUMULATIONS COULD RANGE FROM 5 TO 10 INCHES ABOVE 4000 FEET FROM TUESDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY NIGHT IFTHE EVENT UNFOLDS AS ANTICIPATED. A WARM AND WET STORM MAY IMPACT THE AREA ON FRIDAY WITH SNOW LEVELS RISING ABOVE THE PASSES.
A couple of interesting opportunities came across my desk today . . .
First is a job opportunity as an Avalanche Forecaster and Control Specialist in Washington and the second is a prime opening at Fairy Meadows for the week of Jan 5-11, 2008. Details Below
Cool Job opportunity
Avalanche Forecast & Control Specialist 2 - Seasonal
South Central Region
Northwest Snow and Avalanche Summit
The Friends of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center has a host of snow related events happening this fall. First off, they are promotong the first Northwest Snow and Avalanche Summit to take place November 17th in Seattle.
The event is intended for ski patrollers, avalanche forecasters, WDOT and county road maintenace personnel, ski guides, search and rescue teams, avalanche instructors, undergraduate and graduate students in snow science programs, applied researchers, outdoor leaders, and advanced recreationalists. Check the pdf link at the left for more details or visit www.alpinesafety.org.
Other events include (in order of date):
Powderwhore's PW '07, October 13th, Nectar Lounge in Fremont, Seattle, WA
Alpine Safety Awareness Program Bash, October 27th, Boundary Bay Brewing, Bellingham, WA
Feathered Friends Demo Days, November 7 at 7pm, Fethered Friends, Seattle, WA - check out the latest gear, drink a few beers and enter raffles to win some of the latest toys.
Friends of NWAC SnowBash 2007 November 17, Tractor Tavern Seattle, WA.
For more details on any of these events check out www.alpinesafety.org or www.avalanchenw.org
NW Mountaineering Journal
Lowell Skoog recently released the latest edition of his on-line NW Mountaineering Journal (NWMJ). The Journal is a quality read for anyone with an interest in the Cascade Range. Head to the Short Reports for various first ski descents and recent mountaineering accomplishments in the Cascades. or check out any of the indepth reports and articles.
In addition to the NWMJ, Lowell Skoog has helped set up the Carl Skoog Memorial Fund. Carl, a longtime contributor to Off-Piste and accomplished photoger, skier, and mountaineer, died in October of 2005 in a ski mountaineering accident on Cerro Mercedario (6770m) in the high Andes of Argentina. The Carl Skoog Memorial Fund's mission is to support educational, literary, and land-use management projects with significant photographic content that demonstrate, enhance or promote the public benefit of public lands. For full details visit www.carlskoog.com
The latest cycle to blow through our area gave the mountains a very wintery look. This image of Mount Adams, taken by Darryl Lloyd, was shot right from Darryl's house in Hood River. Darryl has some incredible landscape shots of the region on his website. The current forecast calls for a bit of a freezing level roller coaster (what else is new around here) but there is plenty of precip on its way. We've got sun in town right now but the clouds remain stacked up to the west and north.
Hut Custodian Opening
I just got a note from the Alpine Club of Canada that they are accepting hut custodian applications for the Fairy Meadows hut in the Selkirks. This place has one of the most spectacular locations of the ACC huts. Oh to be unemployed and single. If you have some free time this winter, you should get your name in the pool . . .more info
First issue is off to the printer
Sometimes I wonder how it all comes together but once again the first issue of the season is off to the printer. As usual, the October issue includes the ski review as well as several feature stories. It should be in shops and subscriber mailboxes around the 15th. This issues cover shot was taken by Chad Coleman near Alpental, WA. Check out his website for more great ski images. Winter is on the way!
It seems fitting that Mt Hood received its first good measurable snows...