Winter has returned to the Northwest. A fickle La Nina has not deliverd the epic winter that everyone was hoping for, but the past week has seen a major turn around in snow conditions here in the Northwest. The current forecast for Mt Hood calls for 2.5 inches of water equivalent in the next two days. The National Weather Service is calling for 30-36 inches of snow at Hood today alone. Better late than never...
The Mountains of Eastern Oregon delivered the goods last week, and the North Cascades are calling this week.
NWAC SNOWBALL! Support the NW Weather and Avalanche Center
Join the Friends and the NWAC team for the
3rd annual Snowball Dinner and Auction on April 15, 2011, 6-10pm.
This spring's end-of-the-season celebration and fundraiser for the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center, will be at St. Demetrios Hall in the Montlake neighborhood of Seattle. Tickets are $65 before March 15, and $70 after - buy yours soon, this event sold out last year! Join your friends and familiar faces at this evening of live and silent auctions, as well as a delicious dinner, all for a great cause!
Solitaire - new ski film from Sweetgrass Productions
Nick Waggoner and crew from Sweetgrass Productions recently announced a 12-part webisode series that chronicles the work on their new film Solitaire. Sweetgrass is the crew that brought us Signatures and Hand Cut. Here is what they have to say about the new webisode series:
"On The Road with Solitaire" is a 12-part webisode series following Sweetgrass Productions in the making of their new 2-year project, the South American backcountry ski and snowboarding film "Solitaire." New episodes will be released on the 21st of every month.
Episode I introduces Solitaire and some of the landscapes the crew encountered in their first season of filming in the snowbound badlands of the Southern Hemisphere.
In the high desert of South America, winter takes hold, devouring bleached bones and abandoned shacks. Into these most inhospitable of lands, a handful of drifters emerge from the whiteout, ready to cast their lot on forsaken peaks both merciless and magnificent.
In other interesting product news form the tradeshow, Dynafit showed a new binding design evolution that they are calling the Radical. The Radical design uses newly designed toe and heel pieces. The new design creates new stops or towers on the toe that help with boot alignment, or in Dynafit's words, allow for step-in functionality. The Radical also introduces new climbing towers on the heel. The new set-up uses two seperate flip-up climbing aids that eliminate the quintessential Dynafit move of turning the heel to change your heel height.
The new design is available in several models ranging from a new burly Radical with torsion bar to the standard fare akin to the current Vertical models and even a Radical Speed model for the gram counters. I could go on to explain all of the details, but you can glean all of the beta from the Dynafit video posted on Youtube.
Here is a guest blog from our web guru, Karen Holt.
I decided I wanted an insulated ski jacket in my life this season. I often find myself skiing at the ski resort in my backcountry ski gear and, frankly, I am tired of wearing so many layers. My only alternative was to throw on my nice warm puffy, which is great in blue bird conditions, but not very effective during a damp Northwest storm cycle. Fortunately, the industry understands my needs and provides a nice selection of...
A week or so back I posted a clip of some rather uncharacteristic conditions in the Wasatch. There was a fair bit of disbelief that the clip was truly shot in the Wasatch. It was in fact shot up in the Maybird Creek area of Little Cottonwood Canyon. To be fair, we also found some decent snow the same day. The crust was prevalent on ridge tops and windward slopes. The following vid shows the snow on leeward aspects. Conditions in the Wasatch have improved considerably in the past few days. Get the latest on Wasatch snow conditions from the Utah Avalanche Center.
The second and final Tele Tuesday of the 2011 season draws nigh! It takes place on Tuesday 2/8. Ten dollars gets you unlimited tele and/or alpine touring ski and boot demos courtesy of the Mountain Shop. $20 gets you in the freeheel freestyle competition held in the upper bowl. Demo and race fee proceeds benefit the Friends of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center (NWAC).
Come to the a-frame between the base lodge and the bottom of the lower chair,, show your faces, ski under the lights, listen to the music, hang out and hoist a pint of Terminal Gravity IPA to the Mountainshop and NWAC. Bring your own cup for two buck pints. The weather looks like it will clear Tuesday.
More Backcountry Ski Gear news from the 2011 OR show
In other ski gear news, Voile announced a new ski at the show, the Vector BC. The Vector BC adds a waxless pattern base to the Vector. At 94mm underfoot, The Vector BC is the widest, most downhill oriented waxless ski yet to be offered by anyone. I have always been an advocate of wide waxless skis and find them (i have some prototypes from past years) super fun for light touring, long approaches and general ski fun.
In other subtle changes, the Dynafit Manaslu will change for 2011. The 2011 Manaslu drops the synthetic stringer construction in favor of the all-wood construction of the Dynafit Stoke. The result is a slightly stiffer tip on the ski. Overall, the 2011 Manaslu seemed to have a damper ride than the original, but was not dramatically different. I am a big fan of the original Manaslu ski, and the new version is a nice evolution without reinventing the wheel. The Stoke comes in with the same construction as before, but with the new binding mount locations (further forward).
G3 showed several new skis at OR. The new G3 HighBall (140-116-127) and the G3 Infidel (128-97-119) feature tip and tail rocker and are flat underfoot, what G3 calls Progressive SweetRise. G3 also updated the ZenOxide (131-105-123, 7.5lbs) and the G3 Saint (122-93-112) to include early rise tips. The Saint now weighs in at an impressive 6.7lbs/pair and features anew semi-cap construction.
In other interesting ski news, DPS announced a radical, new ski design call the Spoon. There are a couple of standout characteristics that set the new spoon apart from other skis. First, the base is convex. Second, there are four points called cleats, where the base is shaped to allow contact with firm snow (and thus allow you to stop, if need be). I was not able to ski the new board, but it is truly a new take on powder skiing. Can't say that convex bases will take off like rocker just yet, but it will be interesting to learn more about the ski. In the meantime, for a true description that does the new spoon ski design justice, visit the DPS Spoon Ski information page.
We will have a chance to ski just about all of these skis, and lots more, during our annual ski testing in March and will post updates at that time.
Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Festival Returns to Whitewater, February 25-28, 2011
Four Great Days of How-To Clinics, Equipment Demos, Parties, and Prizes
What’s Coldsmoke? Superlight, fluffy, powder puff snow that skiers passionately pursue each winter.
What’s the Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Festival?
A four day (February 25 – 28) grass-roots gathering of backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and telemarkers from all over British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest at Whitewater Ski Resort near Nelson, BC.
Now in its fifth year, the Coldsmoke Powder Festival (presented by Arc’teryx, Whitewater Ski Resort, and Mountain Gear) draws dedicated, die hard and enthusiasts as well as neophyte backcountry skiers and snowboarders who want to give off-piste adventures a try. Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Festival Website
American Alpine Club Annual Dinner to be in Seattle.
Film actors convene every year for the Oscars. Musicians gather for the Grammys. For climbers and mountaineers, the nation’s best come together for an annual gala hosted by The American Alpine Club.
This year the AAC Annual Benefit Dinner is in Seattle, WA on February 26. The event features a unique conversation about the risks, sacrifices, joys and freedoms that come with deep commitment in the mountains. Leading the discussion are two of America’s greatest climbers from different generations, Dr. Tom Hornbein and Steve House.
After dinner, five climbing greats, ages spanning from 20 to almost 90, will receive awards: Fred Beckey, Bob Craig, Tom Frost, Hayden Kennedy, and Royal Robbins.
“On Commitment: A Conversation between Dr. Tom Hornbein and Steve House” is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. These climbing legends may never all come together again. And unlike the Oscars or Grammys, this annual meet-up has been running for more than a hundred years, since 1902.
The events on February 26, 2011 are open to the public. The evening features waterfront dining, cocktails and silent and live auctions in the International Promenade of the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle. Seat reservations are required. AAC members and non-members alike are invited to attend. New this year is a deeply discounted youth ticket for those 28 and younger.