| August 2011
Mt. Hood Fire Update
The Dollar Lake fire on Mt. Hood continues to burn today, but with less intensity than on previous days. Yesterday's smoke column was less impressive, and there was much less visible flamming in the eveing. The official USFS update reports that the size is estimated at 1600 acres (see map of fire perimeter) and that fire fighters have begun constructing a fire line and have fininshed wrapping Cloud Cap Inn with fire-resistant material.
The USFS report goes on to say, "Today, the focus of suppression efforts continues to be directed toward the northern and eastern flanks of the fire. Helicopter water bucket drops and construction of fire line will continue today. 328 fire fighters are currently assigned to the fire, and more fire fighting resources are still arriving. A task force of engines is assigned to the protection of structures in the vicinity of Cloud Cap Inn and the Tilly Jane Historic District.
Today, the weather is expected to cooperate with the fire suppression effort. 50% relative humidity and cooler temperatures are expected. Although some gusty winds are also expected."
A Parkdale community meeting is scheduled for tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Parkdale Fire District. Link to Flyer.
Fire on Mt. Hood
Wildfire season is in full swing here in Oregon, and even Mt. Hood is proving to be ripe for fire. A wildfire on Mt. Hood's northern flanks believed to be started by lightening on Aug. 26 has grown to over 1500 acres. The fire started in the Dollar Lake area near Elk Cove on Mt. Hood's north side and grew quickly on Sunday and Monday fueled by steady west winds and warm temps.
The fire's rapid growth has closed numerous trails, campgrounds and roads on Hood's north side including:
Vista Ridge Trail
Gnarl Ridge Trail
Elk Cove Trail
Cloud Cap Campground
Tilly Jane Campground
Kinnikinnick Campground at Laurence Lake
Word is that the fire has burned accross to Stranahan Ridge just NW of the Cloud Cap and Tilly Jane historic areas. Historic structures at Tilly Jane and Cloud Cap, which narrowly escaped being destroyed by the Gnarl Ridge Fire in 2008, are being threatened once again by this fire. The USFS reports, "Firefighters are wrapping the historic Cloud Cap Inn with fire resistant material. A task force of engines is assigned to the protection of structures in the vicinity of Cloud Cap Inn and the Tilly Jane Historic District."
More photos and updates as we get more information.
Golden Alpine ready for winter
We are into the hottest days of the summer here in the Northwest, but we all know that ski season is approaching. It might still be a little early to start waxing your skis, but it does not hurt to start planning your winter’s adventures while the sun is still high in the sky. We just got word from John Bell up at Golden Alpine Holidays that the Selkirks in central BC recently got their first official dusting of snow and that Golden Alpine's Sentry Lodge is back in full service following a fire in 2009.
With Sentry Lodge back in action, GAH has four backcountry ski lodges in the legendary Northern Selkirk Mountains a short helicopter flight from Golden, BC.<> GAH has been busy renovating their three other lodges - Sunrise, Meadow and Vista – to update the comfort level while maintaining their rustic vibe. They even have a live webcam up at Sentry that gives you real-time weather data and a sweet view.
Last December GAH held the first fully sanctioned International Ski Mountaineering event to be held at a backcountry lodge, called the Selkirk Classic, attracting competitors from all over North America.
These guys have a variety of events planned for this season including an early season XC Nordic training option for teams, clubs and anyone wishing to get a jump on early season conditioning starting in October.
The regular backcountry ski touring season at GAH kicks off on December 2, 2011 with new freeride touring camps at Sunrise Lodge. These three- and four-day trips will combine the forces of Matchstick Productions superstar athlete Eric Hjorleifson and GAH ski guide Russ Lyabarger and are designed to take advantage of early season powder while emphasising snow safety and route planning.
With Sentry Lodge back in service, GAH has their full four-lodge traverse back on deck for April 2012. This guided and catered trip is a seven day tour that travels across the entire Esplanade Range and visits all four GAH lodges.
Get the full scoop on GAH here.
Snowmobile Access in Wenatchee National Forest
The following ediitorial comes from the Wenatchee Mountain Coalition in Central Washington. The Wenatchee National Forest is not alone in its user conflicts. Read on . . .
Will it be Snowmobile National Forest, or expanded wilderness? What is the reasonable middle ground? The short answer is, please, U.S. Forest Service, manage the winter forest for multiple recreational uses, in some reasonable balance, in consideration of the impacts to nature, and for all of the public owners...
Osprey Karve 16 - Sidecountry Ski Pack
I have had the opportunity to check out a variety of new gear this summer that I will posting about here on the blog. Today's gear item is a new sidecountry minded ski pack from Osprey called the Karve 16. It is a small day pack designed for resort skiing and short sidecountry runs - not exactly our focus here at Off-Piste, but an important category, nonetheless. A functional and properly sized resort ski pack is a great piece of gear to own. A small dialed pack makes for smooth transitions between the lift and backcountry gates. The Karve 16 is the largest of three packs in the Karve series; the other two are six and 11 liters in size.
I have not taken the Osprey Karve 16 ski pack out for resort skiing, so I can not speak to its lift riding comfort, but I have taken it for a few summer tours where its small size matched my mission well.
At 16 liters, the pack's volume is just big enough to comfortably accomodate skins, shovel, probe, snacks and a layer or two. The pack is hydration compatible and insulates your hydration hose by running it through the shoulder strap. When packed with the basic essentials, the pack feels great, but do not expect to put a full day's touring gear in this guy. Its 16-liter volume is definitely sized for sidecountry skiing, not a full day of touring.
I definitely pushed the pack to its carry limits when skiing with it this summer, but even so, I have no complaints about its performance. It met my needs to carry minimalist gear and food just great. Its limits arise when it is overstuffed with bulky items. It actually carried skis reasonably well for a small pack, but I was carrying lightweight tourinig skis, not burly sidecountry boards. My take is that it will carry your alpine boards for a short boot hike up a ridge, but it is not designed to do much more than that. A pair of big resort boards with Marker bindings would be better left on your feet or shouldered for a quick hike, versus strapped to the pack.
The system for your avalanche tools is great. Probe and shovel handle fit nicely in each side of the pack, while the shovel blade slides into the outermost pocket. This leaves just enough room for your skins, a layer or two and some bars or food to fuel your laps. The suspension system is appropriately lightweight, and it includes an adjustable waist belt and sternum strap.
Overall, the Karve 16 is a resort ready pack. Whether you are looking for a slim pack to carry your avalanche safety gear while you chase lines at the hill, or you want a ski pack that will carry the essentials while you head for a lap out the backcountry gate, the Osprey Karve 16 will do you well. It offers easy access to all of your gear and rides nicely on your back. Want to slip out of bounds for a longer day of touring, look for something larger.
Buy the Osprey Karve 16 ski pack
Winter Wildlands Day of Action, Driggs ID
Winter Wildlands Alliance (WWA) has partnered with the USFS to host a CLIF Bar Day of Action, and they want YOU to be a part of it!
Help by volunteering to place boundary markers and educational kiosks in Wilderness Areas. WWA and the Forest Service are utilizing this project as a template for establishing better winter management and a community stewardship ethic for wilderness areas throughout the country.
Join WWA for a day in the dirt on Saturday, October 1st.
WWA will be involved at three work sites:
1. Winegar Hole Wilderness - near Island Park Idaho:
At this work site you will dig holes and set boundary markers in the Winegar Hole Wilderness. The work site is just a few yards off the main road.
2. Jedediah Smith Wilderness - near Driggs, Idaho:
This work party will be hiking into the "Jed" Wilderness to dig holes and set boundary markers. It is a 2-hour hike into the work site and a 2-hour hike out.
3. Glory Peak - off Teton Pass: For the heartier folks; Volunteers will be placing a winter kiosk sign on Glory Peak. As a group, you will hike in a 20 x 24 inch sign and 2 lodge poles. Hikers will be carrying 5-7 pounds of concrete for footings. Volunteers should expect a 2-3 hour hike in.
Here’s the skinny; http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs016/1101778437284/archive/1106820286621.html
More Ski Film Trailers
Ski film season is sneaking up on us. Sweetgrass-Productions launched the trailer to their new film, Solitaire (check a couple blog posts back for the full story) and Rocky Mountain Sherpas, the makers of many films including The Fine Line from a few years ago, has the trailer for their new ski film called All.I.Can.
The new film blends the same time-lapse imagery that helped make The Fine Line such a cool film with outragous big mountain skiing (classic ski porn action). All.I.Can. documents leading industry skiers like Kye Peterson, Lynsey Dyer and James Heim among many others. It is pro level big mountain skiing meets creative cinematography.
Check out All.I.Can.
All.I.Can. Official Teaser from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.
Peak 6 Public Comment Needed
Breckenridge Ski Resort is pushing to expand its lift-served terrain into an area known as Peak 6, threatening a popular area for backcountry skiing. If you are unfamiliar with the proposal you should read the article on the Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion (2mb PDF file) that ran in the March 2011 issue of Off-Piste. Following is the note from Friends of Peak 6:
In a couple of short weeks, comments will be closed for what could be one of the most destructive proposals ever seen in modern-day Summit County. Sixty football fields worth of HEALTHY spruce and fir: Gone. Precious habitat and endangered species: Displaced. Quality of life for residents and guests: Diminished. This is the last chance to prevent a PERMANENT destruction to one of the last dense forest parcels in the Tenmile Range.
Your voice has made them notice. Now, more than ever, we need your letter to stop this project. It is designed to do little for crowds and everything for ski area marketing. Full details and info on how to comment.
Breckenridge Ski Resort photo: Ellen Hollinshead
NOAA Climate Prediction Center Issues La Niņa Watch
Weather geeks unite, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center has issued a La Niña Watch. A watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of El Niño or La Niña conditions within the next six months.
Here is an excerpt from the NOAA report:
ENSO-neutral is expected to continue into the Northern Hemisphere fall 2011, with ENSO-neutral or La Niña equally likely thereafter.
The majority of ENSO models, and all multi-model average forecasts, indicate ENSO-neutral will continue into the Northern Hemisphere fall 2011 (three-month average in the Niño-3.4 index between –0.5oC and +0.5oC). Beyond the early fall, the forecasts are less certain with half of the models persisting ENSO-neutral conditions continuously through early 2012. Along with a few other models, the latest runs from the NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFS) models predict La Niña to re-develop during the fall. This forecast is also supported by the ongoing La Niña-like tropical atmosphere, subsurface temperature trends, and the historical tendency for significant wintertime La Niña episodes to be followed by relatively weaker La Niña episodes the following winter. Therefore, ENSO-neutral is expected to continue into the Northern Hemisphere fall 2011, with ENSO-neutral or La Niña equally likely thereafter.
Sweetgrass Productions Solitaire Ski Film Trailer
Ski film season is officially around the corner. Sweetgrass Productions has just released the trailer to their newest film, Solitaire. Nick Waggoner and crew have worked hard on this one for two seasons, and the trailer delivers artful, inspiring footage that makes me want to see more. Here is the official press release and trailer . . . oh yeah, the trailer music is Deadweight on Velveteen by Jose Gonzalez.
Read our interview with Sweetgrass Productions founder and producer Nick Waggoner here
SOLITAIRE: A Backcountry Skiing, Snowboarding, and Telemark Film from Sweetgrass Productions
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. Venturing beyond the frontiers of most mountain films, Solitaire is backcountry skiing forged in the tradition of Western cinema. Born in the spires of Argentina’s legendary Las Lenas, a lonely two-year journey begins through an abandoned world, wandering the length of a continent from Peru’s Cordillera Blanca to Chilean Patagonia. Lost in the winds of snowbound badlands and the blizzards of primordial forests; seen from a horse’s saddle and a paraglider’s wings; ridden on ski and board and telemark...
Solitaire fuses western-inspired tales of backcountry gambles into landscapes never before visited on film.
Shot on location in: Las Lenas, Argentina; Portillo, Chile;
Nevados de Chillan, Chile; Patagonia, Chile; Bariloche, Argentina; Caviahue, Argentina; Huaraz, Peru; Iquitos, Peru; Uyuni, Bolivia; and Sajama, Bolivia
SOLITAIRE: A Backcountry Skiing, Snowboarding, and Telemark Film from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.
World Premier is September 15, 2011 in Denver, CO at the Gothic Theater at 7pm - full film tour information at www.sweetgrass-productions.com