North Cascade Heli Yurt Trip

I spent last week in the North Cascades at the Yurt operated by North Cascade Heli-Ski (NCHS). A quick flight from their base in Mazama, WA, the Yurt, a well appointed, 30-foot diamater structure, offers out-the-door ski touring in the North Cascades bordering the Pasayten Wilderness.

The Yurt has been part of the NCHS operation for many years, but has seen some excellent upgrades in the past couple of seasons. It is a comfortable set-up that served our crew very well. I took the opportunity to participate in an AIARE level II avalanche class at the Yurt. Larry Goldie, IFMGA certified mountain guide, lead the course.

We had excellent skiing and a great snowpack for avalanche education. As luck would have it, the upper meter plus of snow offered at least four distinctive and relatively reactve layers, all sitting on various layers of buried surface hoar.

In addition to sharpening my snowpack study skills, I was able to spend time on two new skis for 2010; the Dynafit Stoke and the Voile Charger. Although we did not get any epic deep days while a the Yurt, there was plenty of boot-top and better skiing that brought both skis to life. Both are light, touring-minded boards with mild to moderate tip rocker.

The Stoke is a big radius turner, but responds to smaller turns when needed. It is all around stouter than the Manaslu, and is sure to please folks lookin’ for more in a touring-minded ski, both in width and flex. It is right at home in big terrain.

The Charger has more tip rocker and offers up a silky smooth, big radius ride. It is perhaps Voile’s best ski to date (we still have yet to ride the new Vector), and it is incredibly light-weight for its 112mm waist. I have posted on the Charger before and spec’d it at 110mm underfoot, but the pair we have in hand says 112 on the top sheet. I will follow up with Voile to confirm the dimensions.

Both boards are solid midwinter powder skis, and could fill out the quiver nicely. The Stoke is a bit stiffer and responds well to aggressive input. The Charger has more of a hedonsitic powder personality and responds well to all levels of input.

I’ve got a few more weeks of testing ahead, and a whole line-up of boards from BD, K2, Prior, Drake, G3, Praxis, Faction, and more on the way. Next week it is off to Powder Creek Lodge in BC for more ski and boot testing.