Monday, January 31, 2011

-Trip Report- Mt. Ascutney: It's a (Terrain) Trap!

It's 4:30.  You've got about a half-hour of daylight left and one headlamp between you and your two friends.  You ran out of water about an hour ago.  You're staring at a 50 degree colouir to the bottom of a drainage that may or may not get you back to your vehicle.  Above you is a steep slope of rock, ice and occasional evergreen bramble.  Somewhere beyond that climb is a trail.  Maybe. You have a decision to make.  Do you climb up and risk running into an un-climbable rock face, or do you slide into the unknown facing a similar un-descendible face?  You've been terrain trapped.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things you Suck at OTHER than Backcountry Skiing

It sucks to be really really rediculously bad at things you want to be good at, like skiing. If you can't be good at the things you want to be good at, then there's nothing to lose trying new stuff. This is a great personal maxim that has led me into dozens of cool new experiences and awkward situations too. What I like most is the idea that, you never know, maybe the thing you've never tried is something that you are so naturally gifted at that it's been your life calling to do whatever it is. You just never knew it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

-Trip Report- Mt. Monadnock: Chasing My Shadow

Ice coated trees = a crust..... somewhere.

There is a distinct disadvantage to starting off the weekend by attending Crotched Mountain's Midnight Madness.  It totally messes with your internal clock so that you're not exactly jumping out of bed for an alpine start on Saturday.  Or Sunday for that matter.

So when 11:00 am rolls around and you're still organizing your gear for the trip out to the closest mountain, you know you're behind the eight ball for your solo tour.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Epic Jay Peak Bloggers Summit: Day 2

So, there are a lot of great things going on in the world of social ski media these days. I learned or was present for the teaching of a lot of them today. I wont bore you now (boring details to come later for sure), but if there's one thing to take away from this experience, it is that things happening in the ski industry today are pretty epic, and today was certainly an epic day at Jay for the best and brightest North American ski bloggers. The fresh POW this morning on River Quai was epic. The secret back entrance to the Face Chutes was pretty damned epic. And an impromptu drop off of Timbuktu into no-mans-land and down to Rt 242 was freaking epic too. In case you were wondering, epic is the new rad. So start using it before it goes out of style.

Thanks to Tim at Meathead Films for showing this groomer Guru a few new places to get away at Jay. Oh, and thanks to that guy in the private-but-not-pedophile North American Tele and Biking Instructors van for giving us all a lift back to the Jet (best part - the driver changed his name to Jay back in the 80s when he moved to Montgomery Center to weave organic coffee mugs out of his own hair).

**And of course, thanks to Jay Peak Resort for hosting all of us. And teaching us how to curl. No, not the usual which-way-to-the-gym kind of curl. The Canadian kind. Played while drinking Long Trail and hurling a 42 pound stone carved out of Barre grey's finest granite. If that's not globalization I don't know what is!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jay Peak Bloggers Summit Prelim

Well TeamScrappy and NoreasterBC is way up in the Great White North today to participate in the 1st/2ndish annual Jay Peak Bloggers Summit (triathlete translator: this is a play on words). I'll be in attendance with 20-30 of the country's foremost professional bloggers to learn how my fellow college dropouts (grad school dropout counts too) and I can make some bucks living at home with ma and pa and doing what we all love to do. Whatever that is.

Some thoughts so far:
1. Thanks Jay. Tram Haus Lodge is sweet. And the 6 pack of Long Trail Tram Ale you left in my fridge, even sweeter.
2. Even in a 500 dollar a night ski-side sweet suite, somewhere on my floor people are still smoking pot. That is awesome.

Jay Peak summit was at -10 today with an amazing 0 mph wind out of the nowhere. This means today was pretty much the warmest day I've ever skied at Jay. And here's a once in a lifetime photo to prove it. Just kidding. I need to get the da@ned cord from the car so I can get it off my camera. Maybe later.

Even being the warmest day at Jay on record, I had to ski 2/3rds of my runs today backwards to keep my own wind chill from freezing my big guido nose off. I guess that's why Black Diamond put twin-tips on the Voodoos.

Ok off to learn bloggers make the donuts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gear Review: Black Diamond Voodoo

My love affair with Black Diamond skis continues.  I purchased a pair of BD Machine skis from the Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington last year, and this year it was time to add to my quiver by getting a wider snow specific ski. 

Again, it was OGE to the rescue, who hooked me up with a great deal. 

Matched with the Radium boot, I've ridden the Voodoos on several recent in-bounds ski days.

The Voodoo has a wider shovel, and less pronounced sidecut than the Machine.  I purchased a shorter length (175cm) than the Machine for easier turns in the woods and moguls.

As indicated on "The Ski Chart", the relaxed sidecut translates to a larger sidecut radius, but don't let that fool you.  The front shovel is designed for easier turn initiation.  While it lacks sidecut, it still turns easily.

The real magic, however, is made when there's fresh powder.  Folks: these are powder skis.  If you like jumping around on pillows then you'll love these skis.  I had one fresh powder day at Bretton Woods and another at Whiteface where they shined as I floated around on the groomers and in the glades.  But I found Nirvana on truly epic day at Killington during the recent Nor’easter.  I rode these magic carpets around the mountain: from blues to the black diamonds to the double blacks.

Their kryptonite, however, is exactly what you would guess for a relatively light ski: steep ice.  I discovered this as they rubber-bandded while traversing some wind scoured crust at Whiteface.  This is somewhat moderated by the modest sidecut, which keeps more of the ski in contact with the slope.  But alas, they won’t stick to lens glass groomers like Spiderman.  But you should bring your big guns when the hardpack calls anyway.
Gered modeling the Voodoos at the top of Killington.

The verdict: these are great skis.  But don’t take my word for it.  My tele-skiing buddy Gered thought that mine looked so cool he had to go out and get a pair for himself.

That’s right, I got mine first.  And now that its on the internets, it must be true.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Wild Uphill Race Series: Total White (ski) Domination

Gered on Mt. Hunger with the White Skis.
This past weekend marked the start of the 2011 Winter Wild uphill race series at Whaleback Mountain in NH. Winter Wild is in it's second year, and can boast 4 great randonee race locations, a 300 percent growth rate in attendance over last year, and still an outstanding ratio of giveaway prizes to participant (.5:1, and good schwag too).

The race allows any mode of muscle driven transport up and down, with the most popular categories being skate skis, telemark equipment, running shoes with spikes, and the noble donkey (punch). Check it out. Do it. It's pretty great.

TeamScrappy was in attendance for this year's opener and posted a 3rd place finish and record breaking 12:54 time in the telemark category. In a race series dominated by washed up old olympic nordic skiers, the telemark ski is often overlooked in favor of the lighter and snappier skate ski. Well, this year they got their comeuppance. Always expect the Spanish Inquisition. And now, the White Ski.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

-Trip Report- Mt. Greylock: Thunderstruck

Few trails are steeped in history like the Thunderbolt on Massachusetts' highest mountain: Mt. Greylock.  Sitting above the town of Adams in Western Mass., the mountain was a mecca for backcountry skiers in the 1930's and 40's. (Except in those pre-lift days they were just known as skiers.)  It remains a popular destination for skiers and boarders: expecially when the Berkshires fill-in with snow.

Monday, January 3, 2011

How Steep Is It?

The Flume a/k/a Certain Death
Have you ever skied Upper Goat on Stowe?  How about Devil’s Fiddle at Killington?  Middle Hardscrabble at Cannon?

How do they compare to the Headwall at Tuckerman’s, or the Flume, or that unnamed slide that keeps catching your attention on your trip through Crawford Notch?

 As I’ve been pondering different glades, slides and balds for skiing this winter, the question inevitably  arises: How steep is it?

Google Earth might just have a tool to help us all find the answer.