Monday, December 31, 2012

2012, The Hospital Bed, And Mr. Should Have

This year was all about finding adventure wherever we were, whenever we could, however we could.  Come to think of it, that might be a decent way to live a life.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Trip Report: Christmas on Cardigan 12.25.12

It's been so long since we last toured Cardigan Mountain (see: A Backcountry Mountain with Training Wheels (2008)) that I almost forgot how much I like everything about this tiny little southern NH peak.  It's close to home, quick to hike, short enough to forgive poor planning, and covered in nice, shallow, mostly avy-free snowfields. There are multiple ways down that are easy to scout on the climb, and and if there's no powder to schuss there's still bound to be enough ice to give Yukon Cornelius a 12 inch pick. Most importantly, Cardigan is a place longtime gear-queer turned first-time BC skiers and alpinists can go to cut their teeth, and bring their family along for the ride.

Since that trip long ago in 2008, climbing Cardigan from the east via the AMC lodge and CCC trail, I've been thinking about a return to explore the western approach. Maybe I've been overlooking it for more exotic tours, or maybe it's just my place of last resort from a bad snow year. Regardless, the things I've seen and done and skied on on the western approach were enough to make me regret these past five years of neglect.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Uphill Report from Pico: 38 Degree POW

I may be a GED legal-beagle when it comes to public land use lawyering, but I make up for it by being a semi-professional weatherman when it comes to picking amazing ski tours to do on apocalyptic end-of-Mayan-calendar days like today.

In a world of climatic uncertainty, at least one thing was guaranteed. There was no way I was going to let the end of days pass me by without skiing one last time, low pressure front and 38 degree air be damned.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Vermont Uphill Skiing Policies


Being from biking circles I always thought the term 'randonèe' referred to a bunch of aging fat nutters who pretend a weekend ride from Paris to Brest and back (or, Boston-Montreal-Boston) constitutes some sort of race. Only when Andy took the term on as part of his web-Avatar did I become aware that randonèe refers also to a bunch of young super fit nutters who like to race up random Alps (almost always in France) on skinny short skis and whiz back down again.

I'd never seen it in action until one fateful day last winter.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Two Amazing Polar Adventures

This has very little to do with New England, but I know you folks who read this blog are the adventurous sort so I thought I'd mention a couple expeditions going on right this moment way the heck down South (as in the South Pole) that are pretty frickin' awesome.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Kmart Special: Ski the Skiddies for Free

A rare shot of Killington without hundreds of
human cannonballs overhead

Two days ago the New York Times reported that the ski industry was dead. And the Times is almost never wrong. Everyone but me remembers what they did to disco. And maybe Donna Summers too. But skiing? Not on my watch you leftist tree-humping pessimists. Not when mankind can harness the power of dead dinosaurs to pump millions of gallons of reclaimed sewage water into sub 32 degree air, to freeze before it falls like concrete onto the logging and fire road wastelands of America's ski areas.

And this magical phenomenon is even more appropriate when you consider how much manmade snow in a bad snow year makes a mountain look like a pile of s#it with streaks of white skiddies all over it. A white ribbon of death from your a@%.

Luckily I'm within driving distance of the cradle of s#itty man-made skiing, and this morning I rose extra early to find out for myself if the rumors were true. It's been years since I've violated that sacred oath that every Vermont grade schooler takes daily before the pledge of allegiance. To never, ever, not even for a million dollars ski at Killington. Would the ski gods ever forgive me?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Another Thin Cover Winter?

It's mid December.  Do you know where your snowpack is?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Map of Northeast Mountain Biking Trail Reports

I will now start sorting through the angry emails from mountain bikers in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Now that I finally brought order to our backcountry skiing chaos, I was inspired to clean up the mess that was our mountain biking trip reports.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mangy, Mangy Moose

The crowning moose.
Little known fact. Moosilauke is an ancient Abenaki word for babyheads. Moose-hillock literally means "crowning fetal moose." A horrible image to describe an even more horrible early ski season phenomenon that I've never before encountered. Until this morning, my first ski tour of the season.

I'd been talked into a solo dawn patrol of Moosilauke late last night by Andy, who made a number of excellent points about the importance of getting a 2012 NEBC tour of The Moose on the books as soon as conditions allowed.

That conversation went something like this:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Feature: Backcountry Tour Map

This made me realize how much time I spend in New Hampshire.
You demanded and we responded!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Seven Cyber-Monday Deals for the Backcountry Skier

How many First Ascent items can you spot?
While everyone was out getting the jump on their holiday shopping this weekend, you were probably doing some lame thing like spending time with family, climbing a mountain or getting in a few last runs of mountain biking.  Now you only have a month of shopping left!  Have no fear, because today is internet shopping day.  The day the state tax collector hates.

So while you're cruising around feeding the flames of your internet shopping addiction, be sure to check out our seven favorite deals for the backcountry skier.  Why seven?  Cause we couldn't settle on five.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Holiday Gear Shopping Ideas (November 2012)

So you're trying to figure out what Santa should bring you for the holidays.  Or maybe you're Santa and the elves went on strike in with the Hostess workers and now you're left with several million unfilled wooden car orders.

What is there to buy? Where do you start?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Five Favorites Countdown (#1 Gulf of Slides)

Not a bad view from the tent door.
Was there ever any doubt my favorite tour would be from the Gulf of Slides on Mount Washington, NH?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Five Favorites Countdown (#2 North Tripyramid Slide)

That's not sunrise.
Number two on our list of favorites is to the infamous North Tripyramid Slide near Waterville Valley, NH.

Sometimes you go into the backcountry and don't want to leave.  The slide and surrounding palatial glades were some of the best skiing we've ever seen. Too bad I was wearing the wrong skis.

Read all about it here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Five Favorites Countdown (#3 North Twin Slide)

When the sun lines up like this over North Twin, the Mayans predicted epic skiing.
Number three on the countdown was actually a culmination of three trips to find and ski the slide and surrounding glades on North Twin in New Hampshire.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Five Favorites Countdown (#4 South Baldface)

If the Baldface shelter looks like this, there's a good chance the ledges are skiable.
Coming in at number 4 on our list of five favorite backcountry excursions is a trip to South Baldface in New Hampshire from a few years ago.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Five Favorites Countdown (#5- Camel's Hump)

Camel's Hump
November has me eyeing the stationary trainer again with a mix of disdain and desperation.  The weather has turned grey and rainy.  I've eaten all the leftover Halloween candy and  crashed off of a three week sugar high.  It is time to go to my happy place where I relive five of our favorite backcountry ski tours.  Come live in the past with us for a while.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November Is Thin Cover Month

Baldface showing a little stubble.

Just like the thin cover of creepy facial hair that sweeps across men's faces in November, so too is the terrain transformed by a thin cover of snow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pre-Season Stoke: Video Tour of the Gulf of Slides

This is where you realize you should have worn sunscreen.
Are you pumped for this backcountry ski season, yet?  If not, let me throw another log on that bonfire of backcountry stoke and see if we can't get you corking those backcountry skis so compulsively you'll be able to see your reflection in the wax.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pre-Season Stoke: Burke Mountain's East Bowl

My favorite trail sign of all time.
The pre-season is fast becoming "the season" as ski areas have been opening around New England.  Killington, Sugarloaf, Stowe and Sunday River all have the guns firing and lifts running.  Others are soon to follow.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dawn Patrol in Heli-Free Weston

Improper bag placement technique.  -1pt
I got up a little early this morning.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Backcountry Gear Check

Ready to go.
As the first winter Nor'Easter of this season bears down on us it's time to make sure you have all the equipment needed for your backcountry adventures.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bolton Backcountry Fundraiser This Wednesday (11/07/2012)

If you're a fan of the Bolton Backcountry, like we are, here's your opportunity to make sure those lands remain accessible to the public.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gear Review: EMS Power Dry 1/4 Zip

The EMS Power Dry 1/4 Zip
My friends over at Eastern Mountain Sports sent me one of their Power Dry 1/4 Zip shirts a couple months ago and asked me to let them know what I thought about it.

This had the potential of posing an ethical dilemma.  What if I hated the damned thing?  What if it was a piece of crap that immediately settled on the bottom of my drawer?  What if it put a pox on humanity and brought about the apocalypse?  What would I do?  Say nothing?  Write a scathing review?
Luckily, my potential moral pickle was avoided when I discovered I actually liked it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

CircumBurke 2012

The course map. Of course.

Twenty four miles.  Three thousand feet of climbing.  Bridgeless stream crossings. A soul-crushing twelve-hundred foot, three and a half mile 7% grade climb straight out of the starting gate.  Speeds approaching 30 mph down a glorified streambed covered with leaves.  Twisty singletrack up the side of a mountain that makes FOMBA look like an airport runway.  And let’s not forget the half-dozen or so mud pits big enough to make your redneck friends build a bonfire, buy a case of beer and make a mess of their favorite truck.

These are the foes that line up to do battle with your psyche when you step up to the start of the CircumBurke ride. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Biking Bondcliff

My White Whale

Waterlogged and exhausted from close to 25 miles and 8,000 feet of hiking in the rain with a 30 pound pack it was all I could do to put one blistered foot in front of the other.  Lower back spasms brought me to my knees more than once, but each time I managed to climb back upright on my cramped legs and push on in the rain.

It was the second day of Gered’s bachelor party weekend.  Our motley crew of hikers had set out the previous day from the Lincoln Woods visitors’ center intent on completing the famed loop around the Pemigewasset Wilderness. We were supposed to climb up onto the Franconia ridge, march past Garfield and eventually descend down off of Bondcliff. 

We had failed miserably.  And now the Wilderness Trail was having its way with us.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Whipple Hill in Photos

Not far from the entrance to Whipple Hill in Lexington, MA
it becomes clear that you've left suburbia.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall On the Western Greenway

As Fall descends on the Western Greenway, my singletrack commute home starts to take a little longer.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

More Weston Singletracks (September 2012)

The bike was tired.  I was fine though. Really.
I took a couple hours on Saturday afternoon to make my first return to Weston after my July visit and do some more exploring of the singletrack offerings.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2011 Giant Talon 29er 1

Meet the 2011 Giant Talon 29er 1

My friends are doing it.  The racers are doing it.  All the cool kids are doing it.  They're getting bikes with big tires.  After holding out for a few years I've joined the revolution.  The 29er revolution.  Viva la revolucion!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

2012 Northeast Ski Movie Premieres

From "Further", the TGR and Jeremy Jones film.

It's that time of year again: time to break out the long sleeved shirts and woollies.  The first snows are starting to Fall in the high peaks as old man winter stops hitting the snooze button, drinks his coffee and gets down to business.  He doesn't demand blood sacrifices like the mountain biking gods.  He does, however, demand to be entertained from September through December.  So Warren, Teton, Red Bull and those Meatheads make their annual offerings all so that we can bask in Winter's powdery glory.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wild Wild Weston (July 2012)

A really trashy part of Weston.  No really.  You're looking at a pile of trash.

Eight lanes of asphalt highway are all that separate the towns of Waltham and Weston, Massachusetts.  These hundred or so feet divide people making around $50,000 a year from those making closer to $200,000.  Perhaps this is the unspoken math that has prevented Weston from embracing a rail trail to connect the two communities.  While they might shop together at the Auburndale Star Market, the folks in Weston are a little reluctant to invite the masses into their manicured back yards.
Regardless of the reason, the reluctance to develop a paved trail along the old railbed connecting Waltham with the rest of Western Massachusetts is a gift to fat tire bikers.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lexington Singletracks (July 2012)

Not exactly a straight line.
The Minuteman Bikeway in MetroWest Boston is one of the most famous rail trails in the country.  And with good reason.  It provides a scenic and historic byway from Cambridge all the way to Bedford. Along the way it visits the town centers of Arlington and Lexington with their excellent restaurants and cultural attractions.  It is gem.  But it is also an attention whore.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Highland Mountain Bike Park: The High Dive (July 2012)

Home of the unearned turn.

While I was growing up our local pool had a high dive that towered above the water.  It was a horrifying and exhilarating thing.  Rumors abounded about “this kid” who slipped and fell to the pavement onto his head, or “that kid” who did a can-opener the wrong way and split his gut wide open when he hit the water.  It was probably only fifteen feet high, but back then it felt like a hundred.   It was a rite of passage to make your way up to the board and take your first leap.  It was the kind of place where you tested your meddle and became one of the big kids.

Sometimes I’m reminded of the feeling I got on my first trip up that slippery metal ladder and out onto the thin, shaky board.     

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

(Way) Beyond the Minuteman: Estabrook Woods (July 2012)

Somewhere between Concord and Carlisle, MA.
“You’re not lost if you’re not supposed to be anywhere”, I kept telling myself as I turned onto yet another unmarked singletrack in an unknown direction.  It was one o’clock in the afternoon on a Thursday and I was wandering around Estabrook Woods somewhere near Concord, MA.   I was following my “inner compass” toward what I believed to be the ice cream stands of Carlisle, but without checking my GPS I wasn’t really sure where I might be headed.  In other words: I was having fun.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Beyond the Northeast: Tokai Forest, Cape Town, South Africa

Like Andy, when my wife gets to travel someplace nice, I jump at the opportunity to tag along. So when work took her to Africa this past April we made plans to tack on a vacation in Cape Town, South Africa.

A week in an exotic locale with my wife is a rare luxury, and one normally spent doing things as a couple. However, as it has been her lifelong dream to dunk herself in a cage in great-white-shark-infested waters, it has been my dream for at least as long to avoid stomach-churning boat rides and proffering my body as shark chum. So when she announced the intent to spend one day of the vacation at sea I began searching for the perfect Cape Town mountain bike guide.

Well, I found him. A fortuitous internet search led me to Dan Dobinson and his bicycle touring company, iRide Africa. I made plans to join a ride Dan was leading in Tokai Forest, an arboretum just outside of Cape Town. Giddy with excitement for the chance to ride on another continent, I packed my bike shoes and shorts alongside sandals and swimsuit and boarded a long, long plane ride to the southern tip of Africa.

Map of Tokai trails from the iRideAfrica website

Sunday, May 6, 2012

An April Doubleheader In the Kingdom

Sometimes April brings a rare opportunity to enjoy my two favorite sports: skiing and mountain biking.  You would expect that a day where you could mix the two would lead to mediocre conditions for both.  Typically the best you could hope for would be some turns on corn snow followed by a slog on some muddy singletrack.  But last weekend provided an unbelievable opportunity to enjoy both sports at their best.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Strength in Numbers Trailer

Here's the trailer for "Strength in Numbers" a mountain biking movie coming to a theater near you this Summer.

In fact, if you live in the Boston area the movie premieres at 8PM on May 16, 2012 at the Jerry Remy Sports Bar on Boylston Street.

If you're looking for your 15 seconds of fame, be sure to upload a 15 second clip to Vimeo and follow the instructions on the event website for your footage to be included on the big screen.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Zealand Stoke: A Flowy Singletrack Video

Do you like flowy singletrack as much as I do?  Well then, here's a short (3 minute) promo by Tim Pierce of Justin Leov on the Deans Bank trail in Lake Wanaka, New Zealand.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nor'Easter San Diego: "The Long Way" (Big Laguna & Noble Canyon, CA)

If I knew where I was going I never would have made it here.
Imagine for a moment, a mountain biking trail that runs up the Mt. Washington auto road in New Hampshire, across the Presidential ridge and then winds slowly down into the Gulf of Slides, crossing various spines and ravines all the way down to Pinkham Notch:  a four thousand foot, eleven mile descent on pure singletrack.

This is roughly equivalent to what is lurking in the Laguna Mountains of southern California.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nor'Easter San Diego: Mission Trails & Lessons In Mud

This is right about the time I started to wonder if I needed to carry the bike back to the parking lot.

I followed the wife this week to a conference in the beautiful city of San Diego in sunny Southern California.  While she's been busy learning the latest on workplace wellness programs, I've been busy learning the lessons only mountain biking in a strange land can bring.  Foremost of those lessons is that mud is not the same everywhere you go.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Return to North Twin Slide (March 2012)

I think it’s safe to say that running into a machete wielding stranger deep in the wilderness is probably high on most people's list of nightmare scenarios.  Sometimes, however, it can be the answer to your prayers.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

-Trip Report- Mt. Hor, VT: Insert Inappropriate Remark Here (February 2012)

Gered ponders whether he can freeclimb a granite wall with tele skis.
If you look out from the mid-mountain lodge at Burke, you can see an immense crack between two mountains where Lake Willoughby is located. Let me tell you the story of that crack's Hor.

Friday, February 24, 2012

-Trip Report- Evans Notch Road: Black Diamond Driving (February 2012)

I could see a clear line through the bumps.  A quick jaunt left, then a cutback right would be needed to start my run.  Suddenly, however, a large hole appeared out of nowhere.  Without any way to avoid it, I hit it straight on: a jarring thump that made my teeth chatter and my knees buckle.

I was still on my way to the trailhead and facing the toughest line I would see all day.  I was on the infamous Route 113 and my truck's suspension was paying the price.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

-Trip Report- Arrow Slide on Mount Hancock, NH: Maps 101 (February 2012)

Sometimes it's tough to define what constitutes a successful backcountry trip.  The easiest and most obvious measure is when you reach your objective and return home to talk about it.  However, when everything doesn't go as planned, things aren't so clear.  In order to push your limits you have to try and fail every now and then.  Does that make those incomplete ventures failures, or part of some greater success?  As long as you return home wiser and more prepared for the next time haven't you gained some measure of success?

Do I sound like someone who failed to achieve his goals this weekend?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Voile Switchback Failure and Factory Tour

When you're a guru, people are always asking you stupid questions in hopes they can cheat their way to telemark enlightenment.

"Guru Gered, how do you get your beard so long?"
"Guru Gered, should I make parallel turns after lunch or will people think I am a pussy?"

"Guru, what is the most perfect telemark binding?"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thin Cover Sanctuaries

Better Days
I’m beginning to wonder if Old Man Winter is lying in a ditch with a bullet in his head.

If he’s not already dead, he’s definitely in hiding.  Before La Niña 2012 comes knocking looking take your backcountry mojo, it might be time to pack your bag, grab your rock skis, and seek some thin cover sanctuary.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Yeah, I Know it was Dumb. But it was SOOO Worth it.

There's been a lot of backlash against my latest post and my reckless, ignorant approach to backcountry skiing. Dozens of people have read my article (thanks Mom) on the importance of keeping your eye on the powder prize. Only one has had the courage to admit that when vacation powder is on the line, we'd all choose the snowy line back to the lodge.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Google Latitude is not an Avy Beacon

Nothing says I love you at your favorite seasonal gift giving holiday than the gift of an avalanche beacon. My wife purchased one for me last year. Given the annual snowfall we had already seen by January 1st 2011, my new BCA Tracker 2 Beacon was a very thoughtful and appropriate gift, and one we both wanted me to have. She wanted to know I might not die of my own stupid designs, and I wanted at least a slight chance of living through all the future bad lines I might pick on wind-loaded northeast facing slopes above 35°.

Around these parts, 2012 is not shaping up to be a big year for the avy beacon business. Not a single storm where you couldn't measure precip with the stick that god gave you.. ahem... a ruler. Even with these pitiful snowfall amounts and non-existant upper elevation snowfields, I'm now a convert to the avy beacon of hope. So do me a favor.  If you're too unloveable to get one from someone else, run out and buy one for yourself. You never know when some other ski dummy (like me) might need your help.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

-Trip Report – Umpire Mountain, VT: Victory Tour (January 2012)

Justin and Tele with Burke in the background.

Vermont can be a case study in how different interest groups get along for their mutual benefit.  Just as mountain bikers and stonemasons are fast friends in Barre, backcountry skiers have a friend in the local logger.

Monday, January 23, 2012

-Trip Report- Lincoln Gap Road: Backcountry Groomer Lemonade (January 2012)

I did not use the low gear.

It seems like every place you take your skis in New England, you’ll hear this year’s catchphrase “If we could just get a little more snow...”

Sick of thinking about what “could be”, I decided to take my thin cover lemons and make some backcountry lemonade at Lincoln Gap in Vermont this past weekend.