Backcountry Skiing News Roundup – Spring 2013

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Backcountry skiing on Independence Pass, testing Dynafit Huascaran.

Last spring the Independence Pass Colorado backcountry skiing was good for a few weeks. It starts this coming Thursday when the road opens. Potluck barbecue planned for this coming Saturday May 26, rain day Sunday.

Oh lordie! I should have been doing more of these. We get so distracted by all the gear and all the skiing. News? What news?

Over on the West, Sierra snowpack reports will become more accurate with more data gathered by aircraft. It’s indeed mind blowing how much information we backcountry skiers now have with steadily better and more available weather reports, snow surveys, avalanche forecasts and more. When we were celebrating Matt Kamper’s 54 fourteeners a few days ago, someone mentioned what it must have been like back in my day, going after some mountains with little more than general aviation weather and frequently inaccurate air mass predictions. The info is so good now, if you know what you’re doing you can check out NOAA weather for nearly any place in our fair land, interpret their synopsis and discussion and come up with a very effective take on when you’ll get a weather window. Only glitch is when the air masses shift faster or slower than predicted, but that usually only affects you if you’re trying to push either side of an obvious window.

Everyone of us has physical challenges. What’s important is how we overcome and lead quality lives. Check out this one legged backcountry skier. The disabled athlete as hero is becoming somewhat of a cliche, but still resonates when the person is core like Vasu Sojitra. In one photo he has a BD ski with a climbing skin on it. One has to assume he’s got skins on his ski poles for some situations. I hope BD is sending him skis, or, I mean, sending him _a ski_ now and then. His FB is pretty spirited as well. I like the skate boarding shot. Go Vasu.

Uh huh, what would a WildSnow blog post be without some gear? It’s filtered out to most people now, but worth mentioning that Voile will be changing their branding. Hopefully their skis will stay bueno like the new V8 model for 2013/14, which was an easy pick for our coming Ultimate Quiver.

Here at WildSnow HQ we’re shifting out of ski mode, but our annual PNW trip is still in the works. My focus this summer will be some website back end work, along with playing Mr. Carpenter up at Field HQ — and here at home when Lisa reminds me about priorities. Projects at the portahut include finishing our water tank enclosure. We experimented with a 400 gallon tank last winter, buried half in the ground with an insulated cover. The tank never froze, but the outlet did during a cold snap. I buried the outlet line below the frost level, but the freezeless hose bib I terminated it with wasn’t good enough for negative 20 Fahrenheit. Solution is probably a small insulated cabinet over the outlet. The idea is to trap ground heat to keep things thawed enough to function. Report on that project is forthcoming.

Ski touring up to Geissler Mountain, Independence Pass.

Ski touring up to Geissler Mountain, Independence Pass.

Lastly, if you’re in the central Colorado area, the potluck Independence Pass barbecue is happening this coming weekend, 10:00 Saturday morning. Sounds like the upper hairpin turn on the west side of the pass will be the location. Come meet other backcountry skiers who are winding out the season with a few last days on Indy. And a reminder about Indy: If you’re new to the area you can get info at BackcountrySkiingCO.com.

Comments

8 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup – Spring 2013”

  1. Dave Johnson May 20th, 2013 8:23 am

    Hd a great descent of Mt. Shasta yesterday. High winds up high kept techs snow firm, but it was good corn down to snow line at 7,200′ on west side.

  2. Lou Dawson May 20th, 2013 8:34 am

    Dave, thanks for chiming in. I was hoping some of you guys would add some conditions reports and other news items. Lou

  3. Dave May 20th, 2013 8:48 am

    Here in the eastern Alaska Range we’ve had more late-season snow and things are more filled in than any other year in recent history. Another foot of fresh over the weekend. Lots of wind too unfortunately, but an epic year nonetheless.

  4. Matt Kinney May 20th, 2013 9:36 am

    Valdez still rocking with 32″ on the ground as of today at sea level, thus the deepest snowpack this late ever in AK. The NOAA Snotel at sea level on the north shore reads 68″. Valdez NWS reports 405 inches for the season, most of which fell after Jan 1. Though we didn’t match last years snow amount, retention remains very good. You can still skin from your car door in the Odessey and Sapphire Arenas. Should be good for another month of more.

    Our May water equiv. in Valdez is over 10″, smashing the previous record of 6.5″ and it’s only May 20th, which is usually our driest month. We continue to smash precip. records(monthly, daily, 45-day) over the past two year by some astonishing amounts. It’s neat as a weather geek, but actually quite alarming in relationship to human-caused global warming and all that implies for the future of snow and skiing.

  5. John May 20th, 2013 2:19 pm

    Should I bring some Elk sausage?

  6. Lou Dawson May 20th, 2013 3:04 pm

    Yum. Sure,

  7. Ellen May 22nd, 2013 9:19 am

    Hey Lou, jeffrey and I might see you on Saturday. Do you know what time on Thursday the road opens?

  8. Lou Dawson May 22nd, 2013 9:54 am

    Hi Ellen, no idea, sometimes they open it the night before, sometimes we’re back in town drinking coffee and waiting till later in the morning.

    Saturday starting at 10:00 but we’re usually there through noon and on, depending mostly on weather. I like hanging out up there and not being in a rush.

    Lou

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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