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Wildsnow Ski Touring Travel Tips

By Louie Dawson | August 29, 2016  
It's not all skiing.

It’s not all skiing.. Hanging out in the muddy Banos Colina, with some delicious Chilean vino tinto.

Forget sunny beaches and tourist traps. Snowy corners of the world make for the best adventures. A ski bag and a strong trailbreaker are the finest travel companions. I’ve been to thirteen countries in my life, and touched skis to snow in twelve of them. I’m just what I’d call an “average good” skier, and I don’t have much money. I make up for it with a sense of adventure. Here’s some tips I’ve picked up from dragging my ski gear around the globe.

Be flexible.
It all comes down to conditions. Good skiing needs good snow. Period. Unlike climbing, hiking, or mountain biking, sunny weather isn’t ideal, but neither is a huge storm that traps you in your tent, van, or hotel room. It’s gotta be just right. Good conditions can be the difference between pow and breakable crust, and being safe or ruining your trip (and life) in an avalanche. In many areas there can be horrible conditions in one zone, and exceptional skiing just a short drive away. It’s incredibly hard to hit the perfect conditions first try; the solution is to be flexible.

As Bruce Lee would say: “Be water, my friend.”

Don’t book a hotel months in advance. Don’t pre-buy lift tickets that only work at one resort. I’ve found that only in the most crowded destinations is booking ahead necessary. If it’s that crowded, maybe check out somewhere a bit more off the beaten path. (In other words, always go equipped to sleep in your car!)

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Ski Touring News Roundup — Closing out August 2016

By Lou Dawson | August 25, 2016  

We got a significant little snowfall here in Colorado, USA. Lisa and I are in Albuquerque New Mexico, of all places. During the drive south to here, through the majestic San Juan mountains, we noted that recent heavy storms nicely whitened things above about 12,500 feet. Anything more than a dusting snowfall at those elevations during August is not common, but it happens and gets skiers excited.

Lou checking out a friend, anyone one got the story?

Lou checking out a friend in New Mexico, anyone got the story?

And what are we doing in the land of enchantment? We’re getting our Global Entry passport stuff taken care of to ease international travel. You have to do an in-person interview, and this was the only place we could get it done in a reasonable time frame. I hope this thing is worth the epic drive, stay tuned.

We’re salvaging the trip by bunking in a classic motel on the old Route 66, next to Old Town Albuquerque. A little touristy, but hey, it’s fun to run around with a camera and join the throng now and then.

Readers in far lands who may not be familiar with our famed Route 66, wiki here, come drive or motorcycle it some day! Total Americana. August is beautiful.

It is quality amusement to watch the Europeans compete for the fastest climb of Mont Blanc out of Chamonix. The Ueli just Uelied it — with a coffee break at a hut. Check.

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Mammut Zephir Altitude Harness — Review

By Rachel Bellamy | August 24, 2016  
At work with Mammut Zephir Altitude.

At work with Mammut Zephir Altitude. Photo by Eli Mauksch.

Earlier this summer I wrote an first look review for the Mammut Zephir Altitude harness and have since been testing it on some of Washington State’s glaciated terrain. Most of the testing was in an academic outdoor education setting where we were repeatedly testing ourselves to failure with self-arrests on rope teams, crevasse rescues, ascending, and climbing. In other words, I spent a lot of time dynamically testing this harness.

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  Your Comments

  • Lisa Dawson: Sky, too bad we missed stopping by! Next trip for sure, and in the meantim...
  • Lou Dawson 2: What Lisa says... Super important to remember that with Travel Guard, for e...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Raff, yes that jibes. Very easy to test. Lou...
  • Lisa Dawson: When buying travel insurance that provides medical coverage, it's worth it ...
  • Sky: Just noticed this. I suspect you're already gone. But Lou, drop me a line...
  • XXX_er: If you come to ski narthern BC a loaded dash 8 can not carry all the passen...
  • Geewilligers: Lou, Thanks for reviving this thread - I have traded some emails with US...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Grant, as we've said here many times, there is no tech binding that equals ...
  • Pablo: No, no Jim, Karl Egloff is an incredible athlete too!! I 'm not trying to...
  • Flavius: I have bought a pair of Beasts, intending to use them with my Dalbello Sher...
  • Jim Milstein: You are criticizing Egloff because he trains, Pablo? I get your point, but ...
  • Pablo: Jim Milstein, There's a big difference between Kilian Jornet and Karl Egl...
  • aemono: Karl Egloff is the South American in question....
  • Jim Milstein: From Julbo directly, this goggle is now at $170, down from $230. I've reque...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Jim, I'd agree, for a lot of situations they're pretty danged nice. I'm loo...
  • Jim Milstein: Used the Aerospace goggle all last season, except for sunny warm spring day...
  • ArminusDerCheruskerfürst: PS: I correct myself: speed for me even has alomst no role in avalanche ris...
  • ArminusDerCheruskerfürst: Of course it is important to assess who it is, who writes a review or makes...
  • Charlie Hagedorn: Entirely agreed regarding the steeper fourteeners. The progression of peaks...
  • Vitaliy: Hello, Lou. Do you know gap length on Salomon Mnt tech? I bought used ones ...
  • Jim Milstein: There's a South American runner, whose name I forget, who has bested one or...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Bard, that stood out for me as well! Lou...
  • Terry: Hacksaw, the BD Couloir harness comes in XL/XXL 38-44 inch/97-112cm waist. ...
  • Bard: "smashed the record set by Catalan ski mountaineer and long distance runner...
  • Hacksaw: It would be nice if manufacturing companies would make XXL sizes, to fit ov...
  • Dave Steiner: Really? They changed color in seconds from light to dark. I didn't have tha...
  • Terr: Thanks for the objective review, Rachel! Sounds like a good harness - almo...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi Janey, somehow your comment got held up in moderation, sorry about that....
  • Lou Dawson 2: Bill and Karl, we'll try to hit it tomorrow before we leave town. Just had...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Chet, now that I'm off my messed up phone for making comments, I wanted to ...

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring 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 ski touring news and information here.

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Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use. ...

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