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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.OLDER POSTS »