“Early” Season Backcountry and Resort Skiing the PNW: Drool Worthy

By Louie Dawson | November 23, 2017  

The rumors are true. Winter is off to an incredible start here in the PNW. A series of stupendous snowstorms blanketed the mountains. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think it was mid-January. This last week we’ve had a blast skiing in-bounds at Crystal Mountain, with a taste of surrounding backcountry. Check out a few photos:

Scoring first tracks of the throne, inbounds at Crystal.

Scoring first tracks of The Throne, inbounds at Crystal.

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News Roundup November 2017 — Ski Touring Education

By Lou Dawson | November 22, 2017  

Colorado WildSnow outer local’s reminder: Here on Western Slope, Cripple Creek Backcountry here in Carbondale, Colorado will host “Quarry Night” November 29, 6 pm (meeting is at the ski shop). Agenda is for snowsports folks to connect with operators of the marble mining operation that maintains the road accessing one of our go-to ski touring locales. Bear in mind that the quarry could probably close the road to the public if they were so inclined, due to “public safety” concerns our politicians and law enforcement officials would doubtless cave to. Conversely, the quarry has done major work on creating safe public parking and additional traffic turn-outs, for which they should be profusely thanked. Thus, confabbing with the quarry managers and safety directors is of great benefit. If you ski “Marble,” mandatory attendance! Drinks and apps provided. Avalanche forecasters and other involved parties will also be there for your edification.

Backcountry ski touring news.

Backcountry ski touring news.

News roundup pre Thanksgiving 2017:

This seems to be the year that educational content and other robust “reader service” offerings are being seen, more than ever, as part and parcel to marketing campaigns. A good thing, in my opinion, though with the plethora of offerings in what’s ultimately a zero sum game, pie slices might get pretty thin. Check out a few items I found.

Arcteryx is offering a stunning number of clinics in the Wyoming Tetons. Offerings range from Women’s Intro to Backcountry Skiing to Advanced Ski Touring with Hoji. Details here. We’ve heard they’ll also offer a Beginner’s Intro to Skiing with Hoji, contact for details.

How about our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry? In the interest of moving the needle on ski mountaineering racing, they’re always up for more work. They’ve got two “Ski Mountaineering Camps” scheduled here in Colorado at their ski shop and local resort Sunlight Mountain. We’re a bit light on snow these days in our home region, the exact type of season when “skimo” can be the perfect way to get on your planks and have fun. More, they’ve also got a camp happening that’s specific to backcountry. All will be presented by experienced racers and ski mountaineers, including Joe Howdyshell of Summit Endurance. (Reminder, Cripple is offering Thanksgiving package deals that help avoid fiscal crippling, check their website for that as well as info about their Camps.

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Patagonia Descensionist 40L Ski Touring Pack — Tested

By Jonathan Cooper | November 21, 2017  
The full Descensionist kit dropping in near Arthur's Pass, NZ

The full Descensionist kit dropping in near Arthur’s Pass, NZ.

Last spring, Patagonia unveiled their new all-around backcountry touring and ski mountaineering line-up. In an effort to utilize quality features from their Ascensionist designs (alpine climbing focused), Patagonia has delivered a pack that outperforms their Snowdrifter series for a number of reasons.

The Descensionist pack is a 40 liter fully functional ski touring/mountaineering pack that has several ways to customize and modify some of its features. Those of you who are climbers, and have used the Ascensionist packs, will see many familiar components. The pack can be maxed out at ~40+ liters and also compressed down to a sleek rucksack for lift-accessed backcountry laps.

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  Your Comments

  • Caruzo: I ordered one from AlpinStore and now DHL says "Held at Customs". Has anyon...
  • Andy Carey: Ah, but the bane of the PNW: pineapple express. After the best mid Novembe...
  • Webbed Toes: Ha, it's been raining almost nonstop since monday even at pass levels! A...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Yes, at Carbondale shop. I'll clarify in blog post, sorry about any confusi...
  • kirk lawrence: Lou: I will definitely be attending the meeting with quarry offficials. Jus...
  • Pablo: #Michael Atomic Hawx XTD Shell is designed to be in addition of a more alp...
  • Roli: Hi Lou, I had actual a Atomic Backland Light 27/27,5 . It fits good, What...
  • Rar0: How does the pack carry loads ? (doesn’t have any frame)...
  • Christian: Just got some F1s ("used", but not skied yet, liners just baked), and the t...
  • Ryan: Lou - Could you please post up any updated info as it becomes availible a...
  • Louis Dawson: Another note: I've only skied the pre-production version. According to Scar...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Thanks for the feedback Ranger, we'll work on it. A good part of a review ...
  • Ranger: These recent reviews really are falling short of regular gear user expectat...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Evan, I'm not sure, I do remember they're big heavy skis... I tried to find...
  • Lou Dawson 2: See, thanks, yeah, I was writing more for the general discussion, appreciat...
  • Evan: Is that 2050 g w/ bindings?...
  • See: No need to remind me, Lou. I’m probably one of your more devoted readers, a...
  • wtofd: See, agreed. It makes your pack look like a yardsale. But people freak out...
  • Lou Dawson 2: There might be some sort of climate magic wand, but at this time it's not s...
  • Michael: It was a 27.5/28 Scarpa shell and a 28 Atomic shell, so I presume they're e...
  • See: Al, I hear you. I’m not expecting solar panels, smart buildings and electri...
  • See: Ok, wtofd, but it’s not much weight, and a helmet carrier doesn’t protect t...
  • Drake: Seems solid, disappointing that it only has a single traditional style ice ...
  • Dave: Nice review. Same bsl?...
  • wtofd: See, weight....
  • Lou Dawson 2: P.S., I got curious as to how much "national land" we've lost so far, prett...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Tom M, thanks for commenting. Good point about not trusting government to s...
  • SkiB: My mistake. I thought Scarpa split the sizes on the half size. (25.5/26) (2...
  • Matus: SkiB there are no real half sizes in Scarpa ski boots....
  • Alex Trebec: Can anyone tell me what the Beast 14's went for when they were first releas...

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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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