Danke Mittersill: A First Timer in the Alps

By Dr Alex Lee | January 22, 2018  

(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry.)

Manfred Reitsamer of the Blizzard ski factory showing us his backyard.

Manfred Reitsamer of the Blizzard ski factory showing us his backyard.

A few weeks ago, WildSnow asked if I would head to the Alps on a press trip with Black Diamond to check out BD skis, the Austrian ski scene, and Germknodel (think Austrian dinner donut). I had already been in Mexico to escape the subarctic darkness, back home in Alaska, then to Colorado, which turned out to have a snow pack not much different from Mexico. Needless to say, I couldn’t say no to my first Euro ski trip and was psyched to be heading to snow. I didn’t get a chance to try the Germknodel because I was too busy skiing. Guess I’ll have to go back soon.

Mittersill Austria sits in the Kitzbühel Alps of Austrian Tyrol. Beer is served liberally, most meals consist of the best bread and cheese I’ve ever had, and the mountains are absolutely gorgeous. I spent a week sight-skiing the greater Mittersill mountains. The area made me feel like somehow a piece of Alaska wound up in Vermont.

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Ski Touring News Roundup January 2018

By Lou Dawson | January 19, 2018  

(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry.)

Backcountry ski touring news.

Backcountry ski touring news.

Austrian ski touring news is always a good stop on the web train. Look for their issues with resort uphilling to increase stateside, and check out these safety statistics. Enlightening. From the Bergsteigen article: “…ski resorts are realizing that there are two products to market, the lift ride and the slope…but two separate offers.” When you use cold logic on this, the reality becomes apparent. When you uphill a resort you are using their vegetation clearing and snow farming services, not to mention depending (during operating hours) on their paid ski safety people to help if needed. Money talks. Look for more resorts to charge a fee for using their slopes — even if you do not ride their cable. (Google translate works fairly well on these pages.)

Apparently at least one resort in Austria has the clever idea of including a single lift ride in their uphilling fee. In some situations that might be smart, perhaps when you’re luring customers to a mountain-top restaurant, and you want to avoid losing potential diners after they’ve done a lap and don’t fancy a repeat. Or how about a day of uphilling, and a bit of lift riding? I do that occasionally, fun.

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Black Diamond Helio 76 – First Look Ski Review; BD ATK – Binding Peek

By Dr Alex Lee | January 18, 2018  

(This post sponsored by our publishing partner Cripple Creek Backcountry.)

The 2018 Black Diamond Helio 76

2018 Black Diamond Helio 76

I love skiing pow as much as the next ski goof, but sometimes it’s nice to go as fast as you can uphill, carry around heavy things, or take skis to silly far away places. Fast, light, and versatile ski mountaineering gear helps in such pursuits. With that in mind, Black Diamond has some very interesting ski mountaineering gear coming our way.

Disclaimer: This is a first look. I have only had a chance to spend a couple of days on the Helio 76. I skied the 171 length mounted with Vipec Evos (understandably heavier than most will have set up on this ski) in La Sportiva Spitfire 2.0 boots. I skied it both on-piste and in the backcountry, but given how few runs I have had on the ski, these are only initial impressions.

Black Diamond has been making the Helio ski in 88, 95, 105, and 116 underfoot sizes for two seasons. I am a big fan. They are fast on the up and stable on the down. The Helio 105 has been my go to touring ski of late, and the Helio 88 is my go to spring ski. Both skis rock.

Along with the other Helio sizes, BD has made a ski for most skiers, however the skinny ski has made a comeback, and 88 is just not that small. The BD website says that the 88 is made for “ski mountaineering races, high-altitude objectives, and long-distance tours.” I have put it to use in Alaska and Colorado for expeditions, hut trips, and 14ners a plenty — but skimo races? NO WAY.

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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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