I was a bad boy for not sharing about Dirtbag Diaries earlier in the season, but it got lost in the growing stack as the winter progressed into a 100 year epic that took all our attention. What I’m talking about is an episode of The Dirtbag Diaries that covers recent Northwestern U.S. extreme skiing history, with emphasis on a crew of guys who’ve easily been some of the highest level contributors to the sport over recent years.
Do not ignore this must-see. You’ll delight in a super realistic picture of how a brotherhood of ski alpinists develops, how they keep their psyche, and how their take evolves over time and tragedy.
Backstory: When I wrote my history book “Wild Snow” way back around 1995, I was duly impressed by the ski mountaineering heritage of the Northwest. Yet at the same time, as a history writer I didn’t view the region up till than as a modern center of extreme skiing. Indeed, it appeared to me that the Northwest had possibly the most radical terrain in the lower 48 states, but the big lines were mostly sitting there untouched except by the occasional visitor and rare forays by residents. To emphasize that idea, I wrote about how OUTSIDERS were “cranking the steeps” of the Northwest. The locals were of course duly incensed by my take, probably because it had an element of truth.
Around that time, a group of young Cascadian locals were evolving as ski alpinists. Brothers Josh and Jason Hummel, along with the late Ben Manfredi and others, honed their skills and began a crusade to be the locals on the steeps whom I’d found lacking so many years before. A few years ago another super agro skier named Sky Sjue joined their crew, and over the past eight years or so the “locals” have developed a list of first descents on hard unyielding Cascade peaks that is probably some of the “sickest” stuff in the world (as I’m sure they’d appreciate me terming it.)
I could go on and on about the inspiring epics and lines these guys have created, and hope to do so someday in another edition of “Wild Snow.” Meanwhile the history is well recorded and easily accessed here on the net. Check out cascadeclassics.org for Ben Manfredi’s list and stories by him an the others, while the ever indomitable Sky shares his high altitude graffiti tracings (inside joke till you watch the video) over on his website skisickness.com. Jason Hummel’s site is cascadecrusades.org and covers the Cascadian ski adventures as well.