Christmas Survival Guide for Backcountry Skiers

Post by blogger | December 24, 2013      

We’ve been out backcountry skiing nearly every day for some time now. Good for gear testing, good for the fitness, good for the spirit — good for photos. Crew WildSnow develops the formula for dealing with holiday hecticness:

On the way to holiday festivities.

Start early, but not too early. (Click all images to enlarge.)

Two handsome young trail breakers is key.

Get handsome young men to break trail.

Powder party!

Find some pow pow.

Fat sticks are fun. DPS Pure 112 Yvettes make her smile

Ride fat sticks.

Protect your lips.

Protect your lips.

Dance in the forest.

Dance in the forest.

Don't forget your sun hat.

Remember the sun hat.

Get high.

Get high.

Get deep.

Get deep.

Bring along as many photographers as possible, so you get all sorts of interesting images.

Bring along as many photographers as possible to get all sorts of interesting images.

Go far and do it again.

Go far and do it again.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


25 Responses to “Christmas Survival Guide for Backcountry Skiers”

  1. Petra December 24th, 2013 11:17 am

    Beautiful! Merry Christmas to all the Wildsnowers!

  2. Rob S. December 24th, 2013 11:46 am

    Good advice indeed! Thanks for some wonderful images to get us all in the right frame of mind for the holidays.

  3. Erika December 24th, 2013 12:13 pm

    Love the pictures! Merry Xmas, and keep up your good work!

  4. Matt December 24th, 2013 3:36 pm

    Enjoying the stoke. Thanks for sharing your white Christmas.

  5. Due December 24th, 2013 4:08 pm

    Hoppy Holidays in bouncy snow…what could be better?!?

  6. Jamie December 25th, 2013 1:40 pm

    That’s all private property.

  7. Lou Dawson December 25th, 2013 4:11 pm

    Jamie, I’m not sure what your point is but no, it’s not all private property. It’s actually private property bordering on USFS, and the skiing is done both on private land as well as public land. Lou

  8. Ellen December 26th, 2013 8:13 pm

    Is that the Cleaver?

  9. Lou Dawson December 27th, 2013 7:26 am

    Ellen, yes, it’s an area west of Cleaver accessed through private property. None of it is any big secret or anything, we just try to be respectful of the property owners by not going overboard with maps, place names and such. Just fun to publish photo essays, since that’s what we do… It’s an interesting situation up there, as a large amount of public land access is virtually blocked by the private land, as with many other places in Colorado. I’m not a big fan of those situations, but take it as it comes. Lou

  10. Ellen December 27th, 2013 2:36 pm

    Hah. We skied “Rileys Bowl” December 23 – my 50th birthday – and kept looking over at that side. Unreal snow that day. And sure was nice hanging with the mellow Paonia hippies who put in beautiful uptracks!

  11. David B December 28th, 2013 10:21 pm

    Did someone get a pair of Yvettes for Christmas?

  12. Lou Dawson December 29th, 2013 9:00 am

    David, she’s been skiing those for a while, hard to choose between Yvette and Dynafit Manaslu, actually. The Yvette is good for powder, but she says her Manaslus are a lot more versatile. She’s taking the Manaslus to Europe. Lou

  13. David Whitmire December 29th, 2013 5:08 pm

    Great site, appreciate it. My dilemma: New ski time. Last new boards G3 Hombres. Now considering either Voile V8 or G3 Zenoxide c3 105’s. Still have my Hombres for in area, so more concerned with backcountry use, but always appreciate a ski with a broad range. I’m tele skier, accomplished, 190 lbs, like to ski fast and aggressively. Currently tour on old Rossi T4’s. Am a bit concerned the G3 might be too light, get knocked around a bit at speed. But might be the better all around ski?
    Was leaning towards G3’s, but have to admit appreciate Voile’s building skis and gear in Utah, and am leaning toward the V8. Been using their bindings, shovels, and had pair of Voiles years ago. Have had good service with them before. Good people. Thoughts on difference between the 2 skis?

  14. Lou Dawson December 29th, 2013 5:17 pm

    David, I’d like to help you but I haven’t telemarked in 25 years. Perhaps someone else can chime in. Lou

  15. zippy the pinhead December 30th, 2013 8:37 pm

    David, A sure way to get Lou to dismiss your question is to include T-word in your comment!

    Come on Lou, he’s not asking anything specific to telemark.

    David seems to be wondering if the ski in question is light and will get knocked around at speed.

    Lou, if you’ve skied that ski, you have an opinion.

    David also is curious about the differences between the skis. Also not tele-specific.

    Why be dismissive of a reader instead of sharing your wealth of information with him?

    Happy new year and happy trails,


  16. Lou Dawson December 30th, 2013 8:51 pm

    Zippy, you should be the moderator, not me, because yeah, you’re right.

    But… I’m so light and ski such light gear I don’t think I can evaluate which ski will get knocked around more or less. I can say we all really liked the V8, so if you can demo get on it.

    The lighter skis such as C3 are here to stay. When properly designed they shouldn’t get knocked around more than anything else, in my opinion, as, if making a ski heavier really made much difference in making it ski better, skis would be heavier, but instead they are all getting lighter.

    There you go, humbled by Zippy, I try to redeem my fallen self. (grin)

  17. David December 30th, 2013 10:33 pm

    Thanks Zippy. That pretty much nailed it, as did Lou’s actual response. Skis do keep getting lighter. Did wonder why the question rendered unanswerable because I’m on tele gear? I mean I’ve done the Haute Route, rapelled into chutes, hut skied BC multiple times, skied backcountry Ak for years…not like I’m a complete rube. I’d been used to skiing Ak maritime, and had some really light Atomics years ago and they definitely couldn’t take the speed+dense snow combo. But now on Western Slope of Colorado and snow’s a lot lighter and I’m wondering, as my hair gets greyer and I’m chasing some 25 year old up the skin track, “How light can I go here and still have a ski that I can burn it on the way down?”. And I’ve always demoed but in this case have yet to find any G3’s or V8’s to try, and refuse to drop $850 on a chance. Know the V8 is great, but figure the dimensions of the G3 are plenty good, same as my G3 Hombres in fact, just a lot lighter and with early entry. I’ll dwell on it a bit more while I drag around my 8 3/4 lb. set up.

  18. Ellen December 31st, 2013 7:22 am

    David – I can help. I teled for 20 years but for the last ten have ATed. Both Jeffrey and I skied the Hombres for years and loved their stability and powder ability. They are such solid turning skis….but yes, a little heavy for our aging hips and knees. I ended up with a pair of Volkl Nunataqs – a pound lighter per foot and really fun skis in deep powder but the full rocker is a bit too turny in funky slabby snow. BUT the lightness of this ski is incredible and made the uphill faster and fun so go light if you can! After all, you spend so much time on the uphill and your goal is to ski powder in the BC, so a heavy ski is a bit overkill. My friend who has telemarked for his lifetime and rips, just got the G3 Oxides and mounted AT on them and loves them. He did not find them “too stiff” which I have read in reviews about these skis. He skis them in bounds as well. These were top on my list. The problem for me with the Voile V8’s is that You need to get these a little longer due to the early rise tip and that means longer skins and longer skis on icy switchbacks or icy couloirs and a longer ski for telemarking seems annoying too. But another friend, big guy, who also is a great AT skier and only BC skis in powder, loves his V8’s and I watched him ski down yesterday – making big round turns. Lastly, I think for most of Colorado skiing, a 105 (oxides or Nunataqs) underfoot is perfect, especially when you are traversing icy slopes (fatter skis hurt my feet…). But a 110 underfoot sure is tempting for the descending improvement as long as the ski weighs 7 1/2 pounds or lighter. There are light skis though that I did find a bit too wimpy so keep reading reviews.

  19. GeorgeT December 31st, 2013 7:28 am

    Do you have any beta on the La Sportiva Vapor Nano? This article has me dreaming about my next setup. I was also considering the Voile V8 and G3 Zen 105, but the Vapor Nano is superlight.
    Do you plan to test any La Sportiva gear on your trip?

  20. David December 31st, 2013 8:13 am

    Ellen, thanks a ton. Remembered Jeff on Hombres last year when Justy and I met you guys on the trail. And last week Jeff mentioned the G3’s when we met at the top. Remember Buster the Dog? I’m his owner. We’re on the same wavelength. Just attempting enough queries to make sure G3 is more than a specific quiver ski like my old Atomic Tour Cap Guides were…great touring ski, tenacious hold on ice but couldn’t open’em up for GS-style turns in dense snow as their combo of stiff and light kept me reigned in to the point it wasn’t that fun. So the repeated statements as to how stiff the zenoxides are have me a little concerned. Solace in hearing your acquaintance doesn’t find them incorrigible. I’m not a big fan of super stiff skis, but carry enough weight to bend them, just don’t want to always pay that much attention. And I’m shopping for an all purpose BC ski, suspect the dimensions of the G3 more to my liking. Also have a soft spot for Voile. Good bunch of folks. Happy New Year. Hope to see you again. David

  21. Lou Dawson December 31st, 2013 8:21 am

    George, I’d been made privy to some info about Nano, but since then we’ve been muzzled. I’m sure we’ll be testing Nano sooner than later, but not sure exactly when due to our traveling schedule. La Sportiva seems to come up with good skis, they just got caught with their pants down when the weight revolution kicked into gear so quickly and recently (they were not the only ones). They’re pulling up their pants and shortening their suspenders, with what I trust are the same great skiing skis as before, only scads lighter. Lou

  22. zippy the pinhead January 1st, 2014 6:33 am

    Happy New Year Lou,

    Thanks for the offer, but no thanks. Moderating this site would cut into my ski time too much 🙂

    Happy trails….


  23. Bar Barrique January 1st, 2014 11:23 am

    GeorgeT; thanks for the link. The Nano (not all caps, so shoot me) looks very interesting. I may have to be a beta tester. Kudos for coloring it white, assuming the production models are the same. Made in USA, got to think that they are contracting them from somebody who has experience building light skis.

  24. louis dawson January 1st, 2014 11:31 am

    I was wrong about spelling, I was thinking about ION and my travel burned mind went off on it. Not sure why PR folks continue to come up with all these weird spellings (such as all caps but not an acronym). Oh well, they’re the ones with PHDs in marketing, not me (grin). If DPS is “Deep Powder Special,” then ION is “Incredible Obvious Nifty?” And Nano is written regular… it just refers to the ostensible use of some kind of nano technology. Lou

  25. louis dawson January 1st, 2014 11:38 am

    On jet headed for EU!

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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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