Friday Ski History Contest — Win a Backpack from Backcountry Access

Post by blogger | September 5, 2008      

We have a winner:
Stewart correctly identified the photo as Bela Vadasz skiing at Ellery Lake. It’s specifically in the line known as “Chute Out.”

The image this was scanned from is in the 1987 Great Pacific (Chouinard) backcountry skiing catalog. The image was also used for the “Ski Yosemite” poster. The photographer is Bela’s then wife Mimi. Well known guides, the two started Alpine Skills International and became known over the years as highly skilled ski alpinists.

According to Bela:

Early June, 1985. It was a good “fat” Sierra snow year as many were in the 80’s. Mimi and I saw the line filled in well clear through the upper section. By then, we had been to Chamonix a few times and had been extremely (no pun intended) motivated by the steep skiing going on. We were still in our Sierra “3pin” era and were on a mission to ski anything steep in “pins.” Our friend, Eric Perlman was along and at this spot in the couloir, both he and Mimi were firing away with motor drives clicking. After I completed the descent, I named it “Chute Out”, a play on the photo shoot we ended up doing. Mimi got the best shot and it won an important award in Photographer’s Annual.

**********************************original post below
I don’t know what to do with you guys. We come up with what we think are tough fairly images to ID, and you nail ’em in minutes. Of course with thousands of people looking at this blog every morning, someone is bound to see something familiar. So…. here is another one for your perusal, from decades ago. I hope it takes more than 30 seconds for someone to have the answer as the process is fun. For a free Backcountry Access backpack dropped at your door, who is it and where are they (answer by leaving comments below post)? Photo subject, family members and media please refrain.

Backcountry skiing.
Bela Vadasz on Chute Out, early June 1985, above Ellery Lake, California Sierrra. Photo by Mimi Vadasz.

Previous Contests

Aug 8 Contest, Terry Skjersaa, near the summit of Mt Bachelor.

Aug 15 Contest, Bill Briggs in Canada

Aug 22 Contest, Scot Schmidt in Outside Magazine

Aug 29 Contest, Dick Barrymore with proto helmet cam.

Fine Print:
If you win, I’ll leave a public comment identifying your comment as the winner, and I’ll contact you in private via the private email you leave on your blog comment. If we have no winner by 9:00 MST the Monday after I post the photo, there will be no winner and the prize will wrap to the next Friday. For extra karma, if you know the answer, please comment with some story as well.


23 Responses to “Friday Ski History Contest — Win a Backpack from Backcountry Access”

  1. randosteve September 5th, 2008 9:50 am

    are those tele skis?

    somewhere in california?

  2. Tim Coats September 5th, 2008 9:58 am

    Is it Bela Vadasz on the U-notch N. Palisdades?

  3. Brad Lamson September 5th, 2008 10:12 am

    One of the Allan Bard?

  4. Lou September 5th, 2008 10:17 am

    Tim has it half right.

  5. Adam Shilman September 5th, 2008 10:23 am

    Bela Vadasz on Mt Shasta? Possibly Trinity Chutes?

  6. Stewart September 5th, 2008 10:25 am

    Bela Vadasz- Ellery Bowl Chutes Tioga pass – was it a Chouinard Equipment poster at one time?

  7. Adam Shilman September 5th, 2008 10:29 am

    Or maybe its the U Notch on North Palisades but the skier is Bruce Fessenden?

  8. Cody September 5th, 2008 10:36 am

    Craig Dostie, U-notch N Palisade?

  9. Lou September 5th, 2008 10:37 am

    Stewart gets it!

    Well, that took a little longer this time, he he.

  10. Andrew McLean September 5th, 2008 10:38 am

    Bela in “The Chute Out” just off of Tioga Pass. This photo inspired a road trip to the area just to ski the chute, although it isn’t nearly as steep as the photo makes it look.

  11. Dostie September 5th, 2008 11:03 am


    ’twas a poster, and considering the time frame I believe you are correct in that it was a Chouinard poster. Check out them skinny sticks. Still an inspirational image after 20 years!

    It may not be steep by McLean’s standards, but when I first skied it in 61mm wide Kazama Couloirs and leather I wasn’t able to hold my position while shooting pictures ‘cuz the rig just couldn’t hold a solid edge on 53 degrees. That’s steep enough to get the heart beating faster than normal with an [I]au naturale[I] dose of adrenalin to titillate the senses.

  12. Andrew McLean September 5th, 2008 11:12 am

    53 degrees? What are you measuring there Craig? The granite wall in the background? 🙂 The temperature might have been 53 degrees at the time, but the slope angle is more like 15. Okay, we’ll compromise and call it 40.

  13. Stewart September 5th, 2008 11:43 am

    This seems a pretty convincing argument for 47 degrees.


  14. Stuart September 5th, 2008 12:15 pm

    Alright! Another Stuart wins, I mean Stewart. 😉

  15. Lou September 5th, 2008 1:47 pm

    From Stewart’s link:
    “The headwall will get somewhat steeper as the season progresses and the cornices push out and fill in. As spring wears on and the cornices collapse, it will mellow out a little….”

    It could have been 53, in other words…

    From years of measuring slope angles in Colorado couloirs, I can say that angles do vary quite a bit with snowcover and configuration. In early spring when we’ve got the most snow, crux angles ease, then they get steeper as melt thins the pack and variations in underlying terrain are less smoothed by the overlying snow.

    My two cents, anyway…

  16. Dostie September 5th, 2008 2:09 pm


    Measured ‘er with a slope inclinometer. Not based on the photo, based on reality at the scene. Also depends upon where you’re at in the couloir. The only think I’ll concede to you is that the most efficient way up that line was direct with crampons. No turtle-esque switchbacks on that one. 😉

  17. aaron zanto September 5th, 2008 2:31 pm

    john moynier, altuska chute

  18. Andrew McLean September 5th, 2008 3:54 pm

    In PhotoShop, measuring the snow/rock line in the image, it comes in at 56.5 degrees.

  19. Lou September 5th, 2008 4:05 pm

    I guess I should have tilted it less when I cropped it (grin).

  20. Bela G. vadasz September 5th, 2008 6:21 pm

    Here is the story on the Chute Out photo.

    It was a good “fat” Sierra snow year as many were in the 80’s. Mimi and I saw the line filled in well clear through the upper section. By then, we had been to Chamonix a few times and had been extremely (no pun intended) motivated by the steep skiing going on. We were still in our Sierra “3pin” era and were on a mission to ski anything steep in “pins”. Our friend, Eric Perlman was along and at this spot in the couloir, both he and Mimi were firing away with motor drives clicking. After I completed the descent, I named it, “Chute Out”, a play on the photo shoot we ended up doing. Mimi got the best shot and it won an important award in Photographer’s Annual.

    It was a great, fun day on skis in the High Sierra.

    -Bela G. Vadasz

  21. Lou September 5th, 2008 6:40 pm

    Thanks Bela!!!! Great to get the story from the source!

  22. Stewart October 16th, 2008 10:44 am


    I haven’t received my prize of a BCA back pack yet, so I’m just checking that I haven’t been forgotten.

  23. Lou October 16th, 2008 11:34 am

    Sounds like a sanfu, I’ll check on it. But I’ll have to contact you via email for address and such. Please be sure to check your email.

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