Utah and OR Show – Day One

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 28, 2006      
Rick Wyatt and Andrew McLean
Rick Wyatt to left, holding forth with some funny tale about his life as a mountain man, Andrew to right. Rick is known as the guy who in 1982 did a ski descent of the Grand Teton using leather nordic boots and aluminum edged touring skis. I’ve always said this was an amazing athletic feat, but was a bit crazy as well (I recall writing something about him having 4 cajones). I’m certain Rick would take all that as a compliment, as it’s intended. Rick was skiing AT gear today — glad to see he’s wised up, though I’m sure he could still out ski me on his teles.

Had a mellow journey yesterday from Colorado to Utah. We’re staying up near Parleys Summit on I80 (near Park City), so we drove north as if we were heading to the Wind Rivers, then swung west. Avoided a storm that was hitting south of us, so had dry roads most of the way.

Today’s Outdoor Retailer (OR) show was held at Brighton Ski Resort, as an outdoor event that was mostly about giving retailers and journalists an opportunity to demo ski gear. I like networking this part of the show, as everyone is more mellow than during the floor show. That’s with good reason, as today the suppliers were only fitting gear and chatting people up, but tomorrow they begin to find out if they’ll have a decent year or not, depending on the whims of the retailers writing orders.

Rather than join the demo frenzy on the resort slopes, we went for a short backcountry tour up behind Brighton with Exum guides Rick Wyatt and Pat Ormond, along with friends Andrew McLean and Jeremy (sorry J., I spaced out your last name, email me.) Exum has a deal where they take OR folks on short snowshoe or ski tours, and I’ve found doing one of these every year to is a nice opportunity to meet people and re-connect with friends. You can’t go wrong with Exum, they really do have the most friendly and competent guides you’ll find anywhere.

Amusing incident on the tour: We’re moving along, 5 of us on Dynafit and one on tele, and come across a person holding a pair of skis in their hands, with Dynafit bindings. The guy says something like “I can’t figure out how to get these things back on my feet.” Andrew says “well, you just met the right group of people for some help with that! ” I don’t know if the guy figured out he’d just encountered the highest profile group of Dynafit fanatics in North America, but he did get his skis on his feet.

After our session of powder turns (yes, fluff was had) we networked the demo tents, then headed up to an afternoon party for more chat. Had a good talk with Mitch Weber from Teletips. We’ve been dialoging a bit over the last few months about exactly where Couloir Magazine, Teletips, and other ski media fit in the scheme of communication about telemarking and backcountry skiing. Mitch is all about telemarking of course, with a nod to backcountry and all other things snowy. I’m all about ski alpinisim, with emphasis on randonnee but welcoming all other forms of glisse provided they’re practiced in a way that produces smiles and safe backcountry descents. While I’ve had fun over the years being a randonnee advocate, I believe Mitch is seeing that backcountry skiing is my game (and Couloir’s), and the issue of what gear you use has truly been secondary to that. Controversy and criticism such as AT vs telemark tend to attract attention, and perhaps we’ve all succumbed to that attraction a bit over the years, perhaps to a fault.

Nonetheless I think it’s fun to point out the differences of the glisse disciplines, and I’ll continue to do so, but this is really a minor part of my “take.” And yes, I do believe that you can have as much fun on AT gear as you can doing telemarks. I know some of you disagree. So be it.

Speaking of AT gear, Louie tested a pair of Dynafit FR 10.0 skis today. This plank has been a huge hit. It’s light but skis like something beefier, has the width and graphics to look burly, and flexes real nice (not too much of a noodle, but still limber). The guys at Dynafit said they’d totally sold out of this ski, and Louie agrees that’s with good reason. Too bad the FR 10.0 so hard to get, as this thumbs up on WildSnow.com would have sold another 600 pair. Note to retailers: Our take on hot skis that have a good blend of uphill and downhill performance for soft snow and crud: Dynafit FR, Black Diamond Havoc, and Atomic Kongur.

Other interesting people and ski gear seen today: Goode skis were there, looking fine (except for the weird one that I could have sworn was a water ski). Kim Miller, the new CEO of Scarpa USA took some ribbing from Andrew and I, as we’re both old friends of his and we’ve watched him go from shop manager and ski rep, to an important man at Black Diamond, and now head of Scarpa! Congratulations Kim (and about that pair of boots for “testing”). Former Backcountry Magazine owner Brian Litz was covering gear for Couloir Magazine, and handing out copies of his new guidebook “Colorado Ice Climbing,” (note to Colorado retailers, order lots of them, quickly). This graphics masterpiece might be the most amazing guidebook I’ve ever seen. It should easily win the guidebook category at the Banff Book Festival, and provide another shot of adrenaline to the already hot Colorado water ice scene. Congratulations Brian!

Blog schedule What with dawn patrols and covering the show I’ll be blogging in the evening instead of morning. So don’t expect new posts in the AM (though you might see a few). I’ll go back to a morning posting schedule in about 5 days. Thanks for visiting, and thanks so much for all the excellent comments!


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