Backcountry Skiing News Roundup

Post by blogger | March 27, 2009      

Tragic to read about the death of Shane McConkey, who died yesterday while BASE jumping in Italy. McConkey began his ski career as racer, moved into freestyle, then took up free skiing and was in a bunch of movies. In recent years he’d been pushing the limits of combining skiing with BASE jumping. I’d never met Shane, but friends of his always told me he was not only a great guy but quite the innovator in many ways, least of all being his pioneering the use of reverse camber (rocker) in skis.

Dumpage. This from today’s Wasatch avy report: “Wow, what a snow storm, one of the largest of the winter—so far… Largest numbers are 41 inches in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, along the Park City ridgeline and in the Logan area mountains… Yesterday, on slopes less than 30 degrees, we had to break trail going downhill too…Winds were very strong yesterday and we had some northeast winds last night as the storm exited. Although they were not quite as strong in the Wasatch Range, there were gusts to near 90 last night at Lofty Peak, a high elevation weather station in the Uinta Mountains…” More here.

The recent Wilderness bill converts quite a bit of land on Oregon’s Mount Hood. I haven’t studied the need for this, so I’ll have to trust the locals and figure if they wanted it, then it is appropriate. But I did laugh when I read this article, which spends a number of words in praise of huts located near the new Wilderness, but fails to point out that those will be the last of such huts ever built in the area.

Elk Mountains Traverse race starts tonight. For years, this mountain melee was treated more as a nordic skate race than a ski mountaineering comp. But recent developments in lightweight backcountry skiing gear have converted the race into something more along the lines of a true radonnee comp. According to a talented competitor I spoke with a few days ago, most of the top guys will be on Scarpa F1 rigs latched with Dynafit bindings. Many carry two sets of mohair skins: one wall-to-wall, and the other a glide rig that’s cut short just behind the binding heel. Article here.

In our department of no comment, snowmobilers continue to die in avalanches at an alarming rate. Info here.

Well known PNW ski mountaineer Lowell Skoog is also quite the historian. Apparently he’s been skimming every issue of National Geographic back through a century ago. Isn’t that something like 1,200 magazines? Way more than my parents kept on that shelf when I was a kid, that’s for sure. Go Lowell!


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5 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup”

  1. Jeff Stephens March 27th, 2009 8:22 am

    McConkey had a good run, managing to play at the very margin of disaster for a long time. While I can’t say I will follow in his footsteps, or encourage anyone else to, I salute him. Tahoe will be a little shorter now.

    Now the debate will begin about risk, responsibility, and legacy.

  2. Njord March 27th, 2009 12:11 pm

    Rest in Peace, Shane…

  3. dave downing March 27th, 2009 12:33 pm

    Shane was an inspiration to a generation to skiers. From park to big mtn to mounting a pair of water skis in AK. He’ll be missed.

  4. Tony March 28th, 2009 8:07 am

    Shane McConkey did amazing things, he will be missed.

  5. Mark Worley March 29th, 2009 6:20 pm

    Truly a shock. Shane’s innovations of reverse camber (rocker) and reverse sidecut are revolutionary. I’m sorry that creativity has been lost.

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