News Roundup — Up Festival, Mulled Wine, New CAST


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 10, 2017      
They shut down the lifts, groomed the slope, and invited people to ski tour.

Aspen Skiing Company shut down the lifts at Buttermilk ski area, groomed the slope, and invited people to ski tour. A mob showed up and had a terrific time. At one point we counted 55 people headed up the hill ahead of us.

First ever Aspen Uphill Skiing Festival (officially “Aspen Ascent Weekend”) This past Saturday-Sunday. Amazing. We figured about 300 people showed up on day one to enjoy perfect weather, lunch at the summit restaurant, free demo gear and an overall social occasion. The slopes were groomed, the lifts were closed. Backcountry conditions were mixed, you could find some powder up high but a lot of breakable crust and transitional snow was to be had as well, so ski touring at a resort without ski lifts was perfect for us. Not only that, but Cripple Creek Backcountry did a podcast from the summit restaurant, featuring a few of us old timers reminiscing about the history of local uphilling.

The celebrity podcast (People magazine next!) included alpinist and former publisher of Climbing Magazine, Michael Kennedy, prodding me to remember my days of ski touring on fragile nordic racing equipment. Bob Wade, owner of famed local retailer Ute Mountaineer (40 year anniversary party April 14) spoke on the origins of our our local skimo race scene, as he and his shop founded the original organized uphill races on the ski hill, back in the 1970s.

For myself, the interesting part of the podcast was having Skico management there in the form of Rich Burkley, V.P. Mountain Operations. Rich is fully involved in how our Aspen ski mountains deal with thousands of uphillers. Short story is they’re committed to making it work, but pondering things such as segregating some of the uphill traffic off the actual ski runs (instead using designated uphill trails through the woods), as well as the eternal question of how to monetize their uphill guests.

I pointed out that 4 of us sitting there doing the podcast had already “monetized” uphill skiing (3 ski shop owners and myself the publisher). Not that the Skico is going into publishing or big time retailing; point being that there are ways. For example, as they do in Europe, providing attractive on-mountain dining options for the uphill crowd.

Rich mentioned they probably will never charge money specifically for uphilling, as doing so would defy local culture and be an “enforcement” challenge. I’d agree with that — for now. But if the uphiller numbers continue what’s something like a 7 year doubling rate, and use the Skico groom that costs significant money per cubic meter to produce through snowmaking and grooming, then something has to eventually give.

(Incidentally, we spoke with a guide and ski instructor who said he’d done 20 guide days that winter, simply showing folks an uphill experience on the resort. There you go, another way to monetize.)

This was a special person spotting for us.

This was a special person spotting for us. That’s Aspen Powder Tours manager Murray Cunningham introducing Wolfie to the joys of uphill. Murray is one of my ski mentors, as well as a founder of the Friends Hut, industry gear pioneer and numerous other accolades — not to mention him being simply a super nice guy.

In more news, CAST touring just launched the latest incarnation of their system. This is the take-no-prisoners way of ski touring with full alpine gear. Not really our cup of coffee here at WildSnow, but entirely viable if you’ve simply found that aggressive skiing on touring equipment is fraught with breakage, or downright dangerous due to the difficulty of adjusting touring bindings to provide an adequate balance of retention and release. More here.

CAST

CAST allows you to swap between a tech binding toe and alpine toe. They also have a system to mod alpine boots with a tech fitting at the toe, though numerous tech equipped boots are now available that probably fit the “beef” bill for most people and have better walk mode than skinning in a full alpine boot.

Lastly, for our part of the Uphill Festival, we made a thermos of mulled wine. While I’m not a big fan of most Glühwein (I’ve sampled plenty in Europe), last winter I had a version in Austria at Schönwetter Bistro Café . Now, this isn’t just any bistro, but rather an establishment operated by members of the Barthel family, including inventor of the tech binding, Fritz Barthel. Turns out that not only is the Barthel family home to engineering smarts, but they have a tradition of culinary excellence. Thus, their special recipe for mulled wine that I like to call the “Low-Tech” in honor of Fritz and his business.

The Schönwetter Low-Tech version is a light mulled wine made with Austrian muscat grape wine. Sweetened with caramelized sugar, seasoned, and cut with water. We couldn’t find the exact right muskat, so to maintain flavor we used less water than the recipe below. We added water by taste, after mixing in the sugar and a bit more spice than indicated (again to taste). Result was excellent. If you like this sort of thing, give it a shot.

160 g sugar caramelized (tricky, google is your friend)
1 litre filtered water
1 litre Muskateller
1 cinammon stick
3 Cloves

Heat all together, do not boil, recommended maximum temperature 160 degrees fahrenheit.

Moscato was ok.

We found this Italian version of muscat grape wine, Moscato. It was a sparkling wine so we poured and let it go flat, then used less water as I don’t think it’s as flavorful as the Austrian version. Turned out tasty, so we got it right.

Every kitchen needs an infrared thermometer.

Every kitchen needs an infrared thermometer.

Just to show our european friends we are not unfamiliar with metric.

Just to show our European friends we are not unfamiliar with metric.



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Comments

9 Responses to “News Roundup — Up Festival, Mulled Wine, New CAST”

  1. Pete Anzalone April 10th, 2017 2:58 pm

    Great stuff Lou but the link to cripple creek bc is broken … “This site can’t be reached”

  2. Lou Dawson 2 April 10th, 2017 3:40 pm

    thanks!

    I spelled it crippleDcreek, whoops…

    https://www.cripplecreekbc.com

  3. Rick April 11th, 2017 1:27 am

    “crippleDcreek” ?!?
    Too much mulled wine eh Lou ?

    😉

  4. Lou Dawson 2 April 11th, 2017 5:56 am

    Indeed! I thought that was a funny typo. Lou

  5. Aaron Mattix April 11th, 2017 7:26 am

    On the point of monetizing uphill resort skiing & the issue of passes: Instead of trying to wrangle the problem from an enforcement angle, how about approaching it from the incentive side? Purchase an uphill ski pass, and get a significant discount on food purchased at the top of the mountain? The uphill Gastro Pass!

  6. JCoates April 12th, 2017 8:13 am

    Lou, if you’re ever over around the holidays, try to find a shop serving feuerzangenbowle. Its the German version of the Flaming Moe. I’m not a big fan of glühwein either but the rum/fire combo seems to make everything better.

  7. Jim Milstein April 12th, 2017 9:19 am

    No home (and kitchen) is complete without a pistol grip IR thermometer.

  8. VT skier April 12th, 2017 10:24 am

    The PR release for the Aspen Uphill Skiing Festival (link at top) says,
    “On all four mountains, uphilling is allowed outside of operating hours as well. There is no charge for it, and these policies are unique in the ski industry, where many resorts ban it altogether or severely limit it through pricing and hours. ‘

    Well that isn’t completely accurate. Jay Peak , here in Vermont allows the same, unlimited up hill skinning during lift operations, and outside operating hours. They only ask that you sign a release form at start of season, and obtain a fluorescent arm band to wear. No charge for this..During irregular operations, mechanical problems with a lift, this can be a great way to access areas on the mountain not served by lifts.
    I commend Aspen for this enlightened policy, (and Jay Peak) and hope that other ski areas will embrace “uphill skiing” in the same ways. This would also encourage skiers like me to throw in a light touring ski/boot setup on a resort trip, to skin up early for exercise, or even hire a local guide to get the goods out of bounds..

  9. Lou Dawson 2 April 12th, 2017 10:38 am

    VT, that appears to be over-exuberant PR writing, I can think of several resorts off the top of my head that allow uphilling during operating hours, and others that allow it outside of operating hours. The word they should have eliminated is “unique” and instead written this something like

    …and these policies are UNUSUAL in the ski industry, where many resorts ban it altogether or severely limit it through pricing and hours. ‘

    Evan that might be an exaggeration.

    Main thing about Aspen Ski Company is that overall they are very welcoming to uphilling, with each of their mountains having a clearly written policy, several of which allow uphilling during operating hours.

    Lou





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