Double whippets, gear design and, of course, steep skiing
Editor’s note: As we prepare to churn out new episodes for the upcoming season, we take a look back in the archives to replay Doug and Randy’s episode with steep skiing legend and author of the Chuting Gallery, Andrew McLean. Stay tuned for a new Totally Deep episode to drop next Wednesday.
If you’ve ever skied with a whippet, you have Andrew McLean to thank. Similarly, if you’ve skied in Wasatch, there’s a good chance you’ve schussed a line he pioneered. And if you were watching Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report circa 2008, you can give kudos to McLean for bringing steep ski mountaineering to the late night Comedy Central crowd.
This is all to say, Andrew McLean has been a driving force in the world of ski mountaineering well before it was publicly ‘a thing.’ So you can imagine how stoked Doug and Randy were to get him into the Totally Deep mobile recording studio (A.K.A. a hotel room at summer Outdoor Retailer) to dive into Andrew’s career of steep skiing, gear design and pioneering big lines around the world.
From Doug: “This is one of my favorite episodes ever. The photo above of Andrew getting steep features his invention and one of my favorite tools, the whippet. It makes me feel way better about my liberal use of it when I hear he is often skiing around the Wasatch backcountry with one in each hand. This is from a different age in gear design and development when it was the athletes themselves that drove the demand, design, and end user.”
For over 14 years, Andrew designed gear for Black Diamond, innovating some favorite tools including the Hot Wire carabiner (the first wire gate biner), camalots, and ski leashes. Throughout the episode, you’ll hear more about gear design than you ever thought to ask. Other hot topics in the show include whether to rappel into a steep line, skiing the Messner Couloir, the making of the Chuting Gallery and rating ski lines.
And, of course, steep skiing. Which led Doug to ask the burning question: “So…how do I steep ski?”
“The beauty of steep skiing is that it’s 99% mental,” Andrew replies. Of course there’s more to it than that, actually a lot more, into which he gives great detail. But to hear the full rundown, you’ll just have to listen to the show.
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