Backcountry Skiing News Roundup

Post by blogger | December 12, 2006      
Crested Butte backcountry skiing
Rap in, near Crested Butte, Colorado. Photo from Pete Sowar.

If you’ve been following the rescue epic on Mount Hood you know it’s a rough situation up there. Three guys are stranded high on the mountain by a storm. Kelley James was able to make a cell phone call from a snowcave, while his friends had apparently left the cave and tried to ski out for help. The authorities then lost cell phone contact. A rescue effort is in process, but a storm with 90mph winds has made the search difficult.

This situation reminds me of the 1986 Oregon Episcopal School tragedy on Mount Hood, when seven of the school’s teen-age students (and two adults) died while stranded in a snow cave during a storm so strong it blew out snowcat windows during the rescue effort. We pray the outcome of this latest event is much much better, and all the climbers are hunkered down with good gear and food, waiting out the storm.

Greg Hill is at it again. He’s going for another one million vertical foot backcountry skiing season, only this time he’s planning on doing 100 days in a season, with 10,000 verts logged each of those days! How in the world does one pull that off? No mystery, just check out his blog. As a blogger myself, I have to admit that if I skied 10,000 vertical in a day, I’d probably not be blogging that evening — I’d be searching for a hot tub and popping ibu like candy. Same the next day. More power to Greg!

Saga of Teton Pass continues. The USFS and other entities have funded a “Winter Ambassador” to hang out on the pass for 15 hours a week and help educate users. When such workers are helpful and unbiased they can have a positive effect on situations where public land users are crowded together, such as with Teton Pass parking and the ski slopes closer to the road. So good. But we’d still like to see a shuttle bus run up there from the valley.

Arapaho Basin, a high altitude ski resort in Colorado, has won approval from the USFS to expand into backcountry terrain. The expansion will nearly double their available terrain — all at altitudes where shoulder season snowpack may be much less affected by global warming than that of Colorado’s lower elevation resorts. Smart move, but it is kind of a land grab as well, since the expansion area is somewhat a backcountry skier’s destination. Oh well, one only has to move on to the other zillion acres of public land that are not part of the resort, perhaps by walking more and not riding ski lifts.

This year’s North American randonnee racing schedule is announced, here is the PR word:

The United States Ski Mountaineering Association (USSMA) 2007 ski mountaineering race series will consist of 6 venues spanning the United States and Canada. This year marks the seventh season of ski mountaineering races in the United States. The growth of this sport is very apparent when you see how many homegrown races are springing up this year. The 2007 USSMA sanctioned series will travel from the west coast to the east coast and include a new venue in Canada� stated John Scott USSMA’s Executive Director.

The 2007 series welcomes Sunshine Village in Banff, Canada as a new venue that will kick off the series race schedule with the Arc’teryx Sunshine Village race on February 3rd. Greg Hill, three-time winner of the Whistler, Canada race, will organize the Sunshine race. The series will then travel to Vermont and the Mountain Hardwear Sugarbush/Mad River Glen race that will take place on February 4th. Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Crested Butte, Colorado is the next race on the schedule on February 10th. The Series then travels to Kirkwood, California for the Marmot Kirkwood Mountain Resort race on March 3rd. Alpental, Washington and the Outdoor Research Alpental Race is next on March 18th. This race will be organized by Martin Volken, well know mountain guide and retailer in the Seattle area. The Race Series finishes up with the Life-Link North American Championships at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on March 24th

Sponsoring the series this year are: Life-Link, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Arcteryx, Outdoor Research, Couloir Magazine, Back Country Magazine, Off-Piste Magazine, Buff, Croakies, Clif Bar, Suunto, Adventure Medical Kits, Honey Stinger.


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10 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing News Roundup”

  1. brett foncannon December 12th, 2006 9:19 am


    It looks like you forgot an S in your USSMA link.


  2. Lou December 12th, 2006 10:29 am

    Thanks Brett, fixed.

  3. Scott Stolte December 12th, 2006 12:48 pm

    I have one question for the “Teton Pass Ambassasdor”……

    Will he be using one of the precious parking spaces while he is “educating” us all?

  4. Mike Marolt December 12th, 2006 3:14 pm

    Well, to Greg, if you make your way to Sunlight in Feb, you could knock off about 5 days in 24 hours, take a bit of a rest for 3 or 4, then crank it up again. Heck, you might even be able to knock of 6 days in 24 hours if you come to defend. Ha.


  5. Buffalo Field Campaign December 12th, 2006 6:02 pm

    * Colorado Ski Vacation to Benefit Buffalo Field Campaign

    Folks, I wanted to share a Crested Butte charity auction with you.

    Thanks to a very generous supporter, Buffalo Field Campaign is now holding a fund-raising auction for a week-long February ski vacation in Crested Butte, Colorado. The winner of the Ebay auction, being held from December 10 to the 20th, will enjoy a week’s stay in a Gold-Plus rated, four-bedroom, three-bathroom condominium located 500 yards from the base of the Silver Queen ski lift; eight free lift tickets courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort; $684 of Patagonia Ski Gear including two ski parkas and two hats; a $100 gift certificate to Marchitelli’s Gourmet Noodle; a $33 gift certificate to the Brick Oven Pizzeria; $50 worth of free food from Mountain Earth Grocery; and a 20% discount on Alpine Express shuttle service between the airport in Gunnison and Crested Butte. 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the front-lines work of Buffalo Field Campaign. Total value of this package is more than $6,080. With opening bid and reserve price far below retail value, you can enjoy a great deal on a family ski vacation and support Buffalo Field Campaign in the process.

    Click this link to view and bid on the complete auction:

    Please copy and paste this portion of the update and forward it on to all your ski-loving friends! Thanks in advance for bidding on this charity auction, and to all the individuals and businesses whose donations have made it possible. Contact Dan at with any questions.

  6. Andy December 12th, 2006 8:27 pm

    Re: Greg Hill. Is that 5000 vertical feet up and 5000 down, or 10,000′ in one direction?

    I’m feeling inadaquate…


  7. greg hill December 12th, 2006 10:16 pm

    Hey Lou,

    Didn’t realise you would catch onto me so quickly, I thought i had a few more weeks of getting used to being a blogger before anyone really read it. Oh well better get used to it..

    As for the goal, its ten thousand in one direction, either up or down whichever you prefer, and the days will not be in a row, but spanned over the rest of the season. 89 days to go with about a 160 left, so 1 every 2 days I guess… lots of great days regardless.

    thanks for the encouragement

  8. Ron December 12th, 2006 11:29 pm

    From Greg Hill’s blog: “Its 10 000 feet of vertical gain and 10 000 feet of descent. Generally takes me between 4 and 7 hours to accomplish one of these days, depending on how much trail breaking and distance that needs to be traveled.”

  9. Lou December 13th, 2006 6:50 am

    Indeed yes, he’s talking about how much he’ll climb every day, and ski down as a result. 10,000 feet of climbing every day.

    Interesting he does it in feet instead of meters, come to think of it.

  10. Lou December 13th, 2006 6:55 am

    Thanks for visiting here Greg! I edited the blog post so it’s accurate about how your 100 days will be over the season rather than consecutive. Still a stunning and immense project! We wish you well!

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