Ski Journal 5-2 – The Proud (but scared) Parent Issue


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 11, 2011      
Ski Journal 5.2 cover.

Ski Journal 5.2 cover.

Real publishing (not that easy web stuff anyone can do) now runs in the Dawson family. Ski Journal 5.2 has a gripping and well written article by PNW ski alpinist Kirk Turner, with a classic extreme ski shot taken by WildSnow progeny Louie, as well as a hero shot of the young man himself. Lisa and I are shopping for picture frames already, and getting wallet versions made. First print published photo by the guy, and congrats Kirk on getting your writing in there.

Only, I didn’t know that couloir Kirk and Louie skied was 2,000 feet of ice, some at 65 degrees. Not sure what to think about that, only that I now feel bad about what I put my own mom and dad through.

Thread of Ice article by Kirk, shot of Louie on left, Louie shot of Kirk on right.

Thread of Ice article by Kirk, shot of Louie on left, Louie shot of Kirk on right.

In any case, good job Louie and Kirk, both on pulling off the safe second ascent and first ski descent of Thread of Ice, but also documenting your adventure in what is hands down the best ski publication in existence. More, nice to see ski shots where trick posing was the last thing on the practitioner’s mind. Or, did you do a front flip off that first 65 degree bulge, on belay?

Um, now I’m trying to remember what else is in this ish. Oh yeah, nice coverage of alpinism in California Sierra that includes the admission that 4-wheeling is in our DNA, something cool with Japanese skiing history and a weird photo of a monkey face, and some guy named Henrick Windstedt. I’ll have to look at those articles again. That is after I find a color copy machine so I can run off 300 copies of Kirk’s article, and do a bulk mailing to all our relatives.

Three WildSnow thumbs up. Or is that get more curved pick tools boys, and keep your skis tuned?

The Ski Journal



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Comments

26 Responses to “Ski Journal 5-2 – The Proud (but scared) Parent Issue”

  1. Dostie November 11th, 2011 11:11 am

    Y’all shouldn’t waste your time with the copy machine. Ask the Ski Journal folks to send you a hi-res PDF and then you can crank off as many copies as you need.

  2. Drew Tabke November 11th, 2011 12:16 pm

    So awesooooooooooooooooooooome! Yeah Louie!

  3. Scott Newman November 11th, 2011 12:44 pm

    Wow.

  4. Tom Mavilia November 11th, 2011 1:13 pm

    I am interested in knowing if any of your readers have had problems with the top sheets on Black Diamond skis delaminating. I have had this happen to two pairs of mine and a pair belonging to a friend. Any feedback would be helpful.

  5. Mark W November 11th, 2011 2:03 pm

    The likes of Doug Coombs, Hans Saari, Chris Davenport, Ptor Spricenieks, Pierre Tardivel, Trevor Petersen, and others would be proud. We’re talking of an elite level of practitioner, some rare company. Way to go Louie and Kirk.

  6. Nick November 11th, 2011 2:05 pm

    Nice work!

  7. ishotit November 11th, 2011 3:40 pm

    Support the “best ski publication in existence” and buy those copies for the relatives.

  8. Randonnee November 11th, 2011 4:10 pm

    Congratulations! Great to hear from proud papa also! Spectacular.

  9. Roger November 11th, 2011 4:34 pm

    I first read about this publication here some time ago, and then I found a copy in a magazine store in, of all places, Manhattan. I read it on the plane back to L.A. and really liked it. Super high quality, not the kind of magazine you throw out after reading. Now I have to find a place to buy it in L.A.

  10. Scott November 11th, 2011 5:09 pm

    Really cool. That boy was raised right !

  11. PETE ANZALONE November 11th, 2011 8:24 pm

    Proud papa. Congrats to you & Lisa (and Louie).

  12. Fernando Pereira November 11th, 2011 8:51 pm

    Roger, just subscribe via the links Lou includes, it’s really worth it. Off-the-beaten-track stories, great photos, readable type on nice-to-hold paper.

  13. Jonathan Shefftz November 12th, 2011 9:39 am

    @ Mark W, is your list of “elite level of practitioner, some rare company” intentionally chosen to have a 50-percent mortality rate from skiing?

  14. Louie November 13th, 2011 1:43 am

    Thanks everyone! I was pretty stoked to see that in there, the credit goes to Kirk.

  15. brian h November 13th, 2011 9:00 am

    Yeah! Great stuff. Lou, I hear you with the parental karma. And it aint just with skiing…

  16. Lee Lau November 13th, 2011 11:48 pm

    What’re you going to say Lou? Er son… i wouldn’t do that? Haha. Relax and enjoy it.

  17. Lou November 14th, 2011 7:07 am

    I considered not posting about this from my own point of view, but then, this is a blog and one has to open up at least sometimes (grin)!

    From what I heard, those guys did a great job on that and used the experience to explore what level they want to go to. Not to mention the mind control that Kirk alludes to in his writing — something that translates to all parts of life.

    One thing for sure, you do that stuff during a phase in your life when pushing physical and mental limits can be important, fine if it’s the path you choose. As Lee alludes to, I’ve of course been there myself. And taken it to the level of doing dumb stuff as well. That’s where just because the parent does something, doesn’t make it okay for the next gen (though you may hear that used as an excuse if you’re a parent, ha).

    In this case the guys were pretty smart, used ropes well, though they might have gone over the edge of what’s really acceptable to be skiing and climbing unroped unless you’re out to make a career out of such stuff.

    At that age, you do have to make choices as to what direction you want to take your alpinism, so the exploration is good, so long as it’s sustainable. Beyond that, the pure vision and creativity of this sort of alpinism is always an inspiration, parent or not. Indeed, that’s what alpinists bring to the rest of us.

  18. Mark W November 14th, 2011 7:50 pm

    Jonathan, I hadn’t considered your point about the skiers I listed as being half still living and half not. It is something to ponder for sure.

  19. Kirk Turner November 15th, 2011 11:02 am

    Thanks for all the comments guys, and thanks for the post Lou! Many thanks to The Ski Journal also. I just tried to paint an accurate of things that went through my head and the trip in general. Louie can chime in too here if he likes, but I think I can speak for both of us when I say that hands down every single time I step into bindings or rope to to climb something, the number one and only objective is safety and coming home at the end of the day. No single line or route is worth anything else. We’ve all made poor decisions, whether skiing or in life in general, that can pass into the “dumb” realm or just plain stupid, however weather or not we are somewhat young in the grand scheme of things, I think we made reasonable decisions given many factors, and we have a reasonably robust set of skills between us… like Lou said trips like this are about exploring boundaries and capability in as safe a manner as possible weather physical or mental. Mark has a point with his list and I actually thought of that before Johnathon commented, it definitely something to think on in the future. Andrew Mclean has talked at length about the inherent risks of ski alpinism, but he and many others have wives and babies at home that deserve significant consideration, I don’t, however I try to operate under similar decision making frameworks as if I did, I have family and friends that mean the world to me. It would be asinine to say I can see the future but I hope and will try my darnedest to grow old. 🙂

  20. Kirk Turner November 15th, 2011 11:09 am

    Oops I didn’t quite mean to post that yet, asinine* and a smiley at the end 🙂 Thanks again Lou I deeply respect all that you and the other backcountry skiing greats have contributed to the sport we all love, and I hope to continue to learn and grow from all the wisdom and experiences that have come before me, as well as whatever the future may bring!

  21. Lou November 15th, 2011 11:34 am

    Kirk, good stuff! I added the smily I think you wanted? Comment reads good. Lou

  22. Marc November 17th, 2011 8:55 pm

    Nice article Kirk. What first stood out to me was your choice of gear: whippet, light weight ski axe, Fusion technical tool, K2 Sidestashes and TLT 5 boots… interesting mix. Then I read it. The gear choices seemed to make more sense. I appreciated your honesty and lack of bravado – because as you allude to, the mountains really don’t care one way or another whether we survive or not. The one question I had is a technical one. Although not described in detail, did Louie have you on belay from below for a ski descent? I’m not sure this is a viable technique? What was the anchor? I can only imagine the rope getting in the way and if you did fall that was going to be some serious shock load on the anchor, possibly putting the both of you in danger (if Louie was attached to it as well). But, I’m just speculating. It was hard to tell actually what technique you guys were employing. Thanks for sharing…

  23. Kirk Turner November 22nd, 2011 11:13 am

    Thanks for the comment Marc, those are actually wayback skis, much lighter and smaller than the sidestashes, in retrospect the dynafit broad peak ski would be much better suited to these conditions however I had just got them, and I figured taking them here on the first day out would be a poor decision. Martin Volkin’s book will get you the basics/cover some of the issues, but my experience is that skiing on belay is not an exact science. http://books.google.com/books?id=fbYMocIZ18YC&pg=PA242&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false 99.99999% of all skiers will probably never experience it. The bottom line is that it is kind of like protection for ice climbing and the basic rule from ice also applies, “don’t fall” the second rule? “Don’t fall”. It’s cumbersome, time consuming, and not practical for any kind of extended distances, however as volkin says, its about your only option for short distances if your significantly confident you can stay upright on your feet in control but a fall would be unacceptable(it still pretty much isn’t for the 2nd if you leepfrog) . On the first anchor we had all rock gear, a nut, a pin and a cam I think, so yes the basics were louie skied down first essentially on a top rope(though he never weighted it) I fed out line as he “skied” down on a munter, he then built an anchor of another bomber cam and a slung big chalkstone. The 2nd down has a whole different game, as leap frogging requires a bit more exposure. I broke down the anchor and then headed down very slowly while he belayed in rope also on a munter. We used a single 8.1mm due to weight, so yeah a fall could have a tremendous fall factor depending on location, for the second(though thankfully it would not be a full vertical free fall) but at least its something that might catch you/slow you down, its also a mental boost, and mental protection….? In the event of a fall I would love to see some tests on what would be the weakest link, but I have no intentions of ever finding out myself….Its hard because the other options would be just straight rappelling, or a kind of reverse lead, with the first setting pro on the way down that the second would clean, ice screws, snow pickets, rock gear on the sides etc, but in the mountains speed often=safety especially in funnels like couloirs. Its all a game of figuring out what makes the most sense in a given situation and trying to do it as quickly and as safely as possible given a ton of different factors…we tried to maximize our speed safely, but as it was the belaying and a few raps ate up a lot of time. Hope that address most of your questions?

  24. Marc November 22nd, 2011 12:53 pm

    Kirk-

    Thanks so much for the reply. After I commented, I figured out your skis were the Waybacks – which makes more sense for that kind of adventure! Being an IFMGA guide, I alway meticulously study photos and articles of technical ascents and descents to see what techniques folks are employing. I really appreciate the detail you went into in your response. Sounds like the anchors were good, but in all my training and certification I’ve never heard of a ski belay from below. A fall would be a factor 2 fall. You’re right, the terrain is not vertical, but those firm, slick conditions would have very little friction (unlike a fall on less than vertical rock). The stress on the anchor would be huge as well as the impact force on the skier. The skinny rope would help with stretch, but factor 2 falls is when equipment starts failing…

    Martin’s book is a great resource, as is Jimmey Oden’s book FREE SKIING. Both are written by IFMGA guides and cover a lot more than can be learned in a NOLS course.

    As I said in my first comment, I really enjoyed the article! Such a contrast to the macho, bro-bra attitude that defines so much of our ski culture these days. Thanks again for your detailed reply and have a great winter!

    Cheers, Marc

  25. Louie November 22nd, 2011 1:48 pm

    Thanks for all the good comments! I agree with what Kirk has said, but I’ll add a few things.

    First off, I do everything I can to stay safe in the mountains, while still challenging myself and skiing fun stuff. It’s pretty much my worst nightmare to die while skiing. Ski mountaineering is a somewhat selfish, and ultimately pretty silly endeavor, and something I don’t want to sacrifice my life for. It’s my opinion that I’m pretty cautious out there. I turn around or bail much more than I succeed in skiing something.

    We briefly discussed our options at the top, and it was decided that I would ski down on belay. At the end of the rope, I would decide whether I thought Kirk could follow, with me belaying from below, or if he should rapell. We were fairly confident we could ski that section safely, having just climbed it. We also wanted to minimize our rappels, since we had limited gear, and we wanted out of there fast!

    I felt fairly confident skiing that section, and I was confident that if I was in Kirk’s position I could ski it. Therefore we decided on the belay-from-below approach, which saved time and gear. I choose my partners for ski mountaineering very carefully. One of the important aspects is knowing them well enough and being confident enough in their abilities to know what you can expect from them.

    You won’t find anything like that in any alpinism or guiding textbook, and it of course wouldn’t be something you would want to use guiding. I’ll admit, a big portion of the rope being there was psychological. However, I think it turned something that was “you fall, you die” terrain, into “you fall, maybe you live” terrain, while minimizing waste of time and gear. In the event of a fall, Kirk would have tried to self arrest with his whippets, which would have slowed him down a bit, and maybe the anchor would have held. The skiing got sketchier below where I was belaying, and I had him on top rope for that section (which I rappelled).

    But sometimes, you just have to take a cup of cement, harden up, and ski it! Just kidding 🙂 I don’t like the macho, bro-bra stuff either, and I try to stay as humble as possible. Maybe that wasn’t the best way to deal with that situation, but at the time it seemed the best compromise of time and safety.

    Louie

  26. Marc November 22nd, 2011 2:32 pm

    Thanks for your insight Louie. Puts it into perspective a bit more. And you’re right, sometimes you have to through convention out the window because circumstances demand you think outside the box in order increase your margin of safety.

    Thanks, Marc

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