Night before Wildsnow Christmas

Post by blogger | December 23, 2011      
Portahut Christmas, yes, St Brigger was there!

WildSnow Field HQ portahut chalet, visitation by St Briggs is documented. Yes, those are taillights down next to the lower Christmas lights, but somehow the color balance got messed up and they're not red. Arrest me, ocifer! Click to enlarge.

Twas the night before Christmas, all through the WildSnow chalet

Not a creature was stirring, not even a jay;

The boot liners hung by the stovepipe with care,

In hopes that St. Briggs soon would be there;

The skiers were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Plumbindings danced in their heads;

And mamma in her puffy, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the hill there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sled, towed by Dynafitted deer

With a yodeling driver, so lively yet chill,

I knew in a moment it must be old Bill.

More rapid than proskiers his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Hold on, Dav! now, Dawson! now, McLean and your vixen!

On, Saucer Boy! on Lindsey! on, Stammberger and Blitzen!

To the top of the deck! to the top of the wall!

Now ski away! ski away! ski away all!”

As surface hoar that before the wind fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the hut-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of gear, and St. Brigger too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and stamping of each Pebax hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Briggs came with a bound.

He was dressed all in wool, from his head to his knee,

And his clothes were all stained, from Teton tea;

A bundle of gear he had flung on his back,

And he looked like Beglinger just opening his pack.

His knees how they creaked, but eyes twinkled merry!

With quads like logs, his fitness so cherry!

His resting pulse, yes incredibly low,

And the beard of his chin was crusted with snow;

The tube of an Avalung he held in his teeth,

The spindrift circled his head like a wreath;

He had a lean face and a taut flat belly;

He had skied the Grand, and NOT on telly.

Fit and fast, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A bleep of his Pieps and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk,

And laying his skins atop of his skis,

And giving a nod, uphill he wheezed;

He sprang to his sled, to his team gave a PBR,

And away they all flew to shred on the gnar.

I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

And, as St. Briggs would have us do, we did venture from WildSnow Field HQ and sample the 29 inches of facets that try to say they’re a snowpack. Fat skis did the trick. Louie on K2 Darksides, me on BD Justice Carbon. Check out a few photos:

Backcountry skiing West Elk Mountains, Colorado.

Louie Dawson backcountry skiing West Elk Mountains, Colorado. He just got done with a K2 internship, can you tell? Click images to enlarge.

Another shot of Louie enjoying the facet farm.

Another shot of Louie enjoying the facet farm.


20 Responses to “Night before Wildsnow Christmas”

  1. brian h December 22nd, 2011 7:39 am

    I guess ol St Briggs brought you all some fresh this mornin! Happy Winter to all and to all a fresh turn.

  2. Dostie December 22nd, 2011 10:00 am


  3. cam December 22nd, 2011 11:06 am


  4. Matt Kinney December 22nd, 2011 11:43 am

    Merry Christmas and peace to the Wildsnow family.

  5. peter December 22nd, 2011 2:04 pm

    check out this nice porta-hut over on the outdoor research page.
    happy holidays to all.

  6. George December 22nd, 2011 5:51 pm

    You are living the dream Lou. Congratulations on your property, Port-a-hut and creating incredible sentimental memories for your family…with style.

  7. Lou December 22nd, 2011 7:20 pm

    Peter, I like Giffin’s tiny house, but I wish they’d just blow off the ski resorts (grin). If they want to come park on our property we can probably figure something out that’ll work, but they’d better wait till we get more snow. And our porch overhang is more manly, as I had to use a welder to make it. Lou

  8. mh December 22nd, 2011 8:43 pm

    Will you adopt me? At least until the snow melts.

  9. Mark W December 22nd, 2011 10:31 pm

    Justice Carbon? Wow, I’ll bet that is a light, fat board. The standard version is fairly light for such a big ski, and yes, it skis pretty darn well. Carbon indeed. How much does the Justice Carbon weigh?

  10. Mark December 23rd, 2011 8:15 am

    You probably addressed this elsewhere, but what did you do to affix the thing once you set it on site? Did you put it on blocks, jacks, or just leave it on the tires? Any other anchoring?

  11. Lou December 23rd, 2011 8:23 am

    Mark, I’ve got it up on the tongue jack and some blocks so the tires stay in good shape. We took some time leveling it, but could have blocked it up in an hour or two. When I move it around on the property I’ll probably just level it with two scissor jacks and the tongue jack. If it’s in one location for the winter, then a bit more time leveling is worth it. Once it’s on blocks, since it has quite a bit of weight underside (the trailer, axles, etc.) It’s very stable and doesn’t shake around like a camper does. In terms of tying it down, when I spoke with the building department they were adamant that one of the important criteria for the difference between a temporary structure or trailer, and a permanent structure, was if it was “attached or tied” to the ground or not. I assured them it was _not_ attached to the ground and they said “good.” At first I was concerned with it creeping off the blocks to I put some small steel straps from some of the blocks up to the trailer frame. I didn’t like those because it started to look “attached,” so after I realized the trailer wasn’t moving around I removed the straps. Like I mentioned somewhere else, I could hook it up to my truck and having it moving around the property in an hour or so — that’s key.

  12. Mark December 23rd, 2011 8:37 am

    Makes sense. My worries would be 1) tire damage, 2) wind, and 3) snow load on one side pushing it off the blocks. The latter two issues are probably remedied through careful site selection, and the blocks of course save the tires. Very cool creation. I’d like to copy-cat you one day.

  13. Lou December 23rd, 2011 9:16 am

    Mark, I was concerned about snow pressure as well, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem. I used fairly wide blocks (chunks of 6×6 landscape timber). Overall, I’ve found that the thing is super stable, due to it not exactly being light in weight!

  14. Chris Marrone December 23rd, 2011 11:24 am


    Nice job, someday I hope to have the time to do the same.

    Snow creep can be incredibly powerful and very persistent. On two sites where we’ve built permanent structures, one using 375 pounds/sf and the other 600 pounds/sf snow loading, the engineer used 9 #/sf lateral snow loading (the live load criteria was not theoretical and was taken from over 50yrs of snow sampling data). That lateral loading on a structure can add up quickly and can be very powerful. My experience has been that site selection is critical and that it is best to have a positive slope away from the building on all sides. Of course, the type of snow, water content, aspect, etc. play an important role. But, you can’t plan on those variables and even typically “low moisture” snow areas in the interior can experience “Sierra cement” and can be compounded with a rain event. A couple of our smaller outbuildings, built on very gentle slopes, have had the walls on the up slope side impacted.

    Happy Holidays

  15. David December 23rd, 2011 3:20 pm

    Lou, awesome photo of the portahut!

    Merry Christmas all. Have a happy and powder filled New Year!

  16. PETE ANZALONE December 23rd, 2011 4:27 pm

    Merry Christmas awesome Dawsons!

  17. Lisa December 23rd, 2011 7:33 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful life we have! Our little trailer hut is a dream come true.

  18. scottyb December 24th, 2011 5:50 am



  19. Scott mccurdy December 25th, 2011 5:09 pm

    Lou, a rather simple question on dynafit. I have a pair of used manaslus (awesome gift from the awesome wife!) they are in great shape but it looks like the previous owner really enjoyed moving his bindings around. I am going to use the pre drilled holes but wonder if it is advisable to put something in the hole to get a bomber purchase. Epoxy, or some type if silicone or whatever? Obviously I’m not a ski tech. Thanks for any input.

    Merry Christmas

  20. Lou December 26th, 2011 11:54 am

    Scott, use some “plastic” epoxy in the holes and be super careful not to strip due to over tightening. If you strip one or rotate an insert, the fix is to install a stainless steel insert. Lou

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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