Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays

With good snowfall abounding, most of the Karhu office is taking advantage of the timing of the holidays to get away from the desks, computers and phones for a welcome break. The forecasts look good, from Vermont to Colorado, California, Washington and more. So with that, the blog will be a little quieter for the next 10 days, until we return in the New Year. I hope you take advantage of the same to shut off a little from the wired world, and take a leisurely tour, work up a sweat, or just make some turns with friends. Enjoy the time with your family, and admire the wonder of the mountains in winter that always seems to feel a little more special when the flakes fall this time of year.

For anyone who does check in, here’s one more little treat before signing off… a clip from Nils Larsen’s Journey to the Source. Nils just finished up his latest project, “Skiing in the Shadow of Genghis Khan,” the culmination of several years of travel and skiing in China, exploring the roots of skiing in the Altai region.

Says Nils, “I had a great first showing of my new film, "Skiing in the Shadow of Genghis Khan" on November 15th in Tahoe, Sponsored by Alpenglow in Tahoe City. We had a standing room only crowd of 150 people at the Sawtooth Ridge Cafe and the show was a benefit for Project MANA. Karhu donated a pair of XCD 10th Mountains to the benefit for Project MANA and we raised more then $600.”

Enjoy the clip, and take the time over the next two weeks to share some of the many smiles shown by Nils and his friends in the Altai. We’ll see you on the other side…

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

First Day on Skis

Powder clause was in effect this morning with 22” of new snow at Alpental. Coverage was great with faceshots in the trees, and the slopes were pretty empty for a Thursday morning. Sometimes it’s tough to make the transition back into the office after a good powder morning, but a nice email from Chuck Waskuch brought smiles for the afternoon. Chuck is the photo editor at Backcountry Magazine, and his photography choices and own imagery pulled many of us into the sport we love. Like a good Vermonter, Chuck knows to start ‘em young, and he pulled another one into the winter world this morning when his son Zander got first tracks on his new K’Booms.

(Zander appears to be scouting out the next line with a little help from Dad. Photo courtesy of Chuck Waskuch)

Another sick day of skiing in the morning then baby-duty in the afternoon. I figured I got some so Zander should git some too. Seven and a half months old, and his first day on skis he ripped the driveway up and down twice. He even dropped a knee at one point, and I shed a little tear.

–Chuck Waskuch

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Dads with Day Jobs

The pictures weren’t coming out so well I thought to myself as I scrolled through the camera’s review screen. Well of course they weren’t coming out very well – it was dark out. It was the second darkest day of the year, and we were just getting ready to ascend Mount Mansfield.

For Jim, Justin and I – dads with day jobs – skiing comes when we can get it; even if that means lithium ion headlamps lighting the way through the night. The hour and a half skin up was hypnotizing. Once we topped out, we mounted the big boy lamps on the top of our helmets, and we were ready to shove off. Popping through a tight hole in the pines, we were happy with the early season coverage. Stumps that were visible most of last season had already disappeared, and we were ready to celebrate this much snow pre-solstice.

(Big lamps light up the transition. Photo courtesy of Dave Bouchard)

Past the waterfall the forest opened up into a series of unspoiled glades. Bluish light pointed out the lines like lasers as our skis made incisions into the wind-buffed snow. True telemark turns were tough to come by. Getting both planks out in front was necessary as parallel turns let the skis rise to the surface only to dive once again into the next turn. Midway down the semi-stubborn snow turned to a consistent creamy texture and became more cooperative. Too bad at this point we had pretty much exhausted the vertical.

Living in a world of tunnel vision, high on Vermont’s tallest peak, with temps hovering around 0 is a great place to be on a winter’s night.

–Dave Bouchard

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Good Day in the Woods

Storms just pounded Colorado, Tahoe and New England over the last week, and another system might be lining up off the Northwest soon. In light of the powder season picking up steam, Nils Larsen sent us a clip from a backcountry trip to Valhalla Lodge a few years back:

(Skiers: Steve Gladstone, John Seibert, John Bird, Nils Larsen. Video courtesy of Nils Larsen)

We were at Valhalla Lodge for a week, and the snow was pretty good boot-top powder on north faces when we arrived. It started dumping about day four and snowed hard for two days. The powder was incredible - some of the best and deepest in recent years. We skied trees and edges for two days as it was snowing hard, and the hazard was on the uptick. The tree skiing there is fantastic with lots of 1500-2000 foot runs, and we worked them until dark every day. The day we left a big wind came up and scorched it; I'm afraid the next group came in to extreme hazard and bad skiing.

-Nils Larsen

If would like to let us know where you skied today, drop us a line at The season is on, so get out there!

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Stowe, VT – EmberPhoto Slideshow Dec 8

Ski season is in full session in Vermont, with new photos and video emerging every day from the slopes of the Greens, like Drew Simmons’ lunchtime runs at Mad River Glen:

(Via WickedOutdoorsy)

If you’re skiing in Vermont this weekend, bring a change of clothes for apr├Ęs and get over to Stowe and the Vermont Ski Museum for Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson’s multimedia Wild People, Wild Places show on sailing and skiing in Iceland.

Brian and Emily are the creative talents of EmberPhoto, and the images from their pioneering trips on Karhu skis have long been part of our ads, catalogs and website, most recently with posts on their trips to Patagonia’s Rio Baker. On exotic trips throughout South America, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and always across New England – from mid-winter remote descents of Katahdin and Washington to deep powder days at MRG and skiing anything down to moss and ferns late in the season – Brian and Emily’s skiing and photography captures the spirit of adventure that we hold dearest. Saturday’s show promises to be a real treat, featuring the imagery and stories of this year’s sailboat-based couloir-skiing trip to Iceland’s West Fjords region. With tickets for only $5 and a chance at winning some new Karhus, you can’t miss out on this.

(Adventure skiing sometimes means carrying your skis on a packhorse in weather that requires garbage bags. All geared up in Patagonia, photo courtesy of

For more information on the 3rd Annual Wild People, Wild Places program and remaining show schedule, visit EmberPhoto.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

XCD in the Kootenays

Charlie and I weren't the only ones who got out for some turns after the sales meeting. For reps traveling from the East Coast, a few extra days usually go on the schedule for an early season ski roadtrip. Doug Reilley of Mountain Lake Marketing checks in from the road in BC:

(Skis out for bluebird. Photos by Doug Reilley)

After crossing the border at Nelway on Friday, we headed up to Salmo/Creston pass (aka Kootenay Pass) and toured with XCD gear around the Ripple Ridge area. Cover was a bit thin on the south facing slopes, but we did manage to do a nice descent to a logging road, which we followed back around and up to Ripple Ridge. Heading back to the cars we managed to find some fresher and deeper snow by cutting off the switchbacks. Good food and drink in Nelson that night!

(Bill Love and Mike Kaz appreciating the day.)

On Saturday we skinned up and over Hummingbird Pass which is on the access road leading to Whitewater Mountain Resort – again more logging road and single-track touring (although with wider boards this time). The cover was still rather thin but we managed to do some 'Adirondack style' trail skiing on the way down. Once the trail opened up, we were able to pick up the speed and get some nice, long, flowing turns.

(Smooth tracks and steady pace.)

(Kick and glide back out late in the day.)

Sunday, we woke up to find 8 to 10 inches of new snow with more coming down. We decided to head up to the ski hill and skin up the Summit side (about 1300'). It seemed like half the town of Nelson had the same idea as the parking lot was pretty crowded. The snow continued to dump as we ascended ski trails and access roads that wound to the top. No views this day with snow and high winds swirling about. The descent proved to be quite challenging as we couldn't tell what was under the snow.

(No better way to end the ski day than Alpenglow across the sky.)

Some of the mounds were tops of rocks hidden from above and others were merely piles of windblown snow. Mixed among the lumpy terrain were weed stalks, small conifers and alder. One lap was plenty as we got bogged down more than a few times on the descent in the deep, unconsolidated snow. After cleaning up and repacking, Bill K, Kaz and I made a treacherous drive back over the border to Spokane where we would catch flights back East in the morning. After talking to Bill Love the next day, we found out an additional 8 to 10 inches had fallen overnight!

-Doug Reilley

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Monday, December 3, 2007

How Deep is Too Deep?

The season got underway in a big way for the Karhu office this weekend. With the sales meetings behind us, the alarm rang at 4:30 AM on Friday for the drive up to Mount Baker. Charlie headed out touring with some folks from MEC, while Nils, Eben and I skied inbounds to do some testing. It was a full day, and a successful one, running through a lot of skis and finding some great results. A lot of terrain needed more coverage to open fully, but all chairs were running. We made a mandatory stop off at Graham’s in Glacier for tasty burritos and started making plans to ski again over the weekend.

Saturday brought snow all the way down in Seattle, big fat flakes that seemed to slow down city life. Trees that shed their leaves over the fall looked beautifully adorned with white lining on their branches, and people took to walking through winter instead of driving on the snowy roads. Everyone’s mood brightened, especially holiday retailers who suddenly seemed packed by shoppers in the giving spirit. The phone chain started shortly, and we planned a tour for Sunday up at Hyak, anticipating good new snowfall with such low freezing levels.

The telemetry data said 18 degrees and 19 inches at 6:00 AM on Snoqualmie Pass, but there was more than that in the parking lot of Hyak. The drive had been slow, but we were rewarded with thigh deep snow before we’d even hit the skintrack. The snow was light and soft, with little consolidation underneath as well. Tall grass and brush occasionally poked through, but we’d chosen Hyak for its soft, relatively rock-free slopes and lack of anything dangerous looming overhead.

(Buried cars in the Hyak parking lot. Photos by Graham Gephart)

The skintrack went quickly for us as the snow continued to pour down, easily an inch and hour. Kudos go out to the employee from Summit at Snoqualmie who put in the labor to the top, a tiring task that non of us envied… many thanks for that and for lending duct tape to my failing skins on our second lap.We took shelter under the lift platform at the top and thought about how great the faceshots would be.

(Elizabeth and Charlie Lozner and Lulu Bael getting out of the weather at the top.)

(Charlie and Elizabeth partway down Hyak.)

On the spectrum of conditions that I’ve ever skied, I don’t think I’ve ever found snow too deep for a tour for turns. Well, there’s a first time for everything, and this was it. Pushing away from the skintrack meant absolutely wallowing. There was nothing to push off against, even to pole downhill, and not enough float to keep the tips up. All we could do was gather speed in the skin track and duck off, hoping for enough momentum to straightline down a steeper section of the run.

(Charlie burrowing in after leaving the track.)

We’d slingshot past each other in that fashion, inevitably getting stopped after 10, 15 feet completely stuck up to our waists or more. Getting nervous about snow immersion, we stayed close together, and more than once had to help each other out of the snow. Freeing skis and moving back to a track – even downhill – seemed like less exertion than climbing. We stopped two thirds of the way down and reskinned, climbing back for the top in the hopes that more tracks would cut it up enough to make a few turns.

(Elizabeth comes to a stop mid-lap. DEEP!)

The snow kept falling, and we quickly transitioned to downhill mode at the ridge once again. Between our tracks and a few others out for the same quest, we fared better on the second lap, picking up speed in a track and dipping out for faceshots where we could. It became comical to see how quickly someone would decelerate out in all the fresh snow, even with a full head of steam.

(Lulu goes waist-deep off the top on lap 2.)

(Lulu finding easier and no-less-powdery turns in cut-up tracks.)

By the time we hit the bottom third and flatter terrain, it was useless to do anything other than ski out in the skintrack. The weather at the lower elevation was already starting to warm, and it was time to hit the road home before the snow became freezing rain. There are major changes happening in the weather system as of last night, and the snowpack from here out will be quite different. Hopefully today’s Pineapple Express sets up a solid base for us, but anyone thinking about backcountry after these next couple days absolutely needs to attention pay to this layer of snow.

(Elizabeth finds a steeper roll.)
It was by far the most new snow I’ve ever had for a first tour of the season, and given that I made maybe three turns over the two laps, it was more about the tour than anything else. All in all, yesterday was about getting out there to break a sweat, see the return of winter around us, remember the feel of heavy flakes falling on your shoulders, and hearing the laughter of friends trying to make turns.

-Graham Gephart

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Snow in the 'Dacks

It’s been a hectic week, and we’re just wrapping up the Winter Sales Meeting. Pay-off comes tomorrow, though. Mount Baker opened today, and a good group from our office will be there testing on Friday. Looking forward to getting back out on the snow, and eager to remove the rust that’s always there on the first runs. Snowy dreams surely tonight, but until the sunrise, here’s a refreshing glimpse of winter from the Northeast comes from Karhu rep Mike Kaz today:

A classic afternoon tour up the Whiteface Mountain Toll Road in Wilmington, NY. On November 19th, my wife Jen and I started up late to descend by headlamp. We found great coverage and cold temperatures. A great way to start the season off, we were able to actually leave our headlamps off for most of the ski down as the almost full-moon was out.

(Jen Kazmierczak heading up the access road for dusk patrol in the 'Dacks. Photo courtesy of Mike Kaz)

We also ran into the "Wizard of the 'Dacks" Ron Konowitz skiing down as he was touring up. Always a character, we chatted for a bit before we headed down to have dinner at our favorite restaurant, The NoonMark Diner.

Things are off to a good start here... can't wait for more snow to put a base down for more skiing in the higher country come January and beyond!

-Mike “Kaz” Kazmierczak

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Cowboy Powder

The show is on in the Tetons, with a Thanksgiving tour report from Karhu skier Eric Henderson:

It’s a tough time of the year to decide where to ski in the Tetons – weighing the grassy smooth slopes of Edelweiss Bowl, or the upper elevations that promise deeper snow but ever-present rocks. Yesterday we went for the upper elevations of the western slope on Mt. Wow, around 10,300 feet. After the first two hours of walking/skinning we were finally knee deep in the goods. Plummer Yurt was covered in snow and quietly awaited its holiday guests. As we continued to skin into the white room of the Mt. Wow drainage our souls and passion for skiing quickly returned to our pace.

(First skin of the year. Photo courtesy of Eric Henderson)

An hour later at 9,800 feet, my “cheap beer” fall training program started to show its ugly head, and I wondered why I always insist on going big on my first tour. Much like last year, and the year before that, I was with one of my major suffer tour ski partners. Dave Barnet has been on my past few years of from the “couch to the slopes” tour, and he always seems to step in and pull me to the top with perfect timing.

(Eric gets a powder grin. Photo courtesy of Eric Henderson)
We thought the weather would clear once we summited, and we would get a clear view of the Teton ranch. No such luck. The winds continued blow, the snow deepened, and the temps seemed to be dropping – time to click in for the first fall-line of the season. Mt. Wow is 1000-foot alpine bowl that leads into rolling glades and open meadows. The turns were fast, filled with light powder, and seemed to end too soon – a true Cowboy Powder experience. Good thing we have a short memory for pain, and we will be doing it again tomorrow.

(Toast to the turns. Photo courtesy of Eric Henderson)

This skier has many things to be thankful for this winter, but one especially is a strong and committed family of skiers that share the same passion for adventure, suffering and smooth powder turns in the Teton. Thanks and happy holidays.

-Eric Henderson

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

It’s a great weekend to head into the holiday. Today was crisp and cold in Seattle, and while the forecast doesn’t have much precipitation, it should be nice enough to go looking for snow deep in the mountains. Many of our friends and co-workers will be out making turns this weekend, and we hope the holiday finds you making tracks as well. Signing off for a day or two, here are a few thoughts on what all of us at Karhu are thankful for.

I give thanks to winter and snowy mountains; having grown up with neither, I can say it would be a lesser world without them.
-Nils Larsen

I give thanks for the opportunity to find snow before Thanksgiving! When we fret about a lack of snow, we need to remember that winter is a long season. The best skiing sometimes doesn’t start before January, but it doesn’t end before June. I’m thankful to be a backcountry skier who can hike for the white.
-Van Brinkerhoff

I give thanks to my new cyclocross bike to help train in that crappy transition between fall and winter. I give thanks to the new tradeshow schedule, which will give us more time to ski in Utah. I give thanks to I-90 for quick access to the mountains, and to the telemetry data on the NWAC website. For desk jockeys, it helps give a sense of being in the mountains and following the weather, even when you’re staring at a computer screen mid-week.
-Charlie Lozner

I’m thankful for post-Thanksgiving leftovers that I can save for pre-skiing parking lot eats.
-Stephen Golaszewski

I'm thankful that I was born into a life where I have the time and resources to have hobbies like skiing. And I'm thankful to have friends, family and a boyfriend who stand behind me despite my transient wanderings.
-Zoe Hart

I’m thankful for dinky little Maple Ridge and their excellent kids’ ski school program for introducing me to the sport in the first place.
-Dan Gestwick

I give thanks everyday for the incredibly lucky life I have. I think we all often forget that most of the world is still worrying about where their next meal will come from, and not whether to ski the Bertha or Jill, or which ski area has the most snow. Not only do I get to ski and travel to the most incredible places in the world, but I live in a warm sunny straw bale house, eating organic food and drive my converted SUV that gets 140 miles to the gallon! I give thanks this holiday, for having a great job that includes making a difference in this world - helping start Global Cooling around the globe while enjoying the great sports I love, including backcountry skiing and telemarking. Cheers to all that help make the world a better place. Think of what you have, not of what you don't have - maybe buy a meal for a homeless person instead of wishing you had a bigger house. I'm most thankful that I am happy and healthy. Have a great holiday.
-Alison Gannett

My trip home for Thanksgiving every year gives me time to pause, and look at life from a slightly higher altitude. Some call it the 10,000-foot view, others call it the big picture, but most importantly it is a chance to see life from a different vantage point. A chance to see the true value of my learning experiences and absorb the fortune of my gifts. In my big picture I am most thankful for my family and friends, our health and well-being and the beautiful environment that surrounds us. As the snow lays a soft white blanket outside the window I am thankful for the reminder to step back and give hanks.
-Lorenzo Worster

I am thankful for the support and encouragement from family and friends that have brought me where I am today. I give thanks for the mountain education and tutelage in the turn that I received from my father and his friends, and for my parents’ support while pursuing jobs and interests off the beaten path. I give thanks as well to the colleagues and mentors along the way, and my friends here today at Karhu who have helped me combine my passion with my work, for endeavors always fulfilling.
-Graham Gephart

Be well and ski well,
The Employees of Karhu

(Nils Larsen and Eben Sargent, giving thanks for shelter on a chute high above Washington Pass. Photo by Graham Gephart)

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Berner Oberland #2

In the second installment of entries from Alison Gannett, Lorenzo Worster and Zoe Hart’s Global Cooling Tour in the Berner Oberland, Lorenzo’s first line of the trip creates quite a scare.

Our anxiety grew as we looked out our window at the grey shroud that blocked any view of our surroundings. Our first night passed quickly, and we awoke to the muffled thumping of ski boots traipsing across wood floors. It was 4:30am, and time for the guides to get their peeps out on the glacier for a long slow day. Groggily we strode into the late breakfast at 6:00, slowly revived and energized by the coffee and breakfast spread that come with the night’s stay at the cabin.

(Early morning awakening. Photo by Lorenzo Worster)

We were at the Hollandia Hut on the Grosser Aletchfirn Glacier. It hadn't snowed much lately, and the clouds were so thick you couldn't see more than 100 feet before the grey swallowed all features. It didn’t matter though; we were excited for our first full day tour in Europe. Up the glacier we went, following a windblown and disappearing skintrack from the day before. The wind blew across the glacier up many of the north faces, and the sun hit all the south faces, limiting our options for where to ski.

The hike was soothing. One step at a time plodding through the gray toward an invisible goal. Once my natural cadence took over and the weight of my pack faded away, the simplicity of putting one foot in front of another engulfed me. My mind began to drift, up and up. All at once a bright peak lit up by the morning sun and poked its nose through the fog, giving us hope of a goal worthy of skiing. As we drew nearer, the clouds parted, revealing our first view of the beautiful ampitheater around us.

(Zoe Hart, amidst the scale of Europe. Photo by Lorenzo Worster)

To our left I spied an interesting face that looked steep and protected from the sun and wind – short but sweet. We made it to the shoulder of the ridge and after extracting Allison from the sneaky and luckily shallow bergshrund that crossed the col, Zoe and I headed back toward the face. We might have taken a little warning from the frozen sastrugi that we cramponed up to gain the ridge, but the different aspect was not protected from the wind or sun. Gaining the top the snow on the back side was a foot and a half deep and super light.
We were out in the middle of nowhere and getting hurt would lead to a lengthy and not so cheap extradition – facts that didn’t help to calm my nerves. It always seems to look steepest when you are looking down something between your tips, before your first turn. I radioed in and rolled carefully off the small cornice on to the face. Skis headed to the right towards a large bulge that led to an even larger cliff of glacial ice. It was a very picturesque area, but as soon as my skis hit the bulge, I knew it was not the place I wanted to be.

In an instant I was sliding sideways, skiing on glacial ice with two inches of cold powder on top. The snow did little for the skiing surface but explode into the air, enveloping me in the white room. Usually I like the white room, but as I quickly made a left turn and picked up speed, I'd rather have been able to see what was ahead. I shot off the ice onto the face, only to discover that the smooth face of deep-looking snow hid wind-hardened sastrugi barely under the surface.

(Looks can be deceiving. Photo by Lorenzo Worster)

Moving from bad to worse with more speed, there was no hope of dropping a knee. It was all I could do to stay on my feet and try to slow myself before the bergshrund – now clearly not-so-soft either. I hung two large turns down the face planning over the thin cover of powder, just enough to give a sense of control before the small but still intimidating four-foot bergshrund.

Backslap to cartwheel, and I was at the bottom of my first line on the Berner Oberland. Things were off to an auspicious start.
-Lorenzo Worster

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Backcountry Hits the Big Screen

It's been slowly building the buzz for a while, but the big-screen debut of STEEP is just around the corner. If you're not familiar with the film, stop right now and mark the date December 21st on your calendar - the date it opens in 25 top markets around the country.

From producers The Documentary Group:
STEEP is a feature documentary about bold adventure, exquisite athleticism and the pursuit of a perfect moment on skis. It is the story of big mountain skiing, a sport that barely existed 35 years ago.

It started in the 1970s in the mountains above Chamonix, France, where skiers began to attempt ski descents so extreme that they appeared almost suicidal. Men like Anselme Baud and Patrick Vallencant were inspired by the challenge of skiing where no one thought to ski before. Now, two generations later, some of the world’s greatest skiers pursue a sport where the prize is not winning, but simply experiencing the exhilaration of skiing and exploring big, wild, remote mountains.

STEEP features many of the sport’s greatest athletes including Bill Briggs, Stefano De Benedetti, Eric Pehota, Glen Plake, Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Chris Davenport, Ingrid Backstrom and Andrew McLean. The man who is often described as the greatest big mountain skier of all, the late Doug Coombs, is the character at the center of the film. He died in a skiing accident in La Grave, France, in April, 2006.

STEEP was shot on High Definition and on film in Alaska, Wyoming, Canada, France and Iceland.

A number of us at Karhu had the chance to watch a sneak preview of Steep earlier this week, and the impression was pretty unanimous: WOW.

STEEP beautifully traces the history of big-mountain skiing, but with faithful attention paid to its roots in European alpinism and the boundaries currently pushed by North American freeriders and ski mountaineers. The archival footage from pioneers like Baud, Vallencant, Briggs, Hattrup and Pehota provides a terrific sense of how daring their descents were... some of which have yet to be repeated. Arriving at the story of Doug Coombs, a central figure, the film enters the Alaskan powder-rush and the helicopter boom, before returning to the current ski mountaineering exploits of dedicated backcountry explorers like Andrew McLean.

The production value brought to the table by The Documentary Group is outstanding. Formerly Peter Jennings Productsion, The Documentary Group spent an incredible amount of time amassing valuable archive footage, shooting lengthy interviews, and capturing their own beautiful imagery with complex cable cams and high-def film shoots in BC, Alaska, Europe, Canada and Iceland. Backing by Sony Pictures Classics provides excellent studio muscle, having come off of successful sports documentaries for skateboarding and surfing in Dogtown and Z-Boys and Riding Giants. For skiers, especially backcountry skiers, Steep has built buzz because of its potential to raise awareness of the sport we love, and why we feel so drawn to it.

Above it all, it is simply amazing as a backcountry skier to have this kind of attention and interest paid to the beauty of the mountains beyond the ski area. The imagery, from opening images of skiers touring across a glacier to the final shots of remote, wild ascents and descents, is focused on the experience - the freedom and possibilities, and the difficult balance between risk and reward - of the backcountry. STEEP captures that experience eloquently and beautifully, and is well-worth catching when it comes out.

For more information on Steep:
Trailer from
The Documentary Group
Sony Pictures Classics

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Monday, November 12, 2007

On Sustainability and Standards

From the website a few weeks ago, we received an email from Rob in Massachusetts. Referring to frequent online discussions on manufacturing practices, he raised some good questions about how we look at standards and practices in their health for the environment, the community and the business. As Charlie says, the blog is a good place for us to address these issues and hear your feedback, and I thought his response was a good place to start.

Hi Folks,
As you may have noticed there's a bit of a buzz about where products are being made, especially in the outdoor community. Speculation being a poor substitute for information, I thought it reasonable to just ask.

I have been using Karhu skis over the years with great satisfaction and will likely always keep Karhu equipment on my short list. I have not been basing my choices solely on manufacturing locale and conditions, but these are matters do enter into my decisions.

What I am looking for is information regarding what it took for you to select a fabrication facility, your experience in developing trust in such facilities and your part in defining and monitoring the working conditions at the production (etc) facilities. We already know that Karhu, as has happened to other companies went through production quality issues, the Betty delam matter comes to mind. We also know that Karhu and the rest went to great lengths to resolve the problems for their customers and resolve the production matters. Those were no small efforts. Some general info about the process would be part of my request as well.

I'm asking for quite a bit and appreciate that time you have just taken to read this. I do hope that Karhu, knowing it can stand proudly as a business with good stewardship intended, can make such information part of it's web site's "About Us" page.


Response from Charlie Lozner:

Dear Rob,

Thanks for your interest in Karhu.

"Sustainability = Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” - Our Common Future, World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987

In regards to stewardship, we look very serious at "sustainability" – in terms of profitability as well as responsibility. It implies ongoing efforts, as opposed to a one time fix. "Sustainability" as a broad term includes both environmental and social responsibility.

From our perspective quality product is integral to the sustainability of our company. It cannot be removed from the equation of where we build our product. Making skis is not something that can be done with cheap unskilled labor. The factory we work with has trained many, many skilled workers and provided many, many relatively high-paying, high-skilled jobs. Our manufacturing is not a hands-off process where we send designs and they ship product back to us; in the first stages, our process engineers spent several months at the new facility to get production running. Today, our engineers and designers regularly rotate through the factory, working with the engineers and staff on site to develop new tools, assist with the process and monitor the production, and our new facility has provided us with our best production quality to date. Because the first hand knowledge gained through these visits, we are confident that our work force is treated and compensated fairly.

The related issues of environmental stewardship and fair labor practices are also part of every decision regarding design and production. It is not "where", but rather "how" you make a product that matters. In the design process of any ski, boot, pole, etc, we look at ways to reduce waste (and cost) in every step of the process. This was the driving factor in moving from Canadian Poplar to Paulownia from China for our new Greenlight cores. This reduces transportation costs and CO2 footprint significantly. It also helps to create local demand in China for sustainable forestry. We work aggressively to reduce scrap materials (ink, epoxy, wood, tops, bases, edges). This is as much a business necessity as it is an environmental responsibility. These practices were in place in Canada, and they are now in place in China.

We take our jobs and our position in the outdoor industry very seriously. Graham, Dan, Eben, Nils, Francois, and I and everyone at Karhu are as much a part of the community as you and everyone on TTips. We ride our bikes to work, use FSC-certified paper for our consumer brochure, and on and on. We support Alison Gannett, Lorenzo Worster, Zoe Hart and other athletes that are out there trying to make a difference and generate awareness as well as inspiration. We want to be able to pass winter on to our kids and our kids’ kids. That's what gets us up for work in the morning and keeps us going late into the night. Thankfully we are in a position to make fun products and also make change.

We will be addressing issues like this and others on our new blog... As it grows – and the discussion with it – we welcome the chance to foster more conversation with the community at large.

As a consumer... keep pushing the industry. That's your job. Don't let the current Green movement become a passing fad.

Best regards,
Brand Director – Karhu

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mon, er… Tuesday Stoke

Nothing serves up inspiration in the start of the work week like powder runs and adrenaline-pumping chutes. It started with a few friends sending links and photos around, usually on Monday mornings through the fall and start of the winter, and it’s since become known as the “Monday Stoke.” It’s not about wishing you were some place else, but instead jumpstarting the week.

Tweaking some Karhu videos on YouTube this morning, I stumbled onto an 0607 teaser from Karhu skier JT Robinson and his ripping friends in Utah. Things are running full steam this week with catalog production, so this stoke comes on Tuesday. But I think it’ll do the trick…

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Nothing Gets You Ready for Uphill like Uphill

Cool entry this morning on Lou Dawson’s blog, WildSnow from guest blogger and Aspen Alpine Guide Ron Rash on bootpacking Aspen’s Highlands Bowl early in the season.

...So starting around November 1st I’ll be meeting members of Highlands Ski Patrol at the base to take the lifts up and then walk out somewhere in to the Bowl to start packing. The day starts at 8 and goes till 4:30. We will walk side by side down sections of slope anywhere from 200-400 feet long. On the uptrack we hike single file. On steeper exposed sections we’ll use climbing harnesses and be rigged to a rope. Years ago the patrol tried sending their ragtag crowd of boot packers down one of the steeper slopes — with no ropes. After a few took slides for life, ropes were employed. That’s how steep Highland Bowl is.

It’s truly amazing in this day and age that simply walking the slopes is still the best and cheapest method for stabilizing steep terrain...

Read more from Ron Rash on Wild Snow here

It’s great exercise, sort of a preseason check-up on your fitness level, and great motivation to push harder as fall turns again to winter. But programs like this one at Aspen and Mad River Glen’s Fall Work Days (where skiers hike and help maintain tree skiing terrain) are also great reminders of just what lies underneath – a key part of mental preparation for the season. Better understanding of the hazards beneath winter’s wonder, and the base layers of early season snowpack helps develop smart choices skiing your favorite areas later in winter.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Preseason Training - Eric Henderson

Second of the week, a few words from Karhu skier Eric Henderson, a Teton local whose guiding at Jackson and in Alaska require some excellent ski fitness:

When a client asked me recently what I do to train for the upcoming winter ski season, “Drink cheap beer” was not the answer he was looking for. I backpedaled through summer and early fall activities and quickly covered my tracks with a list of mountain runs from the summer, multi-day climbing excursions, 18-hour days moving food/booze from one side of the Tetons to the other (ah, summer catering) and regular training days of running and stretching.

It made me realize that in some way or another, I’m always training for skiing. Once skiing is in my subconscious, it's hard not thinking about it in every activity I do and how it relates to every carve I make. Which means I’m always training.

In practice, fall for me is the time to rest the body and soul and begin to visualize the up-coming season. Before the snowpack builds, I do a few four- or six-mile maintenance runs, some yoga for idiots, hunting, a little beer drinking and always catching up with friends. Because once the snow starts to fall, things pull in a little more – days filled with powder, countless telemark turns, a smaller core of friends, and thousands of feet of skintracks and bootpacks. As for the beer? It helps to add a little extra layer of warmth after such an active summer.

-Eric Henderson

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Preseason Training – Andy Jacobsen

Apologies for a slow week last week... combine an office full of New Englanders and the Red Sox in the World Series, and things get a little distracted. With the win last night, the distraction gave way to the reality that November is a day or two away, and there are no more excuses about getting ready for ski season – time to kick it into high gear.

Preseason training doesn’t have to leave you bruised and battered (like the Padded Floor post), but there’s definitely a satisfaction in the soreness that comes from a good workout. It’s energizing knowing that the harder you work now and the more sore you feel, the easier it will all become when you hit snow. Kicking off training rituals, Andy Jacobsen checks in from Salt Lake City, UT with a workout routine that will definitely bring the hurt:

Here’s a quick overview of my preseason training:

  • I spend at least an hour and a half on my road bike three or four times week.
  • Lunges, lunges, lunges. I usually start with 10lb weights in each hand doing three sets of 100. As the season gets closer and my legs get stronger I up the weight to as needed, usually maxing out around 30lbs in each hand. Lunges are awesome for tele skiing.
  • Three or four times a week I do 10 sets of 30 seconds on a box (6-12” high) jumping from one side, to the top, and to the other side as fast as possible. These are great for quickness, which is key for making tele turns in tight situations.
  • A couple times a week I will fill my backpack with water bottles and hike one of the many steep trails we have here in Salt Lake, usually something with 2000-3000 vertical feet and steep! At the top I dump all the water out and use trekking poles to ease the impact on my knees on the way down.
  • Other than that it is just little things here and there, like climbing to keep the shoulders and core strong. Whether it’s picking a crag with a longer approach to sneak in a little extra cardio or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, it all adds up.

-Andy Jacobsen

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Junkboarding - An Eastern Way of Life

It didn’t take long for the Low Snow Antics video we posted of Dickie Hall to draw a video response from some friends and fellow Vermonters. The tip came from Karhu skier Dave Bouchard, and partners-in-crime Vince Franke and Justin Woods sent along the video and the words.

(Video courtesy of Vince Franke/Peregrine Productions. Junkboarders Dave Bouchard, Justin Woods, Adam Sherman and Jim Clapp.)

The Junkboard Manifesto
By Justin Woods

Junkboards are not just simple tools, though it's true they are a means to an end. Junkboarding is a way of life, a philosophy, and a coping mechanism for Eastern snow (or lack thereof).

While many of our ski brothers and sisters are moping around their houses in November, still doing silly things like mountain-biking and “pre-season training,” Eastern Junkboarders are already out on the flanks of the grassiest of the Appalachian slopes. (Don’t bother to ask us where the best grass is – we won’t give up our secret one-inch stashes.) When the season “opens” with first turns on the death ribbon at Sugarbush or Killington, us Junkboarders have already been earning our dirty turns for weeks.

The Junkboarder philosophy goes hand-in-hand with Yankee ingenuity and self-sufficiency. We make our own boards. We use tablesaws and bandsaws to rip asunder two halves of a snowboard (preferably a free one, found at the junkyard). We flip the halves so that the inside edge is the “ski” or turning edge. Some of us even shape and tune the outside edge, though many of us consider our boards disposable and dispense with the formality of outside edges. Grass, over time, will smooth them out. Last but not least, we T-nut our three-pins or sometimes gnarlier bindings to the board, and voila: Junkboards.

Nothing floats on a dusting to three inches of snow like a Junkboard. They’re light, flexible and easy for touring, though most of the time, Junkboarders are booting up the toll-roads of our favorite hills. Junkboards eat grass. They hover. They make one inch feel like ten. And when you break one in half trying to skip across the backside of the inevitably open waterbar, you look for your next pair to mount.

Junkboarders believe that the best training for skiing is skiing, and that’s what we do: we JFS (Just Frickin’ Ski) that stuff. We don’t hit the gym for some fancy-shmancy “ski-machine” or worry about “dry-land training,” and we’re never deterred by a dusting of snow. When the inevitable January Thaw hits – the slopes revealing their brown, ugly faces – we do not despair; no, sir. We hit the gear closet and break out the Junkboards.

Thanks to Junkboards, our seasons are extended by at least a month. We hike to snowline, and we ski. There is no seasonal affective disorder for the Junkboarder; there is only the sweet anticipation of an inch of snow on grass. There is no wallowing in self-pity or second-guessing for the true J-board enthusiast; there is only the self-assured knowledge that determination, two halves of the otherwise worthless snowboard, and an inch of snow can bring.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Good Thing the Floor's Padded

With ski season just around the corner, we'll be posting pre-season training tips and routines from Eric Henderson, Andy Jacobsen and others next week. In that spirit, I thought it'd be fun to lead off on a lighter note heading into the weekend, and saw this gem on YouTube, which demonstrates that sometimes the workout can be more of a contact sport than the endeavor it's preparing you for.

Looks painful, but looks like he got it eventually. That's the kind of balance and strength that makes for a strong season!

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Photo Tales 2

Following up on yesterday’s entry with EmberPhoto, today we bring you more of Brian and Emily’s words and photos from the Rio Baker Valley. Powered by Patagonia’s first annual Dirtbag Grant and Karhu skis, they traveled to Chile and brought back an incredible collection of imagery that continues to raise awareness for the preservation of one of the planet’s wildest places.

(Photo by Brian Mohr/

"It was a huge run. Vicky and I had just skied from the spine of Patagonia's Cordon Chacabuco, and it felt like we might never get out. We drank from the stream at our feet. Condors circled overhead. Skiing here left us with a rare view of one of the planet's last great wild places – Chile's endangered Rio Baker Valley. Now it was time to soak it up, and hope that our skiing would inspire others to come here and to help protect this far off place, before it's too late."
—Emily Johnson

Keep Patagonia Wild
By Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson
All photos: Brian Mohr/

(Photo by Brian Mohr/

Soto, our Patagon guide, reached around his horse to cinch a loose line. With his face streaked in mud, he cracked a suspicious smile.

“There’s a good chance we’ll have to swim with the horses,” he said.

Overnight, winds strong enough to tear the canogas off the cabin roof combined with heavy rain to make a real mess of our snowcapped valley.

“The river’s too deep and too swift to cross here,” said Soto a few hours after leaving camp. “Let’s stick to this side.” With six horses, our Karhu skis and our expedition gear in tow, we spent the next hour pushing through a heavily vegetated swamp in thigh deep snowmelt.

We were alone in a wild glacial tributary of Chile’s Rio Baker Valley – the Valle Soler – and although we were determined to make it to the mouth of our valley by sunset, our optimism was fading. Skis were snagging on branches, our feet were numb, and if the wind and sleet weren’t in our faces, they steadily soaked us from behind.

“Welcome to the real Patagonia,” chimed Soto.

Well immersed in the next chapter of our own book of ski adventures, Soto’s words were reassuring. We had returned to the heart of Chilean Patagonia because we had tasted its wild nature before. And although we spent the day on the verge of hypothermia, we also knew there was a warm fire waiting for us downriver.

Chile’s Rio Baker Valley is home to a “Patagonia” that few people know. After bicycle touring into the region back in 2001, we realized that it was also an adventure skiing dreamland begging to be explored. Flanked on one side by the Northern Patagonia Ice Sheet and on the other by the Andes Mountains along the Argentine border, the untamed Rio Baker is one of the last great rivers on the planet that is still free flowing from its sources to the ocean. Glaciers, ancient forests and unnamed mountains are in abundance here, and everything from guanacos (wild llamas) to Patagon gauchos call it home.

Last October 2006, working in partnership with Backcountry Magazine, Patagonia Inc. and Patagonia Adventure Expeditions, we headed back here both to ski and to document a place and a culture that is now threatened by a short-sighted proposal to develop the Rio Baker for industrial-scale hydro power. While most Chileans who live in the region support alternatives to monster dams, their voices have gone unheard.

“If the dams get built, they will destroy the river, and destroy the wildness that makes Patagonia so special,” said Soto.

By mid-October, we were off. Under a springtime sun, we climbed with our fully-loaded packs high above the Rio Baker to set up camp at snowline in the region’s Valle Chacabuco – home to the “Great Tetons” of Patagonia. And for the next several weeks, while skiing in the mountains above the Baker, we carried the hope that our stories and images would help to build the case for the long-term protection of what is undoubtedly one of the planet’s greatest natural treasures – and one incredible skiing paradise.


Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson are regular contributors to the outdoor and mountain sports media, and can be reached through EmberPhoto. They have a passion for skiing adventures in far-off places and rely on Karhu skis wherever they go.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

EmberPhoto on The Cleanest Line

If you’ve seen either of our Women’s Series ads running in Powder and Backcountry magazines for November, you’ve seen a glimpse of the photography and words of Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson, the dynamic Vermont duo that makes up EmberPhoto. Winners of Patagonia’s inaugural Dirtbag Grant, they traveled to Chile in October of 2006 to explore and raise awareness about the Rio Baker Valley – a rich ecosystem in the heart of Chilean Patagonia which is threatened by a major dam project proposed by energy giant ENDESA.

With the recent announcement of the winners of the second Dirtbag Grant, Patagonia invited Brian to recap the story on their blog, The Cleanest Line. Here's an excerpt from Brian's post:

We are not just a bunch of gringos who would prefer that Chile stop developing its wonderful country. Nor are we opposed to hydropower. We are residents of this planet who support the cause of countless Chileans endeavoring to stop the profit-driven damming – the "electrocution" – of the global treasure that is Patagonia.

If the European-owned energy giant, ENDESA, gets it way, Chilean Patagonia’s largest and wildest river, the Rio Baker, will be dammed. To connect the resulting glut of power to the Chilean national grid and the growing network of inefficient copper and gold mines in Chile’s far north, ENDESA is scheming to build a 2000km transmission line through the biodiverse heart and soul of Chilean Patagonia – degrading sweeping vistas and plowing roads through nature reserves. Once the transmission line is built, it will only be a matter of time before the remainder of Patagonia's wild rivers fall, and the rich mosaic of ecosystems that define Patagonia is torn to pieces...

…For even more on the issue, please visit "
Action Alert - Don't Dam Patagonia" at Thanks to Brian and Emily for starting the Dirtbag Grant off right.

The trip resulted trip in a host of publicity and inspiration, with a feature story in the February 2007 issue of Backcountry Magazine, countless images, our own advertising campaign, and Brian and Emily’s Wild People, Wild Places slideshow.

Tomorrow we’ll bring you Brian and Emily’s story from our consumer brochure and a few more images of this beautiful land. Until then, click play on EmberPhoto’s Endangered Patagonia video, or check out the rest of the post on The Cleanest Line for more.

(Video courtesy of

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2007 Northwest Mountaineering Journal

The 4th issue of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal is out, and it is a beautiful thing.

Lowell Skoog, via
"The mission of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal is to be an edited, permanent, annual record of mountaineering in the Pacific Northwest. The journal documents the events, people, history and spirit of climbing and other mountain sports in this region. The journal is published by volunteers from the mountaineering community in collaboration with The Mountaineers. [The 2007 issue] has feature articles about alpine rock climbing, high traverses, mountain rescue, glaciers and climate, influential mountaineers, and more. It includes reports of new climbing routes, first winter ascents, and first ski descents from April 1, 2006 through March 31, 2007. It also contains highlights from Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks."

While historic mountaineering accounts have long visible in print publications, the NWMJ is a good example of the new possibilities open to the writers, photographers and adventurers of the mountain community. It's hard to replace the power of a large, glossy print image, but it's great to see options expanding.

For ski mountaineering, check out the Short Reports section, which features accounts from a number of impressive descents throughout the rugged peaks of the Cascades. And backcountry users of all types should read Iain Morris' Center Stage on Mount Hood. Morris - a member of Portland Mountain Rescue - recounts the search and rescue mission for three climbers stranded on Mount Hood in Oregon in December 2006.

The search captured national attention and quickly became a media circus, complete with national commentators proclaiming that the state should close the mountain in the winter. The debate over acceptable risk in the mountain community then moved into the state legislature, where House Bill 2509 - which required climbers to carry a two-way communication device and a locator device on Mount Hood from November to March above 10,000 feet - passed the House before stalling in the Senate. As a searcher on the scene, Morris shares his thoughts on the proposed regulation, the inherent harshness of the mountains in winter and the draw of such adventure.

As backcountry pursuits continue to grow in popularity, the interplay between self-reliance, regulation, risk and preparedness will undoubtedly arise again. It's always good to remind ourselves of the consequences of risk in the mountains and how far our actions might reach fellow skiers, rescuers and others in the community indirectly. How can we as a community increase awareness of both the risks and the desire to venture out into wild places that aren't sanitized or watered down?

What say you? Leave a comment and share your reaction...

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First Resort Turns 0708 - A-Basin

Sure as the aspens turning yellow, every fall the Colorado resorts fire up their snow guns as soon as the temperature falls, hoping to claim the title of first to open in the US. An excited phone call came from a friend in Denver early this morning, with word that Arapahoe Basin’s Exhibition Chair opened at 9am this morning. Its earliest opening in 61 years, A-Basin battled a recent stretch of warm weather to open a trail or two with an 18” base. The thin white ribbon might be packed full today, but hey, it’s turns.

(Video courtesy of Colorado Ski Country)

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Cascade Snow

It didn’t take long for new snowfall to ripple across different regions of the country, but there was particular excitement here at the office this morning as reports from the Cascades filtered down to the city. Up high in the North Cascades, Mount Baker received 20” of new snow yesterday, reportedly the biggest snowfall the resort has seen this early. And just 45 minutes up the road from our new offices, Alpental showed off the season’s changing of the guard with a solid covering on the upper cliffs and International. There’s more precipitation forecast for the weekend… maybe enough for some XCD exploration up high, or just a fall hike full of anticipation.

(Photo courtesy of Summit at Snoqualmie. Click photo for more.)

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Low - Belarus

For all the times good music has accompanied making tracks on skis, rarely has action from the winter landscape made it back into the world of music. It was with pleasant surprise this winter that we saw a music video for the band Low (a Duluth, MN band on the popular Seattle Sub-Pop label) featuring Nordic skiing. A surprise, at least, until we learned it was filmed by former Karhu rep and Nordic junkie Hansi Johnson.

The video for Low’s “Belarus” offers a stark contrast of the winter landscape – especially its historical footage – with the image of heavy industry around Duluth. The mind doesn’t have to stretch too far to see the tenuous hold winter has, and that is both a scary thought and an important concept for anyone with a passion or a stake in skiing.

("Belarus" by Low. Video courtesy of Sub Pop.)

Aside from its message, Hansi’s video captures the beautiful athleticism of truly cross-country skiing. The skiing is smooth and graceful, with bursts of frenetic energy, and it reflects the varied terrain and tempo of skiing off the beaten path. Winter is much broader than a groomed track, and it’s great to see that so well portrayed for Nordic skiing.

According to Hansi, this footage originally came together for a longer movie called “Cross Country with the Snakes” that deals with Bill Koch – the only American ever to win an Olympic medal in Nordic skiing. Says Hansi, “Koch is by far the best skier of any type the US has ever produced, due to his ability to ski anything on Nordic skis. If people like “Belarus” they will die for “Cross Country with the Snakes.” I just got a copy here, so more on that later…

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Conservation Northwest

A few weeks back, we spread word that Spokane residents would have a good shot at a fun XCD tour package, all while benefitting a good cause. Our man in the mountains, Nils Larsen, checks in from last week’s Conservation Northwest benefit in Eastern Washington:

The Conservation Northwest banquet and auction on September 27th sold out quickly in Spokane. The venue, the recently restored Davenport Hotel was excellent, comfy with lots of classic old charm. Brock Evans, the grand-daddy of the NW conservation movement, gave a great speech on the movement's history in the area. Brock ended his talk with an anecdote, wherein his doctor told him that a recent diagnosis of cancer would be an uphill battle. To the doctor, he replied, "I'm a conservationist; everything I do is an uphill battle," and the crowd erupted with wild cheers.

The auction was spirited, with everything from a condo week on Maui to cases of (good) wine. In a more adventurous prize, Alex Loeb won the
XCD 10th Mountain skis from Karhu along with a day sliding around in the Kettle Range with me. She was getting this for her husband, but after looking at the skis, she starting thinking she might keep them for herself.

(Nils Larsen and a smilin' Alex Loeb. Photo courtesy of Nils Larsen.)

It was great timing with fall here in NE Washington. I saw the first snow on the mountains near my house and have had some heavy frosts. The wood stoves are fired up in the mornings, and skiing is a regular topic at local gatherings.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Low Snow Antics - Dickie Hall

A quick post on a Friday afternoon... it's impossible to watch this video without cracking a big smile. Dickie Hall has long been a pioneer of the telemark turn and has taught thousands of people its secrets over the years through his NATO organization and their amazing workshops. As you'll see, he still has the quickest feet out there.

The rest might look like goofing off, a desperate attempt to "make the best of it." But anyone who has ever had the pleasure of skiing with Dickie Hall knows that the best thing he teaches is how to have fun. Chip Chase in Whitegrass, West Virginia shared this clip of skiing with Dickie and friends in some low snow. A smile really is the most important part of any ski day.

If you ever come across a set of ski tracks around both sides of a tree, you'll know who to keep an eye out for. Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

CAIC Avy Jam Report

The tally is in from Steve Christie at Backcountry Access, and the September 7th Avalanche Jam in Boulder, CO raised over $14,000 for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center! Avalanche awareness is a never-ending cause, and this year's proceeds will provide the CAIC with much-needed funds to offer avalanche education and forecasting for Colorado backcountry users.

“This is the Avalanche Jam’s largest fundraising year yet for the CAIC,” said Christie, “and it’s due to generous silent auction donations from core companies that enabled it to happen.”

This year’s Avy Jam moved north to Boulder and the parking lot of Neptune Mountaineering, and the increase in attendance led to a 40% increase in the fundraising total - coming from ticket sales and auction bids - over any of the previous five years’ events. While the percentage beer increase over years past is not yet known, word from Ski Press is that 15 kegs of New Belgium were consumed to accompany the bluegrass concert and nearby Indian food.

"The Avalanche Jam is the single most important fund raising event for the CAIC." said CAIC director Ethan Greene. "We could not continue to serve the citizens of Colorado without the support of BCA, the companies that donate equipment, the volunteers and those who attend the event."

Ethan happened to have the high bid on the Karhu Jaks that we donated to the auction, while a Durango resident took home the Kodiaks. It was a busy night at the Karhu tent, as reported by Rockies rep Rob Brown:

“The evening was perfect, warm enough for t-shirts and shorts on, even as the sun slipped behind the mountains after a beautiful cloudless Colorado day. The beer and bluegrass music flowed at the famous Neptune Mountaineering, with a crowded parking lot full of manufacturers and partiers as the event kicked off around 5 pm. Backcountry Access (the long-time sponsor of the event) founder and owner Bruce “Edge” Edgerly called the festivities to order and introduced the band, and thanked the manufacturers for their donations to the raffle (funds from the raffle go the CAIC)."

"The Karhu booth was hopping the whole time with skiers checking out the new Jak BC, the new Women’s Series and the full XCD line. The curry and the music went on ‘til after 10PM, and raffle winners and silent auction participants eventually went back to their cars with their prizes. The evening had to end, but everyone left with great memories, the good feeling of supporting a great event and the promise of a phenomenal season. Those who didn’t win anything were happy… after all, they enjoyed great music and a wonderful evening with the close friends of the ski community - friends who enjoy the same backcountry that we all do.”

Check out the slideshow below, courtesy of BCA, and congrats again to BCA for pulling off a great evening in support of the CAIC!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Andy Jacobsen - PW07 Trailer

Mother Nature brought Utah its first snow on 9/24, just as the boys from Powderwhores get ready to crank up the fall tour of their new film, PW07. The trailer showcases some amazing footage – watch out for the yellow Team 130s and orange jacket of Karhu skier Andy Jacobsen, getting inverted and surfing pow. They clearly got the best of every single snowflake that fell in a reportedly low 06-07 season in the Wasatch:

(Video courtesy of the PowderWhores)

From the quick glimpses, early reports of quality Alaska footage appear to be confirmed. Check out the Powderwhore Tour dates to find a showing and see for yourself. "HOORAY FOR SNOW" is right!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Berner Oberland #1

An Introduction: In the spring of 2007, Alison Gannett, Lorenzo Worster and Zoe Hart traveled to Europe on the Global Cooling Tour. It was an appropriate season, one that saw a lack of snow cancel the famed Hahnenkamm downhill for the first time in its history, and it signalled the danger of a changing climate on Europe's $66 billion dollar ski industry. After seeing years of climate change in France - where ladders now link skiers with ground covered by glacial snow only 10 years ago - the group set out to document glacial recession while ski touring and ski mountaineering through Switzerland's Berner Oberland.

Over the next few weeks, we'll bring you dispatches from Alison, Lorenzo and Zoe with their impressions from Europe and the subsequent Chasing Glaciers trip to Pakistan in the summer of 2007. Without further ado though, Zoe's first dispatch:


We all piled our ski bags onto trains, planes and automobiles, everyone coming from different destinations – Susie Sutphin, Lorenzo Worster and Duane Kubischta from California, Alison Gannett and Jonathan Copp from Colorado, and me from Chamonix. The plan was to meet at a little hostel in Interlaken called the Happy Inn – how fitting – to start our trip.

I hopped off the train from France, happy to have a Patagonia wheeled bag finally, instead of wearing holes through my old dragging duffle. After a few minutes walking I spotted another person with a ski bag, a wheeled bag and a hood. Alison met eyes and laughed – we had been on the same train. Pulling headphones from our ears, we chatted excitedly the last two blocks to the hostel. Alison turned out to be the only one to lose bags in transit, but they had arrived on the next plane after a few hours of reading in the airport. All was set; we could leave the next day.

The crew was already at the hostel jet-lagged and trying to get some sleep. No luck doing that when I showed up full of coffee from the train ride and psyched to see friends from across the pond after a long winter. Full of energy, ready to go!!!

(Alison Gannett, Zoe Hart and Jonathan Copp feeling Happy in Interlaken. Photo courtesy of Zoe Hart.)

Rousting the boys out of their bunks in their boxers, Alison and I dumped out all of our crap to repack. The great thing about hut touring is that you don’t need a sleeping bag, stove, food or tent, so your bags are pretty light, even though you’re covering lots of ground. The lighter the pack, the better the skiing! However, the tour we were planning including the largest remaining glacier in the Alps, so we still needed rope, harness, emergency ski sled, crevasse rescue kit and crampons. It all adds up, so we did our best to leave extras behind. Alison went a little extreme and cut the handle off her toothbrush, so when she was in the bathroom, we couldn’t resist and hid the scrapped handle in the bottom of her pack for her to find later!!

Finally packed as light as possible into a 35L Osprey bag, we dozed off to sleep with a few lingering giggles like kids at summer camp. Early in the morning we strolled through the dark streets of Interlaken to the train. This was hopeless romance at it’s best… the skies were clear, the stars were out, the town was sleeping, and we were on our way to a week of ski touring – hopefully full of powder – and adventures along the way.

Train to train, we made our way with the rising sun and unfolding landscapes to the town of Grindlewald. From there another train took us through – yes, through – the North Face of the Eiger. Battling a horde of unruly tourists, we finally poked our noses out onto the enormous glacier!

(Glimpses of white from the train. Photo courtesy of Zoe Hart.)

What would the week bring? Whiteouts on enormous glaciers? Navigating avalanche hazard? I had heard rumors of people getting pinned in the Bernese Oberland, not able to move here or there because of avalanche hazard. How much glacial recession would we find? The rumors of the stranded huts on moraines? Much excitement while we wait to find out!

Zoe Hart

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Weather We Change Trailer

Adding video content this morning, I stumbled across the trailer for Tahoe-based Adventure Film Works' Weather We Change on YouTube, and it looks great. This past spring, AFW's Duane Kubischta accompanied Karhu skiers Lorenzo Worster, Alison Gannett and Zoe Hart over to Europe to film their tour through the Berner Oberland for his upcoming film, and the trailer has a lot of the ski footage and some thought-provoking interviews. With both the Sierra Nevada and the Alps suffering abysmal droughts last year, Adventure Film Works worked hard to capture both the effect on our mountain world and the bright spots of good snow in an otherwise tough season.

(Video courtesy of Adventure Film Works)

From the AFW website: "Weather We Change is the third major release from Adventure Film Works, whose 2006 movie Hustle & Snow received acclaim at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Weather We Change is a skiing adventure documentary that follows athletes who have taken a pledge to follow in the footsteps of pro skier Alison Gannett in search of a greener ski bum lifestyle. Mother Nature serves up a healthy dose of reality with a bleak early season, but these snow soldiers eventually find the deep powder that recharges their fight to save the snow. Stunning footage of the Swiss Alps, the best of the West Coast, and an educational journey come together in an unforgettable film that shows how global warming is an issue that skiers cannot afford to ignore."

Weather We Change is touring up and down the West Coast, from Taos through much of California and up to Portland and Seattle. Visit Adventure Film Works for details on the Weather We Change Tour and more info on the film.

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