Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Northwest Mountaineering Journal

Just saw a post over on OffPisteMag.com that the newest issue of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal is out. If you haven’t seen it, the NWMJ is an incredible collection of reports, articles, history and photos from the mountains of the Northwest, all in a clean online layout. In this issue, Summer 2008, editorial team leader Lowell Skoog writes,

“...This issue of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal offers several perspectives on today’s wilderness. Blake Herrington, who worked in Stehekin during summers in high school and college, describes adventurous new climbs in the heart of the “Wilderness Alps of Stehekin.” Articles by Ed Cooper and about the Firey family capture the flavor of Northwest mountaineering from the 1950s through 1970s. Modern tales by Steph Abegg and Pat Gallagher explore seldom-visited corners of the Olympics and North Cascades. And finally, as road and trail washouts haphazardly make the wilderness more remote, Leor Pantilat shows how, with a pair of running shoes and a fresh attitude, it is possible to bring the mountains almost unbelievably closer.”

There are a number of interesting ski endeavors in the Short Reports section, but the most compelling piece is the review of the 0708 season’s deadly toll of avalanches, which struck the outdoor community particularly hard in the Northwest. Author Garth Ferber presents each accident summary with weather and scene reports, as well as great information on the trends of snowpack, issued avalanche warnings, and awareness of avalanche resources in the Northwest like NWAC. It’s a chilling reminder as the ski dreams start of the risk and consequences of our sport and the importance of continued education.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Stoke

No better way to kick start the fall work week than a little Monday stoke. Let’s reprise the deepest storm of last winter, with a little clip from Alpental’s Elevator:

It's been six months, but the next day's tour still replays often in my dreams.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Avy Benefit and Movie Time in Anchorage

Less than a week away, Alaska skiers should mark their calendars for the showing of Tough Guy Productions' Harmless and Powderwhores' The Pact next Thursday and Friday. The movies and the Thursday after-party will help raise money for the Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. In support of the cause and the good stoke for the season, we've supplied a pair of 177cm Karhu Storm BCs for the raffle. Here are the details from organizer Ira Edwards:

One week till ski movie time!!! Next Thursday and Friday at the UAA Wendy Williamson. SPREAD THE WORD. This is a Fundraiser for the Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center and the UAA Phys. Ed. Majors Club.

The info about the Powderwhores movie is HERE, and the TGP movie is HERE,in case you somehow missed them before. They are both great flicks, so come both nights! Here is a list of the donated goodies I have in so far as prizes. Make sure to tell all your friends to buy tix at www.uaatix.com, they should be up by Friday...

The deal at Humpy's on Thursday is this: I have a lot of donated beer, and a portion of any of these 7 beers sold next Thursday, October 2 will be donated to the Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. We will also show the TGP movie there after the UAA Wendy Williamson shows. This benefits us skiers and the Motorheads of the world. Spread the Word! Thank the Breweries!

Alaskan Brewing IPA
Alaskan Brewing Amber
Alaskan Brewing Summer
Midnight Sun Brewing Sockeye Red IPA
Midnight Sun Brewing Coffee Porter
Moose's Tooth Brewing Fairweather IPA
Moose's Tooth Brewing Pipeline Stout

For Prizes at the films here is the list so far, and hopefully a lot more will show up in the next week. Thanks again to everyone who helped out this year:
Alaska Geographic - Tour Books
Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking (AMH) - Undetermined Gear and stuff
Alaskan Brewing Company - a LOT of assorted clothing
Alyeska Resort - 4 pair of lift tickets
The Ascending Path - 2 $250 gift Certs towards guided trips and a bunch of T-shirts
Atomic Skis - "Free Tour" tele/AT ski
Black Diamond - "Zealot" Ski and undetermined other gear...
Garmont - Undetermined ski boots
G3 - 2 avalanche probes - high end ones...
Humpy's - Misc Swag
Karhu - "Storm BC" tele/AT ski
REI - 4 nice BC Ski Backpacks
Rossignol Skis - "Chupacabra" Ski and Roller wheeled ski bag(s)
Salomon - 2 men's and 2 women's Base Layer shirts - Very soft...
Scarpa - Gift Cert for either the Spirit 4 or the Diva AT ski boot
World Cup - Undetermined stuff

The Karhu Storm BCs will be given away on Thursday at the TGP Harmless showing, so don't miss out!! Here are the movies, if you haven't seen the trailers:

Tough Guy Productions’ Harmless

Powderwhores’ The Pact

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fall Fantasies

A quick post and some inspiration this morning to share from Brian Mohr of EmberPhoto.

Frost has been coating our neighbor’s fields. The days are noticeably cooler, and shorter. The weather forecasters are finally talking about snow again. Although it’s quite rare that we get any significant snowfall here in September, October is a different story. We’ve enjoyed a good stretch of snowy Octobers back here in northern New England. The farmers are talking about another snowy winter. Whether three feet or three inches of that wonderful white stuff begins to fall… we’ll be ready for it…

Late October a couple of years back, Green Mountains, VT...

The best fall storms produce plenty of snow up high, while sparing the valleys down low...

Time to go surfing...

Happy fall!

Brian and Emily

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wrapping Up Australia

As North America moves toward winter, the Southern Hemisphere brings its season to a close. Tom Gellie sent us a quick email and image from his winter down under:

Well its been one of those awesome seasons with heaps of dry snow. I did plenty of touring and the guided backcountry tours went off with loads of interest and clients stoked on the backcountry in Australia. Its going to be bigger and better next year. Looking forward to getting back to Canada and skiing again already. Hope all is well.

Cheers Tom Gellie
(Tom all smiles. Photos by Sue Watson and Oliver Rousseau)

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Monday, September 22, 2008

First Day of Fall

This morning marks the first day of fall, and the signs are all around. One look at the forecast for the week shows the grey/rainy season starting up again, and the temperatures continue to dip with the waning daylight. The sidewalk this morning was covered with yellow and red leaves dropped in a strong wind last night. It won’t be long until one of these storms lifts to reveal a dusting of snow up high. It’s already happened up north, with the first bulletin of the year from Jeff Adamson at the WSDOT:

The first day of fall brought snow to the North Cascades. While the air temperature at Washington Pass at 1 o'clock this morning was 37 degrees - it was below freezing about a thousand feet higher and the precipitation that started falling came down as snow. By 6 a.m., the freezing level had dropped to 5,000 feet and the temperature at Washington and Rainy was down to 32 degrees - low enough so the 2 inches of snow that had fallen in the previous six hours started sticking on the shoulders. By 10 a.m., it was 41 degrees, but still snowing off and on, according to our maintenance crews. The pavement temperature is still 46 degrees, so nothing has stuck to the driving surface, but there's some slush. The forecast says we can expect an inch or two of snow today, but it will turn to rain on the westside by tonight(none on the east) as the freezing level starts rising for the rest of the week (up to 9,000 feet by Wednesday). Travel conditions are fine, but it's a good reminder that at a mile high in the mountains, winter is on it's way and you need to be prepared. You know the drill - good tires, a full tank, washer fluid, warm clothes in the trunk, a shovel, kitty litter and a flashlight, plus some extra food/water and extra medication or baby care stuff. (A cell phone doesn't do you much good between Diablo and Mazama, but take one anyway). We're still likely more than two months away from the winter closure, but you will want to check the weather very closely if you're planning to do any back country recreating between now and Thanksgiving.

It won’t be long now…

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Victory for Quiet Backcountry in Yellowstone!

Big news for quiet backcountry advocates this week, as the US District Court in Washington DC struck down the 2007 changes to Yellowstone National Park’s Winter Use Plan that dramatically increased the allowed number of snowmobiles allowed each day in the park. Karhu partner Winter Wildlands Alliance was a key figure in bringing about the legal challenge, and we’re very proud today of our friends at WWA and their advocacy victory for human-powered backcountry use on US public lands. Thanks for all the hard work on behalf of backcountry skiers!

Here’s the news from WWA:

Federal Court Rules Clean Air, Wildlife, Quiet Must Come First in America’s Oldest National Park

Court ruling will ensure safe, enjoyable experiences for all visitors to Yellowstone

WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 15, 2008 – A federal court ruled today that the Bush Administration’s decision authorizing snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park violates the fundamental legal responsibility of the National Park Service to protect the clean air, wildlife, and natural quiet of national parks, including Yellowstone, for the benefit of all visitors. The court found that the Administration authorized snowmobile use despite scientific conclusions by the National Park Service that its decision would result in significant increases in noise and unhealthy exhaust, which disrupt the experiences of visitors, and traffic that harms Yellowstone’s wildlife, including bison.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia today invalidated the Bush decision and directed that the National Park Service’s substitute plan ensures all visitors can safely experience the park, and uphold laws that require stronger protection of Yellowstone’s air quality, wildlife, and natural sounds. In a 63-page ruling, Judge Emmett Sullivan stated:

“The Organic Act clearly states…that the fundamental purpose of the national park system is to conserve park resources and values.” Page 18

“NPS fails to explain how increasing snowmobile usage over current conditions, where adaptive management thresholds are already being exceeded, complies with the conservation mandate of the Organic Act.” Page 61-62

“...the Court finds that NPS has failed to articulate why a plan that will admittedly worsen air quality complies with the conservation mandate.” Page 60

“...the Plan clearly elevates use over conservation of park resources and values and fails to articulate why the Plan’s ‘major adverse impacts’ are ‘necessary and appropriate to fulfill the purposes of the park.’” Page 61

“According to NPS’s own data, the WUP [Winter Use Plan] will increase air pollution, exceed the use levels recommended by NPS biologists to protect wildlife, and cause major adverse impacts to the natural soundscapes in Yellowstone.” Page 62

The full ruling is available at http://www.winterwildlands.org/news/archive/Federal-Court-Ruling-on-Yellowstone-Winter-Use-Plan.pdf.

“Protecting the natural sights and sounds of Yellowstone’s magical winter season has been a keystone issue for Winter Wildlands Alliance and our members since our inception nine years ago,” said WWA Executive Director Mark Menlove. “It’s extremely gratifying to see the Federal Court validate our ongoing work to protect this winter treasure and to set a standard for safe, quiet and tranquil winter recreation in all of our national parks.”

Added Tom Murphy of Livingston, Montana, a Yellowstone guide and photographer since 1979 and author of three books about the Park, “I’m thrilled that this ruling will restore Yellowstone’s profound winter quiet. Yellowstone’s values have been diminished by snowmobiles. There’s no excuse for it when visitors are increasingly choosing modern snowcoaches that are less expensive and much less disruptive of the park and other visitors’ enjoyment.”

“This is an important victory for Yellowstone and all of America’s national parks,” said Sean Helle, attorney with Earthjustice. “Yellowstone is an embodiment of one of America’s great ideas – that our cherished lands must be conserved and protected. The Court’s opinion reaffirms this principle.”

“Beyond Yellowstone, the court’s ruling reaffirms that a cornerstone purpose of our national parks is to provide opportunities to enjoy nature and these opportunities must not be compromised, particularly when protective alternatives are readily available,” said Bob Rosenbaum, attorney with Arnold & Porter.

Because it has already studied a range of options for providing broad public access to Yellowstone during winter, the National Park Service is in a position to develop a plan promptly that enables visitors to continue enjoying the park this winter in compliance with the court’s order. To ensure visitor experiences remain safe and enjoyable, and the local economy strong, the Park Service should ensure that the number of snowmobiles accessing the park remains this year at the daily average of the past five seasons— approximately 260 snowmobiles per day. Following that, the Park Service should work with local gateway communities and businesses to begin phasing down the number of snowmobiles in the winter of 2009-2010 while promoting expanded visitor access on modern snowcoaches.

The public is increasingly demanding the opportunity to enjoy Yellowstone via snowcoach. Snowcoach use has grown 89 percent since 2002 due to increasing visitor demand for comfortable and educational park tours. Businesses have responded with significant investments in modern coaches that feature guides knowledgeable about Yellowstone's geology, wildlife and history.

The court’s ruling is consistent with research conducted by the National Park Service that indicated the need for greater protection for the park’s wildlife, natural quiet, and clean air:

-Even with an average of 263 snowmobiles per day during the past five winters, snowmobile impacts have exceeded Yellowstone’s noise thresholds;
-Biologists studying traffic-related impacts to wildlife during these years recommended capping or further reducing vehicle numbers in order to protect bison, elk and other animals often weakened by Yellowstone’s harsh winters;
-The number of snowmobiles authorized by the Administration—540 per day—would represent a doubling of current snowmobile use that has already been problematic and result in: a tripling of the area in Yellowstone where visitors would hearmotorized noise for half or more of the visiting day (63 square miles instead of 21 square miles currently); degradation of Yellowstone’s air quality with increases in snowmobile exhaust (carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, particulates, benzene and formaldehyde) of between 18 and 100 percent; and more animals being pushed from preferred habitat, impacting their health and increasing mortality.

“This ruling reaffirms the idea at the heart of our National Park System—that the duty of
Yellowstone’s managers is to preserve the Park for the sake of all visitors, and to place the highest value on protection of Yellowstone’s unique natural treasures,” said Tim Stevens, senior Yellowstone Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association.

“This ruling will ensure that visitors are not disappointed by air and noise pollution when they make the one winter trip to Yellowstone of their lives,” said Amy McNamara, National Parks Program Director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “We take our hats off to the tour businesses that didn’t wait for this ruling. Their increasing investments in modern snowcoaches are already making it possible for winter visitors to access and enjoy Yellowstone while protecting it.”

During the past ten years, over half a million Americans sent comments to the National Park Service concerning Yellowstone’s winter management, making it the most publicly commented-on issue in the history of the national parks. A consistent 4-to-1 majority has favored accessing the park by snowcoach instead of snowmobile.

Winter Wildlands Alliance, The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society collectively represent over two million members and challenged the Bush Administration’s failure to protect Yellowstone’s resources and values. The organizations were represented by Earthjustice, a public interest environmental law firm in Bozeman, Montana, and the firm of Arnold & Porter in Washington D.C.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More Film Stoke

We’re hard at work getting the new product up on KarhuSkiCo.com and a host of new content for WhereWillYouSki.com, but in the meantime, Stephane Riendeau of Tough Guy Productions sent over his new trailer, Harmless. If that doesn’t get you thinking about winter, I don’t know what will…

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Fine Line – Avy Film

Surfing around the other day, I came across an announcement of a new avalanche education film, The Fine Line. Produced by the Rocky Mountain Sherpas with the Canadian Avalanche Foundation, it mixes a feature film with four training films, all with outstanding cinematography, compelling stories, and solid instruction. Coming off of a killer early season that took far too many lives, it The Fine Line couldn’t come at a better time.

For more info, check out the interview with Rocky Mountain Sherpas’ Malcolm Sangster here.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Getting Ready for Uphill

“Nothing gets you ready for uphill like uphill,” says my friend Pete. He’s right. The crisp air of late summer and early fall is ideal for working off all the lazy summer bbqs and beer, but it starts the mental tune-up too.

In this moment, a steep pitch of pavement – the first of many to come – inches by under the wheel of my road bike, but in my head it becomes the skintrack. The sweat beads on my forehead, and my heart rises into an accelerated but still comfortable rhythm. If I close my eyes, the one-foot-after-the-other mechanics meld the long climb up Brandon Gap into memories of snowy climbs up the Long Trail.

(Graham Gephart turns the cranks over on Brandon Gap, Rt 73, Vermont. Photo by Lulu Bael)

Getting higher up the hill, my muscles and lungs start to protest a little more. It’s a good reminder that I need to hit the uphill a little more, and that the reward isn’t that far around the corner.

-Graham Gephart

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