Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quick Pic from the Road

We're on the road in Utah this week for the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market tradeshow, and then in Las Vegas all next week for the SIA tradeshow. We had great weather yesterday for the OR Backcountry Basecamp at Snowbasin, UT, with lots of folks psyched on their Karhu ski demos.

Things are pretty busy on the road, but I thought I'd share this photo from the weekend's sunny weather in the Northwest. The snow was pretty poor skiing, but Saturday's views from the Tatoosh Range just south of Mount Rainier National Park could not be beat:

(Chris Barchet, Charlie Lozner, and Elizabeth Lozner looking out at Mount Rainier. Photo by Graham Gephart.)

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Alta Stoke

Photographer Stephen Gelb sent us these three snapshots from Alta recently, of Matthew Tosi from Alta’s Rustler Lodge ripping on Karhu Team 100s just after New Year’s Day. Great images, and great stoke... love how the cold smoke and the clouds hang together against the blue sky background. Thanks Stephen and Matthew!

(All photos by Stephen Gelb.)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Eastern Sierra Avy Center Kick-Off

From Karhu friend Nate Greenberg at the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, just after the New Year:

It’s been a few weeks since the Season Kickoff event for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, and I finally feel like I have caught my breath. The event itself was a great success, raising over $4,000 for the Center and getting folks psyched for another winter of great skiing in the Sierra.

Putting this event on every year takes a tremendous amount of work, and is a constant learning process for us. It is an extremely rewarding process, though, serving as a reminder about why we do what we do. Giving back to our community of supporters – friends & family of years past, and those new ones that just keep getting added – is really what it’s all about for me, and is where I draw most of my energy from. Support from the Industry at large is amazing as well, and without this, our job would be impossible. Many thanks, again, to Charlie & Graham and the entire
Karhu staff for their continued support of the Center… we owe you guys. Mammoth Mountain Ski Patroller John Trusdale is now a proud owner of a brand new pair of Storm BCs – courtesy of you guys. He needed them. Badly.

(John Trusdale with his new rides.)

Like the past two Season Kickoffs have done, this one brought the second major storm of the season that really got things going for us. As with most everywhere in the west, this season has been a bit weird. Most people haven’t been skiing for more than three weeks, yet somehow we have managed to rack up 15 avalanche fatalities already in North America. [Since Nate's email, that number has sadly jumped to 23 fatalities in North America.] Call it what you will – early season anxiousness, funky snow-packs due to slow season start, whatever – but we’re in the double digits and just reached 2009. People continue to make decision making errors and put themselves in situations in the backcountry which threaten their life.

What really scares me though, is the wrath of in-bounds accidents that have occurred so far this year. Outside of the deaths and major incidents that have taken place at a number of west-coast resorts in the past couple weeks, Mammoth (and others) has had several moderate size post-control avalanches hospitalize patrollers and friends for broken ribs and internal injuries. Having family and friends on patrol here and at other resorts, I know how much work they put into control measures and trying to make the area safe for skier & riders. I also know that there is only so much they can do, and given the market pressures to get things open quickly, there is always going to be a certain element of uncertainty out there.

I’ve been skiing with a beacon in-bounds on storm/post-storm days for several years now, and just this year started carrying a small pack with a shovel and probe. As skiers & riders, I believe it’s vitally important to know what’s going on with conditions and take responsibility for our decisions and actions whether in-bounds or out. Practicing smart and safe travel and skiing techniques is all a part of having fun and being safe responsible. The resort should be a good place to keep those skills sharp – not a place to just turn your brain off and go. Obviously, neither is the backcountry.

Happy New Year to all of our extended friends in this amazing community. Let’s all work together to make 2009 winter as safe, fun and amazing as possible, while we rip it up on some new Karhu skis!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Storm Diaries

The skies opened up last week in a deluge of unimaginable proportions, at one point dropping 7” of rain on Snoqualmie Pass in a 24-hour period. The avalanche danger spiked with the weight of the saturated snow on some weaker layers underneath, and the roads and ski areas all closed. A few Summit locals passed the time stranded at the Pass by documenting the road conditions (“bare & wet”) with summer-like enthusiasm.

Post-storm, the snowpack appears to be much more homogenous, eliminating some lurking layers that threatened large slides throughout the season. However, the changing conditions during the storm unleashed unprecedented destruction in a number of places. The moderately sloped main run of Hyak ski area the Pass, a regular touring site for early season or high avalanche danger, slid to the ground on Wednesday with massive amounts of mud, taking out a couple lift tours and hitting at least two homes at the base.

The rain has now passed here, and we're setting up for warm temps but sunny skis for the near future. Skiing should be nice and soft, but we really need some new snow to fill in the holes and creek beds, and cover all the rain runnels for touring.

Further north and east, Evan Stevens sent us the update from Valhalla Mountain Touring that the lodge seems to have weather the Pineapple Express with all snow. Glad to hear, as we’re heading that way in March, and the snow keeps piling up there:

While the coast has been getting rain of biblical proportions, the interior of British Columbia has been getting pounded by METERS of snow. We have had avalanches run that have not run in anyone's living memory. Up at Valhalla Mountain Touring, we have been braving the weather in the safe tree skiing right out our door, and not stepping any further away. Making ski decisions in times like this in the backcountry is easy, avoid anything even remotely close to avalanche terrain at all costs! The clear weather is here, so now we will get to see what kind of damage mother nature has caused. Here is a bit of a video diary from last week, enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Walloped in the PNW

It's been a storm for your "stick to the ground shoes", as someone said yesterday in the office. The PNW is getting walloped by a massive Pineapple Express right now, and most of the skiers are taking cover indoors. The snowpack has been spooky through many of the mountains, and hopefully all this moisture helps things settle eventually, or at least gets them to run their course over the next day or two.

If you've been thinking about heading into the mountains, take a look at the excerpts from the NWAC forecast from Tuesday:

...Natural or human triggered slides should become certain Tuesday afternoon.

...Extreme danger does not adequately emphasize the extent of the anticipated avalanche potential for large, destructive slides that involve most of this wint
ers snow cover.

...Slides should run full depth and range up to 6 to 10 feet deep or more, with some running full path distance, expanding or extending current paths and destroying mature timber.

Let's see how things look later in the week, shall we?

(Photo from Route 2 over Stevens Pass last year. Photo by the WSDOT. The same road is currently closed with a slide over all four lanes of the highway.)

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Getting Deep at VMT

Storm season is in full force, and the interior of BC continues to do well. Karhu ambassador Evan Stevens keeps sending us reports to drool over, and we’re getting excited for a trip up there in March. Here’s the latest from Evan:

It might sound like a joke, but lately the snow has been coming in by the foot, not by inches. The storm hose is pointed right on British Columbia, and the cold smoke just keeps piling up at Valhalla Mountain Touring. We are in full swing here, with the 3rd straight week of operations, and this week has a bunch of friends from UT and CO up here to ski the pow. But instead of ranting and raving, and storytelling, I will let the pictures from the last 2 days do the talking.Get up here! We still have some spaces for this winter! All photos by's Tommy Chandler.

(Me checking out the snow as the season starts, keeping it safe.)

(Jasmin testing out the snow on yet another storm day.)

(Lindsay Yaw asks for the snorkel.)

(Me trying to get above the snow, but that is hard to do right now!)

(Jonn Webb taste-testing the snow.)

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