Monday, March 26, 2012

My trip to DC this year was amazing and amazingly successful.  However it was not a photo trip and I basically was so busy that I was barely able to rip the GF1 out for some quick images.  Here they are in random order.  I was very blessed to have the Mayor of Duluth, Don Ness at the Summit this year and it was really fun to introduce him to some industry heavy weights and also to walk the hill with him.  I learned a ton and I am still reeling while I process all the info and experiences I have had in the last week!  Thanks Adam and COGGS and thanks Don as well.

METRO lots of time underground

Into the deep

Mayor Ness getting ready for an interesting meeting with Congressman Cravaack

The Mayor and I discuss our meeting with Congressman Cravaack

Cherry blossoms everywhere you look!

IMBA's DC Lobbyists.  The best and the brightest fight for single track trails!

Working at McBee
84 degrees and lots of stuff growing

Film projected on an outdoor wall.

Love the art in DC and I always plan a museum tour and this year was no different

The Fish always has a smile for anybody who wants a photo.  Adam and Dave were no exception

Friday, March 16, 2012

Final Day at Chester Bowl: 2012

Look!  Jimmy's gonna case it!

City work, city water, city fun

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

Ice Cream headache.....

Still Ice Cream Headache!!!!!!
I find core ski culture when I least expect it.  I spent ALL of last Saturday skiing with Marg and Tae at Spirit Mountain.  A fairly major change after coming off the powder fields of BC let me tell you.  On Sunday we opted to check out the last day of Chester Bowl, a small kids hill, literally in the middle of Duluth.  This place is a true gem and the access it gives to kids and skiing is remarkable no matter where you are (west or east).  I loved the fact that at the end of the day, they pulled out a fire hose, spilled in a ton of water to create a pond so the kids could skim.  This is the city.  City water, city ski hill and city ability to let kids be kids.... thank god there are still places like this left.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thanks to Ryan and

I need to take a minute for a public service announcement.

Often once a project is done you hear many things like "this would not have occurred if it were not for....."  well in my case there were several such people.  One was Kim Miller and Scarpa and I have already alluded to that.  The second (and no less important) was Ryan Marshik and  Ryan is an incredible photographer in his own right.

 I am pretty focused on becoming a good photographer and work extremely hard at it, Ryan however is the understated guy that not only works hard at it but has some amazing talent to bolster that as well.  In addition to being a passionate photographer, Ryan also runs a business that rents extremely high end photo gear.  Nikon and Canon are the focus, but again on the upper end of the quality spectrum.

Without access to Ryan's gear I would have gone on this trip with basically two lenses.  Because of Ryan I went on this trip with four.  I used his L series 70-200mm and his wide angle 17-40mm as well.  In addition I also used a sweet Carbon tripod too.  Without this gear I would not have attained even a portion of the "keepers" I have in my portfolio now. What a great option for amateurs like myself, to be able to rent high quality gear at a low price and gain that experience before I sink a thousand dollars into a lens.

 In addition Ryan is a great teacher and every time I meet and talk with Ryan I come away with more knowledge than I had before we met and that is even cooler.  Ryan and his business deserve some attention and I hope folks give it to him!

Thanks again Ryan!

Ryan, self portrait Piedmont Trails, Duluth MN

Comrades: Whitecap Alpine 2012

I have always felt that backcountry skiers have created strange bedfellows.  Perhaps surfers and other sports do the same, but I have really noticed it in powder skiers.  They tend to be extremely independent until one thing unites them and that is great powder skiing.  I think this happens because to really, truly get the goods (and I dont mean resort skiing although I do think this phenomena occurs there as well) you need to be a team.

 I am the last person to call Hut skiing extreme but you realize how far you are from comfort when an emergency happens that is for sure, so having a team allows you to access some really great skiing, but only because you rely on the other folks in your group to watch your back.  I have seen many folks who due to politics, occupation, personality etc would not get along at all in the real world, have great ski missions because of the singular focus they have on getting great lines.  It reminds me of pirates, they cut each other up on shore leave but once the fat prize is on the horizon they work like a well oiled machine to attain the prize.

In over a decade of really fun trips like this one I have had only a few emergencies.  However on this trip we had an injury that although not crazily dire, did call for some team work.  Kirk, was on his last run of the last day of the trip when the light left the scene and he smacked into a wind lip.  The resulting fall left him with a greatly destroyed ankle and the need for a sled out.  Incredibly Kirk skied out about 800 more feet of vertical before the pain hit him hard enough that he was down for the count.  Based on distance, depth of snow and daylight Rich estimated that we would need about 2 hours to haul him out once we retrieved the emergency sled from the hut.  We did it in 45 minutes.  Most would say it was because of the comrades in arms that we are, or the need to get a brother out of harms way....but the dirty secret is that Chris Clarks bachelor party was starting at 6pm in the hut and we needed to get Kirk in before it started.......


Train of pain

Getting ready for the "dogs"
This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you

Kirk with a good ankle

Friday, March 09, 2012

The importance of a great guide: Rich Marshal Whitecap Alpine 2012

Always vigilant

Can take the heavy BS we throw at him!


Fishing for water
Every time we venture into unknown terrain and unknown snow conditions we put ourselves at risk.  Risk of danger and also risk of not skiing the absolute best lines safety and conditions allow.  Both are important.  First you need to come home and secondly, if your going to put all that time, money and energy into skiing such an amazing place as the Coastal Range, you want to know your skiing the best terrain you can possibly get on.

For that reason we hire a pro.  Rich Marshall.  Rich has been working with our group and members of our group for nearly 20 years.  To have Rich as a guide is literally skiing with a friend, but a friend who has the insane skills to read the snowpack and to route find like no other.  He is an aggressive skier and he is able to take us to aggressive lines as long as conditions allow.  He challenges us on both the up track and the descent and that is saying a lot because our group is an extremely experienced lot.

I can honestly say that there is no doubt I would not have skied half the crazy lines I have skied in my life had Rich not given me the nod to go there.  Rich has had some pretty incredible experiences in the backcountry and some of them have been on the sad side, but those experiences have created a veteran guide who understands the dangers that the mountains can hide and can also understand the positive life changing experiences that conditions can yield as well.  I for one would not at this point in my life go on a true BC powder trip without a certified Canadian Ski Guide and my first choice is Rich.  Thanks for a great trip Rich and stay safe out there.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Going up: Whitecap Alpine 2012 Skin Track shots.

Winter wasteland

Always someone faster than you....just ahead.

Technical skinning

Kim Miller heading in to Utopia

Craig Hatton, getting some.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Home Sweet Home: Whitecap Alpine Hut on McGillivray Pass, BC

Whitecap Alpine Hut

Runs from the outhouse

Headed for home
Home run from Standard Ridge

Boot drying room


Home from McGillivray Pass

Peak to Peak

Looking at McGillivray Peak


I thought I would take the time and space to explain the living situation at Whitecap Alpine.  Certainly you are in the middle of nowhere but you are not wanting for a thing.  Whitecap hits the center of the market as far as ski touring huts are concerned.

I have been in some pretty primitive huts where you do the food, the fuel and the general housekeeping.  I have also been in some pretty interesting and upscale huts with hot tubs, climbing walls and high pressure showers as well.  Whitecap is in the center of that, great food, great cook, perfect spaces for sleeping, warm, clean and dry.  There is a shower a Sauna and heated heads for your Eau d Toilet pleasure.  Lars and his father Ron bust their butts to keep this place up and running and it shows. The hut is super comfortable, it reminds me of hanging out at my parents lake home, only its in the middle of the Coastal Range in BC!

Returning to the hut is perhaps the best part of a long ski tour.  You come skiing over the ridge line and can see the hut way below you.  As you rip your skins you realize that the next stop is a warm hut with beer on tap and a hot sauna brewing to take your pain away, plus some killer food to replace all those calories you burned skiing your brains out!

Oh yeah, about the Scarpa Watermarks.  Kim Miller and Scarpa NA, were my benefactors on this trip and because of that I am going to be watermarking these shots for them in thanks and also because technically they own them all!

More to come!