Alpine Finishing School

What happens when you drop 14 women in glaciated backcountry terrain for seven days?

Well…. 

The ideas behind Alpine Finishing School were thought up by Anne Keller, an AMGA and ACMG guide as well as an amazing woman. Anne contacted SheJumps to see if she could rally a group of women together for a trial run of the “school”. Definitely a success. We spent one week at the Selkirk Lodge honing our mountaineering skills while making some of the best turns of the season.

Naturally, Hannah Whitney and I decided to make an even bigger adventure out of our trip to Canada. We loaded up the Subi with ski gear, climbing gear, a ton of food, a pogo stick, hula hoop, and the necessary array of moon boots. ROAD TRIP!

First stop was Nelson, B.C. Where we drank kombucha, sang karaoke, skied some really deep mank snow, and played in the water…. I’m pretty much moving there.

It was nice to arrive back in Revelstoke, which has become my home away from home this winter. After visiting my favourite eateries and stuffing our bellies with poutine, we were stoked to settle into the Grumpy Bear B&B. Gear exploded in the living room as we awaited the arrival of the rest of the ladies.

The next morning went by fast… I recall five frazzled gals piling out of a diesel truck, ski gear and clothes covering a road, no-hands pogo sticking (seriously intense), and a 10 minute heli flight that took us from spring to winter. We landed in a magical blizzard and settled into the lodge. The next 7 days were informative, exciting, adventurous, and fun…. with a little crazy mixed in.

First things first, analyze the snow pack

Build a “dead man” anchor in the snow. Hannah tests its durability.

Navigation techniques. Maps, compass, gps.

Don’t worry guys, I got this.

Hannah, Meghan, Claire, and Sandy brave the storm

Lynsey putting her knowledge of the munter hitch and prusik knot to good use.

Evening shenanigans consisted of Claire serenading the group and leading yoga sessions while simultaneously cooking 5 star meals. How she does it…. no one knows.

Skiing? Dance party? Yes.

Nat makes her way up to the Albert Icefall

Heading up the icefall, steep creamy turns lay ahead

Freerider tracks on the Justice glacier

Pulling friends out of crevasses NBD

Reaching the summit

Snowball fights

Spectacular views for our final day. Approaching the summit of Campion Peak.

On our way to Espresso…. the final run

All done with serious style….

Amazing experience with amazing people. Keep an eye out for Alpine Finishing School 2013.

But, only if you are keen to fly jesus at her.

Much thanks to our guides; Anne Keller, Michelle Smallman, and Kate Devine….To Grania and Reinet for housing us at the “center of the powder skiing universe”…. And to all the rad companies that supported our journey; Black Diamond, Patagonia, Beyond Coastal Sunscreen, Arcade, Chums, Taos Mountain Energy Bars, Clif Bar, Ambler, Smith Optics, Discrete Headwear, and Flylow Gear.

*many photos pirated from Meghan Kelly

Skiing the “gigglers” with Jim Jack

“Now you see why we call them the gigglers”, Jim Jack said with a nod and the classic ear to ear grin. After a quick laugh he was off again… dodging in and out of trees, milking the 3 inches of fresh snow. I was trying to keep up, the gladed slope was creamy and fast. 2500′ vert later, gasping for air in between giggles, the four of us were speechless. How the hell did the snow end up being that great? We were told in the parking lot that a rain crust had turned the snow into an ice rink. While skinning up, we crossed ice, rot, and crusted over sugar. We shared skeptical shoulder shrugs and discussion of the skiing “not being worth the long hike”. But, the promise of a beautiful view and chance of finding some nice creamy turns kept us going.

And, wow, I sure am glad we did.

This was three weeks ago, and just one of those days; those days that forever stay ingrained in your memory. Those days that reconfirm that there is a reason why we do what we do. A reason why we rise before the sun, venture outside in nasty weather, push our bodies to hike all morning just to ski ONE run… and a reason why we accept certain risks that parallel the passion to explore, adventure, and play in the mountains.

Five years ago I was accepted into a community of passionate people who share a love for the mountains and skiing. These friends, who have become my family,  have played a huge roll in shaping my life. The many faces with whom I  have had the pleasure to share a few turns all communicate a similar exuberance. They exude a zest for life and a love for one another. I can say with certainty that the compassion and camaraderie shared by this community was influenced by Jim Jack. His high energy, carpe diem, passionate, and caring attitude rubbed off on each and every one of us. He gave his love to us and taught us all to share it with one another. I am so fortunate to have been influenced by such a great man. As are we all. 

Now, lets make a point; as a community, to convey Jim Jack’s views on life, passion for the outdoors, and love for one another. Share a smile and a high five. Enjoy a good taste of R&R. Keep hiking. Keep laughing. And, in one way or another, you will find your own ‘gigglers’.

boobies

Sneak Peak: 2013 Blizzard WOMEN’S Freemountain Skis

The camper happened to roll into Mission Ridge, WA at the same time as the WWSRA demo. Sweet. We were given free range to explore the basically empty mountain while testing out many of next year’s skis. It hadn’t snowed at Mission Ridge in awhile, but with a couple quick hikes, it was easy to find some boot top pow. I was really stoked to be able to ski on all of the new Women’s Freemountain skis from Blizzard. And let me tell you… I can not wait to get home and jump on my Dakota’s.

Here is the lowdown: The Dakota, Samba, and Black Pearl

The Black Pearl returns, unchanged, for the 2013 season. With Flipcore Technology and an 88 mm waist, she lays it over on the groomers while not being afraid to venture off piste. A great all mountain ski for the days when the conditions are… well… like they are just about everywhere right now. Hard pack.

The Samba is the sister ski to the Bonafide, with a 98 mm waist and no metal. This ski totally surprised me, the soft flex made it the most nimble and playful ski I have ever been on. I effortlessly moved them from turn to turn on all types of terrain; groomers, frozen chunks, moguls… whatever lay ahead, this ski made it easy. I also discovered, excitingly, that this ski likes to jump. It must be a combination of Flipcore Technology and a soft flex… it had me popping off everything I could find. Finally, my personal favorite and ski of choice for the 2013 season, The Dakota. If you have anything to do with the ski world you have heard of Blizzard’s Cochise (2012 Skiing Magazine Ski of the Year). Well, the Dakota is the women’s version of the Cochise. She comes with 108 mm under foot and in 170 or 177 lengths. Charging, slaying, ripping, sending… whatever your on hill practices consist of, this is your ski.

Stoke level is high for next season.

Join the rodeo.

Bailed to Canada: Whistler

We heard a storm was about to hit the west coast so we loaded up and headed to Whistler. It was dumping when we arrived… and was still dumping when we left five days later. One of the most hardcore chicks I know, Nadia Samer, gave us a tour of some great sled/skiing zones. 

The tits deep snow was great for skiing… not so much for sledding. The day turned into a bit of a struggle. I put my sled in a couple tree wells, got stuck multiple times, and exclaimed I was going to “sell the stupid ******* thing” more than once. But, as usual, the turns made everything worth while. (I can blame Dylan for this one)

The stoke level was high, smiles were contagious, and we were drenched to the bone. This state of being basically lasted the entire time we were in the Whistler area. Nadia getting the shot

We were lucky to get a couple days on Whistler/Blackcomb resort. The weather wasn’t as great as the skiing but we had a blast anyway. Thanks Nadia and Crystal Rose Lee for showing us around. Crystal and I working off last night’s beers.

We skied some great lines in perfect snow. Now that we know the area, we will definitely be back.

Canada, it’s been good. Real good. I will miss you dearly.

Claim.

Bailed to Canada: Rogers Pass

I have driven over Rogers Pass, BC a half dozen times but the weather has always been so unbelievably crappy that I had no idea what Glacier National Park even looked like. A few days ago we happened to be in the right place at the right time and snagged a bluebird day of skiing. HOLY WOW. The Selkirk Mountains are grand and majestic. We were able to hike way up into the high alpine. The breathtaking views made the long hike enjoyable and sub zero temps manageable. The long descent and fluffy snow were icing on the cake.

It was one of those days of complete connection between myself and my surroundings. A quick reminder of the things in life for which I am grateful… so many things. Smile, Enjoy, Live, Laugh, Love, Peace. 

Complete

Bailed to Canada: Revelstoke

Due to a serious lack of snow in Utah, Dylan and I hopped up North for a bit of classic Canadian adventuring. We threw a camper on the truck, loaded up the snowmobiles, and made our way to the land of good whisky and poutine. The truck landed in Revelstoke, BC just in time for stop #3 of the Freeskiing World Tour. Dylan’s last minute decision to enter the competition led to a quick removal of the tele bindings and addition of “training heels” in the Revelstoke parking lot.Our quaint little parking lot home

The original plan was to spend only one week in Revy, then head to a different resort. But, a delayed competition, serious dumpage of snow, and a little “knee to face” accident kept us here for over 2 weeks. Oh no….

The competition went well. The final run’s venue was one of the biggest, most badass, faces I have ever seen hold a competitive run. The skiing was jaw dropping. Major props to MSI, FsWT, and FrWT  for putting on such an awe inspiring event. Here and there, I had bouts of regret for not entering the competition. But, all said and done, it was nice to be supportive of others and let go of all the self-induced stress. Athletes flying first class to the top of “Mac Daddy”, the finals venue.

After the comp we followed tradition by partying our faces off at The Last Drop. The next morning’s sun was accompanied by head scratches and the usual anticlimactic  feelings of “what do we do next?” Dylan and I decided to stay in Revelstoke to do some skiing and brapppping with the Bomb Snow crew.  Shooting photos of a little tree jibbing sesh

The snow was great, the sun was shining, everyone had a smile on their face, it was Friday the 13th (just sayin’)…. And I decided to not check the landing of a small drop. ooops. Knee to face, bluebird day gone, and a nice trip to a Canadian ER. Contrary to somewhat ignorant beliefs, healthcare is not free up here (but it is cheaper). The ER doc was nice enough to let Dylan help sew me up and let Meg photograph the whole procedure. I will spare the gruesome pics.12 stitches later, I am somewhat of a happy camper… no, not really.

This is the day I missedKT and Rob honing their Warren Miller skills

Keep your eyes peeled for an edit from Revy, coming out as soon as I have another down day. For now, I am going to go eat some mashed potatoes, drink a beer out of a straw, and continue the healing process.

Healing includes skiing, right?

LiKi FAIRE and POW Fashion Show

It is great to be back home in Idaho for the holiday. True to Sun Valley style, the air has been cold and the sun has been shining. Until today…..

It’s snowing! After a seemingly endless dry spell, Ullr is finally dropping some goodness on the valley. All of the snow dances and boyfriends painted toenails have finally payed off!

Last night, I had the opportunity to participate in an extraordinary event; a fashion show organized by a sister duet, who are very passionate about life, the world, and the overall healing ability of humanity. Here are a couple photos from the event.

The LiKi FAIRE mission statement: “People are beautiful. Throughout the world, people struggle to meet their basic needs of food, water, shelter, and education, putting immense pressure on resources and humanity’s ability to collectively lead healthy, happy, and sustainable lives. In Chile, a common saying is, “Bread tonight, starve tomorrow.” Thus, it is the commitment of LiKi FAIRE that for every item purchased, one nutritious, delicious dinner will be provided to a person of the artesan’s community that needs it. With this step to assure basic needs, the people of the world will be empowered to make decisions that will sustain and better their environment, health and culture for not only today, but for all of the generations of tomorrow.” 

Learn more at likifaire.com

All proceeds from the show went to Protect Our Winters, a progressive organization working toward reducing the impact of climate change on winter sport communities and economies. Check out their website http://protectourwinters.org to learn more about climate change, its impact on your favorite winter pass time, and  how you can become involved.

I had a great time working the runway, catching up with old friends, and getting pumped up for the winter months.

PEACE

* All photos by Mark Oliver. Thanks!

An Alaskan Summer

Another summer of work on the fishing vessel Atlantis. Every fall I question whether or not I can handle another summer, but by the time spring roles around I am craving hard work and another ocean adventure. (I am also quite broke due to a small skiing addiction)

I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to spend my summers on a commercial fishing boat, it is the most amazing occupation I could imagine.

We spent the month of June in Seattle, preparing the boat for a long season of hard work. With a new main engine, flawless net, and sparkly clean 58′ Purse Seiner we headed south to the mouth of the Columbia for 10 days of Sardine fishing.

The highlight of my summer was having both my brother, Axel, and sister, Dylan, working by my side.

Little Dylan and I celebrating the catch, 100,000 lbs of Sardines.

After a successful Sardine season we packed up and headed for South East Alaska. It took us three days to reach Ketchikan, AK where we jumped immediately into Salmon fishing.

Rolling on a bag of jellyfish coated salmon.

The fishing around Ketchikan was alright, but rumors of a record breaking catch drove us North. We made it to Sitka, AK just in time to get a piece of the action. We spent the remainder of the season in the Northern part of South East Alaska.

Heave.

Bringing in the net.

Fill ‘er up.

Axel with a 30 lb king salmon.

The Maren E, my uncle’s boat, bringing a bag of salmon on board.

Quick nap while towing on the net.

Unloading the fish from our boat onto a Silver Bay Seafood tender.

Down day at Tenakee Springs.

Playing in a salmon congested river bed.

I guess I’m not the only one fishing for salmon. . . Little bit of a sketchy moment with a grizzly.

Whale tail.

A microscopic piece of the Fairweathers. I am in awe of these mountains. New objective?

Adios Alaska. See you next year.

So, is it snowing in Utah yet?

All of the amazing photos by: Axel Peterson

Back Home in Idaho’s Pioneer Mountains

The Pioneer Range is a group of big, beautiful mountains that sit just east of the Wood River Valley. You can see the main peaks (stretching up to 12, 000 ft) from my home town of Ketchum, Id. While growing up, it was a daily routine for my dad to quiz me on the names of the peaks from the top of Sun Valley’s ski resort. Needless to say, they made an impression.

Hyndman, Old Hyndman, and Cobb

 The above average snow year made a 5 day trip into the Pio’s possible…. In late May. So with a group of seven skiers, three sleds, and a large amount of food and beer we made the trek into the Pioneer Yurt.Our first objective was the Comma Couloir off the top of Cobb. 

We climbed up the west ridge (seen above). The ascent ended up being just as exciting as the descent.Looking into the entrance of the North Couloir while hiking Cobb. We came back for this one a couple days later.

The skiing was great, all of my favorite conditions rolled into 3,500 ft of vert. Chalky up top with pockets of deep fluff and creamy spring corn down low.

Dropping into the Comma Couloir

The next day the weather wasn’t cooperating so we found a sweet area to lap with the sleds. Thanks to our new favorite toys we were each able to get 4 or 5 laps on “Freeride Zone 1″.  We then headed to Duncan Ridge with plans to ski the north facing chutes. Unfortunately the clouds socked us into a total white out and we were forced to ski back down the south side. We retreated to the yurt where we built a couple jumps, had a gourmet dinner, and sweated it out in the sauna. On day three the sun finally peaked through and warmed up the snow. We headed for Hyndman to ski some corn. The hike went by quick. And the view from the top stretched for miles.

Top of Hyndman (12009 ft) with a beautiful view of the valley below

We each chose a different line off the top, and imprinted ski tracks across the entire south face.

Hyndman's south face. If you look closely you can see our tracks.

From the bottom of Hyndman we checked out the North Couloir of Cobb and decided to go for it.

Axel pointing to Cobb's North Couloir

We were bummed to discover that the 6 inches of fresh snow that laid in the couloir the day before had been completely blown out. Axel dropped in first and the screeching sound of rock hard chatter snow made us all cringe. But, we had our hearts set on skiing the North Couloir so we sucked it up and prepared our legs for thousands of feet of hop turns. Good skiing, good food, good friends. Thank you Sun Valley Trekking, we will be back. Cheers

Conquering Castles

CASTLE #1: DEVILS CASTLE, ALTA, UT

For closing day at ALTA I was fortunate enough to tag along with some of the Skierboyz  and go for the Castle Couloir. The technical couloir (usually requiring one or more rappels) opens up into a beautiful, powder filled, apron which can be seen from the top of the Collins lift. I had scoped the couloir multiple times and was ready to go for it. However, when we got to the top and saw that the couloir was very filled in we decided to hike a little higher and take a more exposed entrance.

The Devils Castle as seen from the top of ALTA. The line we skied begins on the peak to the left of the saddle (in the sun) and runs on a diagonal back into the shadow and out the apron.

We took a different approach than usual, hiking up sugarloaf and around the back of the castle rather than booting straight up the couloir.

Still not sure if the shot we had planned to ski actually went through, we put on our harnesses and dropped in to scope the scenario.

It went! A little technical in a couple sections but thanks to La Nina and the copious amount of snow we were able to “free” ski a line that is rarely skied without rappels.

Silas taking a direct exit into the apron. The line we skied is straight above him. (Thanks for the photo John Faye)

Dylan sends (as usual).

After saying our goodbyes at the Highboy party, we headed back to the desert for some more sun and an even bigger objective.

CASTLE #2: CASTLETON TOWER, CASTLE VALLEY, UT

Dylan and I ditched the snow and headed to Moab for some more climbing action (the addiction is setting in). Our main objective was Castleton Tower, seen here looming above our camp.

Day 1 was spent “warming up”. We thought it would be a good idea to practice a couple multi pitch climbs, since we hadn’t done much together. So we headed to the ice cream parlor and tried not to melt in the heat.

Sunday morning we decided to go for it. We woke up early and made the coffee fueled hour long hike to the base of the tower. Dylan getting ready to send the first pitch of the North Chimney.

Hanging out at the first belay station, all smiles. Castleton was our first tower and by far the highest either of us have ever rock climbed. The adrenaline rush was overwhelmingly fantastic.

Almost to the top. Thank you, Dylan, for being so competent and patient with my apprehensiveness.

We made it! The view from the summit was breathtaking, partly from beauty, partly from the realization that we now needed to get down. I quickly wrote our names in the summit book and we discussed the best route to rappel. We encountered 60 mph winds at the top and were worried about our ropes getting tangled. We ended up sticking with the original plan and made three, two rope, rappels down the North Face. We had a couple very scary close calls but with luck on our side and Dylan’s extensive experience with ropes we made it down with all of our gear.

Braving the wind on top of Castleton Tower. Relieved to be down from the tower we made our Mothers day phone calls and had a delicious dinner with good friends. A major adventure and learning experience, climbing the tower is the highlight of my spring. Well… so far.

Next up, Idaho’s Pioneer Mountains.

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