Sunday, October 2, 2011

Summer Snow

After a long, cold spring this past year, I was ready for the summer ski season. The massive accumulation of snow in the spring promised excellent coverage for the early summer and possible extending the season into August. By early July, the snow depth around the Mt. Baker Ski Area was over 30 feet in places. That led to a July 4th ski tour up Herman Saddle with plenty of coverage of the route from start to finish. The next on the list was Mt. Adams. I had not climbed to to summit since 1995- 16 years ago. I had been training on the stairs at the local park in preparation for the climb but was unsure if I would be fit enough for the challenge.

The rest of weekends in July were socked in with rain and clouds, making the trek to Mt. Adams not very appealing. So I waited.

The forecast for second weekend of August was perfect- sunny, light winds, and still enough snow to ski on the South Face of M. Adams. None of my ski buddies were available or similarly motivated to climb this 12,276 ft. peak, so it looked like I was going solo. Loading up my gear, skis, boots, and camp necessities, I set off up the mountain on Friday afternoon to get to my high camp at 8100 feet that evening.

Summit day started at 5 AM -a clear, blue sky day. The rest of the story is unveiled in my short film "SOLO". I hope it will be shown at a mountain film festival this fall or next depending on the submission cycles. Needless to say, it was an outstanding climb and ski descent that I will always remember.

The Trailer for Solo

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Winter's Surprise

Some winters come and go with little fanfare. Some backcountry ski seasons are the same. The last two years (2009 and 2010) were pretty uneventful as far as great mid-winter touring as the snow was sporadic, the coverage mediocre much of the season in the Cascades and no "perfect" days in the backcountry that coincided with my days off. We had a good late season making for decent spring skiing but the powder days were hard to find.

This year has been something a bit different. Out of 8 days of ski touring in the past 2 months, 7 were in powder conditions. Seven. I can't remember getting 5 good days of powder even when skiing in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies for a week.

Needless to say, the camera has been humming. I've produced more short video tours of the places we have explored then in any past season. Some of the explorations were true surprises. Like Bear Mountain and the north side of Cougar Mountain in Okanogan county. We climbed these mountains with no clue at the beginning of the tour of how the conditions would be on the way down, only to be delighted by the depth and quality of the snow. Then there was Heather Ridge. The forecast was for 2 inches of new snow and the telemetry data said the same on Steven's Pass that day. But as we climbed we say the snow was much deeper as we climbed up, only to find a full 18" of fresh, light, cold powder at the top. Doesn't get much better than that on a day when expecting "dust on crust".

That is one of the great things about ski touring. You find new places, new routes, unexpected snow conditions - all are treasures. In a world where it feels that discovery is rare and a thing of the past, winter can surprise us with this fresh new world of snow and light that bathes our visual and kinesthetic senses with the beauty of freshly laden slopes with supple and voluminous powder.

Check out my YouTube Channel to see the results:

DrTelemark's YouTube Channel