It’s that time of year again! Vertfest is and always will be known as “the best Festival of Freeride and Mountain Mettle in North America,” and it’s back, ready to kick off on February 16th and 17th in Alpental, WA. Naturally, we’ll be there to help celebrate. Here’s the full scope of what you can expect:
The weekend will begin on Saturday with the Monika Johnson Memorial Rally, with a race division that’ll take participants on two laps up Alpental and back — in addition to a recreational division, as well as a 50+ and splitboard division, all of which will offer up just one lap. Saturday will progress with a contest, an awards ceremony and an epic raffle with ski and pack giveaways. Saturday’s festivities will cap off with live music from Head Like A Kite and Daydream Vacation.
Sunday is the day of educational clinics, ranging from an Intro to Splitboarding with Neil Provo to a clinic focused on landscape photography to a Sidecountry Steeps Clinic with our very own Osprey Athlete Kim Havell. This clinic will take place from 9-12 and 1-4 p.m. You can check the full clinic schedule for details here, but be sure to stop by the Osprey booth on Sunday between 4 and 4:30 for a chance to meet Kim Havell, who will be doing a poster-signing!
Throughout the weekend, Osprey will be providing free demos on the Karve series of sidecountry riding packs, as well as the Kode 22 backcountry riding pack, so be sure to swing by to try on a Karve or Kode pack and get fitted by a professional. We’ll have Karve 6, 11 and 16 as well as the Kode 22 on hand for free demos. What’s more, we’ll be there with the entire Osprey winter collection and all of the new packs that will be coming in Spring of 2013. And while you’re at the Osprey booth, be sure to take the 3-minute Osprey Vertfest survey for a chance to win a brand-new Osprey pack. We’ll see you on the mountain!
Starting the 2012-2013 winter season has been a huge personal battle for me. First, our beautiful backcountry ski lodge at Valhalla Mountain Touring was trashed in a storm, requiring a huge renovation (thankfully covered by insurance!). Then when November ended and you last heard from me after climbing El Cap, I came down with a sudden and severe staph infection of my ankle joint. Weeks of home IV treatment and arthoscopic surgery kept me on the couch for almost five weeks wondering if this ski season would even happen.
Well, it has happened, and I think I am more thankful than ever to be shredding the home turf cold smoke. But enough chatter, let the moving images show you what has been going on!
Here in Colorado, we’re celebrating the first snow fall of the season and we’re excited to watch our mountains turn white in the coming weeks… yes, yes, it looks like winter is upon us and once again the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival
is answering the call. Wax those skis, tune those boards and gather your friends! There is no better way to celebrate the fun and beauty of winter than with a true celebration of winter played and lived, as told thru the seven unique films in the 8th annual Backcountry Film Festival.
When I woke up at 2 a.m., I decided I could afford another hour of snoozing. After all, my gear was packed for the upcoming day, so I figured I could spare another hour…
When I finally rolled out of bed, my first order of buisness was to pack the car, then get gas from the station across from my apartment. Sounds easy enough, but at 3:30am the gas attendant was in a deep sleep, so my brother Andy decided to honk the horn a couple of times. Poor guy launched up and out of his deep sleep, only for Andy to then decide we could drive on empty until we got across the border.
Three hours later we made our first point of Marblemount, and from there it was another hour on the Cascade River road to the start of the trip. Finally at the trailhead, we made a quick gear sort, and by 9 a.m., we were packed and ready to go.
A couple hours of walking on the fireroad brought us to snowline, then 1.5 hours of bushwacking had us back into skinning mode on the glacier. What’s a good summer ski trip without bushwacking right?
It was with a heavy heart that I left the U.S. for Europe in mid-March, but the trip turned out to be distracting and healing. I was surrounded by good people, tons of inspiration and much positive perspective upon arrival to Annecy, France. It was a necessary transition to achieve a better balance after the last few months’ tragic events in the ski community. As the tough news continues, I mourn for those we have lost and pray for those who are still fighting, and am trying hard to find the guiding light through it all, turning to the mountains and to friends to appreciate what the present offers.
Mid-March, our Salomon Freeski Mountain Collective team gathered in Annecy and La Clusaz for a spring session of gear development, talks and testing. Cheese dominated our evenings and skiing dominated our days. We were stuffed through with Raclette, Tartiflette, Fondue and more. We discussed and tested hard goods, soft goods and accessories on slope and in conference rooms. And we enjoyed exploring the magic of the stunning beauty and terrain at La Clusaz resort and its backcountry. I found myself moved daily by the talent of the people with whom I was surrounded… some of the best in skiing and, more importantly, some of the very best people.Read more…
Less than a two-hour drive from Vancouver lies a mountain with plenty of epic steep ski lines. Towering over the ski runs on Mount Baker ski resort, Mount Shuksan is one of the most aesthetic faces anywhere.
Deep thoughts in BC... Photo: Gareth Martins, Osprey marketing director via Instagram
Unless you’ve been living in a deep, dark cave… You may have noticed that there is a lot of cool stuff going on out there. So, we thought it was high-time we started rounding up some of our faves each week. We call it the Osprey Round Up.
Osprey’s marketing director, Gareth Martins, has spent the last week in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains with Evan Stevens. Between Facebook photos and video blog posts, the two have made it pretty clear that they’ve been finding plenty of powder despite the sketchy conditions. Thanks for rubbing it in, guys. Stay safe out there!
Photo: Ace Kvale, Elevation Outdoors
“It requires a rare vision, perhaps one bordering on delusion, to perceive the possibility of change in the monochromatic world of the hope-blind.” — Timmy O’Neill in Elevation Outdoors.
Also exciting news this week a little closer to our own backyard, Polartec launched a contest giving away an all expenses paid trip to the 5Point Film Festival next month. Free airfare and travel, lodging at Avalanche Ranch Resort, $500 and Patagonia and Polartec gear… it doesn’t get much better than that. All you have to do is enter. Good luck, we hope to see you at 5Point!
The ‘average’ winter continues here in British Columbia. The snowpack is about 2.5 meters deep at the lodge at Valhalla Mountain Touring, and upwards of 4 meters deep in the alpine. And storm after storm keeps dropping ridiculously deep Kootenay cold smoke. The snowpack is a bit touchy these days, with the persistent weak layers of surface hoar, sun crusts and facets now down about a meter deep and keeping us from hitting the big open scary slopes, but a ton of fun is being had in our endless safe ski terrain. Safe doesn’t mean boring when you find new runs that weave their way through 100-year-old trees and pillows!
How many pieces of bacon can you fit in your backpack? Yeah, we’ve always wondered that too… with March in full swing, we’re definitely starting to think about our spring and summer backpacking trips, and we’re loving REI’s fun, new infographic on the subject.
The last two weeks has had it all in British Columbia. It started with blue skies and a bomber snow pack, and then the snow hose got pointed at us, for 130cms of new snow in the last week. This quick video gives a taste of a few runs from the last few weeks at Valhalla Mountain Touring. Enjoy!
Evan Stevens is a fully certified IFMGA Mountain Guide, examiner and instructor for the AMGA, a member of the AMGA Board of Directors, and owner and lead guide of Valhalla Mountain Touring, a backcountry ski lodge in the Selkirks of British Columbia. Somehow he managed to do all of this whilst only escaping from the suburbs of New York City just 10 years ago. When not on his skis, he can be found climbing hard rock in his summer home of Squamish, BC, or trying to fire off alpine rock free ascents through out the world. Highlights include numerous first descents in the Valhalla Range of BC, traditional rock ascents of up to 5.13, first free ascents in BC such as IV 5.12 Man of Steel in the Adamants, IV 5.12 R Lost in Space on Mt. Gimli, and speed ascents of big walls in Greenland. Besides that he is usually being humbled by his super human wife Jasmin, and trying to keep up to his dog Benny on the skin track.