“My Favorite Places to Ski, Part 2” was to be the subject of this post.The weather has been so strange this year (I’ll save that rant forlater), that I pondered writing my favorite places to mountain bike instead. Then is started snowing again! So instead I’ll write about where I’ve skied and biked recently. Quite a year it is when you can do both in the same day!
Whistler, BC, Canada has long been a favorite place for me. Big alpine lines, impressive backcountry access, beyond-stellar views, big big big…the list goes on and on.
Since I’m a small town girl, I adore staying in Pemberton, BC instead of in the fancy Whistler resort. Only a half hour away, Pemberton’s lush valley is surrounded by animal, veggie and berry farms, with mountains like Mt. Curry rising 8,000 feet above. For food, don’t miss Mile One – burgers with local Pemby Beef that are to die for, especially with toppings like handmade goat cheese.
The Whistler/Blackcomb resort is so massive that finding a local guide is essential to link the goods together. They do offer free guided tours (check the map/grooming report/big boards for info) or just post on Facebook before heading there and find a friend or friend of friend to guide you. Unless you want to spend a lot of time on lifts or looking at vistas, choose either Whistler or Blackcomb to ski for any given day.
The backcountry is vast, and often requires a sled, but I’ve found plenty great stuff via skins as well. The Duffy is one of the local classic places to go tour. This video below is of Alaska, but it reminds me of the alpine terrain in that area: (more…)
Taking place August 18-24, 2014, the 2014 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will feature 16 of the world’s top professional cycling teams. Led by UCI ProTeams BMC Racing Team, Cannondale Pro Cycling, Team Garmin-Sharp, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing, the race will include some of the top talent in the sport. Taking riders on a heart-pounding journey through the Colorado Rockies, the seven-day stage race will travel 550 miles from Aspen to Denver, making stops in cities known for their cycling culture and history such as Vail and Boulder.
This year marks our 3rd consecutive year as the official backpack of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and we are amped to be following the tour across our home-state! This year, we want to provide you with a couple more ways to win Osprey gear if you plan on attending one of the 7 stages so listen up and stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! (more…)
The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Randonee ski racer and brand team member, James Whitesides. Here James describes an ambitious plan to make the Randonee national team…
There are so many quotable phrases about training consistently that I am overwhelmed every time I look to find one. I keep looking at them because, barring any miracles, it takes one hell of a realization to motivate me. When I recently looked at my training logs from six years ago I saw a different athlete than I am today; a 21-year-old road cyclist on the verge of becoming a Category 2 road racer. I was focused beyond all belief on the goal of being the best I could be at one sport. But then I grew up…
I worked a lot of hours in an outdoor shop in my hometown, Kalamazoo, MI, focusing on riding and snowboarding. In 2005 I decided to move to Colorado with my then girlfriend. After moving I had the epiphany that all athletes hope to have when I started skiing again: this is the sport for me. A year later I was Randonee (ski mountaineering) racing at Crested Butte with little knowledge of what I was about to get into. Suffering for four hours in a thirty-degree mist was all it took to get hooked. After two more races I was down to the two and a half hour mark and less than thirty minutes off of the winning skiers. For those that aren’t familiar with ski mountaineering races, think half marathon with 8,000 feet of climbing and the hardest downhill skiing most resorts have to offer. My best result to date has been 12th at the Wasatch Powder Keg in Alta. After that race I realized how much farther I had to go to get onto the podium.
This winter has been a wash. Skiing early was out of the question due to bad snow then too much snow. The mid-season snow pack has been good but inconsistent, I have been trying to get a new store up and running, and my ski partners have all had injuries keeping them out of the backcountry. But I have a plan.
With support from my shop and brands that I trust I am motivated to make the US Ski Mountaineering Association team by my 32rd birthday. Why my 32rd birthday? Well, there are several reasons. The first being I need to ski more (duh). The second is that the best performances I have ever had came after five years of consistency. I look back at my fifth year racing on the road and I can see that I was at the peak of my game. Setting a goal that high for myself will be hard to live up to but it is the only way I can have bad races can not totally give up. The long-term effort always has to prevail over the day-to-day.
My return to skiing has been interrupted this year due to the start-up I work for, uBRDO Cycle and Mountain Supply in Kirkland, WA, but we have plans to start carrying backcountry ski equipment. I also have started planning my training so that as soon as I finish my mountain bike season I will go into cyclocross and then onto skiing. With my peaks happening early in the fall and mid-winter I think I can be fast next year for the two Vert-Fest races in Washington and the USSMA championships in Jackson Hole. The support from the shop as well as Osprey will help keep me motivated and in the backcountry skiing and riding. Racing is something I love to do because of the rush and I hope that I can channel my energy into a successful run at becoming an elite Randonee racer.
For more information check out James’ bio page here.
The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures brings you Durango native Jim Philpott’s first entry recounting his participation in the recent Crested Butte-to-Aspen “Grand Traverse” ski race. Enjoy the read…
The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse is a backcountry touring race from Crested Butte, CO through the Gunnison National Forest over to Aspen. The race starts at midnight in the town of Crested Butte and finishes with a scary long groomer (because we were on Nordic gear) down Aspen Mountain to the finish at the base of the Gondola.
The week before the race this year the course received about 30″ of new snow and was getting hammered with high winds so the conditions were expected to be extremely variable. On race day though the weather cleared and with the exception of single digit temperatures and high winds in the early morning the weather was perfect! We even got a little powder skiing in off the back side of Star Pass.
The race is a team event with two people per team; this is mostly for safety reasons as there aren’t many rescue options once the race is underway. Other than endurance, a few screws loose “upstairs,” and a good strong team mate (mine being long time friend and Durango native Todd McGrath), gear selection is the most important aspect.
For my pack I chose my Variant 37 because I could fit whatever gear I needed and whatever gear was required without compromising comfort and versatility…I couldn’t be happier with the Variant for the purposes I’ve tested it with so far (primarily backcountry skiing trips). For skis and boots I chose to run nordic skis and skate boots with some small “kicker” skins for the big hills…of which there are a ton!
We ended up coming in 67th out of 149 racers, not bad for our first go-round, and we had a blast. You can find the rest of the race results here. Enjoy the photos and leave me a comment if you’ve ever done this race and what your experience was like. I’d love to hear other perspectives on the Grand Traverse!
For more information check out Jim’s bio page here.