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From a snowcave in the Kootenays…

March 17th, 2009

I am laying here in a subzero cocoon deep in the Kootenay mountains, thinking and watching the snowflakes pile up outside. Along with a few other Nelson Search and Rescue members we embarked on a ski and survival weekend. Although we did not cover as much ground as we would have liked as a result of the heavy snow and lack of visibility, we managed to get some good turns in.

My Kode 38 stood by me strong and comfortable and allowed me thread the needle through some tight treed lines. People who recognize a well-designed pack ask me all the time about it and I always manage to show them some of the great fit and function features of the pack. The slender back panel sits close and comfortable allowing me a full range of motion in the arms for the more technical lines. Furthermore the closed cell foam material ensures that my back stays dry and snow free all day. Laying in a snow trench alone is a soul packed experience and allows one to really reflect on not only the days past events but larger puzzles of life. A strange dichotomy is taking place, on one hand I am in complete solitude and remoteness, on the contrary I have my i-pod touch with me that allows me not only to listen to some good tunes but also sit here and draft up a post from a less than traditional office!

This trip we walked a good distance into a river drainage and made a basecamp. From here we skied laps through the trees all afternoon. Happily I was able to strap my touring pack the Kode 38 onto my Argon 70 with the one of a kind compression system for the walk in. Both of the packs carry so well, that even though I was breaking trail through thigh deep snow they moved with my body and didn’t hinder my travel at all. Some of the other S&R team members had large amounts of snow build up on their packs as the fabric sucked it up like a sponge. The high tenacity nylon shed snow and kept my load light and gear dry all weekend long. With the light fading and snow coming down at more than 5cm. per hour we decided it was time to call it a day.

After a wonderful re-hydrated beef stroganoff dinner we enjoyed a bonfire and wound down our day with a few sips of heart warming single malt. As the coals faded and the fire dished deeper and deeper into the snowpack we called it a night! It is always a weird feeling climbing into a snow shelter at night, luckily inside my pack I had a sleep system fit for a king and managed to log 10.5 uninterrupted hours of great sleep. My snow trench kept me warm and luckily my arsenal of packs allowed me to seal myself in and doubled as a set of French doors. I was surprised to see myself snowed in as I awoke and learned one key lesson about snow shelters…DO NOT leave your boots outside the entrance!

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Osprey Packs: Day Two at Coldsmoke Pow Fest…

February 24th, 2009

images-22Day two of the Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder fest found Osprey brand team member Nick Spring celebrating the coming of fresh powder and the passing of Nelson, BC ski fixture, Travis Steeger. Here’s Nick…

Unfortunately my camera decided to check out and not work, so for the sake of today I was making mental notes only! It seemed that despite there was a slight lack of POW folks still managed to have a huge dose of fun!

images7Most people involved in the festival were probably a little foggy as the Saturday night Buff-eh took its toll on us. The Selkirk College culinary program treated us to a feast fit for kings…a “dessert room”…yes a dessert room ended the meal component of the event and things were turned over to local media icon and MC for the evening Mitchell Scott (of Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine). He lit up the room with his witty remarks as he introduced the photographer finalists in the slide show contest. I must say the caliber of photographs our local talent captured could fill a whole season of Powder magazine! Nelson Brewing Company did a wonderful job making sure that no ones lips were dry.

The on-hill festivities continued with the Poker Rally and the Gerrick’s Telly Cup. Athletes enjoyed another day of sunshine and fast turns; however as the afternoon moved in so did the clouds and I can happily say the first storm system to hit us in weeks has arrived.images-16

The snow riding community of Nelson and huckers across the globe have to take their hats off in respect to a great skier who had his young life swept from beneath his feet late Saturday night. Travis Steeger skied harder than anyone I have ever met and always raised the bar. He was the defending winner of the Valhalla Powder Keg Booter in 2008 but did not attend this year’s event because he was competing at the Freeski Big Mountain competition in Fernie B.C.

Rest in Peace Travis

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Osprey Packs: Day One at Kootenay Coldsmoke Fest – NELSON BABY!

February 22nd, 2009

Osprey Brand Team ambassador Nick Spring of Nelson, BC is our man on the ground at the Kootnenay Coldsmoke Festival happening this weekend in Nelson. Read Nick’s account of some of the wild, ski culture themed events that took place yesterday in the snowy Kootenays and check back for updates from days two and three. Nick is demoing Osprey’s new Kode 38 pack and he’s putting it to the test at some semi-serious, sorta-wacky Coldsmoke events! On to the action, here’s Nick…

The Coldsmoke Festival is under way and day one is a wrap, well, the “on snow” portion that is. Now we are left with an evening to reflect on the events and mayhem of the day. From going big up on the ridge to the grueling randonee race it seemed to be an event enjoyed by all. The sun was out and strong on our faces making it an enjoyable day for spectators and participants alike. The vendor village was bustling and the list of demo tents was long. For those who were cold a nice steady bonfire kept the masses warm as they talked about lessons learned and lines ridden!

Demo area at Coldsmoke powder festival

Demo area at Coldsmoke powder festival

I spent the bulk of my day up on the ridge as I was involved in the day’s biggest spectacle, the Powder Keg Booter! We took a traditional big air competition and added a Kootenay twist (there was nothing green involved)! Talent from our local area and abroad competed in a freestyle expression session off of natural terrain. Thick pillows and gnarly cliffs line the Powder Keg venue and fluidity and style set the bar for competitors to come. Everyone was welcome and everyone had fun, from mother and daughter to young up and comers. The event’s highlight was a HUGE 60 footer from a local ripper whose name shall remain anonymous. Without a doubt my favorite and definitely a crowd-pleasing category were the young bloods, the kids barely old enough to stay out past dark. They were so exciting to watch and will for sure set a new level of stoke as they grow into their reverse camber powder skis!

Kids getting ready to rip the Powder Keg

Kids getting ready to rip the Powder Keg

Nick's Kode 38 "cold" chilling in the Kootenay's...

Nick's Kode 38 "cold" chilling in the Kootenay's...

Osprey out of bounds at the Powder Keg event

Osprey out of bounds at the Powder Keg event

Ripping a line on the Powder Keg

Ripping a line on the Powder Keg

After all the competitors had a moment to catch their breath we had the results tallied and prizes were ready to be handed out. Of course those of age enjoyed the last of the sun’s fine rays with a frosty mug of the Nelson Brewing Company’s finest. Prizes were given out and respect was paid for those who stepped up today, I look forward to tomorrow and the fun times it will bring. Tonight we will shake the night away and enjoy a beach themed party at the college in honor of our mountains and culture here in the snowy Kootenays.

Prizes and drinks

Prizes and drinks

The Coldsmoke festival is more about the ski culture than it is about skiing, and to get the full experience I encourage you to book time off in advance and make your way up to Nelson B.C. and snowy Whitewater Ski Area for the next one. The hidden talent and skill level here is unprecedented, making it an event that everyone can enjoy. For those of with less of a competitive edge the list of courses and seminars are outstanding so get up here and have some fun!

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Greetings from Nelson, BC and the Coldsmoke Powder Fest

February 13th, 2009

images3Osprey launches its 2009 Brand  Team with this post, from Nick Spring, a Brand Team member from Nelson, BC. Osprey Brand Team members are being dispatched to outdoor events all over North America this year, reporting from the ground back to our friends through this blog! Nick will be spreading the Osprey word and wreaking havoc on the many events planned for this year’s fantastic Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder festival. This is Coldsmoke in a nutshell (for more check out the event’s official site here):

The Kootenay Cold Smoke Powder Fest is a grass-roots gathering where both experienced and debutant backcountry skiers and snowboarders can celebrate the culture of backcountry pursuits amongst breathtaking scenery and world renowned snow. Nelson, British Columbia, the powder mecca of the Kootenays is a natural choice, and so the 3rd annual Kootenay Cold Smoke Powder Fest is slated to be held from February 20-23, 2009. In addition to seasoned veterans, this event will also draw “keen to be” backcountry skiers and snowboarders who want to give off-piste adventures a try. Whitewater resort’s terrain combined with the Selkirk’s legendary snow, provides fantastic opportunities for all levels to ski, learn, compete, and celebrate off-piste and backcountry riding. The festival revolves around 4 full days of clinics, films, beer drinking, and competitions for all ski/snowboard pursuits as well as a ski/snowboard photojournalism competition.

Nick will be demoing the brand new for ’09 Kode 38 pack (check the sneak peak Outdoor Retailer review here) and will be able to show all you eager souls what we think will be a huge hit for next season’s snow crowd. Enough of the babble – here’s Nick.

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I can’t believe we are in the middle of another deep winter. The Cold Smoke Festival for people in the Kootenay Region is a platform to showcase the beauty of our mountains, people, community and of course legendary deep snowpack.  The 2008-09-ski season has been riddled by many unusual circumstances.  We had an unusually long fall that held the early season snowfall at bay, we dealt with a wrath of unfortunate avalanche fatalities and hazards, and one of the longest sustained high-pressure systems recorded to date.  Words like catastrophic, epic and “never seen before” were used to describe the storm and avalanche cycle that we dealt with in early January.

So where does that put me? Aside from the edge of my seat it puts me into a state of Zen like patience.  One thing is known about the interior of British Columbia, the snow comes for those who are patient.  Snowfall amounts that trump most ski area’s monthly snowfalls are a weekly occurrence up at Whitewater Ski hill, host and creator of the Kootenay Cold Smoke Festival.  With a week of sunshine behind us I find it hard to believe that I spent that last two days lapping deep untracked blower snow just minutes outside of the ski area boundary.  Currently Whitewater holds one of the deepest snowpacks in the province and is set up well for future storms to come.  If you have not been to the area the festival is a great venue or “sampler pack” if you will of what goes on here daily.

My name is Nick Spring, and I moved to Nelson to pursue a lifestyle in the mountains. I chose Nelson because it is different then other mountain towns; we don’t have any large and over powering hotel chains, restaurants or tourist attractions. People come here for the exact opposite, to get away from the rat race, to walk down a main street littered with independent unique shops and eateries owned and operated by local residents.  I have an active role in the community and find my time spread thin across my many adventures.  I spend my day outfitting the coolest clients in the best gear shop possible, Valhalla Pure Outfitters, whether it is an Osprey pack for extended trips or short day journeys. When I am not at the shop I spend a good deal of my time training and practicing with Nelson Search and Rescue and am ready at a seconds notice for a variety of emergency situations.  I have a Talon 44 packed and ready to go regardless of the situation. On my weekends I patrol up at the ski hill and tour the phenomenal backcountry we have in the area on my split board.  Come on up to the festival and just maybe if you catch me at the right moment I will divulge some of the deepest of local backcountry secrets.  Nelson gets a mixed bag of bio-diesel powder hounds, dedicated heli ski clientele and industry professionals intermingling together in the many cafés and bars around town.

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Nick Spring in Nelson, BC

The festival is a great reason to make your way up here, it is action packed with all sorts of events, clinics and demonstrations.  The vendor village is a great opportunity to catch up with the latest trendsetters in the industry and talk shop with the brand representatives.  The après ski will be full of delicious food and local brewed organic beers, musicians that have set roots in the Kootenay area will entertain until the sun comes up with their eclectic world beats.  Bring your ski boots and dancing shoes with you and come spend a week in a powder hounds paradise! I hope to see you out on the hill and keep your eye out for me on the hill; I will be showcasing some of the coolest new innovations from Osprey!

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