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The Story of a Backcountry Underdog: Ski Blades

March 6th, 2015

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Here in Colorado the snow has been hit or miss, with heavy storms in December and basically non-existent snowfall in January for much of the west. As a result of the poor to mediocre skiing a dialogue began between myself and a couple co-workers. We began discussing couloir skiing and how reasonable it is for the time of year and how we might make it even better. Naturally ski blades were introduced into the conversation. If you’re not familiar with ski blades, simply imagine a pair of skis that instead of making it to your nose, barely make it to your hip.

A few days later the ski blades were on order and plans were made to pull touring bindings off of an old pair of skis to mount on the blades upon their arrival. All the while, heated discussions were had regarding the pros and cons of ski blades. Sure they’ll be more maneuverable in tight couloirs where jump turns will be made easy, but how will they do in powder, mixed snow conditions, how well balanced will they be for touring, will the bindings rip out? After chatting with another co-worker that happens to shoot professionally we decided it would be only reasonable to made a sweet short film about the future of backcountry touring and mountaineering.

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After the ski blades arrival we quickly got to work on grinding down screws so they wouldn’t go through the base when mounting new bindings, figuring out where on the ski to place the bindings (ended up mounting them 1cm back from center) as well as adjusting some kicker skins to fit the new setup. After a couple hours of work I was ready to set off on a three-day hut trip outside of Aspen, CO.

 

Three days later after dozens of miles of touring and skiing slopes up to 50 degrees psyche was higher than ever. Slapping the blades on my Kode ABS Compatible pack and boot packing up ridges was a breeze. Sure I fell many more times than I usually do, it took a bit more work to figure out the powder turns…but once I did I got twice as many as my friends. And don’t even get me started on the tours to and from the hut, those puppies weigh next to nothing and are not afraid to go fast.

 

In short the trip was a raging success, I anticipate spending many more days on the blades and I expect to start seeing more and more ski blades appear in the backcountry because they are the future.  DSC_9332

 

My name is Sam Feuerborn, and I have spent the last three years living in various vans in order to pursue my passions on my own schedule. Having grown up traveling and spending much of my formative years with my family outside hiking, camping and skiing it has been DSC_9344-Edita natural transition to embrace the dirtbag lifestyle.With many of my adventures fueled my coffee and stoke, I like to keep the van well stocked. With this addictive I have spent months at a time climbing in the desert, hitchhiking through Africa, mountain biking through the San Juans, backcountry skiing in the Elks, climbing in Yosemite as well as countless games of Settlers of Catan around the world. I have been lucky enough to embrace this lifestyle and make it work thanks to the support of countless friends and strangers alike, encouraging me to think outside the box and play as often as possible.

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Earn Your Turns: 101 Months in a Row

March 1st, 2015

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From suncups to blower pow, huge peaks to bunny hills, North Vancouver brothers Mike and Andy Traslin have been consecutively earning their turns every month of the year for the past…wait for it… 101 months. They’re not alone in the endless pursuit of ‘turns all year,’ but they sure are passionate about it.

The quest for earning your backcountry ‘turns all year’ is especially popular with zealous skiers and riders in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and of course here at home in BC. With huge peaks holding snow year round, especially the Cascade Volcanoes, it almost makes you wonder why every skier doesn’t do it.

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Like Mike says — if you’re really jonesing for some ski turns in the fall, why wait? Just go do it!

In celebration of Mike & Andy’s 101th month (and hopefully hundreds more to come) here is a quick freeflow of thoughts from Mike, and some image highlights from the last 30 or so months: Read more…

Active Lifestyle, adventure, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Life, Outdoor Activities, Snowsports, travel, Travel, video , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Around the World: Alison Gannett’s Favorite Places to Ski

February 4th, 2015

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I’m often asked about my favorite places to ski, so here are some of my recommendations from around the world:

Kootnay Mountains, British Columbia’s Red Mountain Resort and Whitewater Resorts:
While I love almost all of the skiing in BC, I’m choosing this area because of the consistently great snow that adheres to rocks, GREAT ski towns, the friendliest locals, phenomenally varied steep terrain, affordability and easy access (flights to Spokane,Washington,USA and short drive across border). When folks ask me if and where I have a pass, I respond that I don’t, but if I did I wish it was here and I wish I could live in Nelson or Rossland! Almost nowhere in the world have I experienced pillows like those in Steep Roots at Red Mountain, or powder that felt like backcountry but was actually inbounds like in Whitewater. It’s no wonder I choose to spend most of my season at these two places and that I run most of my Steep Skiing Camps in the Kootnays. What I also adore is the non-resort vibe at these towns/ski areas – reminds me of my childhood at Crotched Mountain New Hampshire. This is skiing as it should be.

Tip: Don’t miss the $25 dorm rooms at the Adventure Hotel or pay-as-you can or trade for rooms at Angie’s B&B. Don’t forget about the great slackcountry — bring all your backcountry gear almost every day to these areas.

 

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Verbier, Switzerland + Chamonix, France or La Grave + Serre Chevalier, France:
I’m mushing these together because different folks may want one over the other or, ideally, both. Both are beyond words when using the lifts to access the backcountry. When I want to scare myself, I go to ski the couloirs in Cham. Besides Argentina, I don’t think I’ve ever almost peed my pants like when we skied the Rhonde when icy, and a guide died that day in the couloir next door in the same hour. I’ve also skied almost 7,000 feet of blower snow in a chute almost all to ourselves. Verbier also has epic backcountry off the lifts, but it is more wide open peak to peak adventure skiing and if you want to end up at a place with a bus or train back where you started, hire a guide or make a good friend at the bar. Another strong contender in this category is La Grave (pucker factor even higher than Cham) and Serre Chevalier (OMG steep trees/spines).

Tip: Be prepared to always wear a harness/crevasse rescue gear and use a rope frequently. Make sure to have great maps and at least two ski touring guides.
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Manali, Indian Himalayas:

Typical response, “what Mountains are there?” Duh, they’re the HIMALAYAS, only the greatest, tallest and most epic mountain range in the WORLD. But great mountains don’t always make for a great skiing experience. Case in point, I adore skiing in the Chugatch Range of Alaska (Valdez, etc), but the rest – grey weather, greasy food, epic down time, heli expense, lack of trees for backcountry hiking on gray days, etc.) don’t contribute to my absolute favorite overall experience. Manali is an breathtaking Indian honeymoon destination, which changes everything. Epically tasty and inexpensive cuisine, no AK47’s like Kashmir/Gulmarg, colorful and almost weekly Buddhist and Hindu  festivals, 5-star lodging and service at a budget hostel expense, Colorado-like weather/snow with Utah-like Intercontinental snowpack, and the mountains? Well, need I say more? Don’t leave home without: CR Spooner’s book “Ski Touring India’s Kullu Valley.”

Tip: Use airline miles for dirt bag trip sidetrip and go surfing in Sri Lanka!
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To Be Continued…

 

Osprey Athlete ALISON GANNETT is a self-sufficient farmer, World Champion Extreme FreeSkier, mountain biker, award-winning global cooling consultant and founder of the multiple non-profits. In addition to being an athlete, ambassador and keynote speaking, Alison runs KEEN Rippin Chix Camps which offer women’s steep skiing, biking and surf camps around the globe. She has starred in many movies, TV shows, and magazines receiving many awards for her work including National Geographic’s “Woman Adventurer of the Year,” Powder Magazine’s “48 Greatest Skiers of All Time,” and Outside Magazine’s “Green All-Star of the Year.”  In 2010, she and her husband Jason bought Holy Terror Farm, kicking off their next chapter of personal health and self-sustainability.

Active Lifestyle, Osprey Athletes, Snowsports , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Learning to Catch Air with Osprey Athlete Alison Gannett

December 19th, 2014

 

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One of the main reasons I started KEEN Rippin Chix Steep Skiing Camps was frustration. There was no information out there regarding catching air, let alone doing it well. In order to win freeskiing competitions, I had to up my game and my airs were just not consistent or confident. I even landed on my face jumping from a tramway in a ski movie. Embarrassing!

So I started asking the top male pros how they did each air, and why did they choose different ways to catch air off of different obstacles. Most responses consisted of “I just go”, “don’t hesitate” and “all air is just the same.” Needless to say, this didn’t help one bit. Clearly there must be certain muscles flexed and not flexed, focal points for the eyes that would increase success, better places to put my hands/arms/shoulders/knees/ankles/ass/etc.

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Years of observation, success and failures have enabled me to develop my own special way to catch air, which ultimately led to my step-by-step process to teach ANYONE to be successful catching air if the desire is there. A memorable moment was teaching three 80-year old ladies and their 90-year old friend – I’ve never seen smiles so large.

So what are the keys to catching air? Read more…

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Life in the Round: Building a Yurt in Montana

December 1st, 2014

Sean & Mollie Busby are Osprey Packs Ambassadors. Sean is a professional backcountry snowboarder. In 2004, while training for the 2010 Olympics, Sean endured a complicated diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Considering leaving snowboarding all together, Sean was inspired by reading stories of kids living with T1D that inspired him to keep living his dreams. He founded Riding On Insulin, a nonprofit, to honor all the kids who inspired him to keep living. In February 2014, Sean became the first person with T1D to backcountry snowboard all seven continents at the age of 29 in 2014. Mollie Busby graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Journalism and Retail. A series of life-changing events brought Mollie and Sean together in February 2010, and after five months, Mollie moved west. The pair was married in September, 2011 and now resides in a 30-foot yurt with their dogs, Daisy and Glacier, in Whitefish, Montana. Follow their adventures at Two Sticks and A Board and to learn more about Sean’s work educating kids about diabetes and winter sports, visit the Riding On Insulin website.

We had never built anything, let alone a home. But today, I’m proud to say that my husband and I live in an off-the-grid yurt, that we built with our bare hands.

The first part of our story begins in 2012. Sean and I had just begun our journey as Greasecar owners with our 1977 Dodge Travel Queen motorhome that we purchased from our co-owners, Russ and Brittany. We’d gotten a taste of living simply on our drive to Alaska and back (Read more of that here). Not only did we utilize a waste product (waste veggie oil) for our motorhome’s fuel and a natural product (Goal Zero solar power) for our electricity, but we learned a lot about using less. Living in small places, making do with what you have, and using the earth in ways it was intended to be used. (Editor’s Note: I wouldn’t recommend driving to Alaska with 4 people and a dog to figure these things out.)

The second phase of our yurt journey was a trip to Central Asia in December of that year. We visited a small, mountainous country called Kyrgyzstan near the birthplace of yurts (Mongolia) where being a yurt-craftsman is a highly respected, lucrative trade. Families depend on the sale of these structures to support themselves. A yurt — simply defined — is a round structure traditionally used by nomadic tribes in Central Asia. ShelterDesigns.net defines it a bit further: “A yurt consists of a round wall and a roof system that is free standing using a tension ring at the wall and a compression ring where the roof rafters tie together.” Some would call it a glorified tent:

While in Kyrgyzstan, Sean and I fell in love with the symmetry and balance we found in traditional yurts. As opposed to the jagged, 90-degree angles of a traditional house, we felt more at ease in these structures where energy can travel with easy throughout the space. Keep in mind, these photos are of very traditional yurts — not quite the same structure we’re putting on our land (we’ll get to that in a minute). For now, I love this photo of Sean — it captures true happiness:

If this family could sell three yurts a year (which they do — sometimes more), they will have enough income to not only survive, but fare extremely well in comparison to families of other trades in the village.

 

Flash forward to Whitefish, spring 2014: Sean had gone back and forth to determine what sort of “tiny structure” we were going to build on our land — tiny house, yurts, fire towers, tee-pees, etc. After months of research, he landed back on a yurt, officially. As if the universe had been waiting for us to decide, Sean came across a pre-assembled yurt for sale on YurtForum.com 20 minutes from our home manufactured by Montana’s Shelter Designs. A Montana-made yurt available LOCALLY… and technically, we would be buying second-hand. It was perfect.

Here is the yurt before we disassembled it in Kalispell, Montana:

Here is a photo of the yurt, reassembled on our property in Whitefish, Montana:

Some hard facts: Our yurt is roughly 700 square feet of living space, plus a loft (300 additional square feet). It’s 1 bedroom (plus sleeping space in the loft) and 1 bathroom, fully wired and plumbed, although we opt for solar power, a composting toilet, and rainwater collection. We have come so far, and yet have so far to go! Stay tuned for more posts from yurt life!

To see photo and read stories of the whole process, from disassembly to building a deck to building the yurt itself and more, click here. You can also follow our travels on Instagram: Mollie @TwoSticksAndABoard and Sean @SeanBusby

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Cooking to Conquer Cancer with my own FARM-acy!

September 20th, 2014
AlisonGannett.com by David Wright

AlisonGannett.com by David Wright

As a long-time pro-athlete and Osprey Ambassador, I was perplexed last year with strange balance issues while skiing and riding along with odd moments of memory loss. Being the overly tough person I am, I tossed it aside and continued playing and working, chocking it up to stress from ski and bike work travel, too much exercise/training, too much “trying-to-save-the-world”, and trying to run a self-reliant homestead on the side. On June 30th, 2013, after almost burning the house down while cooking one of our piggy’s bacon, my hubby rushed me to the Emergency room to find a giant brain tumor. After many weeks of discussing death, I suddenly realized I now had yet another mountain to climb, and maybe the biggest one to date.

Alison Gannett by Sarah Mah Withers

Alison Gannett by Sarah Mah Withers

After surgery to remove the giant baseball HemangioPeriCytoma, saving the blood flow to my brain and my life, I luckily had time to ponder how to conquer my tumors/cancer during recovery. They wanted the standard cut/radiate/poison “treatment”, but my internet research showed a 1-3% cure rate with this approach. The radiation would also most likely give me cancer in 10-20years. I now realize how fear sets in, as I actually considered this path out of pressure, despite the crappy success rate.IMG_2274

That goodness for the internet and great friends, as I have learned so much about what “alternatives” are actually out there. I quickly landed at the NamasteHealthCenter.com in Durango, Colorado at a women’s cancer retreat with folks from all over the globe searching for better cancer answers. How cool that OspreyPacks.com has this right next door to their corporate headquarters!

Long story short, the amazing folks there helped me dive into my blood work and DNA – working to find out the reasons I might have gotten cancer, and why I was currently “tumor-ing”. I could now write a dissertation on this, but in short, overuse of antibiotics as a child had damaged my gut and also my DNA through methylation. My blood inflammation markers showed that my vegan diet was causing super high blood sugar (both blood glucose and HgA1C) and very high inflammation (ESR,LDH,CRP). I was doing all the things that our USDA food pyramid said to do – low-fat, lots of whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, but my blood was proof that this was not working.

Dr. Nasha Winters and Namaste showed me that cancer (and most disease) is fueled some simple things – sugars (including most fruits and grains turning into sugars), estrogen (from almost all plastics), environmental factors, and stress. All of these can damage my gut and my DNA. Good news is, they are all fixable! Even the methylated DNA!

I’m fourteen months into my Ketogenic Diet now – about 80% of my calories from fat, as cancer not only loves sugar, but it HATES FAT. I call it the one-two punch – deprive my cells of sugar and load them with fats, but good fats only! I use only homemade pastured lard and tallow, grass-fed butter/ghee, coconut oil, grass-fed raw heavy whipping cream, and unrefined/unfiltered/chem-free stonehouseoliveoil.com. Its taken me months to get used to dosing my food in these fats, but wow, what a change in my blood work. Side benefits include – great skin, no more colds or migraines, allergies almost gone, weight/fat loss, 6-pack, and no more bronchitis, yeast or bladder infections.

HT_actionstills_10-1Every day I learn more about how this Ketogetnic diet can often prevent and conquer many diseases beyond cancer, including Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Epilepsy, MS, and Diabetes, while also bringing on the best health and athletic performance of one’s life. I don’t think of it as a diet anymore, as I LOVE The food, love how I feel and look, and love that my tumor is stunted and starving. Cancer may be the best thing that has ever happened to me, as it has helped my family get healthier and my diet can hopefully prevent the Alzheimers that runs in the family. More: ketogenic-diet-resource.com; Books – Keto Clarity and Grain-Brain. I’ve also started a Facebook page – Cooking to Conquer Cancer.

So right now we are busy harvesting all our food for the upcoming winter, today I was focusing on drying eggplant, zucchini and squash “noodles”, canning tomatoes, and curing peppers. The chickens are also going corn and soy free, and the cows are munching their ever-so-healthy salad bar of grasses. In many ways lifestyle is easier, as I don’t have to grow, thresh and winnow as many grains, stevia is easier to grow than raising bees, and raising saturated fats is WAY easier than even attempting olive oil!

I’m a lucky gal – no lasting damage to my memory or my body. I’m back on my bike, surfboard and skis – with a heap more balance than before, and WAY more appreciation for everything. Next I’m off to Moab next to teach my KEEN Rippin Chix Camps with OspreyPacks.com at Outerbike with Western Spirit. I’ve got a full schedule of my Steep Skiing Camps coming up this winter all over, including some of my favorites such as Whitewater, Red Mtn, Silverton, and Crystal. Time to go to bed, as sleep and stress reduction are also very important in my un-cancer-ing and new-found health.

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ALISON GANNETT is a self-sufficient farmer, World Champion Extreme FreeSkier, pro mountain biker, award-winning global cooling consultant, and founder of the multiple non-profits. In addition to her busy careers as an athlete, athlete ambassador and keynote speaking, she runs her KEEN Rippin Chix Camps – women’s steep skiing, biking and surf camps around the globe, featuring Osprey Packs. She has starred in many movies, TV shows, and magazines receiving many awards for her work including National Geographic’s Woman Adventurer of the Year, Powder Magazine’s “48 Greatest Skiers of All Time” and Outside Magazine’s “Green All-Star of theYear” next to Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Always an advocate of walking the talk, she has reduced her carbon footprint in half and has also spent half a lifetime working to make the world a better place. In 2010, she and her husband Jason bought Holy Terror Farm, beginning the next chapter of personal health and self-sustainability.

Active Lifestyle, causes, Health, Non-profits, Osprey Athletes, Osprey Life, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Black Lake Chute–The Run of the Season

July 9th, 2014

The Black Lake Chute took me ten years to ski. All that time it teased me from Anchorage. Above my home it looked like a thin white thread tied to the summit of O’Malley Peak. It hung down the north face and draped off of the lower wall. It became my White Whale. Sometimes, between attempts, I’d try to talk myself out of it. It’s too dangerous. There’s plenty of other stuff to ski. But I wanted it so bad….

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Read more…

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Mt. Baker Mustache Couloir — New Ski Variation

May 21st, 2014

Mt. Baker | Osprey Athletes Andy Traslin & Mike Traslin

 

After winter finally showed its snowy face through most of February and March, a weather-window opened and we were eager to take advantage of it. It would be my first time up Mt. Baker in March, (although my 20th time summiting Baker and Andy’s 21st time) so I was keen to make the trip happen.

 

Mt. Baker | Osprey Athletes Andy Traslin & Mike Traslin Read more…

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They said it was the storm of the century

March 17th, 2014

This story was written by a KEEN Rippin Chix camper, Osprey Packs enthusiast and professional writer, Rachel Walker on Facebook. Special thanks and kudos!

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They said it was the storm of the century.

On Wednesday we watched the weather as it fell by the feet, crossing our fingers and hoping it would roll into Colorado. On Thursday, the storm blew east, dropping over a foot in 24 hours in the Colorado mountains. Powderhounds throughout the state rejoiced—us included, with reservation. We were stoked that the ski areas on I-70 were getting dumped on, but I-70 wasn’t our destination. Our sights were set southwest of Summit County, way southwest. So far southwest, in fact, that we would be closer to New Mexico than to Vail Pass.
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Can you guess where we were headed? Silverton Mountain, Colorado.

The storm flirted with us. It was headed to Silverton, and then it wasn’t. And then it was. And then it stayed. And stormed. And stormed. And stormed.
The storm coated the roads and blocked the visibility and made us—a pack of women, of powder whores, of chicks—giddy with excitement. We threw our fattest skis and warmest coats in our cars and trucks, kissed our people goodbye, and drove into the blizzard. Read more…

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Hey Utah! Vertfest is coming to you!

March 6th, 2014

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“Vertfest is a multi-stop mountain festival dedicated to raising the level of snow safety education and stoke for backcountry enthusiasts, and supporting the efforts of avalanches centers everywhere. “

For the first time ever, Vertfest is coming to Brighton, UT March 07 – 9, 2014 to bring you the 11th Annual Wasatch Powderkeg Ski Mountaineering Race and a weekend full of top-of-the-line demos from different companies such as La Sportiva, Scarpa, Voile, Mammut, Outdoor Research, as well as yours truly, Osprey Packs! Read more…

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