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First Ride on the Peak 2 Peak at Whistler

Wed, 17 Dec 2008 20:42:31 +0000

Car number six leaves the Roundhouse Lodge station on Whistler  heading toward Blackcomb Mountain's Rendezvous Lodge at 11:12 a.m. on December 12, 2008, the opening day of the Peak 2 Peak Gondola

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Bluebird Back Country

Mon, 11 Feb 2008 03:17:55 +0000

Where: Todd Lake, Central Oregon Cascades When: February 9, 2008 Summary: The Cascade Mountains of Oregon have recently been receiving an onslaught of cold winter storms blanketing the peaks in fresh deep dry powder. Back to back storms the past week or so have provided amazing snow in the mountains, the visibility however, has been less than ideal. With a day off drawing near, and a weather forecast of blue skies, plans were laid for a backcountry tour of Todd Lake in the Deschutes National Forest. The distinct noise of Kyle Beall’s Volkwagon van struggling as it made the turn onto my street alerted me to the fact that it was time to go. We loaded gear and splitboards into the van and made the drive up to the Mt Bachelor Nordic Center where we would begin our trip out to Todd Lake. The first portion of the trip utilizes some of the groomed trails at the Nordic Center; touring through the Nordic Center on our splitboards drew many a strange look from lycra clad folks skating by on skinny x-country skis, and even a request for us to pose for a picture!

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The Magic of Splitboarding

Fri, 25 Jan 2008 17:33:10 +0000

It was still dark when the familiar sound of the snow plow blade on pavement woke me up. A quick look out the window confirmed the fact that it was indeed dumping outside. Only October 26th, it would be another months before the lifts at the local resort would be turning. But it was snowing now and snowing hard. By sunrise, my brother arrived at my door-- he had hiked up the mountain the night before and spent the night in the patrol shack to lay claim to the first tracks of the season. His enthusiasm confirmed that not only was this a day not to be missed, it was quite possibly the day of the season. My board, poles, bag and gear had already been prepped the night before in anticipation of the local weather man getting it right, so we were soon in my beat-up Volvo chugging and fish tailing up the mountain road.

As we pulled into the parking lot, there was already another car there, with two parallel ski lines leaving the car, heading up the hill, and disappearing into the thick blanket of snow still falling. We began breaking our snowboards apart and affixing skins to the bottom of our boards so that we, too , could put down our own wide skin track up the hill, even as the chair lifts lay dormant, waiting for opening day to deliver eager snow sliders to the top of the mountain with ease.

For a long time, backcountry snowboarders have had to strap their boards on their backs and hump it up the hill in snow shoes as they watched their two- planked brethren stylishly sliding by on the up and harvesting mass amounts of freshness on the down. The more time I spent in the backcountry on a snowboard, the more I wished I had the ability to ski. I soon began looking for alternatives to the snowshoe approach up the hill that would still allow me the benefit of a snowboard to travel down the hill.

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Where to Ride - Right Now

Wed, 19 Dec 2007 21:18:41 +0000

The first turns of the season, no matter what the conditions, are always the sweetest. You've been itching to ride for months and when your (new) board hits the snow, it's like it was never summer at all. Except for the telling ache in your muscles the next day, of course.

Every fall, riders across Canada look to a handful of dependably snowy resorts to open early and satisfy their summer-long snowboarding withdrawal. Whether these resorts are blessed with natural snow or have made a serious investment in snowmaking equipment, theirs are the websites that riders start visiting November 1 to check out opening-day dates.

The following resorts are the annual best bets for early-season snowboarding coast-to-coast across Canada and some of the reasons why you should check them out.

British Columbia: Whistler Blackcomb

To Whistler's local population of pro snowboarders, skiers and ardent enthusiasts, early December is one of the best times of year to enjoy the biggest mountain resort in Canada. Snow is usually plentiful, crowds are much fewer and the locals get their run of the mountain for almost a month before the general public kicks into ski-season mode. Smart snowboarders (especially from the East) take advantage of this key period to get killer travel deals and great conditions, all without major lift lines.

Its two mountains, five terrain parks and backcountry accessibility, including catboarding and heliboarding, make Whistler great anytime of the year, but early season is one of the resort's secret fortés. You can get insane package rates at this time of year, with flights, rooms and lift tickets included for far (far) less than you would peak season. The good prices mean you can probably stay right in the Village and enjoying walking home from all the great restaurants, bars and shopping (can you say après?) instead of staying out in one of the nearby neighbourhoods and driving in.

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Ride Like the Wind

Tue, 11 Dec 2007 21:05:20 +0000

Based in Seattle, photographer Stephen Matera has made a specialty out of capturing the fluid beauty of snowboarding in the context of backcountry terrain. Focusing mostly on the Cascades, the mountains he knows so well, and a handful of riders and athletes--Mike Hattrup, Byron Bagwell, Justin Kious, Andrew Hart, Marcel Dolak, Eli Roberts--Matera manages to create images that evoke the reason that we ride.

As a photographer, Matera looks for light and shadow as well as strong graphic elements for his images. These pieces come together like nowhere else when shooting snowboarding up in the Mt. Baker backcountry, a favorite setting for him. In the winter, when the sun is low in the sky, the steep rolling terrain in the area creates the synchronicity of light, shadow and form. Throw these elements together with some sweet pow and a talented snowboard rider, and the results are these amazing images.

Opening Day at Mount Baker

Sat, 01 Dec 2007 02:21:08 +0000

14 inches of fresh powder is always a good reason to take a day off, especially when it has fallen at Mount Baker on the night of opening day, one of the snowiest mountains in the world. An early morning departure from Seattle at about 5:15 am landed us at the lodge by 8:45. A quick ticket line allowed us to be on our way to the top by 9. When we arrived, it took me about 60 seconds to find my board buried beneath about 18 inches of fluffy powder. It actually felt like too much snow at times and took awhile to get use to.

Chair six was the second lift we took. Most folks who made it up this one had to pause for a moment to soak in their surroundings. Oh what a sight it was up there. Clear blue skies and untouched snow surrounded us in every direction. The smell of fresh pine was in the air, along with a nice winter chill to remind us where we were standing. It was incredible. After a few photos for some Altrec dispatches, we went down either the Canuck's Delux or North Face runs. I don't remember for sure which ones we took first, but they remained deep and steep all day long.

The rest of the day we poked all over the mountain. It felt like about 80% of it was open, and since it was a Thursday, kiddie traffic was kept at a minimum and the runs were pretty clear all the way down.

I also managed to perfect an optimal base layering system for this event. I've been trying to reduce garment weight as much as possible on these outings. A week earlier I got a little too aggressive with this approach at Whistler Blackcomb's opening weekend. I chose to sport a sweet baby blue Altrec branded North Face Vaporwick tee shirt, followed by an Altrec branded capilene 1 long sleeve tee by Patagonia, with my shell on top. 25 degree temperatures made this combo a little insufficient, especially on the lift rides up.

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Andrew McLean: Bart @ Norquay

Fri, 16 Feb 2007 08:00:00 +0000

Bart Donnelly raging down a groomed run at Norquay.

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Andrew McLean: Snowbike

Fri, 16 Feb 2007 08:00:00 +0000

While on assignment for in the Canadian Rockies, correspondent Andrew McLean  captured this video of Matt Snow riding a Snowbike down a run at Marmot Basin. See Andrew's story.

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Andrew McLean: Sunshine

Fri, 16 Feb 2007 08:00:00 +0000

Mild mannered Mike Moynihan tears into a groomed run at Sunshine Village. See Andrew's story.

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Andrew McLean: Delirium Dive

Fri, 16 Feb 2007 08:00:00 +0000

Jamie McCulloch making Delirium Dive at Sunshine Village look easy. Go to Andrew's Story.

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High Flying Santa

Tue, 07 Feb 2006 08:00:00 +0000

To the kids participating in Canadian Mountain Holidays first ever Family Week at its lodge in British Columbia's Cariboo Range, the arrival of Santa Claus was even more exciting than usual as the jet turbines were way more interesting than reindeer. See Andrew McLean's story of heli-skiing in the Cariboos at Christmas.

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In Memoriam - Carl Skoog

Wed, 11 Jan 2006 08:00:00 +0000

The tragic death last fall of Seattle mountaineer Carl Skoog has triggered a wave of fond remembrance from those who knew him, and memorial pieces in the magazines that so often featured his photography. On October 17, 2005, Skoog was killed in a ski-mountaineering accident in South America. Skoog, along with British Columbia's Rene Crawshaw, was attempting the first complete ski descent of the south face of Argentina's Cerro Mercedario when he fell.

The 46-year-old Skoog was best known as a photographer whose images adorned the covers of dozens of magazines and catalogs. But to those who knew him, it was Carl Skoog's skill in the mountains as a skier and alpine climber, his disarming friendliness, and his abiding love of mountaineering that truly defined him.

"His photography was amazing," said his brother, Gordy Skoog, "but he was not only a photographer. He had the goods to back it up. Climber, skier, alpine traveler--he could do it all. For Carl, his photography was not so much a career, or even a way to make a living. It was all about being in the mountains."

Together with his brothers Gordy, 53, and Lowell, 49, Carl (the youngest) made up a family of alpine climbers who posted so many important ascents and descents in the Cascades they arguably are the most successful climbing siblings since Fred and Helmy Beckey's exploits in the 1940s. All three brothers grew up in the Seattle area, where separately, and in pairs, and occasionally all together, the three made important first ascents, first descents and pioneering traverses in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. But it was Carl who continually sought to make his living in the mountains, first by guiding, then through photography.

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Learning to Carve in the Pacific Northwest

Tue, 10 Jan 2006 19:49:19 +0000

The volcanic domes of the Pacific Northwest seem designed with snowboarding in mind, especially when you consider the potential of powder to rival anything Utah or the Rocky Mountains has to offer. In addition to great snow, you can expect magnificent scenery, varied terrain parks to tempt beginners through experts, and a friendly atmosphere. There are literally dozens of places to snowboard in Oregon, Washington and southern British Columbia. Not to mention the infinite number of great backcountry runs, with snow that is generally more stable than the notorious slopes of Utah and Colorado. Local hotspots like Mount Ashland and Anthony Lakes, Oregon, and White Pass, Washington, make up for somewhat inconvenient locations with diverse terrain, dependable snow, and an intimate atmosphere. But don't ignore the areas like Crystal Mountain, Whistler/Blackcomb, Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor for a resort experience, western style. Lift lines in the Pacific Northwest are the exception, rather than the rule, especially if you board mid-week.

For under $50 a day, you can generally get a lesson, board and boot rental and lift pass. For beginners, smaller areas are a great choice, with less competition for slope space and gentler terrain. Check the schedule for bargains on lesson packages, accommodations, kids programs and women's courses taught by female instructors. For both on- and off-season lessons, especially for kids, check out High Cascade Snowboard Camp at the end of this list.

Willamette Pass

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Banff 2005 Photography Winners

Tue, 15 Nov 2005 08:00:00 +0000

The 2005 Banff Mountain Festivals (for books and films) wrapped up this month with a display of the winning images from the Banff Mountain Photography Competition. The 17 winning photographs were culled form more than 2600 entries.

This year's photography grand prize was awarded to Mead Norton's moving image, Prayer Offerings on the Shore of Namtso Lake, Tibet.

Mead Norton traveled around Southeast Asia taking photographs for the last year and is currently living in Auckland, New Zealand, where he is a photography teacher and freelance photographer. His photographic travels have also included trips to Cuba, the Caribbean and North America. Norton is currently finishing his thesis project, titled "The Hardships Faced by Students in the Khumbu Region of Nepal," for his master's degree at Brooks Institute of Photography.

He said of his winning image:
"Namtso Lake, the highest saltwater lake in the world, is considered by Buddhist pilgrims to be one of the three holiest lakes. Namtso means 'heavenly lake' in Tibetan. Each year, thousands of pilgrims from Tibet, China and other countries make the long journey to the lake in order to pray to Buddha and leave offerings of katas-white silk scarves-and strings of prayer flags along its shore. They believe that as the wind unravels their offerings their prayers are released into the heavens. I first read about Namtso Lake and became fascinated with Tibet when I read Seven Years in Tibet, so when I was in Lhasa I took the opportunity to join a pilgrimage. I spent four days camped on the shore of the lake and captured this image one day as the sun was setting. I could feel a mystical aura surrounding the lake and could imagine what it must have been like when Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter first explored the area. My visit was a welcome relief from seeing the destruction caused by the Chinese in modern Tibet."

Snow-Kiting: The New Extreme Sport

Tue, 10 May 2005 07:00:00 +0000

Snow-Kiting pioneers Alex Peterson and Aaron Sales demonstrate the newest in adrenalin sports by attaching kite-boarding rigs to their ski clothing and riding the wind to mind-boggling heights. On the frozen H2O of Mammoth Mountain and other California ski hills, our fearless duo lets the wind carry them to a new level of extreme skiing. You won't
believe your eyes when our TV crew captures these twisted athletes as they seek answers to the eternal question only to find: the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind...

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Snowboard Boots: Your Ticket To Ride

Thu, 10 Mar 2005 08:00:00 +0000

Newbie boarder or skilled bonkin-gibber, your boots will have the most dramatic impact on your freeriding performance and enjoyment. The goal is to find a balance between a snug fit (performance) and relaxed fit (comfort). Here are some guidelines that are important to consider at any skill level:

Regardless of whether you're a beginner or expert boarder, you will want to downsize a half size from your normal shoe size to the equivalent Mondo (i.e. 24.0 vs. 24.5) size on the chart. Advanced boarders know that a snug fit means performance. One way of increasing sensitivity to the board and enhancing performance is by buying your boot one full size smaller than your measurement. Think carefully about following this path, however. If you're intending to downsize you should be prepared to customize your boots as needed to balance fit with comfort. The snowboard boot is a seem-ridged environment that can be adjusted and customized, but there are general limits of a half size of stretchability for a too restrictive/uncomfortable boot selection. With that in mind, consider that a customized footbed can greatly enhance the fit of the boot you select. Footbeds add support, give more effective toe room, snug up width, and tighten up foot steering performance.

Fitting Tips

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Snowboarding Glossary

Fri, 23 Apr 2004 23:44:27 +0000

Big Air: Getting "big air" is when the snowboarder rushes up the side of a halfpipe, flipping the board into the air as high as it will go and coming down for a smooth landing, only to try again on the other side of the pipe.

Boarder Cross Racing: Boarder cross racing consist of six snowboarders racing simultaneously over an obstacle course. Speed, accuracy and style determine the winners.

Bonk: Bouncing off an object such as a rock, a tree, or a stump.

Eat: Wiping out.

Fakie: Pointing the board's tail end downhill.

Goofy Foot: Riding with the right foot forward on the snowboard.

Halfpipe: A channel constructed in the snow, which resembles a pipe cut longitudinally. Halfpipes, or pipes, have consistent walls on both sides and are 75 to 300 feet long with 6 to 12 foot walls.

Hit or Kicker: A raised area with an abrupt lip from which snowboarders jump to get airborne.

Lip: The top edge of a halfpipe wall.

Log and Rail Slides: Long cylinders above the snow which snowboarders use as a surface. Slides are constructed of logs, telephone poles, plastic or other materials.

Quarterpipe: A channel with only one wall

Regular Foot: Riding with the left foot forward on the snowboard.

Ride: To snowboard.

Snake Run: A series of berms or banks which range 3 to 6 feet.

Stick: Same as 'sled,' which is another word for snowboard.

Tabletop: A mound of snow with the top sheared off to provide a flat, level landing area for snowboarders.

Whale, Whale Tail, Whoop De Doo: A consistent grouping of elongated bumps each ranging from 2 to 5 feet high and 7 to 10 feet long, from which snowboarders jump.

Eat to Ride

Mon, 15 Mar 2004 23:19:09 +0000

Do Some Research
When I was doing research for this story, I found that I had some misconceptions about what food is best for energy. For instance, a tall glass of orange juice isn't that great for you. You get a good dose of vitamin C, but there is too much sugar in straight juice so your energy level jets up and then crashes back down. According to the literature I read, one part water to one part juice is a good mix. Similar to Gatorade, the juice/water drink gives you a slower dose of simple carbohydrates as well as hydration.

Basically, for endurance, the best source of energy is complex carbohydrates. Taking in carbohydrates an hour before exercising can help sustain energy, according to Ellen Coleman RD, MA, MPH. Proteins, on the other hand, aren't energizers. They help your immune system, provide your body with amino acids, and strengthen cells and tissues. But, to rely heavily on proteins over an extended period of time, risks kidney and liver damage.

Technically, if you have fat on your body, you don't need much fat in your diet for energy. That is, unless you are really exerting yourself. Matt Samuels, RD at the Sports Nutrition Connection says that if you are "performing at 70% or higher," then 40-50% of your energy is supplied by fat. So, if you plan to be boot-packing quite a bit in a day, you want to bring along some good fats to snack on. "Good fats" would be things like nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados.

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Mile High and Very Wide

Fri, 12 Mar 2004 20:23:14 +0000

What if I told you that the Whistler/Blackcomb ski area in British Columbia, Canada, has everything? Well, if I were you I'd say, "prove it." What, is that some sort of challenge? OK. Here you go...

Let's start with a few facts:

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Carve Up a Big Corn Snow Cone

Fri, 12 Mar 2004 00:48:26 +0000

In Central Oregon there is a place that closely resembles a spring skier's most elaborate dreams. Mt. Bachelor, situated a quick 22 miles southwest of the town of Bend, is a corn snow paradise from May into July. But don't go there with only one kind of toy; there are so many options for the athletically inclined that it's mind-boggling.

I'll get to the ski area in a moment, but first a note about the gear to pack. Because of the amazing backcountry skiing accessible from the area parking lot, you must bring your telemark or alpine touring gear - and don't forget the skins. Right across the road is Tumalo Mountain, a tree-skirted cinder cone that should not be missed. It's a mere 1,500-foot climb to the summit, but you better multiply that by three, 'cause you will want to do laps on this little gem. Don't miss the great tree skiing. And the backside bowl? Can't say enough.

For longer days or overnight backcountry destinations, look a few miles north. A succession of volcanoes rise along the spine of the Cascade Range begging to be skied, boarded, or just plain climbed. Broken Top, South Sister, and Middle Sister are covered with the same corn fields as Bachelor. The terrain between these massive cones is also great for lightweight Nordic skiing or snowshoeing. A day out cruising in the sunshine on rolling terrain is a great way to take in this country. The Nordic tracks are closed in June, but don't let that stop you from putting in some miles.

You might also load up the mountain and road bikes for some outstanding cycling, the rock climbing gear so you can hit world class Smith Rock State Park for an afternoon, the running shoes for some desert trail running, the flyfishing setup for dropping a caddis on the Deschutes River, and a canoe or kayak for some of the plentiful watery fun. A lot to do? I warned you of its dimensions.

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