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Showing posts with label Skiing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Skiing. Show all posts

Fun with icebergs : Skiing

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Millions of people are concerned about global warming and global climate change. Thousands of brave scientists travel to the frozen wasteland of Antarctica in hopes of learning more about our planet and how the global earth system works.

But there are a few adventurers who, apparently, don't care that much about "global warming", and all they want is just to have a little fun...

I already wrote about a couple Red Bull athletes ice climbing and wakeboarding icebergs in the middle of the Labrador Sea.

Recently, Andrew McLean, 48, became the first person to ever ski down a moving iceberg. Andrew climbed the mammoth iceberg - which topped 80 feet - before skiing down several times.

Just a few years ago, trips to Antarctica for general public were not only rare, but also expensive. I am sure that soon, skiing and mountaineering will be among " things to do in Antarctica ".

If your kid is a Flaik...

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...you know, like a snowflake...or like a regular flake.

Flaik is a GPS device that allows ski resorts to track children, who have enrolled in a ski or snowboard school, in case they get lost or separated from their ski school class. A technician monitoring the GPS system is able to inform ski instructors immediately when one of their kids goes missing as well as inform them exactly where the child is on the mountain.
The device is strapped to a student's leg, and if a student moves beyond a certain distance from his instructor, it sends out an automatic alert.

Sounds like a great idea, but I have a feeling I've already seen it somewhere. Oh, that's right on my own ankle.

I think it will be cheaper for parents just to strap any ( electronic ) device to their kids' arm/leg and say : " If you venture beyond a certain distance, it will go Kaboom ! "

On the plus side: Flaik also gives riders the ability to monitor personal performance such as speed, distance, altitude and airtime. Something somebody can find useful. Not me.

Be aware of NARSID

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I've been skiing and snowboarding for just 3-4 years, and before, I have always thought that the only danger that existed in the mountains was an avalanche. But even that , I thought , could happen somewhere in Himalayas or at least on Rainier.

When I started working as a ski instructor, I realized that not all mountain hazards come in the form of avalanches. That's when I first heard about NARSID - Non-Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Death.

Many skiers/snowboarders are aware of inbound avalanches, the danger of getting lost, or hitting a tree. But not many skiers and boarders have heard of tree wells.

A deep snow or tree well accident occurs when a rider or skier falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized. The more the person struggles the more entrapped in the snow they become.

If a partner is not there for immediate rescue, the skier or rider may die very quickly from suffocation - in many cases, they can die as quickly as someone can drown in water.

Even people who are familiar with tree wells under-appreciate the danger of this hazard.

According to the statistics, 90 percent of sliders who fall into tree wells are unable to get out without help. The odds of surviving a deep snow immersion/NARSID accident are low; especially if you are by yourself.

So, remember, next time you are filming one of your friends skiing and he happens to fall into a tree well...just keep filming, cause I couldn't find a single good video online:

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Things to do before I die: heli-skiing

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One of a few outdoor activities we won't get to try in Washington state is heli-skiing. But as I like to say " If there is a will, there is a way".

Just 4 hour drive away, in Whistler, you can make this dream come true. Just picture this : knee deep, untracked powder, 54 miles long and 33 miles wide of remote mountain terrain, spectacular views...all to yourself (well, almost).

After my first trip to Whistler two years ago , I can't wait to go back. Even if it means draining my bank savings accounts, it's worth it...

Here is a short clip from one of Whistler's oldest heli-skiing companies, Whistler Heli-Skiing.

Speed riding: skiing with WOOPY

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Last year I wrote about a new extreme winter sport of speed riding/flying, and since it was not something I was able to try any time soon, I kind of forgot about. But a recent post on the Adventure blog, reminded me about this sport, and it looks like it's making its way in the United States.

As I wrote in my post, speed riding is a combination of skiing and paraglding. But the sport is so new that it can be difficult to find equipment and gear, especially in the United States, especially, considering that it's not the same gear used for paragliding or kite boarding.

But when I was looking for more information on speed riding and gear, I came across this:

It's called The Woopy, an inflatable wing - part balloon, part paraglider—used in speed riding. According to the designer ( Laurent de Kalbermatten ), the pilot can begin soaring across the slopes at speeds as low as 20Km/h. allowing the skier or snowboarder to glide very long distances or jump incredibly high.

As I've just said, the sport of speed riding is incredibly new , and the only place you can try speed riding ( AND WOOPY ) is in Switzerland. But from the video in the Adventure blog ( shot in Utah ), I won't be surprised to see those wings at US ski resorts any time soon.

Water+alpine skis = wave skiing

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If you are a fan of water skiing/wakeboarding/surfing/kiteboarding in the summer and alpine skiing in winter, you can combine your passion of these sports in one - wave skiing.

Mike Douglas, a producer of a TV series called “Salomon Freeski TV” that covers every part of the freeskiing world,and his fellow pro skier Cody Townsend put on alpine ski boots and installed alpine ski bindings on a pair of custom made skis to ski on big waves in the Maui surf to pioneer a new sport: wave skiing.

So, the obvious question is - how do you get up on a wave on skis?

They got towed in by jetskis using the same setup as a tow surfer.

But even bigger question is - what's going to happen when you're trying to swim in the ocean with ski boots on ?

Now we just need to bring surfing to the slopes. Real surfboards, sliding down the slopes. I mean, why not ? It'll be fun.

Ski to Sea : Why Do I Keep Doing This To Myself ?


They call it the Bellingham Olympics here. There is no drug testing, no prize money, no sponsor endorsement, and no fame and glory. Then, why hundreds of people, from elite athletes and weekend warrior to outdoor enthusiasts, torture themselves every year to compete in this crazy, seven-sport adventure relay race ?

To me the Ski to Sea race is not just an endurance event and definitely not a competition. It's about challenging and pushing myself not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. It's about gaining knowledge of sportsmanship and teamwork, it's the place where limits are tested, friendships are made and confidence is found.

The Ski to Sea race is one of the country's most creative, unusual sports events. Though, the event brings in some of the best amateur athletes and some pros, for most people it's all about having a good time !

From my first time participating in the event, I got hooked. Apart from the competition, it's the area that brought me back for the second year.

Named as one of the best adventure towns by National Geographic Adventure magazine, this area offers numerous outdoor opportunities : hiking, mountain and road biking, skiing and kayaking, sailing and diving.

The Ski to Sea race is a team event : families, co-workers, friends, competitive athletes - representing all levels of ability.

I want to thank all members of team EPIC for their participation and support. You all gelled and pushed hard the entire time, crossing the finish line with smiles on your faces. I look forward to next year’s challenge with all the returning racers and hope to encourage more people to take part in next year 100th anniversary of the first Mount Baker Marathon !

Visiting Harricane Ridge

The winter of 2009-2010 was pretty bad for many local ski areas : warm temperatures, lack of snow, rain, and "shady " online marketing tactics ( we've just had 6 inches of snow !...but not exactly where you'll be skiing...)

It was even worse for Hurricane Ridge ski area. On January 18th , the only road to Hurricane Ridge was closed , the first time in 50 years since the road was put. The cause: water. Heavy rains triggered the slide and nearly 100 feet of road crumbled into the Ennis Creek valley.

Hurricane Ridge is very important to the area. Many local businesses, from ski operators to gas stations and restaurants, heavily depend on skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, and tourists.

Repairs started almost immediately, and with crews working 12 hour days, six days a week, the road was opened earlier than expected. To celebrate the reopening of the road, which was accomplished ahead of schedule, and under budget, park officials waived the entrance fee ( which is usually $15 )the last two weekend of March.

My trip to the Olympic Peninsula, couldn't be complete without a visit to Hurricane Ridge. This was my first visit. One of my goals for this year was to ski at every ski area in Washington state. Unfortunately, during my Friday visit the lifts were closed ( but I did take advantage of free entrance ! ). But the views from The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center were breathtaking !

But if you're planning a ski/snowboard trip to Hurricane Ridge, feel free to check our this blog post to get the tips necessary to plan a stoked trip !

My second year at Alpental

The time flies fast . The ski season in our state flies even faster.

Just two months ago, I started my second season at Alpental working as a ski instructor, and this weekend we already had a graduation party !

The Summit at Snoqualmie offers consecutive week lesson programs for kids of all ages and abilities, lasting from four to ten weeks. The lessons take place at the same time, same place and generally with the same instructors and same group of students.
My personal opinion about this program ? It delivers results !

With meticulously designed, step-by-step "daily plans ", the low kids-to-instructor ratio ( usually 4:1), experienced, qualified, child friendly instructors, safe and fun environment - makes this program one of the best programs in our state. The instructors lead the children through the appropriate level throughout the lessons and present them with their badge ( new level ), a gift certificate and prizes at the end of the program.

I want to congratulate all my students with successfully achieving their next level, thank all of them for being such a great , tight group of friends, and hope I will see you guys next year ! I am really proud of you !

Basic avalanche rescue techniques videos.

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Have you ever learned anything from Youtube ? I don't know about you, but I think it's a great social and educational tool. And if you are not a big fan of reading, you can always find " visual " information on any topic that interests you.

Recently, I posted an article about a class I attended ( Proper beacon, probe and shovel usage class). While it's one thing to read about " proper use of a probe /shovel " , another thing is actually see how it's done.

Backcountry Access ( the “knowledge leaders” in backcountry safety, education and products ) posted three great videos on Youtube about Beacon Searching, Probing/Pinpointing, and Strategic Shoveling

Cross Country Skiing : Hyak Sno-Park At Snoqualmie Pass

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Hyak Sno-Park At Snoqualmie Pass

I went cross country skiing at Summit East ( former Hyak ) several times last year , and had no idea that there was a perfectly groomed, nearly level, 7 1/2 mile xc ( cross country ) trail right across the street !

Hyak Sno-Park is an old Milwaukee railroad stop within the Iron Horse State Park. In the winter it is a very popular Sno-Park with easy access, sledding hill, groomed ski trail (with marked snowshoe route) , and heated bathrooms !

The railroad grade provides an almost level tour with a double set of groomed ski tracks ( perfect for beginners ), while the open area between the tracks is mostly used by "serious fast-paced skaters ". Off the groomed trails , you will sometimes see snowshoers along the way. In the Snow Park's parking lot, there is a nice little sledding hill for the whole family to enjoy.

Cross country skiing at Hyak Sno-Park At Snoqualmie Pass

Though, the trail is flat , don't let it fool you. I went almost 13 miles ( round trip ) to the intersection with the Lost Lake trail ( if I am not mistaken ) and it felt like a great work out ! Make sure you know when to turn around, as the trail goes as far as Easton ( cause for a moment I was wondering how far I could push myself).

Dogs are not allowed on the "main" trail, but there is a section of the trail ( past "Lost Lake road") that allows dog sledding ( I actually saw a few dog owners "skijoring" . Looked like fun ! )

I wouldn't call this trail particularly scenic , but there are sections of the trail where you can catch the views of frozen Keechelus Lake.

Keechelus Lake at Hyak Sno-Park At Snoqualmie Pass

Note: If you decide to use Hyak Sno-Park, you will need a permit !
Permit Requirements: Daily Sno-Park Permit and Daily or Annual Discover Pass; OR a Seasonal Sno Park Permit plus Special Groomed Trails Permit sticker, without Discover Pass.

Tip: If you want to save $$$, you can park at Hyak ski area ( FREE ), and walk to the trail...
But, personally, I pay the park fees to support the great job they're doing to provide us with this amazing opportunity to enjoy this beautiful surroundings !

Tip: Don't have your own gear ? You can rent full cross country setup at Hyak ski area ( BUT they only allow the use of their rentals on the ski area... BUT... nobody will know if you use them on Iron Horse trail 😉 😜)

Another option ?
Buy your own gear ! 


Shop for cross country skiing gear on Amazon

Christmas skiing at Alpental

How was your Christmas ? Did you do anything fun and outdoorsy ?

During this time of the year, lots of us like to use our favorite excuse - " holiday time off". With all this stress, shopping, cooking, decorating, looks like there is absolutely no time for us to go to the gym or spend some time in the outdoors. For some people, "holiday time" starts with Thanksgiving and is over in the first week of January.

But if you think about it, "holiday time" is just three days -Thanksgiving, Christmas day and New Year night . And there is nothing better ( and healthier) than a quick, fun work out at your local gym or in the great outdoors.

I know lots of of people who make it a "holiday tradition" to go hiking, biking, or skiing before joining their families for dinners and parties. And I am not an exception.

This Christmas day, I went to Alpental for a couple quick runs up and down the Armstrong and International. It was foggy at the base, with lots of sunshine and beautiful blue sky on the top. The lifts were open till 4 pm., but even that was enough to burn a few pounds, get some vitamin D, and re-energize for the rest of the day.

Remember, holidays are not just about gifts, it's about the time you spend with your loved ones. So, what is your favorite holiday tradition ? Don't have one ? Here are a few ones from National Wildlife Federation:

Take a bus/carpool to your favorite ski area.

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Is there a reason you don't drive to the mountains ? Trying to reduce your "carbon footprint" ? Too lazy/stressed out to drive for hours to and back from the ski area? No money for gas or too broke even to afford a car ?

Whatever your reason is , now you don't have to drive. Just take a bus to one of these Washington's most popular winter destinations : the Summit at Snoqualmie, Stevens Pass or Crystal Mountain.

Seattle Ski Shuttle, transports passengers via 11-passenger van from both the Fauntleroy Ferry and Seacrest Water Taxi docks to the Crystal Mountain, Snoqualmie Summit, and Alpental slopes. Regular prices are $35 to Crystal Mountain and $30 to the Summit at Snoqualmie ( you have an option of buying 5 or more rides and get a discount ). Become a fan of SSS on Facebook and get to know other "environmentally conscious" bus riders.

Grey Line of Seattle ( the famous Charter and Tour bus operators in the Northwest) offers a hassle free way to Crystal Mountain on Saturday, Sunday and Select Holidays. Comparing to Seattle Ski Shuttle , GLS offers more pick up locations: Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, East Side. The price is pretty much the same - $35 ( with discounted lift ticket - $85). They also provide transportation to The Summit at Snoqualmie.

Ski Bus ( part of Tours of Seattle) is another way to get to the Summit. With three departure locations to choose from, Friday through Monday schedule and the price of $38, this is the easiest way to get to the mountain.

How do you get to Stevens Pass without a car ? There is a number of options and pick up locations ( Monroe, Everett, North Seattle, Forest Lake Park,Des Moines, Kirkland..), too many to mention. Visit their web page to get all the details and see for yourself which days and pick up locations will work for you.

Is carpooling an option for you ?

King County Metro offers a program that allows skiers and snowboarders find others to carpool with up to the mountains. This service is free of charge, available 24/7, and can be found at http://www.rideshareonline.com/

AlterNetRides is another free service for individuals wanting to carpool/rideshare. AlterNetRides is used by organizations all over the country. It's fast, simple to use and yet packed with features that make it easy to find others wanting to carpool/rideshare.

The Summit at Snoqualmie encourages their guests and employees to carpool, and in partnership with Goose Networks offers online carpooling programs free of charge for their employees and guests.

And finally - Craigslist's everybody's favorite rideshare ! Take a ride to your favorite ski area, with a complete stranger that you've just met on Craigslist. Don't mind if he has a chainsaw, casually lying around next to his skis, in the back of his pick up truck.

Ski to Sea 2009

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In my last post I wrote about almost all major events that would take place in our state over the Memorial Day weekend. All, but two. The two biggest, most famous, (for some people) most important events of the year- Ski to Sea relay and Sasquatch.
What can I say about Sasquatch- three days of camping, music ,comedy,and a lot of drinking.That's pretty much the whole event.Despite of the fact, that it has very little to do with the outdoors ( I guess you can call beer drinking an activity, as long as it's outdoors ), the event was mentioned in the latest issue of the Outside magazine, as one of the biggest music festivals in US.

Ski to Sea ? Not a word. Well, Outside, I guess I would have to cover that event myself.

One of the most popular team multi sport events in the nation ( sometimes called Bellingham's Olympics ), for recreational to elite athletes, Ski to Sea is a relay from the slopes of Mt Baker to the shores of Bellingham Bay. The race has seven legs: cross country, downhill skiing, running, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking and kayaking. Each leg represents a recreational segment of Whatcom County.

Ski to Sea relay is not just another sporting event. It's a celebration.The celebration of life in the Northwest. The celebration kicked off on Saturday 23th, with the traditional Ski to Sea Grand Parade that traces its heritage to the first Tulip time Festival Parade in 1920.
Traditional marching bands,community floats, firefighters and veterans were all part of the fun of the Parade.

But the actual fun begins on Sunday morning, after a blast sets a mass of up to 500 cross country skiers in motion from the Ski Shop around various points of the ski area. After XC skiers ski their leg, they pass the timing chip to the downhill skiers/snowboarders.

This leg is not so much about skiing as it about the climb up the mountain. The 1,000-foot climb is the most challenging aspect of the leg.Then the chip is passed to the runner.

2200 drop in elevation and 8 miles down the Mount Baker Highway is a lot of pounding on competitors' feet, ankles, shins, knees and hips.This is the most painful leg of the race. Blisters,cramps,shin splints and a lot of sweat await athletes during this leg.

Next is the longest leg of the race- 38.5 miles of back roads of Whatcom County. Besides being the longest leg, road biking is the most dangerous one, as at this time the highway will be open to traffic. In Everson Park the bikers pass the chip to the canoeists.

The Nooksack River is considered class 1 (on a 1 to 6 scale ), but there are plenty of deceptive hazards due to logjams, undercut trees and other obstructions. That's where team effort plays a very important role. Otherwise, a chill swim down the river is inevitable.

The mountain biking leg, this year, was slightly changed. The new course is five miles longer and has something to challenge just about everyone. About 65 percent of the course is off roads with lots of traditional obstacles,barricades to climb over and bridges to cross.

Finally, kayaking across the Bellingham Bay and ringing the bell rounds up the Ski to Sea relay.

Now it's time to celebrate.It all ends in historic district of Fairhaven. That's where an athletic competition turns into a block party with fun for all ages and tastes, featuring live music, arts and craft vendors, ethnic food and of course a beer garden.

But you will not entirely get the spirit of this event until you actually get to be a part of it. And it is not about the race, time, records or awards ( though for some people it is ). Its about having fun, challenging yourself, team work and being part of the great historic race.

I want to thank my teammates for their support and the chance to be a part of the greatest team. Sorry for not being able to share that joyful moment at the finish line, but I hope it won't be our last race together.

Alpine skiing ( Alepental, the Summit at Snoqualmie )

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Welcome to Alpental !

All my kids ( well, not really mine )
Treats for everybody !

St Bernard route
Meeting Ramsey

Graduation day-Armstrong route
Waiting in line

Looks like just yesterday I learned how to snowboard, right here at the Summit at Alpental. I think that was a sign. And this year, was my first year working here as a ski instructor. Just a couple years ago, I couldn't even imagine to have a "dream job". Do what you love, have fun and get paid ! Isn't it a dream come true ?!
Working at the Summit was a great opportunity. The job was very rewarding, I gained lots of experience and got a taste of what a seasonal job was like. Its definitely a job with lots of perks: free season pass, 50% off for food, rentals and retail, free classes (to improve your skills ) and of course a very casual atmosphere ( do you get that at your office job ?).
So, if skiing or snowboarding is your passion , but you cant really afford spending $50-60 every time you ski/snowboard, next year apply for a job here. Believe me, you won't regret.
For more information about the Summit ,check out "Outfitters" on your right.

Skiing In Whistler,BC

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Peak to Peak Gondola

Whistler Village


On top of Whistler Mountain

Whistler Mountain Symbol

Whistler Blckcomb -North America's # 1 ranked ski resort has a lot to offer -alpine bowls, wide-open glaciers,gladed trees and perfectly-groomed cruisers.Whistler is a utopia for the adventurous spirit. Heli-skiing, snowmobiling, ziptrekking, bungee jumping, dog sledding,snowshoeing are just a few of the options to get your blood pumping.

But what most people come here for -is ,of course,skiing. Whistler boasts the largest ski area on the continent with more than 200 marked trails and the two greatest vertical rise ski mountains in North America.The ski season stretches from late November to early June.

For me ,as an avid skier, it wasn't skiing that made me fall in love with this place, it was the scenery.I had to admit, even the great Mt Rainier couldn't compete with that (author's personal opinion).

As for the actual skiing, because of the limited time, I couldn't ( and probably wouldn't have been able ) to cover all the trails.The main ones -Harmony Express,Symphony and the Peak lead to the magnificent viewpoints.

The major drawback- no night skiing, lifts close 2:30 pm.
The advantage of being a Washingtonian--about 10% off on your lift ticket ( I paid $ 78.85 (Canadian) -or $ 68 US )