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

Are You Proud Of Your Job?

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It's Monday morning... time to go to work...

Are you proud of the job you do ? Does it make you happy ?

"It pays the bills" - is it the only reason you do your job ?

I take a lot of pride in my weekend job... It's not much, it doesn't pay much, but it makes me extremely happy...

Sometimes I wish I Was A Ski Bum

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For the past 4 years I've been reading and following many people who decided to dedicate their lives to pursue their dreams. Their stories are a true inspiration for me. Every time I read or watch such a story, I wish I could find that courage, passion, and dedication in me.

 Recently, I came across a beautiful video about a group of friends traveling in tiny RV-style hand built home visiting the great ski areas across North America. They took the house all over the western United States and into Canada, over 9000 miles. Below is an amazing video that shows how the project started and how the timy house was built.

Last year, on my Bucket List I added " Buy a trailer and live for at least 2 months as a "digital nomad". This video inspired me to start a new category "Trailer/Campers/Simple Living" where I will post stories and pictures of people who decided to challenge norms, do what they love in the outdoors, and enjoy life !

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Skiing the Hurricane Ridge: Part III

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After spending a glorious morning surfing at Hobuck Beach I headed out to the Hurricane Ridge ski area. Though I visited Hurricane Ridge a couple years ago, I didn't have a chance to do anything other than just taking a few pictures. And that's what most people would do - drive for 17 miles from Port Angeles just to take a few pics, go for a short stroll in the snow, have lunch, and head back out.

If you're visiting the area, and all you have is just a few hours, I highly recommend to make a trip to the Hurricane Ridge ! It's so beautiful there !

Skiing at every ski area in Washington state has been on my Bucket List for the past couple years, and I really hoped to add Hurricane Ridge to my list this year. Unfortunately, due to weather conditions ( the road had been closed for a couple weeks ) and my schedule I was a week late.

Instead, I went "ski/alpine touring".

I haven't had a chance to write about my new "hobby" yet, but in short - for alpine touring you use your "regular" downhill skis with specially designed binding set-up ( AT/randonee bindings ) that allows the heel to free up for climbing and accessing backcountry. Then, the heel can "lock in", and the skis can be skied as normal alpine gear. To "walk uphill" on your skis, you use skins - removable pieces of nylon fabric whose nap runs at an oblique angle, allowing the ski to glide forward, but not back.

Avalanche danger was very high at the time of my visit, and I didn't want just "to wonder into backcountry".

As my trusted and favorite source I used " Snowshoe Routes Washington " , a great book for all skill levels, from beginner to experienced mountaineer.

I chose a relatively easy, yet very rewarding " Hurricane Hill " hike. It starts right behind the lodge, the trail is very used and thus easy to follow. I have to mention that for some ( inexperienced ) snowshoers the trail might get a bit tricky. Exposed ridgeline, two avalanche chutes, and knife-edged ridge crest might be more than you bargained for.

Even if the top isn't reached, the views are spectacular all along the trail. At the top you're rewarded with 360 degree spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Canada's Vancouver Island, upper Puget Sound, with Mount Baker rearing its icy head beyond, Olympus and Mt Angeles.

The way down was a breeze, and I was back to my car before closing time.

I wish I could just pass out in my car, but one thing that sucks about the Hurricane Ridge is that they close at dusk ( also, keep in mind that they open the gate at 8 am, and the lodge at 9 am, so it doesn't make sense to go there very early in the morning ).

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Ski and Surf the Olympic Peninsula: Part I

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How many places in the WORLD do you know where you can surf and ski in the same day ?

Skiing magazine knows 6. I can add 2 more : Iceland and ....Washington !

I've always thought of our state as one of the world's premier adventure travel destinations, and if you've been following my blog, you know we have it all : from world class mountaineering to the best cold water scuba diving, easily accessible hiking trails to one of the finest mountain biking playgrounds in the world. 

So when Ski Magazine failed to mention Washington state as one of the world's best places to ski and surf in the same day, I decided to go on an adventure of my own. 

The Spectacular Olympic Peninsula is known as one of the most photographed, and one of the most desired places to visit in our state. People from all across the globe come to experience the thrill of this Natures' Paradise.

This wasn't my first time visiting this corner of our state, but this time I had more time to actually do something fun !

I've already surfed at one of the popular spots on the Olympic Peninsula - La Push.

This time, I decided to explore another popular surf location and surf at  Hobuck Beach at the Makah Indian Reservation.

After spending half of the day surfing, I headed back towards Port Angeles to ski at the Hurricane Ridge.

What was suppose to be a day trip of surfing and skiing, turned into a weekend of unforgettable fun !

....to be continued...

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Epic Skiing Mt Baker

As you might know, one of my Bucket List goals is skiing/riding at every ski area in Washington state. Christmas trip to Mission Ridge in 2011 was my 7th ski area, and this weekend I managed to sneak away for a day of epic skiing at Mt Baker.

I'm not a stranger to Whatcom County. After two Ski To Sea Races, climbing Mt Shuksan , kiteboarding in Bellingham, I fell in love with this beautiful area, and, at some point, was even considering moving here.

But it wasn't just skiing that brought me here this time. This winter has been characterized a little bit by extremes, and the dumping snow has created prime conditions for skiers and boarders.

According to the Mt. Baker snow report, the area has received 110 inches of snowfall in the last six days, and snowfall this month has surpassed the entire month of March in the record year of 1998-1999.

I was on the fence about this trip, especially when they closed the mountain on Thursday 16th, but having heard so much about epic skiing at Baker, I took my chance...

...and it was totally worth it !

Having missed almost every single day we had pow this winter, I took full advantage of this epic spring snowfall at Mt Baker.

Ski and Surf Iceland

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Ski and surf Iceland ?! Why not ?!

I already wrote about great heli-skiing opportunities that Troll’s Peninsula in Iceland offers.

But not many people know Iceland as a great surfing destination.

With its serrated coast and miles of cobblestone-lined beaches,you’d be hard-pressed to find a more uniquely hard-core surfing destination, one that receives swell from all angles most of the year, and one that offers waves for surfers of all abilities.

Iceland - Stand Up Paddle from Blueline - Santa Barbara on Vimeo.

Check out Go There: Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland for more information on surfing in Iceland.

Keep Yourself Warm Between Ski Runs With ...Snuggie

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I've never thought I'd actually wear one !
I've always thought that Snuggie was the choice of bored and desperate housewives.

I bought one for my son to wear early in the morning when the car is not yet warmed up. While driving him to school, Snuggie would keep him warm and comfortable to catch a few extra minutes of those sweet dreams.

The last few days the snow was dumping in and around Seattle, and though after two days it stopped in the city, it continued in the mountains.

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of NW snow weather : the snow is usually wet, it's always cold when it snows, with that piercing wind that numbs your face and turns your gloves into solid ice.

Just like everybody else, usually I just turn on my car and wait for the heater, but this time I turned around and saw my son's Snuggie...

Within minutes I felt warm and dry ( except for my feet that were still in my ski boots ), and unlike using a sleeping bag or a blanket, with Snuggie I could use my hands to make myself a snack and pour a cup of hot coffee.

This Winter - Go Strapless

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It's been a blast here in Seattle for the past few days ! The epic snow fall of 2012 created awesome opportunities for urban skiing, boarding, sledding, and of course snowskating !

If only we had snow in the city more often, may be then, I'd consider abandoning my snowboards once and for all....Going strapless is the way of the future !

Iceland Heli- Skiing

It's hard to have ADD and to be XHyperActive...Eventually you get bored even with the most fun and exciting activities, hobbies, projects, jobs...

After have been working for almost 4 years as a ski instructor, I feel like I'm loosing interest in skiing; same ski area, same runs, same "snow conditions" ( don't get me wrong, as I like to say : " Stoke is stoke", but how stoke can one get skiing in pouring rain every week ? ).

I think all I need is a change of scenery...

Recently, I've been reading a lot about Iceland, the movie trailer "Heild" made a great impression on me.

Also, I found out that a round trip flight from Seattle to Reykjavik is less than $600 ( spring/early summer ), and in northern Iceland a place called Troll’s Peninsula offers some of the most amazing skiing under the midnight sun:

Ski Washington - Mission Ridge

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I got my "Bucket List" idea to ski at every ski area in Washington when I got a job at Summit at Snoqualmie 3 years ago. Since then I've visited 6 out of 12 Washington ski areas...

Just a week before New Year, I added another one to my list - Mission Ridge.

I was really looking forward to this trip. I read/heard a lot about great powder snow conditions and "300 Days of Sunshine"...

With its motto of "Family Fun in the Powder and Sun", my visit to Mission Ridge ski area was...kinda disappointing.

Snow/weather conditions were absolutely horrible ! If you've ever heard the expression "Cascade Concrete" ( bad/icy snow conditions ) that's what I got during my visit.

You can't really blame the weather, but the least the resort could do was to mention the bad snow conditions on their Facebook page. But I guess they don't really care about their customers, many of whom are, just like me, out of town visitors who take time to drive for 12 mile to visit their resort.

Proximity to downtown Wenatchee is the only advantage this Washington ski area has...

Well, ( I have to admit ) that and the stunning views from the top...

Gone Skiing: Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort

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I'm not a frequent visitor to Las Vegas ( any more ), and just like for most people, for me, Las Vegas has always associated with booze and gambling. But it doesn't have to be that way any more...

For those willing to venture about 45 minutes away from the Strip, will enjoy 30 acres of skiing/snowboarding terrain and beautiful scenery close to the glamorous city.

The Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort is located in the Lee Canyon area of Mount Charleston and has the distinction of being the only ski resort in southern Nevada.

I personally found out about this resort from the news recently.

The Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort the first ski area in the United States to open its lift served terrain for the 2011/12 season on Saturday, Oct. 8th.

There are only 140 inches of average annual snowfall, but the resort's snow-making capabilities keep the terrain 75 percent covered.

Before the opening, 9 inches of snow was a result of recent storms and the additional 4 inches was from LVSSR’s snowmaking effort. The snowmaking effort for the weekend used about 400,000 gallons of water from the area’s snowmaking pond, which holds 7.5 million gallons of water. This summer, LVSSR initiated a $35 million master development plan that will expand the number of trails to 50 and lifts to 10 once completed over the next 10 to 12 years.

Though, from what I read, the resort is considerably smaller than most popular ski destinations, this July, a plan was approved for a major expansion.

So, whether you're planning a mancation or fun with the family, bring your skiing/snowboarding gear with you.

Sporting Sails For Downhill Longboarding

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The idea was simple - use a windsurfing rig ( mast, boom, sail ) to have more fun with my longboard. So, I was looking on Amazon to buy a sail, when I came across this :

Sporting Sail elevates the sporting experience from a rushed downward dash to a weightless, flight-like glide that allows one to explore the use of wind and air to control speed and stability.
Nick and Billy Smith, California-born brothers, got the idea for the sail from their grandfather, who invented "Ski-Klipper", to help downhill skiers catch air and slow down on steep descents.

The brothers reinvented the idea,and found their own niche when they realized that "there are 18.5 million skateboarders worldwide, and not a single efficient braking system on the market".

According to their web site " SPORTING-SAIL allows to carve bigger and longer hills on smaller more playful set-ups, and in the process, draw new lines on the land."

While this might look like a good idea, using slide gloves might still be the most effective way to stop/slow down when longboarding. And I'm not sure why would somebody use Sporting Sail for downhill skiing/snowboarding ( not to mention surfing ).

Skiing Mt St Helens !

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Last year I wrote about Matt Bedrin and his dream to ski all 40 of Cascadia’s tallest volcanoes in one year...Pretty ambitious...Just before writing this post I checked back on his progress...looks like after volcano #10 ( Mt Scott ) he gave up on his dream...

Well, I didn't !

My dream wasn't that big. Inspired by his video, all I wanted to do was to go back to Mt St Helens ( I hiked the volcano in the summer time two years ago ) to see the volcano under a blanket of snow, which, as we know, makes everything more beautiful ( honestly, summer hike didn't impress me at all ). Another reason was to test my "new backcountry ski gear".

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/089886884X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=089886884X&link_code=as3&tag=paulslinks-20Snowshoe Routes Washington ( my trusted snowshoe guide ) describes "Mt St Helens Summit" as:

Rating: Backcountry
Round trip: 8 miles
Hiking time : 9 hours
Best season: late December through early February

First of all, I wouldn't call it "Backcountry" , as it doesn't require any navigation/path finding skills, and avalanche danger ( comparing to Alpental or any other "true" backcoutry ) is minimum to non-existing. That's why, this trip is perfect for novice snowshoers who are looking for a challenge, minus all the danger associated with backcounty travel.

When it comes to "best season", immediately after watching the video ( beginning of February 2010 ) I made my first trip to Mt St Helens. The weather was horrible, and the road to Marble Mountain Sno-Park parking lot was closed. That's why this time, I had to to keep a close eye on the weather and snow conditions.

Thanks to La Nina, this year, we've had lots of snow in the mountains. Though it was in the middle of the spring, with more daylight, warm weather, lot's of sun and plenty of snow, the conditions were perfect for this epic trip !
On this climb up Mt St Helens, snowshoers can simply walk straight up the deep snow piled on the flanks of the big volcano, taking a direct approach to the rim of the massive crater.
That's pretty much the whole description of the route. Before you leave treeline, you follow xc ski trail # 244 which is perfectly marked. So, chances to get lot are slim to none.

Regardless of whether you want to snowshoe or ski Mt St Helens, this trip is VERY DOABLE FOR ANYBODY IN GOOD PHYSICAL SHAPE.
I got to share the mountain with a great group of people who call themselves " Wednesday Grandmas", whose oldest member was...58 !

So, if you proudly call yourself "outdoorsy", visiting Mt St Helens in winter is a must.

Next year goal : " Running to the top of Mt St Helens ...barefoot "

The Endless Winter at Crystal Mountain

This year Crystal Mountain resort decided to give their fans the ultimate gift - "ALL YOU CAN SKI/SNOWBOARD " by extending spring skiing way into summer months ( hopefully all the way into July! ). And why not ?! Days are getting longer and warmer, the snow keeps dumping ( March & April brought over 16 feet of snow ) and the views of the surrounding Cascades and Mt Rainier are gorgeous ! Not to mention the first ( and only ) Gondola in our state ( take that Whistler ) !

I crossed "Ski/Snowboard at Crystal " off my Bucket List last year ( though I am still working on "Ski/Snowboard at every ski area in Washington state" ), but I had to come back just for the ride in the Gondola.

I rode Whistler's Gondola two years ago, and knew that some some day we would have it in our state too.

The Mt Rainier Gondola provides a fast, easy AND convenient ( it's sooo warm ! ) access to the top of the mountain. It's less than half the time it used to take to get there via two chairlifts ( which , for me, means fewer people to tolerate/socialize with ). And with the cab nearly all encased in glass, it offers a magnificent 360* view of the surrounding area.

Thanks to the Mt. Rainier Gondola, Crystal Mountain has become a year-round destination in out state : for snow sports enthusiasts in winter, and "hiking/chillaxing" folks in summer.

Mountain biking at Crystal Mt had been popular way before Gondola opening, and some people( me ) really hoped it would follow its Canadian sister's steps ( Whistler ) by offering mountain biking in the summer. Though, it didn't happen, who knows, may be they will allow at least mountain boards on the Gondola...

Deploy or die : Helmet-Cam Footage of an Airbag Deployment

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As you might know one of my goals for this winter was "to get into backcountry", to go either skiing or snowshoeing. "Almost made it happen" , but due to "government shutdown" our trip to Hurricane Ridge was canceled.

Right before the tip I was looking for "backcountry essentials" ( beacon, probe and shovel ) at REI , when I saw something called "Avalung".

Since recently, it's considered to be an important part of backcountry essentials. A story in Adventure Journal, this January, "convinced" us of its effectiveness. The video below shows a backcountry skier buried in an avalanche for almost 5 minutes while wearing a Black Diamond Avalung:

Recently, on Elevation Outdoors I came across another cool video, this time it was helmet-cam footage of another "backcountry gadget" - Float 30 Avalanche Airbag:

Videos like this one make me doubt if I really want to venture into backcountry at all...

Summer mountain boarding at your local ski area

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Ski season is almost over. Do you know what's going on during summer at your local ski resort/area ? Not much...You know why ?

60% of U.S. ski resorts operate on National Forest land. Which means that to use public land, resort owners sign Special Use Permits which allow winter use - skiing and skiing related activities. In the summer time, many resorts shut down or have significantly reduced operations.

This year, certain senators are hoping to pass a bill that would change permitting rules to allow ski resorts to expand summer operations and increase year-round business. Their Ski Area Recreation Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011 would amend the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986 to allow mountain biking, concerts, and certain other activities to occur on public lands throughout the year.

Last year, Crystal Mountain ( WA ) started offering Summertime Sunset Dinners on top of Crystal Mountain at Washington state’s highest restaurant. And this year, beginning in June, 2011, Stevens Pass will start construction of the first official mountain bike park ( besides Duthie Hill).

When mountain boarding started making its way in US, and finally has developed into a sport and a culture all its own, many mountain resorts started offering their slopes to mountain boarders during the warmer months.

According to MountainBoard.net these resorts allow mountain boarding during summer months:

Park City Mountain Resort, Utah

Aspen Snowmass, Colorado

Beach Mountain Resort in North Carolina

Fernie Alpine Resort ( British Columbia )

I really hope that one of WA ski area will see the potential in mountain boarding and will try to promote this sport inn our state, becoause some of us can't wait for snow:

Ski Washington

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Just two months into 2011, and I feel like my Bucket List is getting full ( one drop at a time).

One of the ideas/goals for this year was to ski at as many ski areas in Washington state as possible.

As an employee at the Summit at Snoqualmie one can ski/board at ALL Washington ski areas/resorts for FREE !

Because the Summit at Snoqualmie is a member of the Pacific Northwest Ski Area Association’s Exchange Program, the Summit's employees are eligible for discounted and/or free skiing at other PNSAA participating ski areas around the country !

2011 is my third year working as a ski instructor at the Summit, but I still haven't taken the full advantage of this awesome benefit. May be because there are just too many of them. There are 12 ski areas in WA :

The Summit at Snoqualmie
49° North Mountain Resort
Hurricane Ridge
Mission Ridge
Leavenworth Ski Hill
Mt Baker
Stevens Pass
Mt Spokane
Crystal Mt
Loup Loup Ski Bowl
White Pass
Ski Bluewood

My very first "painful" experience was at Leavenworth's Ski Hill just 3 years ago.

During my visit to Winthrop, I stopped by the Loup Loup Ski Bowl to get a few runs before heading home.

During the last two weeks I managed to squeeze in two (!) trips : White Pass and Stevens.

The Summit's sister resort Crystal Mountain is just 1.5 away from where I live, but for the past three years I've skied there just a handful of times. This year, I finally had a chance to try out it's famous Mt Rainier Gondola !

I've also skied at Mt Baker, Mission Ridge and Hurricane Ridge.

Skiing/snowshoeing Mount Margaret

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One of my Bucket List adventures for this year was to venture into backcountry, skiing or snowshoeing. AT/Telemark ski gear and backcountry essentials ( beacon/shovel/probe ) might be quite expensive, so I decided to use my cross country skis for some "ski touring".

Since there is no avalanche danger, snowshowing/skiing Mount Margaret is safe and is great for beginners, but at the same time it gives you that feeling of "exploring the backcountry".

That was my first time at Mt Margaret, and I absolutely loved it !

Though, in winter it's a very popular snowshoe route, I'd personally recommend to use skis. Believe me, you'll get a greater workout, and the way down will be a breeze. Classic/touring skis will work just fine, and you won't even need the skins. At Summit East ( formally known as Hayk ) you can rent a pair of skis for the day.

Even if you choose to stick to your snowshoes, make the trip down fun !

Use an airboard, snowbike, or a snowskate

I'm not giving the description of the trail, since you can easily find it either on WTA web site or in Snowshoe Routes Washington book.

Newbie at the Summit at Snoqualmie Terrain Park

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At the end of last ski season I “discovered” for myself a terrain park located at Summit Central. By that time I had been snowboarding for just under two years, and felt a bit intimidated by all those jibs (fixture which can be ridden with the board/skis either parallel or perpendicular to ground : rails, boxes, trees…), plus, occupied mostly by teenagers, it didn’t feel like I was fitting in.

Before, I’d watched a few Youtube videos and was absolutely stoked by what those kids could do. They make riding rails look as easy as walking down the street. I thought I was ready to take my “snowboarding skills” to the next level.

The very first fixture looked pretty decent: low to the ground, wide and flat, it didn’t look dangerous at all. As it turned out, “table top “ ( and that’s what it was ) is the most common feature at a terrain park where many injuries occur… After landing on my back and regaining conscious…I was hooked!

To ride at the Summit Central Terrain Park you will need a pass. It’s really easy to get one: just go to ski patrol office , watch a safety movie for about 20 minutes, and then you can either opt for a one day free pass or purchase a season pass for $ 5. If you get a day pass, you’ll have to watch the same movie the next time you’ll want to ski/snowboard at the park. So, it’s more time effective just to buy one.

My biggest disappointment is that there are no “official” classes to learn all this “cool stuff”. Last year I wrote a post about the Barn, the first indoor ski and snowboard training facility at Copper Mountain Resort, CO. I wish we had something like this in Washington.

Kite skiing/Snowkiting : Ride Up

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Kites, wings, chutes, sails...I'm hopelessly in love with all these little toys that add an extra short of adrenaline to your outdoor adventures.

Take backcountry skiing for example. It's always fun to ski down the mountain in untouched, knee deep powder snow. But the way up is dreadful and exhausting.

Just add a kite, and it's a completely different experience:

Ride Up "Dark side of the home spot" from RideUp on Vimeo.