Saturday, December 11, 2010
Edit by: Daryn Edmunds
Words by: Miles Clark
There was a good sized line at the Funi at 9am. They ended up being the very first people to find out that the conditions weren't that rad. The sun had cooked the snow a bit yesterday and the wind pressed it way down.
I was only sinking in about 1 inch when skiing the fresh snow on Headwall. That said, it was fun skiing and some people were throwing down in Cornice 2. I saw some solid tracks in "No Way Out". Most skiers were milking the Reverse Traverse all day but there was also some good snow off Shirley in Lower Granite Chief.
I woke up in the PISSING RAIN today. Kinda bummed. I walked thru the rain for 20 minutes to the lift and arrived soaked. I was riding the chair over the fingers in the rain when the sun came out and BAM! It was an instant sick powder day with NO ONE OUT!!! This video was shot between 9:30am and 11:00am on Dec. 3rd, 2010.
Squaw Valley went from looking like this.....
To looking like this in six days.
Today it went bluebird. It was a funny kind of day where everyone seemed to be really... really Happy!
But how could you blame them, who would not be in a great mood when it's not even Thanksgiving and the mountain is almost compleatly filled in. People are Fired UP!
After the unbelivable day of skiing which saw the opening of Shirley Lake and Tower 16 it was off to the Chamois where Jt Holmes reiterated the mood of the day by saying, "Timy Dutton and I were hitting this little 4 footer and these guys were like 'Hell Yeah, get it!' in two weeks if I hit the same jump they will be calling me a Fag."
Starting to look like the 1982 filming of Hot Dog....The Movie
KT-22, which we are all still waiting on.
Mountain Run and KT-22.
Since Friday night we've gotten 64" on the lower mountain at Squaw. 'nuff said.
The past two days were so deep we renamed what we were doing out there from powder skiing to powder spelunking.
Last night's storm was different. The newest 16 inches were much wetter than the blower of the previous days and much more wind packed. Today, skiers were staying on top and ripping full-bore for the first time this season (this 4 day old season). It was the first day you were seeing flips, spins, technical lines, and as always at Squawllywood - ridiculous risks being taken. Once the mountain opens more terrain I guarantee you'll be seeing some ludicrous shit going down.
Today also marked a huge mental change at Squaw. Skier's switched from being completely blown away that it's this good this early to: all-systems-go, no friends on a powder day, lets f#@king rip it, get the hell outta my way!
Winds were insane at times today and I mildly soiled my pants (luckily they are brown) on a mid-day Red Dog ride. Red Dog is by far the scariest lift at Squaw. Add 80 mph gusts and me dangling over the gap to that, and yes, you get poo. Patrol actually closed the chair for about an hour right after that soiling.
Tomorrow's forecast is for a FULL-ON BLUEBIRD POWDER DAY. Patrol is talking about getting Shirley Lake and Siberia open. Kangaroo Kicker anyone? Heads up for the East winds tomorrow, tho. It looking like a classic Tonopah Low.
Squaw Valley's credo has always been: "Hey, we got the best mountain, so you'll take what we give ya." I still remember, word for word, a statement from a season pass renewal letter mailed to every season pass holder, by Squaw, in 2003. The statement read: "Dear Alex, many consider you to be a slick scoundrel. I am one of them, but what can I do, you have the best mountain. Please take my $___ and send me my 2003/4 Squaw Valley season pass."
That credo is about to drastically change. Squaw Valley USA sold today to KSL Capital Partners based out of Colorado. Squaw's recent purchase of the Village and their getting rid of Nancy as CEO for Andy Wirth were obvious moves to make Squaw more marketable. We all knew it was gonna sell - we just didn't know to who.
KSL plans on changing Squaw's mantra and will start by throwing $5 million into improvements this season and $50 million in the next 3-5 years. They plan for that money to improve "culinary services, food and beverage, guest experiences - everything from the lift operations and ticket checkers to the staff in the parking lot." -Andy Wirth (Squaw's CEO)
Andy Wirth, Squaw's CEO, Eric Resnick, KSL's co-manager, and Mike Livak, Squaw's general manager, conference called UnofficialSquaw.com's founder Tim Konrad today for a chat. They talked for around 15 minutes in very general terms about what KSL's acquisition of Squaw means. Andy emphasized that they'll be spending part of that $50 million on improving Squaw's culinary arts, lift systems, and guest experiences. Eric said he and KSL are "really excited to be in Squaw Valley. It's one of the most unique mountains in the world." The call was basically a 'hi, how ya doin' call and somewhat of a respectful move. I think they know we've got some power with the people over here at this little website and they want us to know they recognize it.
The people are already speaking out on KSL's acquisition of Squaw. Check out these quotes from our facebook page on the issue: "Bummer! we don't want to be vail" -- "Squaw has been one of the greener resorts so far and attempted to restrict development to its existing footprint. I fear that may change" -- "Where is the "dislike" button?" -- "it could be a net positive for skiers unless you really love the funky aspects... those will probably get polished off..." -- "Private Equity can't seem to get enough of capital-destroying ski lift operations!" -- "Balls..." Will KSL listen to the people and try to keep Squaw funky? Maybe.
So, who are these guys? KSL is run by Michael Shannon (who was president of Vail Associates, a predecessor of Vail Resorts, from 1985 to 1992), and Eric Resnick (who was also a Vail executive). KSL brands itself as a "private equity firm specializing in acquisition of under performing and under capitalized businesses and add-on acquisitions." So, okay, we all know that Squaw has not been living up to it's financial, economic, and service potential lately.....but I honestly think that's what so many of us love about this place. Squaw is grungy. Alex Cushing himself is quoted on numerous occasions saying "We're in the uphill transportation business", and that's all Squaw was. In the past Squaw was know as having the most technologically advanced lift system in the world......with absolutely no amenities. And besides the new Village (which is doing so-so, I mean, have you ever seen more than half the lights in the rooms lit up at night?) Squaw is still raw, grungy, and essentially just a bad-ass mountain with a couple funky places to grab beers and food. Bottomline: Squaw's got soul. The question is: will KSL rip the soul out of Squaw like that Shaman does to the guy's heart saying "Om namah shivaya" in "The Temple of Dome"? Obviously, it's yet to be seen.
KSL's plan is to completely change Squaw, because that's what they do. They buy businesses that aren't living up to their potential, heavily invest in them, and turn them into money-makers. What does this mean for Squaw? Another village, better restaurants, more restaurants, better service, more condos, more real estate, more lifts, ice-skating rinks, more parking structures, and a helluva lot more worldwide exposure are all things that are not out of the question. What does it mean for locals? Longer lift lines, more traffic, higher property values, higher prices in the valley in general, more chain stores, larger local revenue, more jobs, continued cheap season passes, more food and retail options, and potentially a chance to invest.
Squaw's potential is enormous. It's astronomical actually. Squaw is a world class mountain, in California, with more snow than anybody, terrain to fit every skiing genre, spectacular views, a nearby airport, it's only 3 hours from San Francisco, and only 4 from Silicon Valley (where there are roughly 5,774 residing millionaires and 45 billionaires). The sky's the limit.
I think what we all love about Squaw is that it's been 'ours', and in the near future it's going to be 'theirs'. But, Whistler has gone through this and the locals still love the mountain, albeit, they mostly have to live outside of town due to the high property value. The secret to life is to staying adaptable. If Squaw becomes somewhere you don't wanna be, then get the hell out, I suppose. But, I don't think everyone is gonna feel that way.
Monday, November 22, 2010
On Nov 20th Squaw got 12-16", on Nov 21st it was 14-18", and today they anounced 10-12" more (and these are just the lower mountain numbers). So, I'll spare you the obvious declarations of how deep, insane, and surreal it was to be skiing pow like this in November because I know you can add up these three sets of numbers and realize: "Goddamit, that's freakin' DEEP!" See, you said, not me.
For the past two days we've been treated very well by Squaw's open terrain. But, today thoroughly blew the past two days out of the water. They got the Squaw Creek & Far East chairs spinning in addition to Red Dog which was the exact combination needed to access 1,350 vertical feet of preposterous powder. If you have any inkling as to the type of terrain that situation opens up, you're one of the few. If not, just image very long, very deep, very untouched powder for more turns than your VO2 Max can handle.
Once all the skiers were completely burnt-out, they opened the Funitel at 2pm and we got to witness first hand what these record storms have been doing to the upper mountain. It was impressive.
Now, as we all lay passed out on the floor after an unexpected November-powder ass-kicking, we read NOAA's latest Winter Storm Warning for tonight and tomorrow and try to smile.
* TIMING: LIGHT TO MODERATE SNOWFALL WILL DEVELOP TONIGHT AND
BECOME HEAVY ALONG THE COLD FRONT TUESDAY MORNING.
* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: 10 TO 20 INCHES AT LAKE LEVEL TONIGHT AND
TUESDAY WITH 2 TO 3 FEET ABOVE 7000 FEET.
...RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES POSSIBLE THIS WEEK...
AN ARCTIC COLD FRONT WILL PUSH THROUGH THE REGION ON TUESDAY
USHERING IN A VERY COLD AIR MASS. RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES ARE
POSSIBLE WEDNESDAY...THURSDAY...AND FRIDAY THIS WEEK.
All I can coherently think right now is - bring it.
(Shirley Lake tomorrow afternoon?)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
An aerial tramway in Tahoe, huh? A tram that goes from Truckee to Tahoe City with branches that reach out to Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. It actually sounds pretty cool. Jeff Sparksworth is considering it a reality. Essentially you'd drive your car to Truckee, park it and jump on the tram. Color coded 6-8 person gondolas would take you and your baggage to your specific destination. The idea of the project would be to eliminate the use of cars on highway 89 along with the traffic and congestion they create. The gondolas would move at 20mph taking you from Truckee to Squaw in 18 minutes and Truckee to Tahoe City in 42 minutes. "I know we’re all in an awful hurry these days and at the extremes these times may seem slow. However, when you factor in bad traffic days, the hassles of parking, and the delays caused by traffic accidents or weather, these times are reasonable." (TahoeTram.com) Hell, it also just sounds like a fun ride.
Advantages of the Tram system:
No traffic, more environmentally sound then automobiles, cool factor - attractive to tourists and maybe olympics, user cost will be cheap compared to rising automobile user costs and skyrocketing oil prices, minimal snow removal vs. road, and you'll be able to read, work, use the internet (all gondolas will have cell phone coverage & wi-fi) or just hang out vs. driving.
Disadvantages of the Tram system:
Basically the tricky part is getting the resources to build the tramway. The estimated cost of the tram would be around $500 million, which is a pretty chunk of change.
This is a very interesting idea that truly does deserve some serious consideration. TahoeTram.com has much more information including: costs & revenue projections, comparisons to existing tram systems, tram station details, routes & service areas, benefits of the aerial system, and system capacites.
"If the system could remove 5000 cars for five years, this would be a carbon value of $1,374,000 and an emissions reduction of 55,879,000 lbs." (from TahoeTram.com)
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Heli skiing in Tahoe. It almost doesn't sound right. How the hell can there be heli skiing in Tahoe? My brain overflows with visions of steep spines, pillows, tight chutes, perfectly spaced trees, and stupid deep pow. California style.
There are always pros and cons to a heli operation in your area, but this one is looking pretty pro for now. The heli terrain is far enough from ski areas and backcountry ski zones in Tahoe that we won't have backcountry skier vs. heli skier competiton nor get that ridiculously annoying helicopter din that is experienced constantly in Utah and Chamonix. There will also be some advantages over Alaska heli skiing with the main one being the weather. We've all heard of or experienced the viscious pissing rain of Souhteastern Alaska. It will serioulsy hurt your feelings. Another added bonus with this Tahoe operation is that they have snowcats to back you up on no-fly days.
Pacific Crest Heli-Guides is the company who will be offering the Tahoe heli skiing. Heli skiing in Tahoe has always been a difficult option due to the prevalence of Public Wilderness Areas that do not allow helicopters to land. The terrain skied will actually be Northwest of Truckee, CA along the the Sierra Nevada's Pacific Crest. The heli operation will be using a checkerboard of private land that will add up to over 100,000 acres of skiable terrain (Squaw Valley, for example, has only 4,000 acres). This is a lot of land which should lead to an impressive variety of terrain. I know we are all anxious to see photos and videos of the topography these guys have access to.
Pacific Crest Heli-Guides also runs a heli operation in Valdez, AK called Alaska Backcountry Adventures that has over 20 years of experience at legendary Thompson Pass.
I was lucky enough to get a quick interview with Dave "Happy" Rintala, the owner of Pacific Crest Heli-Guides, this week. Here's how it went down:
Me: Where are your heli ski zones, elevations, and what does the terrain consist of?
Happy: We have access to 100,000 acres of terrain, which is four times the total terrain of all the ski areas in Tahoe combined. Most of it is between Donner Summit and the Sierra Buttes, along the Pacific Crest. Lots of 8000' landings and everything from open powder bowls to steep chutes.
Me: How much is a day for one person and how much skiing should they expect?Happy: A day costs 899.00 and includes 1.2 hours of Hobbs time to be used as they wish, either for maximum vertical or for a wide ranging tour of the longest, biggest, or steepest runs. This way the clients desires become our goals.
Me: What's the history of heli skiing in Tahoe?
Happy: It has been 40 years since heli skiing has happened in Tahoe for the general public. A couple of operations began for a couple years each, but the timing was not yet right, and they faded away.
Me: How will your snowcat operation in Tahoe will compliment the heli operation?
Happy: Our snowcat operation is known to be the best expert snowcat terrain in North America and consists of three thousand acres over seven zones. When a person books early, and there are snowcat seats available, we will reserve for them these seats so that if it is snowing on the day they were to fly, we can instantly switch to the snowcat for untracked powder.
Me: Has anyone skied where you guys are going to be skiing?
Happy: Much of the terrain we will be accessing is very remote and probably has never been skied. This season will be a pioneering experience where we will be skiing first descents regularly, and naming runs throughout the day. This is the most exciting thing to happen in the ski industry in a decade.
Damn that sounds fun. Thanks Happy.
182cm length = 140mm(width at tip)-115mm(width underfoot)-122mm(width at tail) / 22m turning radius
192cm length = 150mm(width at tip)-125mm(width underfoot)-132mm(width at tail) / 28m turning radius
Big Mountain/Powder Ski. Stepdown sidewall contruction. Early rise rocker in tip only. Tapering (reverse sidecut) at tip only.
Size tested = 192cm. Number of days on Atomic Atlas 2011 ski = aprrox. 35.
Reviewer = Miles Clark. My height = 6'1", weight = 170 lbs. (special note: I mounted my bindings 1cm forward of the normal mounting point)
You bet that I'm sick of all the hype, BS, and useless buzzwords that come with the typical ski review. A ski review is inherantly subjective and therefore that subjectivity should be embraced, not drowned out by ski industry banter. With this (and menatl images of face shots from last season) in mind, I present to you my humble opinion of the Atomic Atlas 2011 ski:
First off, you'll want a lot of snow before you even strap these on. I recommend that you have at least a foot of fresh snow to take these out. They really start to kick ass when you get into the 2, 2 1/2, & 3 foot deep zones. A huge ski like this is made for floatation. If you take away the deep snow, they don't provide that float, and they'll morph into a large, difficult to maneuver ski that will put you in the backseat.
Once you get them into the deep powder you'll know what they were made for. This ski gives a ton of float with the huge width underfoot and the early rise rocker at the tip. In deep snow they do not have an upper speed limit. The faster you go, the more stable and maneuverable they become.
Landing airs is made considerably easier. It almost feels like cheating. The large surface area gives you a big platform to plop down into the snow and easily stay upright on. The sweet spot on the Atlas is big and this is an advantage when landing airs because it allows you to be a little off and still make it look good.
The Atlas is an Austrian ski, so they have a lot of nose. This means you have got to be leaning way forward. If you get backseat, they'll take off on you and make you look bad. Stay forward on 'em and you'll look like a solid skier should.
Once you're able to trust this ski, you'll be able to open it up and rip the mountain hard. Which is what this ski is really made for.
Here is a one minute video of someone skiing pow and dropping cliffs on the Atomic Atlas 2011 ski.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
PILLOWS!! Skiing pillows is basically the coolest thing you can do on skis. I'd say it's between pillows and steep spines, but that's just me. This first video is Jackson Hole. But, early season in Tahoe, before we get way too much snow and it drowns them out, we have some beautiful pillow lines here, too. Luckily, my buddy Adam Riscutto knows exactly where they are. Somehow, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa also seems to know where there's a few pillow lines. Check out Sage in pillowland below.
The video below is my buddy Adam Ruscitto crushing some fluffy pillow lines in Tahoe. Personally I think Adam is way sicker than Sage, but that's just me. There's no music on this one - I recommend putting on "Closer" (warning: disturbing video/audio) by Nine Inch Nails, while you watch Adam rip, but again, that's just me.
If you still don't believe in Global Warming you can just close your eyes, plug your ears, and hum. But, even if you don't believe in it, here are the facts:
#1 - The nightly minimum temperatures recorded at Tahoe City have increased by more than 4 degrees F since 1910 from 28F to just over 32F.
#2 - Days when air temperatures averaged below freezing have generally decreased by 30 days per year since 1910.
#3 - Since 1910, the percent of precipitation that fell in the form of snow decreased from 52 percent to 34 percent.
#4 - Peak snow melt averages 2 1/2 weeks earlier than in the early 1960s.
This information from: UC Davis' 'State of the Lake Report 2010' (If you are interested in Lake Tahoe at all, check out this link. Monthly & yearly percipitation avg.s, temp avg.s, & more)
Another major effect of Global Warming on the lake is the lake's rising water temperature. Warming of Tahoe's water will likey lead to less frequent deep water mixing. The mixing of the lake's water is key to distributing oxygen throught the lake. Without the mixing Tahoe will experience less cold-water native fish, more invasive species, and a general breakdown of Lake Tahoe's food chain. Lake Tahoe has already increased almost one full degree since 1970, from 41.7 degrees F to 42.6 degrees F.
Check out these impressively scary quotes from UC Davis scientist Geoffrey Schladow:
"Anoxia (oxygen depletion) occurs annually in most lakes and reservoirs in California in the summer. But Tahoe has always been special. It's been above and beyond such things."
"A permanently stratified Lake Tahoe becomes just like any other lake or pond. It is no longer this unique, effervescent jewel, the finest example of nature's grandeur."
A recent study done by Schladow and colleagues is predicting that Lake Tahoe could stop mixing entirely as early as the year 2019. That's less than 9 years away.
Luckily, there is tons you can do to fight climate change:
2 - Do whatever you can to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in your own life.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Dispelling The Rumors - a squaw valley ski movie
"HELLLOOOOO skiers and riders!" (Eric T). Have you already forgot why we love to ski at Squaw Valley USA!? Are you frustrated by the pleathora of rumors that have been going around about your favorite ski area?!! Well, have I got the ski movie for you! Here is quick reminder of why we ski here and what makes Squaw unique. "Enlightenment can only be found througth truth" (Confusus). I couldn't agree more.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Desperate Man Clings to
California Oregon Summer.
Okay, okay, I've been doing some serious bragging about California lately (because it's the balls!). But, it looks like it's now time for me to suck it up and give some props to Oregon. I'm gonna come right out and say that Crater Lake is incredible. In the true sense of the word. It's actually difficult to believe that it's real. I was there in the end of September this year and I was high off its freaky electric blue water for a week.
Crater Lake and me, if you look hard
Crater Lake is the cleanest body of water on Earth and the deepest lake in America at 1,949 feet deep (the only one deeper than Tahoe). It has two islands: Wizard and Phantom Ship. Phantom Ship is an eerie island formed from an acient volcano that rose up before the big Mazama volcano collapsed and formed Crater Lake. Another amazing feature of the park is its endless forests. I've spent a lot of time in the Pacific Northwest and I've never seen such huge swaths of untouched forest.
Hell, there are even these crazy 100 foot high pumice pinnicles that formed when hot gases from fumaroles cemented the pumice and ash together before a river erroded away the remaining loose pumice and left the pinnincles standing there. The craziest part is that the pinnicles are hollow. "Boring, I know, but it's part of my life." Check the pic below.
Learn some stuff about Crater Lake: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crater_Lake
I spent a full day in the park, cricumnavigating the lake and cliff jumping into it. I'm not a dirty hippy, but I've got to admit that that water is special and it had me feeling ubelievably alive. I'm higly confident that you could bottle Crater Lake's waters and sell it at Phish concerts as a magical elixir for huge profit.
Phantom ship Island
The Pinnicles of Crater Lake NP
Yet another view
DO NOT FEED THE CHIPMUNKS!!! But you almost have to! These guys were so aggressive they'd actually jump into your lap and rip food outta your hands. They pissed me off, but I also kinda loved 'em.
Desperate man clings to CA summer
Ever wonder what it's like to be drunk, rowdy, and sunburned? Have I gotta place for you.....
It's actually kinda crazy that no one knows about the California Delta. It's truly California's gem and one helluva good time. It doesn't matter what time of day or where in the delta you are, you can find glassy water for ripping on skis or flying on your wakeboard. You can also find hot girls having fun, drinking, and dancing provocatively with almost nothing on anywhere you go. I was just in the Delta yesterday and it was in the high 80s and the water was warm and glassy.
The California Delta is a tangle of waterways that starts at the confulence of the San Joaquin (from the south) and the Sacramento (from the north) and weaves it's way into the San Francisco Bay. The Delta has 1,000 miles of waterways and covers over 738,000 acres. The whole thing is a monsterous estuary that supports a ridiculous amout of life.
Delta Crawdad's are pissed off and burly
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
18 months of straight winter have left me desperate for everything summer. Cliff jumping, water skiing, swimming, baseball games, outdoor concerts, surfing, and bikinis is how I define summertime. In the next couple weeks I'll be posting how I was able to satisfy my dirty California summertime desires.
This place is called God's Bath and it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been anywhere. Pure California. I spent the day here with my buddy, 'The Foot', cliff jumping, snorkeling, swimming in the waterfalls, and drinking beer. The water was crystal clear and ice-fucking-cold. The highlight of the day was when we figured out that a hole next to the river was connected and that you could swim into the hole from the river under a granite bridge. Check out the video.
Here's some more photos:
The Foot, pops out of hte hole via the river
The Foot runs a muck.
Yep, it's that gorgeous!
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
by Miles Clark
The Patagonian winter has finally come to a close here in Bariloche. The beginning of September brought us about 3 meters of snow in a week. It was kinda insane. No, it was really insane. I´ve never seen it snow anywhere as hard as I´ve seen it snow here. Snowflakes the size of golf balls falling at rates of many inches per hour for days. Mid storm avalanches that vaporized one refugio and left debris piles 10+ meters high in places. Screaming winds the plastered snow to the Lenga forests and their dripping mosses in ways and angles that I still don´t understand.
We harvested all that we could from the big snows and got some pretty vicious perma-smiles in the process. Not long after the storms stopped, the heat came and like that, it switched from full-on nuclear winter to warm easy going springtime. As soon as that pollen laden spring air hit my nostrils, I twitched and my brain automatically switched to summer mode. I am currently undergoing my quest to salvage the remnants of the California summer. I really need to surf. I´m dying to hit my favorite cliff diving spots in the foothills. And yes, there better still be some girls in bikinis at the lake!
Here is a short pov video that shows two of the longer backcountry lines that we´ve been skiing (before the storms). The first I call ´Little AK´ off the Zebra Chutes and the second is Tage Chute´s ´Staff Party´. After those two lines is just some fun pow skiing after the big storms.
Friday, September 3, 2010
This summer continues to be un-summer-like.....which is the point down here, I suppose. Yet, the relentless lack of girls in bikinis is beginning to take it's toll. Thank God the skiing has been good!
During the first two weeks of August a big high pressure system came in and sat over us for about a week. We used this opportunity to get deep into the backcountry. Two different groups head to refugio Frey (a backcountry hut here) and got after it for a few days each. The rest of us were doing long single day backcountry trips from the top of the ski resort everyday. The temps stayed cold and good snow was found on all the south and east facing aspects with 141 degrees SSE being the money spot. I'm now sorta obsessed with this number and constantly bust out my compass to test potential backcountry terrain against it.
We had some real fun and I got to ski my favorite line down here which I generically call 'Little AK', (in the video Pete Connley skis parts of it) even tho there really isn't too much little about it. That line already has me dreaming of an AK trip this April.
We are getting hammered with snow again right now and the forecast is showing a huge amount of snow, then very cold temps. We're lining up some bigger lines that those conditions would be money for. I'll keep ya posted.
Here's a video edit that Garret Russel put together for us of Session 2.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Bariloche, Argentina - The past three weeks down here with SASS have been pretty damn sweet. And by pretty damn sweet I mean that we’ve been ripping through old growth forest, hucking perfect granite cliffs, bushwhacking bamboo underbrush, getting twisted off backcountry booters, drinking free fernet & cokes, dominating rail jam comps (SASS took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place), and oh yeah…..skiing DEEP POW in the middle of summer! Crazy, right!? Wrong. I’m now realizing that I should have been doing this a long time ago.
The SASS crew has been down here since July 14th, and we’ve gotten a lot done: a week of avy, medical, and guide training, two weeks of ripping pow with the clients at Cerro Catedral, full-day backcountry missions, and we even have a team that is deep in the backcountry at Refugio Frey right now. Bariloche is having a stellar winter this year and we can't find any good reason to let it go to waste.
Skiing here everyday with James Heim has been pretty sweet. Trying to keep up with him has already affected my skiing for the better.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I've been down here in Bariloche, Argentina for two weeks now. In that time I've been fully reminded why I love this place so much. The people are cooler than we could ever hope to be in the US, the skiing is ridiculous, and the views are basically extraterrestrial.
During my first week here myself and two other guides were in charge of training all the SASS coaches in avalanche, medical, and guiding protocol. The training went well and once the campers came, we went through similar training with them as well. Since everyone has been dialed in, I've been able to ski what I want and push it a bit. The Patagonian winter has been helping us out a ton with about 6 inches of snow every couple days. Right now, we are getting our first big snow cycle and I'm super anxious to get up to the mountain and witness it's transformation. We already have a deeper snowpack than we ever did last year which sends my mind reeling into a fantasy world where un-doable cliffs and lines become commonplace reality.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Mt. Rainier's Southwest Face
by Miles Clark
Alas, at some point winter must come to a close…..well, not this year, but my money has certainly come to a close. Thus, it is once again time for that four letter word: work. Work can be ugly, but some of us here in Tahoe have figured out ways to contort that four letter word into something we truly enjoy.
Mt. Hunter from McKinley basecamp
5 years ago, when I got sick of doing carpentry all summer, I got into mountain guiding. I now love guiding and it has taken me to some gorgeous places like Alaska, Mexico, and Patagonia. And I'm hopeing to guide in some even more exotic places soon.
This summer I am working on Mt. Rainier (14,411 ft) in Washington state. I work for Rainier Mountaineering Inc. I’ve worked for them for a few seasons now and they treat me alright. Mt. Rainier is a big, brutish, glaciated peak that is a great training ground for higher glaciated peaks like Mt. McKinley (20,320 ft) and those of the Himalaya. For some reason, people come from all over the US of A to climb this pile of rock and ice and see if they have what it takes to charge up and down her and I have a blast showing them the way.
A Typical Guided Summit Climb on Mt. Rainier
From the parking lot, all that is between you and the summit is 9,000 vertical feet of rock and ice. Luckily, you only have about 30 hours to touch the top and get back down again. Clients who sign up with us participate in a day long school where we teach them the necessary skills to climb Mt. Rainier. Then the next two days are spent climbing up to the top and sloggging back down to the lot.
Summmit of El Pico de Orizaba (18,701 ft) in Mexico
On the first day of the climb we hike from the parking lot at Paradise (5,400 ft) to Camp Muir (10,100 ft). That takes from about 10am to about 4pm or so. We then bed down by 6pm and are up again anywhere from 11:30pm to 1am, depending on the time of year. Once up it’s ice axe, crampons, harnesses, helmets and ropes as we start climbing towards the summit. 3 breaks on the way up and Bam! you’re on top. An hour or less is spent on the top and we are zippin’ back downhill in the daylight. 45 minutes to pack up again at Camp Muir and we start schleppin’ down toward the parking lot. We’ll usually hit the parking lot somewhere around 3 or 4pm making round trip from lot to lot about 30 hours.
People are generally pretty spent when they get down but absolutely stoked to have done it. A b.o. heavy pizza and beer session usually follows with speeches and toasts galore. If all goes well, people get what they came for and learn a few fun mountaineering techniques along the way. Ahhhh mountain guiding, a strange world unto itself.
A few fun mountain guide jokes:
Q: How do you know if someone is a mountain guide?
A: He'll tell ya.
Q: What is the difference between a mountain guide and a large pizza?
A: A large pizza can feed a family of four.
Q: What is the diffence between a mountain guide and God?
A: God doesn't think he's a mountain guide.
Lemme know if you have any others.
Nut Hut Studios - Exit Strategy
Check out this teaser for "Exit Strategy" from Nut Hut Studios.
Nut Hut Studios will release it’s first feature length ski film this year called “Exit Strategy”. The film documents the phenomenal 2009/2010 ski season in the North Lake Tahoe Region. Though primarily backcountry focused, the film has plenty of in bounds pow footage from Squaw Valley. It also showcases many of Squaw’s classic lines from the point of view perspective. Here’s a teaser of the Squaw Valley POV segment featuring Joshua Plack, Robb Gaffney and Unofficial Squaw Team Member Miles Clark. Skiing-Blog.com
I was lucky enough to score a ski guiding job in Denali National Park's Ruth Gorge the first week of May. The place is simply face-melting in person and goddamn impressive on paper. The gorge is plugged with ice over 3,500 feet deep and a mile wide. The granite walls that define the gorge are 4 to 5 thousand feet tall and straight up. These walls and spires can be seen 100 miles away and have earned names such as: Moose's Tooth, Bear's Tooth, Broken Tooth, and The Gargoyle. It is the deepest gorge in the world and you can feel it.
After the most incredible flight of my life, an hour long flight-see around Mt. McKinley, we landed at the Mountain House. The Mountain House is a hexagon-shaped hut located on a nunatak or rock island in the Ruth Glacier. (The hut has a very cool history http://www.climbalaska.org/mountain-house.html) Our crew consisted of 5 clients and 2 guides and we were there to ski.
During our 6 days in the gorge we only had one weather day and it was kind enough to leave us 18 inches of light, dry, stable Alaskan snow. Needless to say, the skiing was good.
Rule #1 in Alaska: Do not waste good Alaskan weather! Skiing until 9pm in full sunlight wasn't uncommon on this trip. If the weather is good, you go skiing, dammit!
We got 20 runs in during our stay, almost all of which were in pure AK powder. We did our best, but of course, we barely scratched the surface of what can be skied in the enormous Don Sheldon Amphitheater and Ruth Gorge.
My neck is still sore from rubbernecking to take in the insanity that is reality in the Alaska's fairly-tale-come-true called the Ruth Gorge.
The chimney wasn't bad today and there was a big crew that was on it. Lotza good times were had and many a smile exchanged. I was also stoked to accomplish my final goal for the season, landing a d-spin 720 in the park. In the process of doing so I took my hardest fall of the season and scraped up my face! Lovely. In this vid you can see Chimney Sweep, Center Line, The Loft, Easy Street, and I almost went for Schmidiots, but thought better of it. April 23rd, 2010. Big Thanks to patrol for opening all of the Chimney for us today!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Ok, it doesn't happen often, or ever, but I actually got completely sick of snow and skiing last week and needed to see some GREEN and FLOWERS!!!! So I went to my mom's place in the San Joaquin Valley and soaked it all up! I did a day in the delta, a day at lake Don Pedro and a few days just chilling at my mom's almond and walnut farm on the Toulomne River. It was much need and amazing.
The Highlight? Yesterday, pouring rain, then quarter-sized hail, then enormous rainbows!!!! Check out the video and pictures
Here is a head cam of Center Line first thing this morning, then some other fun skiing with John Rockwood.
This was a favorite because I ran into great buddies from high school, college and Squaw and the smiles just kept coming! This video is from April 3rd, 2010.
March 31st, 2010. Nothing but fun!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
In here you'll find: Chamber Cliff, Adrenaline Rock (twice), The Drifter, The Sisters, Deadmans Chute, a new double I just tried for the first time on The Fingers, Broken Back Rock, The Booger, and more!
Monday, March 1, 2010
In here is Eric Byrant hucking Ice Goddess, The Scotty Hanichen Ice Goddess double, and the Middle Finger.
Not a bad day!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Jan. 18th, 2010 - Stormy Amazing Powder Day that was just the beginning of the Storm Cycle of the Year!
By Miles Clark
I just got back from guiding a client in Yosemite last week. The guy was a super cool 59 year old who was geared up and ready to rip! So we both put our gnar faces on and got ready to charge around and dominate Yosemite for 7 days.
After putting on my 70 pound pack, I started to feel slightly less gnarly. Then, after discovering that the first 4.5 miles of our trip were on a groomed road, I felt a tiny bit less gnarly. Finally, while staying in the super cushy Glacier Point $120/person/night Hut our last night, I felt even a touch less gnarly than before.
But, we did do some solid skiing one day and we saw some very rowdy (yes, some gnar was actually spotted) ski terrain, not to mention some of the best views of our lives. One of the most amazing aspects of the trip was that it was really warm, so the waterfalls of Yosemite Valley were raging. Check out this video of Yosemite Falls.
The Ostrander Hut is 9 miles in and only costs $30/night. Check out this photo of only a fraction of the awesome terrain there. Tons of mini golf!
Here is me talking about the trip and just generally being sunburned and blown away by the view.
Now watch this video below and try to figure out what you're looking at before it's too obvious.