Winter 2019 Ski Highlights

Rock climbing in the fall. Avalanche courses in the midwinter. Some Canada skiing. Alaska skiing through the spring. A good routine!

Simon Meis at Roger’s Pass. Cathy and I spent February based in Revelstoke. I worked a bit but mostly skied with Cathy. It’s the most we’ve skied together in 10 years. That’s good for marriage maintenance.

Simon Meis at Roger’s Pass. Cathy and I spent February based in Revelstoke. I worked a bit but mostly skied with Cathy. It’s the most we’ve skied together in 10 years. That’s good for marriage maintenance.

Mike Bromberg in the Revelstoke backcountry.

Mike Bromberg in the Revelstoke backcountry.

From a nearby ridge above Balu Pass at Roger’s Pass we watched two people get avalanched through the rocks and down this face. We called for a rescue and began the circuitous route to the debris. I imagined the worst as I approached the debris; I didn’t bring my tourniquet! The rescue helicopter arrived minutes ahead of us. Phew! A full burial, a concussion and busted ankle. Alive, with a new perspective on life.

From a nearby ridge above Balu Pass at Roger’s Pass we watched two people get avalanched through the rocks and down this face. We called for a rescue and began the circuitous route to the debris. I imagined the worst as I approached the debris; I didn’t bring my tourniquet! The rescue helicopter arrived minutes ahead of us. Phew! A full burial, a concussion and busted ankle. Alive, with a new perspective on life.

“It gets rowdy real quick,” Andrew explained before we met his Austrian coworkers from Canadian Mountain Holidays for a day of backcountry skiing near Canmore, Alberta. Cornice burrowing and a whoomphing snowpack—a typical day in the Rockies.

“It gets rowdy real quick,” Andrew explained before we met his Austrian coworkers from Canadian Mountain Holidays for a day of backcountry skiing near Canmore, Alberta. Cornice burrowing and a whoomphing snowpack—a typical day in the Rockies.

It was the snowiest winter in 40 years in Eastern Washington where I grew up. Cathy and I skied the Palouse.

It was the snowiest winter in 40 years in Eastern Washington where I grew up. Cathy and I skied the Palouse.

Eric Larson and Wily Forsyth climbing to the Breche Puiseux near Chamonix. I spent a most of March working with the Anchorage 212th pararescue team. We trained in Southcentral Alaska and honed skills in Chamonix. Fun guys!

Eric Larson and Wily Forsyth climbing to the Breche Puiseux near Chamonix. I spent a most of March working with the Anchorage 212th pararescue team. We trained in Southcentral Alaska and honed skills in Chamonix. Fun guys!

Eric Larson skiing below the 4,000-foot north face of the Grandes Jorasses, one of the seven great north faces of the Alps.

Eric Larson skiing below the 4,000-foot north face of the Grandes Jorasses, one of the seven great north faces of the Alps.

Back home in Alaska skiing with Scott Rowley at Hatcher Pass. Alaska still has the best skiing on earth.

Back home in Alaska skiing with Scott Rowley at Hatcher Pass. Alaska still has the best skiing on earth.

Rescue training with Kodiak Island Search and Rescue in full Scottish/Kodiak conditions.

Rescue training with Kodiak Island Search and Rescue in full Scottish/Kodiak conditions.

An abandoned dredge near Nome in western Alaska. I spent a week out here working with Ben Rowe, Chris Shannon and Sean Jones, helping them set up their ski guiding operation in the beautiful Kigluaik Mountains. These guys have the local knowledge and all the Alaska gear: snowmachines, airplanes and helicopters. A storm of the decade kept us from the summits, but not from learning a ton and having a blast.

An abandoned dredge near Nome in western Alaska. I spent a week out here working with Ben Rowe, Chris Shannon and Sean Jones, helping them set up their ski guiding operation in the beautiful Kigluaik Mountains. These guys have the local knowledge and all the Alaska gear: snowmachines, airplanes and helicopters. A storm of the decade kept us from the summits, but not from learning a ton and having a blast.

Alaska Guide Collective  Rec Level 2  avalanche course, high in the Kenai Mountains. Learning skills for getting the goods. This winter Nick, Elliot and I developed and ran our first Rec 1 and Rec 2 courses. These were by far the best avalanche courses in our cumulative 30 years of avalanche teaching. This winter we’re ramping it up with more  AGC avalanche courses . Join us!

Alaska Guide Collective Rec Level 2 avalanche course, high in the Kenai Mountains. Learning skills for getting the goods. This winter Nick, Elliot and I developed and ran our first Rec 1 and Rec 2 courses. These were by far the best avalanche courses in our cumulative 30 years of avalanche teaching. This winter we’re ramping it up with more AGC avalanche courses. Join us!

Pro 1 avalanche course with Alaska Avalanche School at Turnagain Pass. This was my first time assessing students on a pass/fail course. The students were VERY attentive. The course gave me a renewed appreciation for full snow profiles. Although far detached from making good decisions while moving through avalanche terrain, these time-intensive pits are a valuable process for learning about snowpack and taking accurate measurements.

Pro 1 avalanche course with Alaska Avalanche School at Turnagain Pass. This was my first time assessing students on a pass/fail course. The students were VERY attentive. The course gave me a renewed appreciation for full snow profiles. Although far detached from making good decisions while moving through avalanche terrain, these time-intensive pits are a valuable process for learning about snowpack and taking accurate measurements.

Corn skiing at Thompson Pass near Valdez with a big group from the UK.

Corn skiing at Thompson Pass near Valdez with a big group from the UK.

Powder skiing on the north aspects at Thompson Pass with Cathy and Anthony Larson.

Powder skiing on the north aspects at Thompson Pass with Cathy and Anthony Larson.

Najeeby and Cathy squish into the back seat of Jeff’s Piper Super Cub in Valdez.

Najeeby and Cathy squish into the back seat of Jeff’s Piper Super Cub in Valdez.

Denali Ski Base Camp  in the Alaska Range. Two trips and two weeks in these magic mountains. Our home is two connected Hilleberg Atlas tents.

Denali Ski Base Camp in the Alaska Range. Two trips and two weeks in these magic mountains. Our home is two connected Hilleberg Atlas tents.

Jeff Colegrave in the Alaska Range.  Jeff and I skied together in 2015 . Jeff liked it so much that he brought his regular guide, Armin Fisher, and a crew to come back this year. We nailed it again.

Jeff Colegrave in the Alaska Range. Jeff and I skied together in 2015. Jeff liked it so much that he brought his regular guide, Armin Fisher, and a crew to come back this year. We nailed it again.

Alagne, Italy-based guide Armin Fisher descending into the unknown in the Alaska Range. Our most useful tool on this trip was knowing, at any time, we could put skins back on to escape from dead-end descents.  Armin is a career IFMGA Mountain Guide in his mid 50’s. When Armin has time off he’s sport climbing on the Mediterranean—that’s a highly evolved mountain guide! Armin was perhaps the most impressive guide I’ve worked with. Earlier in the spring I worked with  another career guide in his mid 50’s. Here’s what I noticed:  1) They give almost no instruction. They guide’s silently. If they do give instruction, it’s important.  2) They have nothing to prove. They’re there for the clients. The clients are long-standing friends and are treated as such.  3) Almost all of their clients are return clients.   4) They can go anywhere in the world and figure it out.  5) They find the right person in the region; the fixer. They trust the fixer and don’t micromanage the fixer.

Alagne, Italy-based guide Armin Fisher descending into the unknown in the Alaska Range. Our most useful tool on this trip was knowing, at any time, we could put skins back on to escape from dead-end descents.

Armin is a career IFMGA Mountain Guide in his mid 50’s. When Armin has time off he’s sport climbing on the Mediterranean—that’s a highly evolved mountain guide! Armin was perhaps the most impressive guide I’ve worked with. Earlier in the spring I worked with another career guide in his mid 50’s. Here’s what I noticed:

1) They give almost no instruction. They guide’s silently. If they do give instruction, it’s important.

2) They have nothing to prove. They’re there for the clients. The clients are long-standing friends and are treated as such.

3) Almost all of their clients are return clients.

4) They can go anywhere in the world and figure it out.

5) They find the right person in the region; the fixer. They trust the fixer and don’t micromanage the fixer.

Ridge camping in the Talkeetna Mountains.

Ridge camping in the Talkeetna Mountains.

Amanda Hankison and Trish Franco on a four-day ski mountaineering and Denali prep course. Good luck on your expedition!  Thanks everyone sooooo much for an amazing winter! I hope to ski with all of you again soon!

Amanda Hankison and Trish Franco on a four-day ski mountaineering and Denali prep course. Good luck on your expedition!

Thanks everyone sooooo much for an amazing winter! I hope to ski with all of you again soon!