Saturday April 19, 2014
I talked about the semantic difference between what we generally call 'backcountry' and what we call 'sidecountry' and the most important thing to remember is that when you exit the resort through an open gate you are in effect in unpatrolled terrain not subject to avalanche control work.
Now the dilemma arises, especially in the west. There have been several strong spring storm cycles and there is plenty of good looking, tempting snow - but most of the ski areas have ceased operation.
Of course, hiking and skinning up is going to happen so, cut to the chase - no more semantics - it's all backcountry. Skiing on steep terrain in the boundaries of a closed ski area that is not performing avalanche mitigation work can be as dangerous as backcountry.
In fact, after a major spring snowstorm with high water content, the terrain that has been subject to avalanche control work in the past may be more apt to slide under the effect of a human trigger because it's now set on a relative persistent slab of snow that had been subject to sun and refreeze.
So, the bottom line after the resorts cease operations is to treat all terrain in and around a closed ski area as 'backcountry.' Check your local Avalanche Advisories, be aware of and stay clear of terrain traps, don't ski it alone and tell someone where you are going.
If you are thinking of skinning and skiing a closed ski are don't just listen to my warning. Heed this, from the Utah Avalanche Center, "Remember, most of the ski resorts are closed for the season with no avalanche control, so treat it just like backcountry terrain."
Be avalanche smart and avalanche safe, and erase that sense of imagined 'sidecountry' safety that still prompts people to exit resort gates and ski closed resorts without the minimum avalanche first responder gear - avalanche beacon, probe, shovel - and a partner.
Read More: Backcountry or Sidecountry | Avalanche Beacon, Probe, and Shovel
Photo Copyright Mike Doyle
Thursday April 17, 2014
If you are looking for a nice spring or summer project that gives you the chance to play with skis for a little bit more then check out the slotted ski rack I made. It's very similar to the racks you most often see in the rental areas - the kind where you just slide the skis in and they hang by the ski shovels.
After a few different approaches, and a tweak here and there, I finally came up with a very affordable wooden ski rack that can be made to hold just about as many pair of skis as you can come up with. So get your ruler, a drill, a saw, follow these simple directions, and in a few hours you'll be so proud of yourself you'll want to buy a new pair of skis (hint - this is really a great excuse to fill the new ski rack!)
Ski Rack Image © Mike Doyle
Monday April 14, 2014
I know some of us are still getting in some late season turns, but with more grass showing and the trees starting to bud and some even thinking about the snow shedding game of golf - sooner or later all of us will be putting up our skis until - hopefully - early next fall.
I've had quite a few inquiries asking how to ensure that those expensive skis will be in the same top shape six or seven months from now. So, even though we still have spring skiing available let's talk about the inevitable.
I asked Lee Quaglia, owner of Aspen East Ski Shop in Killington, VT how and where to store our skis. I know it's easy to put them out of sight for the summer, but they're never really out of mind. However, follow Lees's advice and you'll have peace of mind that your skis will be ready and raring to go come next season's first snow. Here's how to store your skis.
P.S. As I've always said - it's ok to kiss them good night.
Late spring skiing at Mammoth Mountain, CA Copyright Mike Doyle
Sunday April 13, 2014
To lock in the Vail Resorts Epic Pass early bird price of $729 (the early bird price of the adult Epic Pass and $379 for children ages 5-12) you need to put down $49 today - April 13th. You may have heard that in some previous years the early bird pricing deadline was extended - but I'm not aware of any extensions for the 2014-15 Epic Pass.
The remaining amount will be due in mid-September 2014 but purchasing the Epic Pass now also gets you six Buddy Tickets this spring and scenic chair lift access to its Colorado, Utah and Lake Tahoe resorts during the summer months.
To put the Epic Pass in a global perspective - for the aforementioned $729, you can ski five free consecutive ski days at Niseko United in Japan, five consecutive days in Europe at Verbier and Les 3 Vallees, and in between you have unlimited access to 28,830 skiable acres, 27,136 vertical feet, 34 terrain parks and 40 skiing bowls here in the USA.
The pass provides unlimited and unrestricted skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan for the 2014-15 winter season.
Note that Vail Resorts also offers multiple pass options for the 2014-15 season including:
- Epic 4-Day - at $369 for adults and $209 for children (ages 5-12) is optimal if you are planning just one ski vacation during the 2014-15 winter season. Ski any four days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Arapahoe Basin.
- Epic 7-Day - is ideal for guests planning to ski seven days throughout the winter season. $549 for adults and $279 for children (ages 5-12).Ski or ride a total of seven unrestricted days at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Tahoe, Mt. Brighton and Afton Alps.
- Epic Local Pass
- Tahoe Local Pass
- Summit Value Pass
- Tahoe Value Pass
Related Article: How big is France's Les 3 Vallees?
Les Allues one of The 3 Valleys Copyright Mike Doyle