More than 50 years in the making, the 540-acre Peak 6 opened on Christmas Day, 2013, bringing a fantastic mix of terrain that fills a surprising gap in Breckenridge’s arsenal. The new terrain offers some of the only above-treeline skiing for intermediates in the country and even more of Breck’s famous expert terrain. There was no doubt that we had to give it a test — strictly for investigative reasons, of course.
The Forecast Calls For Pain
The basic premise of the sport is to ski up and down a resort or backcountry course as fast a possible — think trail running, but with ultralight ski gear, winter conditions, and powder turns on the downhill. After spending most of this winter chasing deep powder in Utah’s Wasatch Range, we decided to put our months of dawn patrol and long ski weekends of training to the test in one of the sport’s most prestigious North American races, the Power of 4 in Aspen, CO.
Killer Pow, Bro
Skis have become impossibly technical — not with complicated gadgets and moving parts, but other things that engineers geek out over like ski geometry, core materials and physics. In this photo essay we recall a bygone era of skis when color schemes were impossibly neon, patterns were questionable and bindings were more like door hinges.
Bound for Success
Bindings often go overlooked in favor of the flashiness of a new pair of skis or boots. But as your only contact point for control and power transfer along the 170-180cm boards you’re strapping on, and your final line of safety in a major crash, they’re the most important piece of gear for a successful and safe season. Read on for a breakdown of the best ski bindings for this season.
Sculpting the Mountain
Now in its seventh season, the Salomon Freeski TV channel has covered the sport exhaustively. In “The Architect”, Vice President of Resort Design at Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners, Ryley Thiessen, explains how resort development has changed from the 1960s to today, bringing us from mom-and-pop mountains (now all but extinct) to four-season resorts in China.
Cold weather, cold smoke, cold beers.
Most of us calculate Paid Time Off based on formulas that are too sad to enumerate. Suffice it to say those hours rarely add up to week-long ski vacations at our leisure. But parse them out just so and you can be taking long weekends whenever the heavens open up. Make the most of it by choosing mountain resorts with bankable terrain and close proximity to an airport — like any of these 10 world-class ski areas.
When disaster strikes on the mountain, it’s Ski Patrol that comes to save your life. In this teaser trailer for a full-length feature directed by Carson Garner, you’ll hear about the lives and work of some of the most grizzled, experienced Ski Patrol veterans at several Rocky Mountain ski resorts, as well as members of several backcountry Search and Rescue teams.
Turn it up to eleven
Luxury adventure company Eleven takes its name from the ‘80s “rockumentary” This is Spinal Tap. In the movie, band member Nigel tells new guy Marty that while other bands’ amps go up to ten, theirs go to eleven: one louder than ten. Staying at Eleven’s Scarp Ridge Lodge amid the Colorado high country of Crested Butte is, well, an eleven experience, full of luxurious comfort.
Summer? Not so fast.
You can bet that after a few months on the run from ski patrol, when all the rules are thrown out for one weekend, snow bums’ll throw a world class party. If your idea of fun is seeing guys throwing down tricks while skiing and boarding in togas and Speedos — and plenty of ladies hitting the slopes in bikinis — we’ve got a few of the best end-of-season parties for you to put on your schedule.
For The Ski Bum In Denial
Every year for Memorial Day a few die-hard friends and I skip the barbecues to indulge our powder habit one last time. Summer skiing is our way of throwing a middle finger to the sun before our precious snow melts for another year. The festivities begin with early morning hikes above the treeline and finish with goggle-tanned, smiling faces telling stories of epic wipeouts and slushy runs around the campfire. Here’s the gear we used to tackle the last runs of the year.
Big Waves Keep on Crashin'
Summer means slapping a coat of wax on your skis and sending them to the back of the gear closet. That is, unless you’re really stubborn (and somewhat deranged), like pro skiers Mike Douglas and Cody Townsend. Sick of waiting for the powder to start falling again, they took matters into their own hands. After…
The Right Boards For Any Mountain
It seems that you can’t walk through a ski resort parking lot without seeing a few new brands of skis and boards being toted around. Some of these new styles are grounded in real testing and evaluation, while others miss the mark in favor of design flashiness, but how to tell? Our intrepid ski testers put quite a few sticks to the test this season to make sure you’ve got the best ski out there. Whether you’re searching for a burly, rockered pow slasher for your upcoming Alaska trip, or you’re on the prowl for the perfect park-rat set up to impress the ladies with your mute-540s in the half-pipe, the end of the season is often the best time for great deals. We’ve got the skis you should be after right here.
Mr Hasemeyer tests gear, tries not to die
Scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon, homestyle potatoes, a bowl of oatmeal and two cups of coffee: when preparing to take on Squaw Valley with Chris Davenport, simply a two-time World Champion skier who recently scaled and skied Mt. Everest, one must fuel up. So I did.
Sitting on 3,600 acres northwest of Lake Tahoe near the California and Nevada border, Squaw Valley offers skiers the chance to take on wide open runs (groomed and not) of greens, blues and blacks, most of which are clean of trees (death sticks), allowing the average skier to be more daring with less severe consequences. This range in terrain, altitude and weather presented the perfect setting to test my new gear — a Bern helmet, Gordini gloves, and Obermeyer jacket and pants — while being guided by this veteran pro.
Skis for the Snowbound Connoisseur
When picking out a new pair of skis, most of us don’t think to ask about core materials, side cut or vibration dampening — in fact, even knowledgeable ski bums probably don’t have more than a general understanding of these topics. Fortunately for you, the designers at Park City, UT-based RAMP Sports live and breathe ski engineering and manufacturing. It doesn’t take long after stepping on to their small manufacturing floor to see that building handmade skis is both a passion and a way of life for this small collective of diehards.
Much like the carpenter, a skier is often no better than his equipment. Fit matters, weight matters and material matters, which is why freeride pros Eric Hjorleifson and Fredrik Andersson combined their decades of ski experience as inspiration for the Dynafit Beast 16 Binding. Available only in a limited run of 2,500, these bindings employ…
Be Safe, Live Wild
On April 6th, 2011, veteran backcountry skier (and former crab boat captain of Deadliest Catch fame) Roger Strong was caught in an avalanche in Snoqualmie Pass, WA. Roger and his two friends managed to survive the disaster, but two others were killed. The freight train of snow swept the group through hundreds of feet of steep trees — and a collision with one tore both of Rogers tibias away from their femurs and destroyed most of his knee’s critical tendons and ligaments, leaving him in a wheel chair for three months. In “Strong”, produced by Arc’Teryx, Roger revisits the site of the tragedy exactly one year after it happened, reflecting on the choices that brought him there. Is it irresponsible to satiate an inner love for adventure as a family man? Should one dare to test fate again? These are the central questions of “Strong”.
Now we're really piste off
With record storms dumping fresh powder in the Rockies and Pacific Northwest, we couldn’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year than celebrating with a trip to the nearest ski hill. What fun would a resort trip be without ducking under the safety ropes to sneak a few turns in the untouched backcountry? With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of gear that will be equally useful bombing through 20 inches of fresh powder and charging lines of freshly groomed corduroy snow inbounds.
Music and snow sports go together like Rick Ross and cheese covered honeybuns, but squeezing your favorite cans inside a helmet is rarely a formula for comfort. The POC Receptor BUG Communication Helmet (~$330) skirts this dilemma by integrating Beats by Dr. Dre headphones into the helmet neck roll, which combines bass-heavy tunes with a…
Make the best runs yours
One of our many joys in life is taking the yearly hajj to our nearest ski Mecca. Days of fresh powder, nights of warm (or warming) beverages and dreamy broken-bone memories make this annual pilgrimage worthwhile. Luckily, even after the snow melts, there’s Lifts and Bounds Ski Run Art ($165) to add a dash of wall…
It's not Jarvis...yet
Oakley’s Airwave goggles are a new breed of advanced snow sport eyewear equipped with a heads up display that simulates viewing a 14-inch screen from five feet away when a user looks in the lower right corner of their peripheral vision. That description sounds confusing, but the important thing to remember is that the technology…
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
Doing battle with black diamonds this winter means swapping your corporate suit for some waterproof armor. The Aether Altitude ($675) has the technical features to protect you from the slings and arrows of an outrageous fall line, September through May. The jacket’s three-layer Schoeller C_change fabric dynamically adjusts water vapor permeability as the temperature changes,…
Two former World Cup Alpine skiers, Erik Schlopy and Brion Friedman, had an epiphany: In a world without snow, skiing doesn’t go over too well. So they set out to develop ski poles made from sustainable materials in a climate-friendly fashion. The results are Soul Poles ($99+), high-tech ski poles made from a decidedly low-tech…
A shovel that could save your life
Your average snow shovel works great for cleaning out the driveway or dispatching amateur crooks pestering a prepubsecent Macaulay Culkin. K2′s Rescue Shovel Plus ($60) is the snow shovel of the future. Thanks to a unique modular design, the handle can be affixed to the blade to transform the Plus into a hoe for faster…
Hardside Strong Side
If you’re ready to move beyond the rental and want a pair of skis to call your own, the new K2 Hardside Skis ($700) should do the trick — they certainly have for us this (short) season. Their versatility will keep you carving through ice on the crusty days and shredding powder on snowy days,…
A fresh take on slogging to the slopes
The brand name is as bad as they come, but the Douchebag ski carrier still deserves credit for its excellent design. The original concept was born in 2009 from a Norwegian triumvirate that includes skiing superstar (and snow camo Gallardo driver) Jon Olsson. Their self-stated goal was to create “the best travel equipment for discovering…
Jack of all grades
Admittedly, it’s been a pretty wimpy winter everywhere from Colorado to the Alps, causing renewed grumblings about global warming from skiers, both Alpine and Nordic. Getting out on the boards anywhere but in the high country has required either the nimbleness to dodge the bald patches of dirt and grass or a pair of rock…
Everything just clicks
Plenty of goggle brands have introduced interchangeable lens systems over the last several years. The ability to swap lenses tailored for specific conditions has been a boon for powder hounds seeking an edge, but the changing process is still too tedious to do on the mountain. Rimless iterations made things slightly faster, but users still…
Carving out comfort
When it comes to comfort on the slopes, snowboarders have always had two legs up on skiers because of their boots. Freemotion is an upstart company hoping to balance things out in this area thanks to an inventive new design that combines a flexible and soft “comfort boot” with a rigid exo-frame. The two components…
On holiday, off grid
No matter the destination or pursuit, there’s one unpredictable constant that entwines throughout the spirit of adventure — the ever-changing natural elements. Rather than limiting your lifestyle or altering your approach, we’ve compiled this list of 10 critical items that belong in your outdoor gear arsenal. Some you may be familiar with, some you may…
Snow goggles are snow goggles, right? Well, if you don’t care much about ‘em, then yes. But if poor fit and feel, changing weather and slope conditions get you down on your way down, then pay a visit to the Oakey Airbrake, rife with the kind of technology that will make your time on the…