Trukee is an avalanche rescue dog at Heavenly Mountain. The video comes from Chris Child, who works ski patrol at Heavenly in the winter and wildfire management in the summer. Truckee, who hits the slopes with Chris to sniff out trapped avalanche victims and missing skiers and boarders apparently also loves getting in on the downhill action at work, when off duty, we assume.
Truckee and some of the other rescue dogs at Heavenly also apparently love getting a ride up the mountain human style, look at those tails go!
My dad is a good skier. He loves skiing, has all his life, and in those 120-odd years of skiing, the tools of the trade have changed quite a bit.
I remember learning how to ski, and it sucked. I started on bulletproof ice in Norway of all places, did a few years in the alps, and then discovered snowboarding and that I was a lot happier on one piece of wood between my feet.
Fast forward 20 years, and the completely straight toothpicks that I learned to ski on have gone the way of the laser disc, replaced with much more forgiving and fun, shaped skis. The rise in the popularity of skiing has pushed ski technology and innovation to where it is today. As a first time buyer of a pair of skis, walking into a ski shop can seem bewildering and expensive. Actually that second part never changes… it’s always going to seem expensive, because it is, it’s a wicked expensive sport. Anyway, here is a simple rundown of what is going on in the world of skis today.
Skis can be broken down into four main categories, race, on piste, all-mountain, and powder. Ski categories can get a lot more in-depth and application specific, but for now, let’s keep is simple.
Race Skis are designed to do just that. Race on hardpacked, groomed terrain and do it as quickly as possible. Race skis are going to be the longest ski in your quiver. They are also going to have less shape to them than a lot of other types of skis and will likely feature a square rear tip. Race skis are not what you want to be starting off on. They’re less forgiving than many other types of skis due to less shape through the middle and generally being longer. Check out Volkl’s awesome Racetiger line of skis. The Racetiger line is a little wider than a lot of other race skis, leading to a smoother, more forgiving ski at high speeds.
On Piest skis are designed for all levels of skiers, from beginner to expert, and are built to work well on smooth groomed terrain through to light powder and harder ice. They are wider at the front and back of the ski and will often feature a rounded square tail. This shape allows the ski to turn easily and hold the edge through a turn. The Natural Instinct from Head combines a 20% rocker, that’s the curve at the tips of the skis and 80% camber, that’s the curve through the middle of the ski. Here’s a good explanation of camber and rocker. Basically the combination of 20% 80% means that the ski will perform well in a variety of snow conditions and turn easily.
All-mountain skis are designed to be workhorses for good-intermediate through expert skiers. If you are going to be shredding groomers, ducking under the ropes for some out of bounds powder, and then hitting the terrain park for a couple laps all in the same day then these are the skis for you. Designed to be a one-ski quiver All Mountain skis are twin tipped, and are generally a wider ski. We recommend the Enforcer from Nordica. It’s 100mm wide to give you some lift in deeper snow, but has a low rocker profile to maintain full contact in icy conditions.
Powder skis are for those days when you’re going to be floating down fresh, amazing, wonderful, nothing better on the planet powder. They’re big, they’re bulky, they’re probably going to be pretty straight from tip to tail. It’s their width which allows them to float up and over deep powder and give you that cushy floating feeling that’s hard to describe if you’ve never experienced it before… we imagine it’s what it’s like to be on heroin, although we’re not sure. We do know it’s addictive though. Realistically, powder skis are restricted to very good intermediates, through expert skiers. They’re going to be round at tip and tail and will kind of look like water skis. The Friend by J Skis is a bit more of a forgiving option by powder ski standards. It features a little bit more shape to it, which gives it less of a ornery beast feel when not in deep powder. They also are limited to 100 units per design, so you know you’re riding what a good friend should be; special.
We know that’s a lot of information. Why can’t I just walk into a ski store and tell a sales person what I want, and have them give me something that is perfect for me? Well the thing is, ski stores can be hit and miss, and even the best employee is guessing at what might work for you, from what they have skied and what they have in stock. There is another option though, you can custom order skis. This used to be a very time consuming and expensive process, enter Parlor Skis. Parlor Skis have developed a simple four-step system to allow any level of skier to get custom skis made. All you have to do is answer a series of online questions that measure your height and weight, skiing ability, and the terrain you typically ski on and the terrain they want to ski on, and presto they build you a 100% custom, just for you ski.
While we haven’t had customs skis made, everything that Parlor stands for makes sense. Be sure to check them out if you’re in the market for a new pair of skis.
Whether you ski or ride, a day on the mountain works up a killer appetite. And it’s not a normal 9-5 appetite, it’s a craving for substantial, delicious, and hearty. You’ve worked (played) hard and you deserve some solid fuel to get those energy levels up to shred some more gnar the next day. We’ve rounded up some of the best food in six of the best ski towns in the world. To meet our stringent criteria for great mountain food, we’ve selected restaurants based on how satisfied your mountain hunger will be and not having to sell an arm and a leg to dine there, lift tickets are expensive enough, right? Unless you cop free lift tickets at any of these 22 resorts in Japan.
Here is our listing of the best ski town food around the globe:
Whistler Blackcomb needs no introduction. The granddaddy of ski resorts, consistently rated the best, if not one of the best ski and snowboard resorts in the world.
A huge amount of terrain means there is something for every skier and boarder out there, and just about every cuisine under the sun. There is no end of fine dining in Whistler Village, and no end to the amount of money you can spend on said fine dining. From the incredible meat and seafood at Rim Rock Cafe, to hearty fare at Red Door Bistro, and fine dining at the classic Araxi. All phenomenal dining experiences with price tags to match. However, the aforementioned are a little too pricy to make this list. Our pick for the best Mountain food in Whistler is Splitz Grill. Their tagline says it all: “CASUAL PLACE – SERIOUS BURGERS” all caps too, so you know they’re not messing around.
Check it out:
Pro tip: A little bit of Splitz sauce on your burger is indulgent but necessary, and compliments the burger perfectly. Breaded, fried dill pickles are a serious must order at Splitz.
Vail Colorado is another granddaddy of the North American ski and snowboard scene. With more than 5,200 acres of inbound ski and snowboard terrain, seven miles of backcountry bowls, and the most groomed terrain on the planet, not to mention legendary Colorado Champagne powder, Vail is a force to be reckoned with.
Like Whistler, there is no shortage of high-end restaurants to satiate that Rocky Mountain hunger rumbling in your belly. Sweet Basil offers fine French inspired American dining. Excellent seafood and American fare can be found at La Tour and seasonal, locally sourced haut cuisine is the mainstay of Terra Bistro. But our pick for the best Mountain food in Vail takes it’s name from the mountains it can be found driving around in: Rocky Mountain Taco. This mobile cantina can be found at different locations around Vail based on the what’s poppin’ at what time. Their on-point social media game (@rockymountaintaco) is the best way to find them.
The brainchild of Jose Reza, Chris Mc Ginnis, and Dan Purtell, they serve up delicious, affordable tacos, quesadillas, burritos and tortas (think Mexican sandwich) made fresh from quality ingredients.
Jackson Hole is big country and big skiing and riding. Steep and deep is the way the locals like JH shredding, and with copious amounts of dry powder and the newly opened Sweetwater gondola there is no shortage of amazing terrain to get your stoke on.
With stoke comes hunger! Jackson Hole fine dining options include the delightfully cute Blue Lion, serving up hearty and healthy dishes. Fantastic wine and delicious Italian fare with a modern twist can be found at Bin 22, and Persephone Bakery servers up phenomenal, honest rustic French food. However with its cozy historic Main Street location and home-cooked food with a Southern accent, Cafe Genevieve is where we’d go to power our next JH runs.
Niseko is what powder dreams are made of. There are few places that get huge amounts of perfect, dry powder that Niseko sees consistently every season. Combine that with amazing backcountry terrain and the old school charm of skiing and riding in Japan and Niseko is a powderhound’s dry dream.
Japan is a land of fine dining. You could walk into a 7-11 and find something that is actually food and genuinely delicious. But after a day of waist-deep powder, we crave something a little more satisfying than convenience store fodder. Wine and Dine Rakuda and Karabina are two excellent izakaya style restaurants. Izakayas are small Japanese pub type establishments, usually small and intimate, which serve up hearty small dishes meant to be eaten with beer or Japanese highballs. Izakayas are awesome social experiences not to be missed while in Japan. But if we had one meal in Niseko we’d head to Bang Bang Restaurant. We’re guessing Pew Pew Pew was taken, or it’s named after how much flavor their food punches. Bang Bang Restaurant serves Yakitori, or Japanese grilled skewers and meats. Bang Bang also serves delicious fresh sashimi.
Saas Fee, Switzerland is the jewel of the European Alps, and is renowned for having both amazing Winter and Spring skiing and riding thanks to the large glacier sitting at its top. Big open bowls and bluebird days are what Saas Fee is all about and represents that picture perfect town in the Alps.
Switzerland is bordered by five European countries each of which has distinct cuisines, and all of which are well suited to an alpine appetite. Some of the best offerings in Saas Fee can be found at Essstube, meat heavy fine Swiss dining, Zur Muhle for Swiss comfort food such as stroganoff, rosti, and fondue, and Steakhouse Saas. But if we wanted to kick back after a long day on the mountain in Saas Fee, we’d head to Du Saas-Fee. I mean, it has Saas Fee in the name. Du Saas Fee specializes Swiss classics such as fondue and raclette (mmmmm, raclette).
With 38 lifts, 1150 meters of vertical, 2965 acres of shreddable terrain and amazing weather and snow conditions Cerro Catedral is considered one of the best mountain resorts in South America. Located only 22 km from the city of Bariloche, Cerro Catedral is a mecca for Argentineans and international ski tourists alike, serving up bluebird days and Patagonia powder.
If there is one thing that Argentina does well, it’s grill meat, specifically beef. Argentina is home to some of the world’s best steak. Grass fed and free range, Argentines take their beef seriously and La Salamandra Pulperia in Cerro Catedral does steak right. Rincon Patagonico, Butterfly, and Cassis are all great options, but La Salmandra Pulperia can’t be beat for great food and cozy home-like ambiance. Run by a husband and wife team the food is simple, but perfect in its simplicity. Empanadas, steak, and salad, all you need.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go have a snack.
Japan is firmly planted on the international ski and snowboard map, an exotic dream destination for many. Powderhounds the world over start drooling with the mere mention of ski resorts in the Northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido such as Niseko, Tazawako, and Minow, all of which are known for their insane (see below) amounts of high quality, dry powder.
With these resorts being world class destinations, resorts in Fukushima’s lesser known Aizu and Minami Aizu mountain regions are attempting to put their name on the map by offering free lift tickets to anyone with a foreign passport between the ages of 19-24. Simply present your passport at the ticket window and away you go. Now, before you quip about the misleading title of this article, if you hold a foreign passport and you’re over (or under, not sure there 19) 24 you can get lift tickets for roughly USD $17. Not a bad deal any way you look at it. The offer is available through March 31st, 2017, at 22 ski resorts in the Aizu and Minami Aizu mountain region.
The promotion, as reported by local news agency Rocket News 24, is being held by Visit Fukushima, the prefectures’ tourism board. Some of the best looking resorts participating in the promotion are:
If you haven’t seen the cinematic masterpiece that is Ski Schoolthen you need stop whatever it is that you’re doing RIGHT NOW and watch it, seriously, we’ll wait. Ok, got that out of the way? Great. Now, Ski School is clearly the be all end all of films that capture the raw energy and passion of freeskiing. It also showcases the pinnacle of mountain fashion and attitude, and fashion in general that was the year 1991. We just made that sign with our hands that a mustachioed caricature Italian chief would make, you know the pinch your fingers together and kiss them to let the world know “that’sa tastyyyy meataballll” because 1991 was so on point:
But we digress. Redbull (“that’sa tastyyyy energyyy drinkaaa”) decided to take an expanded look at the fashion and skiing styles of five decades of freeskiing in their latest mini documentary Generations of Freeskiing.
Filled to the brim with neon jackets, long tees, and every other awesome fashion fehler (German for mistake, so we’re told) that has hit the slope in the last fifty years, Redbull’s Generations of Freeskiing also features some of the biggest names in modern freeskiing.
To name a few, Jon Olsson, Ben Mayr, Lisa Zimmermann, Nick Goepper, Jesper Tjader, all throw down to make the film as awesome as it is entertaining.
Generations of Freeskiing can be streamed in full, for free on Red Bull TV. Now if you’ll excuse us we’re going to break out the neon and take back the slope from those pesky snowboarders!
Becoming a pro snowboarder takes hours of riding, hard work, determination, and probably a fair share of pain. Of course being a 16 year old prodigy with a private park in your backyard doesn’t hurt things either.
Amongst the most humble of teen pro athletes out there, Red Gerard’s great attitude and relentless energy makes him one of the most likeable young guns in the game. His family splits their time between Ohio and Colorado and during the winter months call Summit County, Colorado home. Sitting on a beautiful piece of property, the family’s home has a sloped backyard which Red and his brothers immediately flagged for a perfect backyard setup. A rode-to-death 50 cc dirtbike powers a homemade rope tow allowing for endless technical rail hits, and fro Red to perfect his craft for competition riding. In Red’s words “I can come home from snowboarding at the mountain, you know, and just like shred in the back yard” What a dream, but you can’t fault his determination and drive either.
Known primarily as a contest powerhouse (it’s easy to forget he’s only 16), Red’s raw talent will propel him into the freeride and all mountain limelight. He recently was featured in the Transworld film, Insight and we can’t wait to see what he brings to the table in 2017.
Check out the trailer Insight, feature Red, below:
And visit Gogorillasafe.com to learn more about GorillaSafe for free anti-theft protection for your outdoor recreation equipment.
Can’t decide if you want to bomb the mountain or rock out at a music festival? Why not do both? We have you covered, here are five of the world’s best ski and snowboard festivals.
Snowbombing, Mayrhofen, Austria
3rd-8th April, 2017
Snowbombing Canada, Sun Peaks, Canada
6th-10th, April, 2017
Snowbombing is the granddaddy of ski and snowboard festivals. It’s the biggest, baddest and raddest ski and snowboard festival of them all.
Where to start? Located in Mayrhofen, Austria, Snowbombing is as the official tag line goes, a “festival 8,497ft above ordinary.” Featuring some of the world’s best skiing and snowbording and world class musical acts performing in unique venues; igloo raves, enchanted forest parties, underground tennis clubs turned super clubs. If that’s not enough, the charming town of Mayrhofen has luxury spas, authentic alpine cuisine, blue runs, black runs and all the schnapps you can drink.
New for 2017, Snowbombing is holding a sister event at Sun Peaks in the Canadian rockies, giveing North America it’s own version of this awesome ski and snowboard festival. Dates: 6th-10th, April, 2017
Situated high in the breath-taking Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, Horizon Festival 2017 features outstanding skiing and snowboarding, two mountain top stages with day and night line-ups from 1pm each day, amazing bars, restaurants, clubs, and a hidden secret stage located deep in lush pine forest. What more could you want from a ski and snowboard festival?
The ski resort offers a kilometer of vertical and outstanding conditions for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders, alongside stunning mountain tops, villages and valleys.
World Ski And Snowboard Festival, Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada
6th-16th, April, 2017
A completely free outdoor and indoor ski, snowboard, music, arts, and everything in-between festival held in Whistler village every April. The World Ski and Snowboard Festival combines everything that makes Whistler great and supersizes it. Ten days and ten nights of spring riding, après, nightlife and culture.
Whistler Blackcomb needs no introduction. Featuring more terrain than you could ski or ride in a month it is consistently ranked as the World’s best ski and snowboarding destinations. Plenty of Spring Sunshine and friendly Canadians makes the World Ski and Snowboard Festival one not to be missed and fun for all ages.
An independent ski & snowboard music festival held in Les Deux Alps, Rise combines fantastic alpine skiing and riding with the hottest in electronic music. Epic parties and a focus on human wellbeing and sustainability along with 222km of pistes and the largest skiable glacier in Europe makes Rise a unique ski and snowboard festival experience. The French resort town of Les Deux Alps is located 3000 meters above sea level and offers European charm, fine dining and . Tickets include a lift pass and access to all night and daytime soirees.
For those of you who like to take to the mountain and have fun at the same time (you monsters, who are you?) then check out the Altitude Comedy Festival. Held in the lovely Tyrolean ski resort of Mayrhofen, this unique festival combines fantastic skiing and riding with stand-up comedy. In addition to world class comedy, skiing and snowboarding the Altitude Festival features late night parties, wonderful food, and an overall great atmosphere for young and old.
The 2017 ski and snowboard season has gotten off to a phenomenal start with amazing levels of snowfall from Whistler to Niseko. However with increase snowfall comes increased risks both on and off-piest. Tree wells are often overlooked as potentially life threatening mountain hazards. Less spectacular and visible than avalanches, they are more common and just as dangerous if not more so. As with avalanches a basic understanding of the threats posed and self-rescue and survival techniques can mean the difference between life and death. The threat of tree wells is made even more prominent as they can occur in-bound, in areas where skiers and borders feel otherwise safe and familiar.
What is a tree well? A tree well is formed when snowfall surrounds the base of a tree yet a void is left as branches directly above the tree well keep snow from accumulated around the trunk of the tree. Think of an umbrella keeping the trunk of the tree ‘dry’. The higher the snowpack, the deeper and more dangerous the tree well.
Danger comes when a skier or boarder falls into a tree well, becoming trapped with the impact potentially knocking snow from branches above onto the individual below. Falling headfirst or being buried by falling snow can cause snow-immersion suffocation (SIS).
The highest risk of becoming trapped in a tree well comes after large snowfalls. The best way to avoid becoming trapped in a tree well is to stay clear of trees! Duh! But if you do ski or ride glades remember that all trees pose a tree well threat, even small trees which don’t appear to pose a risk. Small trees can have surprisingly deep, dangerous tree wells which catch skiers and boarders off guard.
What are some tips to avoid tree wells and survive a tree well incident?
Always ski or ride with a buddy. 90% of tree well entrapment tests found that individuals could not self-rescue. Having a friend nearby can mean the difference between life and death.
Maintain visual contact with that friend and others in your group.
If you see someone who has fallen into a tree well do not assume that they can self rescue, stop and provide assistance and if possible flag down ski patrol, time is critical when dealing with tree well entrapment and SIS.
Ski and ride with a whistle that is within easy reach, ideally located as close to your mouth as possible.
If you find yourself trapped in a tree well, what should you do?
Try to prevent yourself from sliding further down into the tree well by any means possible. Grab branches, wedge yourself against the trunk, the further into the tree well you sink the increase level of danger and risk of SIS.
If you are trapped in the tree well, do not struggle. Struggling after you have fallen in will only lead to the risk of snow falling from branches above and burying you further.
Try to make an air pocket around your face and mouth, this small pocket of air can mean the difference between life and death as every minute of air increase the likelihood of surviving long enough to be rescued.
Stay as calm as possible.
Stay as calm as possible.
Stay as calm as possible. Yup three times. Panicking will increase your rate of air consumption and potentially trap you further. Stay calm and yell or blow your whistle to attract attention and rescue.
What should I do if a member of my party falls into a tree well?
If you cannot immediately find your missing person contact ski patrol and direct them towards your friend’s last known location, then being to search for your missing person.
Listen for any noise which may indicate where your friend is located.
If you have an avalanche beacon switch to search mode and use the same techniques you would with a avalanche rescue.
If you find the tree well victim, determine where their head is and tunnel in from the side to provide immediate air and minimize further injury.
An avalanche skill 1 course will provide you with skills necessary for the best methods to tunnel and rescue a trapped individual. Always tunnel directly to the individuals airway and be careful not to knock more snow onto the victim. Expand out the tunnel to the airway until you can pull your partner out.