Telemark and backcountry skiing

Skiing Jan 20-21 -- Bridger Bowl and Mt. Ellis

GroupWe had fun skiing this weekend. On Saturday, Julie and I met up with a group at Bridger Bowl and enjoyed snowy conditions, occassionally with very tough visibility. We managed one Ridge Hike (Ohs to Bridger Gulley) and lots of runs all over the lower mountain. We skied with Derek and Erin, Hugh, Lindsey, Collen and Steve, and some new ski friends (Sven, Crissy, and one other ??). We also saw many other friends up Bridger. One bummer. I did a mild compression of a ski edge on my new Volkl Mantra skis. Sigh. Beware the rocks! A few pictures here.

On Sunday, Hugh (w/ Annie) and I took 2.25 hours to skin up Mt. Ellis and then enjoyed delightful skiing on one of Bozeman's backyard backcountry ski destinations. The long climb covers 3000 vertical feet of trails, switchback skin tracks on a steep forested mountain side, and a long but mellow climb along the ridge of Mt. Ellis. The skiing consists of nice steep tree runs with open glades. A burn in the past helped to open Mt. Ellis. With many inches of fresh snow, the skiing was excellent. We made it home in time to watch the Bears defeat the Saints. Go Bears! More pictures here.

Ellis slopes

Sunday was also a milestone for me in terms of ski gear. This was my first full backcountry day using dynafit AT bindings. I am so impressed with this AT setup. For backcountry use, lightweight dynafit bindings are ideal. I actually started to feel sorry for tele and non-dynafit AT skiers I saw that day.

RIP Polelockski

Polelockski (Vic) was a ski buddy and friend I met through an online telemark skiing web site, We shared a passion for skiing and Montana that eventually led to a friendship. Julie and I enjoyed the times we spent with Vic and his wife Sheila. Sadly, polelockski passed away from brain cancer on January 17, 2007. He was a quality person who shared his passion for life to all who knew him. True to form, he faced his horrible cancer with courage, honor, and sometimes, humor. I will never forget him.

Vic at Bridger Bowl

Vic and Sheila at Moonlight

Can you say randonée?

A former K2 telemark adverstisement proclaimed that randonée is "French for can't tele." Well, randonée or alpine touring (AT) is simple a genre of gear that pivots at the toe with a free heel for touring (with skins that stick to the bottom of the skis so you can go uphill). And then when time to ski down, you lock the heel and ski as if you were alpine skiing. For a long time AT gear was heavy with questionable durability. To tele skiers, AT was the evil darkside, for those who couldn't tele ski.

Well, I've had a beefy AT setup in the quiver for a couple of years now. That's old news. The news today is that I now have state of the art lightweight and bomber AT gear: Dynafit bindings and Dynafit compatible boots. This is very cool gear, light and proven durable. I am very excited to try it out. I am also now officially a telemark sinner.

The skis on the right are mounted with Dynafit comfort bindings:

Ski quiver

Here is a shot showing how the skis work for touring. Note that the back heel piece simply turns to provide varying levels of heel support while climbing -- very slick.

dynafits on the bench

Happy New Year!

We celebrated the new year by skiing and watching college football bowl games. Finishing off a three day weekend, we pulled out the XC skis and zipped up and down a popular local trail with the dogs (no pictures). This year, the Forest Service trail is groomed by the Bridger Ski Foundation, offering Bozeman's plentiful nordic skiers an outstanding skiing resource. Skate skiers and every sort of XC skier were encountered, in other words, a lot of fit people. That gives us 8 skiing days out of the last 12 days, and that feels like a nice way to start 2007.

We wish all of you a happy and healthy 2007!

Teaser: cowdog has interesting new ski gear arriving this week. And to you of the telemark religion, I am sorry, for I have sinned. Stay tuned...

Last ski day of 2006, Dec 31st

Yesterday Julie and I met up with our elusive friends Derek and Erin for a Bridger Bowl ski day (no pictures). Today, we decided the dogs needed some ski loving too, so Hugh, Julie, and I took the dogs (Annie, Jack, and Mad) out for a modest backcountry day up Goose Creek. We had a lot of fun, and the skiing kept us almost as entertained as watching those crazy dogs do their thing.

Julie skins up

Hugh and Annie

Julie makes turns

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