Hooray! Snow!!

Finally, we received some snow in quality and quantity -- 11 inches.  The forecast was for an inch or two, so this was a pleasant surprise.

After an hour of shoveling, Julie and I headed up to Bridger Bowl.  Unfortunately, when we arrived, I realized that my telemark ski bindings were missing some key parts.  My gear tweaking side bit me in the butt today.  Julie skied while I drove home to get said parts before coming back to Bridger.  An hour and a half later, I was finally skiing.  Although my ski day was shortened, it was still fun!

Beware the rocks and stumps and things under the snow.   No skiing pictures, but I do have a couple of pics from around the homestead.

4Runner

Jack

Mad

Christmas 2006 in Cooke City

Julie and I loaded up the XC skis and the dogs and headed for Cooke City to spend Christmas with Jim and Katherine (and her two cats). We feasted on bison steaks, turkey, and lots of goodies and enjoyed watching the dogs and cats learn to survive each other.

Given the thin snowpack in and around Bozeman, Cooke City delivered a nice treat with a solid base of snow, including a nice new white coating. We XC skied a couple of days and enjoyed the quiet ambience and plentiful snow. After two half days skiing the scrape at Bridger Bowl (Dec 22, opening day, and Dec 23) we were more than satisfied.

Link to pictures in the image gallery.

Cooke City

Jim on the move

Cowdog and dogs

Cowdog and dogs

Dec 20-21 Colorado: Lots of snow!

A subtantial snow storm took over Colorado and burried the Front Range in several feet of snow. Snow slogging family members sent some pictures. We can honestly say that we wish we were there. What fun!

Rose and Ella

Rose and Ella

Pop and Chad

Deck

December 16-17

Three skiers (Julie, Hugh, and cowdog) and three dogs (Jack, Mad, and Annie) played in about four inches of fresh snow at Bridger Bowl on Saturday 12/16 and again on Sunday 12/17.  We skied the Fingers Saturday and the Apron Sunday, finding very nice snow both days.  I didn't take any pictures.

The highlights were 2 bull moose, a small slough that took Jack and Maddie for a ride, and the aftermath of 2 small avalanches on the Apron that kept us on our toes. 

The future of telemark ski gear?

This is only the second non-skiing weekend for me since mid-October. There is snow everywhere, but it is thin and has seen a bit too much sun and warmth from a week of high pressure. The excellent early snow from October melted, and we have yet to see a good solid snow to get things rolling. Bridger Bowl is not yet open, and Big Sky only has some modest terrain open. Due to a strong El Nino and other factors, our winter forecast is warmer and drier.

But even without skiing, there is interesting ski news regarding telemark skiing.

If you are a telemark skier, you are used to the current suite of binding/boot options all based on the original 75mm telemark norm. Crispi, Garmont, and Scarpa all make a nice range of plastic telemark books. We have many great bindings now, several with excellent skiing performance and a couple that have reliable release. But telemark still lacks the combination of step-in and release with bomber durabiltiy and great ski performance.

Regardless of gear "limitations," current telemark gear does not seem to be a limiting factor -- telemark skiing has never been more popular with so many great gear options.

The next step in telemark bindings, part 1.  Rottefella has come up with a new telemark binding and boot system, NTN, that gets rid of the duckbill (the front extension of the telemark boot that had the 3 pin holes) and promises improved skiing performance and options for release. This system will hit the market soon. The downside is that you will need new boots to work with this system. Below is a picture of the NTN system from telemarktips.com (they have it courtesy of BCA, who will distribute Rottefella bindings in the US).

NTN image from telemarktips.com (from BCA)

The next step in telemark bindings, part 2.  Black Diamond has just announced a new telemark binding system that offers all the goodies like step-in, release, and peformance but is backward compatible with current telemark boots (the duckbill lives on). The downside is that nobody outside of Black Diamond has seen or skied this system, and it won't be available until 2008. You can read more about this system via a news item/commentary from telemarktips.com.

There is plenty of debate about these two telemark binding/boot systems, but the bottom line is that telemark skiing is poised to take a needed step forward in gear. Competition can be very good. As it is, AT (alpine touring) gear has stepped up in recent years with the excellent Dynafit bindings for backcountry use and the wide ranging resort/backcountry bindings from Fritschi and Naxo. For adventure skiing where the emphasis is on flexibility to go and ski what you want, telemark has strong competiton from AT. In fact, I think AT gear is currently the most efficient and practical option for backcountry skiing, esp. with the excellent Dynafit system.  But telemark still has that soulful turn and attractive image.  Regardless of AT, most backcountry skiers I know prefer telemark.  How this all turns out for telemark skiing will depend on the next several years, but this is certainly an interesting time for telemark skiing.  I for one hope the future is very bright for telemark skiing.

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