With little room left to escape intrusive digital forms of communication, spending time in the outdoors becomes critical for keeping mental sanity. Thankfully, the Canadian Pacific Northwest has plenty of raw, untamed backcountry on offer. The mountains here have become a space where I can appreciate a simpler life and nurture my most precious friendships, away from my stressful everyday lifestyle.
Anyone who’s spent any amount of time flip-flopping between pain and gain in the name of fun can attest to the invaluable lessons offered by adventures in the backcountry. Certainly, well known programs like Outward Bound and NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) have been promoting the experiential education model for decades, building upon theory and pedagogy from the likes of Kurt Hahn and the Duke of Edinburgh to build compassionate, skilled and socially active youth in response to a perceived increase in apathy and laziness thanks to post-war consumerism and modern technology. But are there limits as to who can and should be spending time out of bounds and out of range? Is there a place for kids in the backcountry?
Unless you are riding in a resort, there are few opportunities to purchase a hearty meal on the mountain. Therefore planning your meals ahead becomes critical. With experience, regular backcountry skiers get to know how their stomachs respond to different foods and can pack according to needs of their metabolism. Over many years of ski touring I realized that while each skier has his food preferences, there are distinct trends in the food diet of a backcountry skier. Below is a list of my favourite cheap backcountry meals.
Social media and the Internet are the most accessible way to share information in today’s world. As such, digital photography carries a lot of weight in terms of the images we project and the stories we tell. It’s simply no longer enough to go on vacation and send a postcard, only for it to arrive a week or two later with nothing more than a stock photo of a view you may or may not have actually witnessed with your own eyes. We want to take the pictures ourselves and we want to post them as soon as possible, please and thank you. What’s more, we want them to be impressive. Fortunately, we’ve got some hot tips when it comes to getting the money shot and wowing your virtual circle of friends.
It’s the dream of every skier: To not work, for six months every winter. To have the entire ski season free from the annoying obligation of gainful employment. It’s no easy task, though. Unless you’re independently wealthy or are some twenty something Stanford graduate that has just made zillions designing the latest, greatest smartphone application, taking winters off to ski can be difficult. But even without unlimited financial resource at your disposal, there are jobs out there that can help. Some are tried and true and require no certifications or schooling, while others require a little prep time beforehand to get things rolling. All of them, however, require you to work hard, really hard. In some cases so hard you’ll constantly question whether doing the job is good for your sanity.
Working for a heli skiing outfit has its perks. A few times a year I have the opportunity to leave my desk and travel North to enjoy some fresh turns with guests from around the globe. My experience this February was a little more special than usual. I traveled to Bell 2 Lodge with two long-time friends Greg Foster and Dave MacDonald [check out Dave's video below] – both first time heli skiers. Our main objective was a photo mission to capture imagery from Bell 2 lodge, but we also managed to take advantage of some stunning days in the mountains.
There’s a reason Valentine’s Day falls smack-dab in the middle of winter. Sparkling snow, snuggling by a fire, sipping hot toddies and playing footsies on a bearskin rug – what could be more romantic? Winter is for lovers and, as such, ski chalets make for the perfect Valentine’s getaways. In honour of all things love and snow we’ve compiled a list of the most romantic ski destinations in Canada.
It can be so tempting. Rolling around the hill on a powder day and you see, beyond the signs, vast fields of untracked snow. Sometimes the question that pops into your head is one of wonder. Why is no one skiing back there? Or maybe there are people heading beyond the signs, in which case the question morphs to: If they are going, then why can’t I go?
Indeed. Why can’t you go? At ski resorts in Canada we have the luxury of what is called an open ski area boundary policy. This means that you are free to cross the ski area boundary and access the backcoutry from the ski resort. For the most part, having an open boundary policy is a good thing. People should be able to go skiing wherever the snow is. The difference lies in where you access the backcountry. When you pull over on the side of a logging road and strap your skins on, there’s no confusion about what you’re doing or where you’re going. You are totally on your own. On the ski hill, people are lulled into a false sense of security. When I started ski touring, the dangers of being in the backcountry were completely unknown to me. I thought, like many people, that it was the same as the ski hill. As we all know, that is simply not the case. Going beyond those signs, usually displayed on orange plastic that reads: Ski Are Boundary, Not Patrolled, is a big decision. There is no infrastructure behind that line. Continue reading
The snowboarding movement is facing a slow recession since 2003. Fortunately, not all is lost for the art of sliding sideways, still reaching new grounds notably through the recent popularization of “powsurfs”, or so called noboards. Noboarding consists of sliding down on a binding-free plank, very much like surfing, but on snow.
If you’ve got a ski trip planned in North America this winter, you’ve probably been keeping an eye on the weather. If you’ve been keeping an eye on the weather, you’ve probably noticed a few terms and key words on repeat throughout the season to describe what is shaping up to be a tricky one for pow chasers and ski resorts alike. Some of you may even have some questions about what you’re hearing and reading, like who is El Niño and where is this Pineapple Express? Let us explain…
I remember, years ago, dropping into a wave I had absolutely no business dropping into and having a fairly serious run-in with some locals. The mistakes I made that day were many. First, I didn’t really know how to surf, to dropping in was more like crashing in and second, I was surrounded by competent, local surfers in waves that were way bigger than what I was capable of even surviving, let alone surfing. While I don’t tend to shy away from conflict, on that day, I took my licks and moved on because I was the one in the wrong.
Crafting the ideal ski vacation has as much to do with knowing yourself as it does knowing your options. While we generally like to suggest that any day on skis is a pretty great day, the reality is that lofty expectations or finding yourself too far beyond your comfort zone can ruin an otherwise positive experience. It’s tragic, really. Choosing the right ski vacation for yourself and your crew doesn’t have to be a gamble. Know before you go.
Touring bindings have undergone a fairly significant evolution in the last twenty years. From the Silvretta EasyGo 444′s to the Fritschi Diamirs to the everlasting Dynafit TLTs, there has always been a push from companies to evolve and make things better. For a while, that evolution seemed to deal only with weight; every new generation of binding that came out claimed to be stronger and lighter. But a few years ago, companies started to see something curious. People were skiing on the hill in touring bindings. Much like the need for mountain bikers to have one bike to do it all, skiers were looking for the same thing. With a ski, that’s easier. With a binding, that’s difficult. Continue reading