Friday, December 24, 2010

Xmas Eve Dawn Patrol

Splattski and I have a tradition of skiing on Christmas Eve.  We usually try to get out early and be back in town before the liquor store closes.  I love to dawn patrol and be back before noon.  Today we skied Freeman and had reasonably good snow conditions.  Good enough to take two laps on the lower half!

The moon was out, but not enough to see without a headlamp.  It was cold as we geared up to start skinning up.

After about 45 minutes the sun came up and revealed a wee bit of alpenglow.  John is surveying the potential lines on the way down.

This picture could be from last year's Xmas Eve trip!  I guess it IS better to be lucky than good!

Turns in the shade and trees were great.  Boot-grabby zipper crust was present elsewhere.  It's supposed to be warmer, so we'll see what happens to the conditions.

Here's to another great year!  I hope the 1.3 people that read my ramblings have a great Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cornice Cutter

After my trip up to Copper on Tuesday and seeing the fledgling cornices hanging over my favorite lines, I remembered my old Rutschblock cord.  I had made it out of 2mm cord and knotted very small nuts in the center.  It was about 19 feet.  Just long enough to cut a Rutschblock.  G3 also makes the G3 Rutschblock Cord, which is a wire version.  Neither are long enough to safely cut a cornice.

I had found a very cool product last year called the Backcountry Bomb.  It's a device specifically made to cut cornices.  I decided to make my own.  Here's how:

First you will need to head down to Lowe's or Home Depot or similar.  Pick up 41 feet of 1/16 uncoated wire,  one bag of 1/16 swage/stopper fittings (there's X2 per bag), and two 1/2 X 1/2 PVC Tees.

Then gather the following complex tools; hammer, blunt chisel (or screwdriver you don't like), pliers, duct tape.

Feed the wire into the stopper and then put on the swage.  Fit it so it makes it around the 1/2 pipe of the tee.  Have about 1/4 inch of wire sticking out from the bottom of the swage.

Crimp it with the pliers to hold it in place while you get your swage tool.  If you don't have a swage tool, a blunt chisel or old regular screwdriver will work.

Crimp the swage with the chisel or swage tool.

Butt the stopper up to the wire and flatten it with the hammer.  The swage should have nice, neat indentations on both sides.  Repeat with the other end of the wire.

Feed the loop up through the bottom of the Tee and out one side, then looped over the other.  The stopper should catch the edge when pulled from the bottom.  This helps give it more strength instead of just pulling on the loop.  This is how the cutter will look when you actually use it.  Grasp it like you are starting a lawnmower. 

Now paint the handles a nice manly color so the cornice knows you mean business.  Also it should be bright and not white since you may drop one in the snow.  Duh!  Push a loop through the side and poke it through the bottom and then into the other handle's bottom and out the side.  Place the Tee's together and start winding the wire around as see below.  DO NOT wind it like you used to wind extension cords when you were a kid and your Dad yelled at you.  Instead, turn the Tee's (actually, now an H) end for end and feed the wire on.  It will wind up and deploy a lot easier if you always do it that way.

It is about the size of a sandwich and weighs in at around 7 ounces.  If I wasn't sure that I was going to encounter cornices, I would rather pack another turkey sandwich.  If you are going to encounter cornices that you want to cut to test a slope you want to ski and you absolutely KNOW there's nobody below you, it's worth the weight.

The easiest way to use it is to probe the shit out of the top to make sure you aren't where it will fracture just by standing around.  

Then use a keychain carabiner to clip a loop (minus the handle) to your probe's top loop and sling it around the cornice from a distance.  It's probably not a bad idea to rope up, either.  Once around the cornice, start sawing.  Two people works well, but one is fine and the other person can manage the belay (if used).  Drop the cornice and observe what the slope does.  If you drop a 900 pound cornice down a chute and nothing happens, it's pretty safe to say that you can ski it!  Just don't get cut-happy and scour chutes of their snowpack before they can stabilize.  

I'm coming for you buddy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Today was my first time on Copper for this year.  What a day to do it!  Excellent snow was down on the lower flanks.  Bob and I skinned to the summit and skied down the face, but the snow was less that great.  Still great, just slightly less great than the lower flanks.

The cornices are big, but not as big as I've seen them.  It still seems to unstable to hit any of the shots off the back.

After we got down off the summit, we met up with Joel and Charlie and made a couple laps on the lower flanks.

I didn't take many pictures.  I was too excited by the great snow!

Dynafit mount and test run.

Skiing is up at Sunset. Great snow this weekend up there. It was the place to be and we met quite a few people up there. Plenty of pow for all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Book...

I love to read!  Tim Ferriss had written a book called "The Four-Hour Workweek" and I liked it a lot.  I was not surprised he followed it up with another book about a nonconventional approach to a conventional method.  He is a fitness freak and basically made himself a guinea pig for some wild experiments!  Here is his new book:

People may scoff and he has his critics, but a lot of what he has done in the realm of "body hacking" is backed by proof.  I don't mind working hard, but I don't like wasting my time!  Check the book out.  You won't be disappointed!

Sorry to throw a promotional up on here, but I am stoked about this book!  I promise I will be skiing the backcountry this weekend and not reading!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sunset Peak

Toured up to the lookout at Sunset.  It's great snow up there.  Almost worth the long skin up there.  Might not be there tomorrow with the rain that's supposed to be coming.  Damn!

Freeman Peak looking pretty bare!

Pilot's looking pretty bare, too!

Totally cool Ore Smasher!

John is standing on the dam that powered the Ore Smasher.  He's taking a picture of me taking a picture of him taking a picture of me.

Terrain selection is great up at Sunset.

Very good tour!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I have been wanting to explore some more of Idaho's lesser skied Backcountry.  I use older guidebooks since it seems that people in the past were a little more into exploring and did some really cool traverses in the 70's that I love to read about.

I decided to head over to the Smoky Mountains north of SV.  I picked up Chris very late after I forgot to set my alarm.  We started about an hour and a half later than I wanted.  It worked out pretty well and we got to the pull-out north of Baker Creek road at around 9 a.m.  As we were getting our skis out, Chris Lundy and Simon Trautman pulled up behind us.  We were going to have fun and they were going to go work.  

We set out first and broke trail up to the bottom of the ridge and then Chris and Simon took over.  We enjoyed our government sponsored skin track up to about 8200'.  The Avy forecasters stopped to dig a pit and we continued on up to Elk Flats (8632).   We continued to skin up the NE ridge.  Chris and Simon caught up with us and broke the rest of the way to the summit.  Chris R. started not feeling very well and waited below in a safe spot while I continued on to the summit.  They skied down to the SE and I skied back down the east ridge to the nice open shots above Elk Flats.  Turns from the top were NICE!  Very deep for the time of the year.  I wasn't expecting such great snow.

The open slopes above Elk Flats are only about 300'-400' of descent.  But they are sweet.  In the video below, I am the small speck enjoying December 4th knee deep powder!

Chris wasn't feeling well at all so we made one run and skied back out.  I misjudged our traverse trajectory because of an awesome face that needed to be skied.  Unfortunately, this put us at the top of the old clear cut.  It was an awesome run of Class V survival skiing!

We got back and jumped in the Subaru, cranked the heater, and made our way back to town.  We stopped at KB's and I devoured a regular sized burrito in about 10 minutes.  I love that place!  We are having a great start to this year!