#FirstSnow in #Utah

I really hope snow hashtags don't catch on. They're #prettylame

I really hope snow hashtags don’t catch on. They’re #prettylame

If Instagram, Facebook and Twitter were built solely for residents of Utah, they would have all broken yesterday.  All because it snowed a couple inches in late-September. Luckily, Ski Utah was there to capture it.

It was actually kind of fun watching social media posts as the storm moved across the state from the Northwest. First Snowbasin, then Pow Mow (probably because there’s no cell service up there), then Alta, Bird, Soli, and Brighton, then the PC resorts (because we always get less snow). Even Main Street, Park City saw some flurries. By 11 pm it was snowing pretty heavily at the house.

Ski season is just around the corner #winteriscoming (that’s never going to get old. Ever!).

Dammit, it's an epidemic #birdflu #sars #blackplague

Dammit, it’s an epidemic #birdflu #sars #blackplague

Oh, there’s more snow on the way too.

People Skied In Silverton, CO Yesterday (September 23rd!)

Without the date, the title of this blog entry is pretty uninteresting. In any given year, people ski in Silverton, CO more days than not. But today is September 24th, making yesterday September 23rd. That’s earlier than usual.

This ski patrol asshole skied yesterday while I was working. Photo Credit: Some other asshole

This ski patrol asshole skied yesterday while I was working. Photo Credit: some other asshole

This photo all but guarantees we will have an amazingly, epicly, epic season with more snow than ever before in the history of snow record keeping. But seriously, it’s supposed to snow in Park City this week. I hope it’s enough to go slide around a little.

It’s funny that Matt and I were the first guys skiing powder last year. I’m sure no one thought we were assholes though. I’m sure we were just badasses.

Reblog from Tiffehr.com: My Sister’s Toast At My Wedding

A toast to my brother on his wedding.

I gave the following 2min (by bride’s rules) toast to my brother and his new wife earlier this evening in Park City, Utah:

 

Not too long ago, I noticed a young woman appearing in Adam’s Facebook photos.  Then on Instagram, I think, which of course Adam cross-posts to Twitter and Tumblr so you see the same photo over and over again.

But when Adam first mentioned Liz on his blog, I thought, “Aha! Adam really likes this girl.”

During one of my winter visits, we went skiing at Powder Mountain.  Adam had mentioned Liz was an excellent snowboarder but I didn’t think about the importance of that until our the first run as a group. As I stood at the top of the mountain, looking down to where Adam usually stops to wait for me.

I saw Liz pass him and stop to wait.  Then Adam caught up.  That was awesome.  I had an overwhelming feeling that things were right. Complete.  Everything was balanced.

Any vague sisterly concern about Liz I could invent, if pressed to do so, was nothing compared to seeing Liz keep pace with my brother and his special laws of gravity. You’ve heard that theme many times this evening but it is true and right.

Back that day at Powder Mountain, I started skiing down to meet them.  At which point I think they took off again but that’s fine.

I still feel that right-ness and balance today, during this wonderful evening celebrating Adam and Liz together. Look around at all these old and new friends. And old and new family.

Adam, I look forward to what’s next for you, as always. And I expect you to blog about it, so I can keep daily tabs from afar, please.

Liz, welcoming you to the family seems silly:  you fit right in the moment we met you.

 

It’s cliche, but the whole wedding experience was such a blur. Even before the shot ski and Fireball combo really gained momentum, I found myself constantly reminding myself take a few breaths and enjoy every moment of the wedding as they were happening. It didn’t work as the whole day/weekend flew by right in front of me. I often found myself almost detached from the experience, like I was watching myself from a set of bleachers on the side of the venue.

The toasts were especially tricky to recall in the days following the reception. Despite having an unusually high number of toasts from family and friends, I had trouble remembering anything that anyone said. Thus, I was pretty relieved to find that my sister had posted a written copy of her toast on her blog.

Great toast from my amazing sister. Although now I feel more obligated than ever to start blogging again. Thanks a lot, sis.

Stop Using Sidecountry

I recently came across an interesting blog entry on the Utah Avalanche Center’s website. The post, titled “We Created the Monster. Now Let’s Bury It,” discusses the widespread usage of the word “Sidecountry” when referring to lift-accessed backcountry skiing. I am guilty of using it often in daily conversation and in this blog.

Reading the article, my first reaction was to defend the use of the Sidecountry. It’s not only more descriptive, it doesn’t sound as intense as a day spent hiking, skinning and skiing in the backcountry. Personally, sidecountry skiing sounds as if you were skiing around a resort with your avi gear and decided to duck out of bounds for a few laps. Which is exactly the reason why it makes sense to eliminate usage of the word altogether. As Jake Hutchinson says in the blog,

“It’s just sidecountry…”  probably the most common response to any line of questioning.  It’s almost like a crutch, the easy out.  Reminds me of the all too cliche “everyone else is doing it”.  It seems to allow reasonable people to justify, feel better about, or minimize the risks they are about to undertake.  It’s almost as if the term resolves any internal moral dilemma they may have – it helps speed their way into those heuristic traps we speak so much about as educators.

Hard to argue with that point. Just recognizing that backcountry skiing is backcountry skiing, regardless of how you got there, will lead to better decision making in avalanche terrain. I know there have been times when I have taken unnecessary risks because I was so close to a ski resort. In reality, if an avalanche did occur just outside a resort’s boundaries, a buried skier would not survive long enough for ski patrol to be of much help.

From the NSAA Journal article referenced – there is a “Kinder, gentler implication…” in the term sidecountry, it suddenly becomes something attainable for normal people, from the 20 something kid mentioned to the family of four vacating from Texas.

Since reading the article, I have tried to eliminate the word from my vocabulary. It’s not easy, but I’ve found that simply correcting myself when I am standing above a line in the sidecountry backcountry, is enough of a reminder that I stop for a second to reconsider the slope I’m about to ski.  It really does work.

Useful Avalanche Tips From Freeskier.com’s @BrodyLeven

Instagram celebrity and Freeskier.com writer, Brody Leven, recently wrote up an outline of some key takeaways from the UAC Freeride Avalanche Summit at Snowbird. All ten points are worth re-posting, but I think that would be plagiarism or at least frowned upon in some circles. So, I’ll just post a couple that I think may entice you to read his full article.

 

Top 10 takeaways from Utah Avalanche Center’s Snowbird Freeride Avalanche Summit – by Brody Leven : Freeskier.com

    • 3. Ongoing education is essential, regardless of your personal experiences. The longer you’re in this, the more theories and practices change and develop.
    • 4. It is vital to communicate a plan with everyone in your backcountry party. Never assume anything and never become complacent to decisions being made.
    • 5. Snow isn’t static, but very dynamic. Because it is constantly changing, situational awareness is key. Become familiar with the snow, your run, your partners, and yourself.

Another Dutch Draw Avalanche Today

Skiers barely escape Park City avalanche – ABC4.com

“I’ve never seen anything like that, it was a pretty mind blowing experience,” August James said.

James and his group hiked out of bounds at The Canyons to find fresh powder, that’s how they ended up at Dutch Draw, an avalanche zone.

“We got down to the bottom of Dutch Draw and were kind of celebrating and that’s when I looked up and here comes a tsunami of snow about 200 yards wide,” James said.

August is a friend of a friend, another Park City local that triggered an avalanche on Dutch’s. Last year, my friend Timmy was killed a few hundred yards from where this slide occurred. Pretty crazy stuff.

Liz and Gold were skiing Canyons today when the police, fire, and search and rescue crews showed up. I was sitting at home with a knee injury. The Utah Avalanche Center listed today’s avalanche danger as “considerable,” and noted today could be one of those days where something bad happens.

These persistent slabs are now generally buried 18-36″ deep across the Wasatch…and I suspect they will continue to be problematic for the next few days, if not more.  A poor snowpack structure -as described – with a significant load – as described – should be treated as suspect.  To me they are particularly dangerous because they are covered now by 5 star powder and stubborn wind drifts.  They are also inconsistently at best, dangerously at worst – reactive to ski and slope cuts and cornice drops.  Clear skies, excellent powder, and slowly dropping hazard with a persistent weak layer has long been a tragic combination.  

Looks like the Utah Avalanche Center got it right again.

I can’t help but wonder what I would have done today had I been healthy enough to ski I typically would not ski out of bounds on a day with “considerable” avalanche danger. The clear blue skies and three feet of blower powder would be tough to resist.  Lesson learned. Thankfully no one was hurt this time.

My YouTube Channel Has 15,000 Views!

NBD

It seemed like just yesterday when I crossed the 10,000 view threshold. My popularity is growing exponentially. That exponent is rather small, but it is growing in a non-linear fashion!

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