The Outside Blog

Skiing and Snowboarding : Jan 2012

Sweet Family Ski Deals

Paul_Morrison_0612_0073-2Good times for all in the Whistler high country [Photo: Paul Morrison]

Now that the snow is finally falling in the Pacific Northwest, Rockies, and Northeast, it’s time to start chasing powder. Given the steep costs and major schlep factor, family ski trips can tip just that side of “worth it”—especially when you’re forking over major moula. But thanks to a new crop of up-to-the-minute deals, you can go where the snow is and still save a bundle, especially if you don’t mind booking at the last minute, are flexible with your travel dates, and can steer (mostly) clear of peak holiday weeks. 

Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
Kids are free for the whole month of March at this BC behemoth, which has gotten 18 feet of freshies to date and boasts a 76-inch base. No, not free for the taking, but free for the skiing: Your littles’ lift tickets, lodging, rental, and airport transfers won’t cost you a dime when you reserve a three-day lift and lodging package (including the 5th Night Free deal) before January 31. Kids’ ski and snowboard lessons start as young as three, and the two-day Roxy Jr Snow Camp for girls age 13-18 runs March 24-25.

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Erasing the Compressor Route


CerroTorre1         Photo: SN#1

Last Monday, Jason Kruk and Hayden Kennedy made the first fair-means ascent of the Compressor on Cerro Torre's southeast ridge, a controversial climb dominated by a massive, 400-bolt ladder up a blank face. On the way down, they removed most of the bolts, chopping hundreds on the headwall and the pitches below.

As word spread of Kennedy and Kruk's actions, the pair faced an immediate backlash. Police detained the two climbers and confiscated 102 bolts from them. A mob of irate locals showed up at their cabin in the nearby town of El Chaltén, papering the windows with posters bearing slogans like "Out of El Chaltén" and "Jason and Hayden Go Home!"

"We didn't expect all this, and we didn't expect that we were going to end up at the police station," Kennedy told El Chaltén's La Cachaña news site. "All the same, when we made the decision to chop the bolts, Jason and I had to be ready to face the consequences."

Predictably, the news has sparked a debate. On one side are climbers like Patagonia local Rolando Garibotti, who has called the route a "disfigurement" and praised its removal as a return to a more natural state for the mountain. On the other are those like author Gregory Crouch, who argued in a blog post that climbers should have had the opportunity to decide the route's future as a community. "In my mind, a great piece of history has been taken from us, and we are the poorer for its loss," he wrote.

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Everest Base Camp, Russell Brice Style

I’ve been in many base camps but I knew I was somewhere special when I was told “… and this is our garbage tent.” Welcome to Everest Base Camp, Russell Brice style. In 2011 while climbing Everest, I spent the afternoon with Brice getting to know this man and how he runs his expedition base camps. Let’s just say, it’s different.

Most expeditions will promote their excellent base camp facilities and talk of gourmet food, individual tents, and clean kitchens. Today, this is the ante to play the game and let me say from the start that many operators take great pride in their base camps, and rightfully so. With guided expeditions becoming more competitive along with soaring prices, climbers are starting to expect more, sometimes unrealistically so.

Everest Base Camp

A base camp is just that, the camp where you are based for an expedition. In this sense, you want it to be comfortable, clean and convenient. A place where you can recharge after a difficult acclimatization climb or regroup after a summit bid. A place you literally call your home away from home.

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Sh*t Cyclists Say

My friend, Lauren, likes to call cyclists "total DBags," and though a big part of my life revolves around cycling I'm generally inclined to agree with her.

Lauren's quibble—partly affectionate, deathly serious—isn't with biking, per se: she rides plenty, and her partner is not only blazing fast on a bike but he's also the owner of Over The Edge Sedona. What she mocks—and I'm on board, though just as guilty as the next guy—is the misguided snobbery, the ridiculous self-satisfaction, and the absurd contradictions that so often go along with cycling culture. How many cyclists proudly have more money invested in bikes than in a car? How often do you fuss to trim a few grams of weight in bike parts but then pile on seconds and thirds of pasta and another round of drinks? And what about all the times you can't ride with friends because of a "workout"?

I couldn't help but pass this pair of videos on to Lauren, and not only because she frequently lampoons many of these very absurdities but also because she's right. Having just spent a week surrounded by bike geeks in Tucson, I heard some iteration of almost every single one of these lines, without so much as a hint of irony. One guy even tried this one—"These ceramic bearings roll so much faster!"—before catching himself with, "They are ceramic, right?"

They were not, but man did those hubs feel fast.



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Study: Tweens Not Wearing Enough Sunscreen

It’s late January. The days are getting longer, the sun is getting just a teensy bit stronger. Who doesn't have beach days or bluebird powder days on the brain? Which brings to mind one of parenthood’s more onerous tasks: applying sunscreen. It’s sticky, the kids are wriggly, and if you buy the all-natural stuff you and said child inevitably will be coated in clumps of gloppy white stuff, which he or she may or may not try to eat. But there’s no question that a painful sunburn is a much worse alternative, so it’s a chore we tolerate until the kids are old enough to do it themselves. Unfortunately, that day just got a little farther away, according to a new study in the February issue of the Journal of Pediatrics

The study, conducted by researchers at Memorial-Sloan Kettering in New York, found that half of a group of 360 fifth graders wore sunscreen regularly, but three years later, when that same sample group reached junior high, the stat had dropped to 25 percent. Why? Presumably because their parents had stopped  doing it for them. The study also reported that middle school kids spend more time in the sun and are more interested in tanning than little kids. As someone who grew up in New Jersey in the late 80s, where the after-school activity of choice was to “lie out” in the backyard or roof deck slathered in baby oil, with tin-foil wings for added reflectivity (sorry, skin), believe me, I can relate. What is a little sobering, though, is the fact that two decades of skin cancer awareness doesn’t appear to be trickling down to this group of tweens. 

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