Austria's Klaus Kroell won a remarkably close downhill in Chamonix, France, on Friday, with a .01-second winning margin over U.S. skier Bode Miller. Kroell, 31, ended a season-long drought in downhill for the Austrian Ski Team, which has historically dominated the event. "Having waited so long it's a great joy, and a great relief," he said. Behind Miller, overall downhill leader Didier Cuche was third after winning three consecutive downhill races before Friday. The top five skiers were separated by only .08 seconds. "The courses seem to be easier," Miller said. "A lot of these races are unbelievable close. That's a challenge in itself to really make sure that you stay focused and pay attention to the things that matter."
This past weekend I was in Alta with my friend Mary for a mindset skiing camp called Ski to Live, led by former Olympic mogul and big-mountain skier Kristen Ulmer (more on that soon). It was my first time skiing at Alta, and while the powder wasn’t as ample as the hype—500 inches on average a year—it was still pretty great, and it’s impossible to beat the convenience. Our flight landed at the Salt Lake airport at 12:30 PM and by 2:30, we'd checked into my room at the slope side Goldminer’s Daughter, changed into ski clothes, bought a $30 late afternoon pass (good from 2:30 til 4:30, gotta love that), and were halfway up the mountain on the Collins lift. Which begs the question: Why would anyone travel anywhere else to ski?
To be fair, Alta isn’t the most family-oriented of Utah ski resorts. It’s steep and the base area is 1970s-minimal, with a couple ski shops, three or four lodges with basic double-bed motel rooms, and a few rental properties. You won’t find a jumbo trampoline, tubing hill, ice rink, indoor swimming pools or kids clubs for après-ski playtime, and the dining room at the all-inclusive Goldminer’s Daughter (world’s friendliest ski hotel, by the way) was filled with dads who’d left their wives and kids at home to ski with the guys. But—and this is a big but—if you get there early enough, you can practically park right next to the lift. Which, when you’re schlepping major amounts of gear and kids, is huge. Huge! Who cares about kiddy terrain parks? Please let me drive our crap directly to the lift line!
Ski-in, ski-out/drive-in, drive out @ the GMD [photo: GoldmIner's Daughter]
There's nothing like a mountain community scorned. As Colorado's Fremont County weighs its decision on whether to grant a land use permit to public artist Christo so he can hang a series of translucent fabric panels above the Arkansas River, hundreds of opponents and supporters gathered at two public meetings this week, in Canon City and Cotopaxi, Colorado. The county's board of commissioners could decide on whether to grant a temporary land use permit for the project as soon as its February 28 meeting.
Christo and his vocal supporters say the art will draw tourism and dollars to the communities along the river. Opponents say the work will hamper traffic on Highway 50, endanger public health and hurt wildlife along the river, and they've escalated their fight this week, filing a lawsuit that claims the Bureau of Land Management violated federal land management and environmental laws when it approved the project late last year. Christo says it's all part of the process.
Every Everest climber, actual or armchair, knows the “Lhotse Face” is a difficult section on the mountain that leads to the Death Zone at 8,000 meters. What some people often miss is that the Face is part of the fourth highest mountain on Earth. Lhotse stands 27,940 feet tall.
While I was sitting in the fake Starbucks in Lukla after my successful Everest summit last year, I overheard a middle-aged climber talking to a group of trekkers, "I just summited Lhotse, it is a lot harder than Everest." The group began to grill him on the details. He rewarded them with tales of “real” climbing, rock fall, and severe altitude—without all the crowds of Everest. “I would never climb Everest,” he sniffed.
Let's cut to the chase. Here are a few of the most eye-catching new survival tools we saw at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.
Wenger Hypex Jewelry: Having a multitool on hand at all times is ideal. But with airline restrictions and general paranoia about people carrying a knife, it’s not always practical. Plus a multitool can feel like a rock in your pocket, and look geeky on your belt. Now, you can always have your most used tools on hard with Wenger’s Hypex Jewelry. Wenger, bast know for its Swiss Army Knife, now makes practical pendants for mountain men that look like art. One is a screwdriver, anther a metric wrench, and yet another a corkscrew. (Wenger’s take on what tools you need in an emergency is broad).
“Rather than offering jewelry with a novelty use or survival gear that looked pretty, we bridged the two,” said Alex Reed, CEO of Axel Productions, official Licensee of Wenger.
When you turn your next hike into a summit date, bust out a picnic and open the wine with your necklace. She'll be somewhere between impressed and in love. Available June 2012, $50-$100, wengerna.com