Utah's Wasatch Mountains are teeming with guys who geek out over depth hoar. But there are only a few snow scientists on par with Dean Cardinale. In addition to being one of Snowbird's avalanche forecasters, the 38-year-old is also the president of Wasatch Backcountry Rescue and a certified instructor with the American Avalanche Association. He spoke to
OUTSIDE: How’s the weather?
CARDINALE: It’s nice right now, nice view and sunset. There’s quite a bit of snow, and the conditions are pretty goodkind of springtime-type corn.
You’re working on the Seven Summits, right?
Yeah. I climbed Everest in 2005, and Kilimanjaro, Denali, and now Elbrus. I’ve got my own guiding business now [World Wide Trekking, wwtrek.com]. After the ski and climb here, I’m taking a group to Kilimanjaro, and then I’m heading back to Nepal.
But you’re returning to Snowbird this winter?
Oh, yeah, Snowbird’s my main gig. It’s where my home is, where my heart is. I usually get back in mid-October to make sure I’m all set up with the weather instrumentation before the snow flies. And once it starts, I’m in the field every day doing data collection and control work.
Any backcountry advice?
Don’t get too comfortable with it. And of course you need to be prepared and get out there and practice your rescue skills. There are now four fully automated rescue-training facilities scattered about the Wasatch backcountry. [The training is free. Go to wasatchbackcountryrescue.org for more information and locations.]
What’s your favorite piece of rescue gear?
The most important thing is that you need to think of it allbeacon, probe, and shovelas a package, and you need to be able to use each one as fast as you can. My new favorite piece of gear is actually a Petzl Tikka XP [$50; petzl.com]. It has this little slider that changes the light from a long spot beam to a more diffuse LED beam for working at your hands. When it’s cold and dark, a handy feature like that can mean so much.
Like a lot of telemarkers, Nick DeVore crochets his own hats, studies Eastern philosophy, and worries about his carbon footprint (last summer he worked at an organic-veggie stand in Aspen). Unlike a lot of them, the 22-year-old skis as well as the world's best alpine skiers: Last winter, he was the only freeheeler to make it to the finals in the U.S. Freesk
OUTSIDE: Yoga, huh?
DeVORE: It helps clear my mind and reverses the blood flow after hiking hard. The headstand is a yoga posture that I have been fine-tuning for a while. I do it on top of peaks sometimes. I’m actually trained to be a yoga instructor.
Headstands on jagged rocks? You must like pain.
Yeah. Last winter, a buddy and I competed in the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse, a 40-mile backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen. It was painful, but it was an adventure. There was a gnarly windstorm, and we got frostbite. It took us nine hours and 48 minutes. But you’re out there in the middle of nowhere and there’s not much you can do except keep going.
How did you get into telemark skiing?
I started going on winter hut trips in middle school wearing leather touring boots. When I was 14, my family moved to Chamonix, France, and I got my first plastic tele boots. A year later, we moved back and I sold my alpine gear pretty quickly. I’m never going back.
A lot has changed since the days of leather boots.
It’s amazing how much the sport has progressed, even in the last three years. Mainly due to the gear and the media. I’m always blown away by how many telemark skiers I see in Aspen now.
What gear is a must-have for you?
I won’t leave home without my Giro Fuse helmet with wireless [Tune Ups; $340; giro.com]. It helps get the rhythm going.
Your friends say they call you a dreamer.
Most of my ideas come while skiing in the backcountry. I think mountains emit high energy, and altitude is good for the body and mind. Mountains are great teachers and are amazing places for people to think and learn and listen and watch … Wow, I guess I just went off. Well, there you go.
In 2002, at the relatively late age of 22 and after pursuing a career in professional soccer with the Canadian junior national team, Leanne Pelosi moved to Whistler and took up snowboarding in earnest. She turned pro within two years, proving that good things really do come to those who wait.
OUTSIDE: What’s changed since you started snowboarding?
PELOSI: In the last few years, there has been a lot more support from the industry and a lot more money being put into women’s events and sponsorships. Because of that, there are a lot more girls participating, and the trick level has been raised. You’re seeing girls throw down 900’s at contests.
So the competition has become a lot harder?
Yes, and it’s progressing in different areas. There’s the backcountry. Girls own snowmobiles and go out to Alaska. I actually just bought a Ski-Doo Everest 146 [$11,839; ski-doo.com].
How did you get into snowmobiling?
I had a bunch of guy friends that would double me up, and once you have a snowmobile, it’s so easy to go and take really nice photos …
And that led to filming? Are you more interested in competing or moviemaking these days?
I’ll do the major contests like the X Games and the U.S. Open. Aside from that, we’re filming every spare minute. My company, Runway Films [runwayfilms.com], is an all-girls snowboard-movie company. So my life has been busy organizing 15 girls’ seasons. Our first film, La La Land, will be in stores September 25.
For 22-year-old Finn Eero Ettala, 2006 was a good year: He won a big-air event in Switzerland; TransWorld Snowboarding nominated him for Rider of the Year (though Shaun White won); and, during the coveted closing segment in the Mack Dawg film Follow Me Around, he became the first person to throw a double backside rodeo 1080. (That's three rota
OUTSIDE: We understand you’re huge in Japan.
ETTALA: The fans are totally crazy. Everyone wants your autograph. Flights and five-star hotels are paid for. People walking down the street are freaking out when they see you. It feels crazy, like you’re a movie star. Then you get home and come right back down to earthit’s a wake-up call.
What are the terrain parks like in Finland?
When I started it was horrible. There was a terrain park that had one jump basically, and they would only groom it once a week. So we’d always have our own shovels, because the resort didn’t want to keep it in shape. We would build little side jumps. But now it’s getting better. Some resorts actually groom the parks every day.
There seems to be a lot of urban jibbing going on.
Yeah, there’s a really good urban rails scene in Helsinki. Unlike in the U.S., the cops show up and are like, “Oh, what are you guys doing? Can we take photos?” They’re really cool, and most of the time they’re just happy to see people snowboarding.
Any advice for snowboarders who don’t have a film crew trailing their every move?
When Heikki [Sorsa] and I ride, we use our Nokia N95 cell phones [$699; nseries.com] to film stupid, funny videos on the mountain. Then we use iMovie [$79; apple.com/ilife] to edit them on my laptop and stick ’em on YouTube. It’s pretty easy.
Any new tricks up your sleeve?
Oh, yeah. I’m trying to do a switch triple backflip. I don’t think anyone’s ever done a triple flip on a snowboard. It’s one of those tricks where you either land it or you eat a lot of shit. The last time I tried, I bailed pretty hard.
Any broken bones?
No. Just a face plant. [And no video, it appears.]