Sunday, January 10, 2010

We have to explore...

Only one person will really get that post title but it applies quite well.

We hatched a plan to try and find some good stuff in our 'backyard'. We didn't really find anything worth keeping secret but to stick with the internet norm for backcountry reports I will be very vague as to where we were exactly. If you can tell from the pics you have been there before, so no harm no foul.

I was really excited about this trip, a bunch of new gear was getting its trial by fire and my hopes were very high based on some satellite images that we were gonna get lucky and find a hidden gem. We were unable to find the rich stuff hidden in the woods but the day wasn't a total loss. The terrain was perfect for figuring out how to actually use skins and the scenery was great. It was border line death march towards the end though. 6hrs of skinning and 45mins of skiing = really sore calves today.

I guess I'll start with the gear. Lots of it was on test. I was extremely over prepared for this trip...but that's how I usually roll. New gear on test was my winter hydration/pack, G3 skins, G3 Baron's with Naxo bindings and my Black Diamond Raven ice axe. Never needed the axe but its super light and my pack has a sweet sheath specifically designed to carry it which worked awesome.

The Spread

Packed down to this

The insulated hose for my camelbak bladder worked fairly well. I ran into some freezing issues a few hours in but it was only in the mouthpiece and stashing it inside my jacket for a few minutes could thaw that out. Making sure to blow the water back out of the hose into the bladder was key.

Skinning is a lot more natural than I had anticipated. I was expecting the first few minutes to go very slow and for me to feel very awkward while on the move. Mounting the skins was a snap. Had a few issues getting the tail clips on with the correct tightness but this was due more to numb fingers at the time than anything else.

4 doods, 4 pairs of skis, and gear no problem...CAVERNOUS

The action on the Naxo's was great, this might be due to the double-pivot tech on the toe piece that allows for a longer more natural stride but I don't have anything else to compare it to so its hard to tell. I took right to it and we kept a great pace and made it to our destination about 30mins faster than I thought we would. The plan was to follow a well established hiking trail and then explore beyond the terminus of the maintained trail, follow a ravine and using my Garmin Edge navigate to something that looked promising from the sat images.

The plan was going great until we hit the terminus of the trail and realized that getting past that point was going to be basically impossible without more gear / expertise or bushwhacking up and over a steep heavily wooded/bouldered ravine wall.

snagged lunch at a shelter at the end of the trail

This is when its starts getting awesome

Then this happened

You can just begin to see the wall (literally) we hit trying to navigate further into the ravine. We were basically hiking in and around a streambed that terminates at some falls. We did not know that these falls were as big as they were. We were hoping that we could just kind of 'go around' the falls on either side but as it turns out these falls are about 30ft tall with huge sketchy boulder walls on either side that in winter are a no go. It almost looked like there might have been a way right up the gut, but attempting it would have been ill advised.

Yeah right up the middle go first.

So instead of trying some deep ice water soloing we decided to turn back and explore another offshoot from the original trail we were on that was way back towards the beginning of the trail head. This second trail actually brought us to another trail that we were very familiar with and had already ridden several times so we decided to cut our losses and hike to something we were already familiar with, ski that and loop back for the car and call it a day.

We had to get some serious vert behind us before heading down so after already skinning around for a few hours we set about knocking out 1500 or so vertical feet. There were a few steeper pitches in the mix and I was impressed with the grip on the skins, never really had an issue and going into a few sections I was doubtful they would hold, but luckily I was wrong. One thing I have to mention was how magical the heel lifters are on the Naxo's. Most AT bindings have at least one 'climbing' setting that lifts your heel a few degrees to soften the slope a bit. The Naxo's have a 6 degree and a 12 and man does it make a difference. HUGE.

We made it to our destination in about an hour or so and skied down. Legs were pretty fried by that point so I didn't get a very good aproximation as to how the skis really ride. I was more just trying to stay out of the back seat and not hit anything under the snow. They are definitely a bit softer than what I normally ride but within a workable range. I think they will work out just fine. Bindings felt solid on the down as well so all in all I am very pleased with the setup and I think I am going to have lots of great days in the backcountry ahead of me.


  1. great title, looks like it was a good trip, was the actual skiing pretty flat?

  2. nope, we ended up skiing Troll. (the glade we did last time you were up)

    skin for 6 Troll haha. oh well.

  3. haha, i like that trip report better.

  4. "...we have to go this way."

    -SMP circa college?

    Rad jaunt! sounds like fun and that spot looks sweet for some ice climbing....looks like you had an did not know it would be...that....bad

  5. sweet pix too...which skis are yours in the car shot?

  6. leaning on the trunk with the red/white G3 skins