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Rob de Luca

You’ve read product catalogs, seen magazine gear guides, and heard lift-line conversations referring to “big mountain” or “freeride” skis, but all you can tell is that they look a little longer and sometimes a bit fatter than your own. So what makes a big mountain freeride ski different from a powder ski or an all mountain ski, and why would you want a pair? Here’s the breakdown. While the term “big mountain” may sound a little ridiculous taken out of context (aren’t we all skiing on the same mountain?), it comes from the competitive freeride (or “extreme,” if you’re over [...]

Rob de Luca

While there’s no equation that looks like (height x weight)/(skill level)√magical number = perfect length in the skiing world, there are a few tips that can point you in the right direction when you’re trying to figure out which length of ski is right for you. Likewise, there’s no formula regarding width; the prevailing sentiment post-fat-ski-revolution seems to be, “Ski the widest ski you can without sacrificing performance,” and as a generalization, we tend to agree. But should you ski on wider skis? And if so, how wide do you go? Photo: Backcountry Athlete Greg Hill in Rogers Pass, BC. [...]

Stephanie Nitsch

Combine all your gear for backcountry skiing or splitboarding with the basic essentials of rock climbing, and you’ll have a fairly comprehensive equipment list for tackling ski mountaineering expeditions. Aside from the mandatory outdoor essentials like avalanche safety gear, extra layers, water, food, and sun protection, here are the bare bones of what to bring on an alpine ski climb. And though it goes without saying, don’t just acquire all the gear—know how to use it. Equipment alone won’t do you or your partners any good, but sound experience and skill will. Photos by Abby Stanford Harness Lightweight, mountaineering-specific harnesses [...]

Rob de Luca

What is an “all-mountain” ski, and is it the ski for you? It’s very name implies maximum versatility, but despite what manufacturers claim, no single ski can really perform well in all conditions on all terrain. The key is to find out what “all mountain” means to you, and go from there. Keep an Open Mind Aiming to make purchasing easier for the customer, ski manufacturers place their products into categories so that in theory, you as the consumer will have an easy time shopping for skis, or boots, or outerwear. But while categorizing gives you a good jumping-off point, [...]

Rob de Luca

If you’re just getting into skiing, or have been on the same skis for years, the terminology now used by retailers can be confusing. The good news is, the ski categories prescribed by retailers and manufacturers stay relatively consistent year to year, and for the most part, the skis themselves do fit into those roles. But what is the difference between all mountain, big mountain, backcountry (aka alpine touring or AT), carving, powder, and park and pipe skis? And which one is right for you? A breakdown of these ski categories can help narrow your choice. All-Mountain Skis The term [...]

Catherine Greenwald

If there’s something that can be said for certain about ski mountaineers, it’s that they’re a pretty fit bunch. Competing in skimo races and even doing regular winter dawn patrols takes months of workout preparation. You’ve probably been running, doing interval training to build up your endurance for the uphill slog, and maybe even doing some strength training for ripping the downhill portion. But are you addressing the specific demands of ski mountaineering? Strength training is an integral part of ski training, but it’s also important to address ski-specific movements and situations. According to Taylor Eley, General Manager of the [...]

Lexi Dowdall

The Norrøna Lofoten Gore-Tex Insulated Jacket and the Gore-Tex Pro Lofoten Bibs cater to ladies who aren’t afraid to battle the fiercest weather to find turns. The Gore-Tex fabric on both pieces offers superior protection from the gnarliest conditions on the hill.  I tested both the jacket and pants for over 30 days skiing here in Utah. The lightweight PrimaLoft Silver insulation (100g) incorporated into the jacket blocks penetrating cold and is the perfect companion to help you ride bell to bell at the resort. I’ve tested this jacket, which Norrøna calls its “warmest, waterproof freeride jacket,” while skiing at [...]

Lexi Dowdall

Chris Rennau is a Montana-based freeskier and a team athlete for Liberty Skis. He has attempted to huck the infamous Class 6 cliff at Big Sky Resort on three separate occasions piloting his trusty Liberty Helix Skis. We were keen to learn a bit more about how he manages fear in the face of such an extreme feat. Chris, before we launch (pun intended) into your infamous attempts, tell us a little bit about Liberty Skis. What makes them different from other ski companies? Liberty Skis, based out of Avon, Colorado, has been in business since 2004. Liberty incorporates a [...]

Pace

This is a story about a man and his cat, but mostly the cat. Since Millie’s story debuted on Backcountry last May under the title, “My Climbing Partner Eats Chicken Liver,” she’s attained celebrity status. Thousands shared her story on social media and continue to follow her adventures, cat food companies are shipping grub to her doorstep, and she’s even had photo ops with internationally renowned publications (which legally, I can’t name prior to their being published). So it was a real pleasure to get out with Millie and her partner Craig to experience the action firsthand. Climbing partnerships require [...]

Lexi Dowdall

Backcountry.com’s online community encompasses a passionate group of wanderers, adventurers, Gearheads, and athletes. Get the rundown on the raddest happenings within the Backcountry community in You Are Backcountry, your connection to the best product reviews, photos, and videos submitted and uploaded by our athletes, our employees, and you! In this installment of You Are Backcountry we’ve compiled the best community-submitted gear reviews with beards on Backcountry.com … and we’re running a contest!  Vote for your favorite Backcountry beard in the comments below – the most votes wins this manly Patagonia Fjord Flannel to complement his facial achievements. Backcountry.com Customer Service [...]

Sweetgrass Productions

We’re very excited to present a clip from the latest Sweetgrass production, Afterglow. As you’ll see, it’s a completely new take on night skiing, featuring a ton of lighting equipment and some very, very cool outerwear. Check out the video, and read on after for an exclusive short interview with the filmmakers, Nick Waggoner and Mike Brown. We’ll let Sweetgrass introduce it: “As our most ambitious project to date, Afterglow is a lifelong dream realized, on an imaginable—but completely ludicrous—scale. From deep pillows to Alaskan spines, it’s all filmed at night, with massive lights, custom-made LED suits, and a national [...]

Stephanie Nitsch

It often comes off as an insult, but the 14 of us were thrilled to ski like girls. Photos by Abby Dell I was surrounded by 13 other women—many of them strangers—on an eight-day splitboard and ski mountaineering tour in Canada’s Selkirk Mountains. Together, as eleven students and three guides, we had enrolled in the Alpine Finishing School, an introductory ski mountaineering course hosted by the Salt Lake City-based non-profit SheJumps, whose mission is to “increase female participation in outdoor activities.” Run in conjunction with the Selkirk Backcountry Lodge and ACMG guide Anne Keller, this annual, girls-only Alpine Finishing School [...]

Mountain Athlete

Rob Shaul’s Mountain Athlete Gym in Jackson, Wyoming, is where Backcountry.com athletes like Kim Havell, Griffin Post, and Pip Hunt, as well as The North Face Global Ambassador Kit Deslauriers develop the strength and endurance required for high-stakes mountain sports. Here, Rob Shaul, owner of the Mountain Athlete training center in Jackson, Wyoming, runs through a must-do routine to get ready for the ski season: My biggest mistake as a strength and conditioning coach occurred the first year I designed a dry land training cycle for local skiers here in Jackson. Skiing is leg-intensive, and so was my program. My [...]

Lexi Dowdall

Backcountry.com’s online community encompasses a passionate group of wanderers, adventurers, Gearheads, and athletes. Get the rundown on the raddest happenings within the community in You Are Backcountry, your connection to the best product reviews, photos, and videos submitted and uploaded by our athletes, our employees … and you! Here at Backcountry we are pretty darn excited about the launch of the GoPro Hero4 and to celebrate we curated a collection of our best community-submitted GoPro shots and videos!  Let ‘er rip! Backcountry.com community high flyer Denis, from Russia, captured this shot while piloting a hang glider with the Hero 3 Silver [...]

Lexi Dowdall

In British Columbia, Canada, tucked alongside the Columbia River, you’ll find the tiny town of Revelstoke nestled under a multitude of lofty glaciated peaks. Yearning for an escape from Utah’s summer inferno, I stuffed my Subaru with my mountain bike, paddleboard, and backpacking gear to see what this famed ski town had to offer. Photos by Bruno Long Surrounded by National Parks, Revelstoke boasts a rich heritage in forestry, the railway industry and ski jumping.  My adventure began with a mountain bike ride on the high alpine singletrack of Frisby Ridge. I marveled at stunning panoramic views of glaciers clinging [...]

Griffin Post

“Where should I go in Alaska?” I hear the question every season, and for good reason: Alaska is where the proverbial stars of terrain, weather, and snowpack align. The last frontier delivers access to stable, steep terrain more consistently than virtually any other place in the world. World-class athletes and film crews return there year after year and have helped perpetuate a belief that all that stands between you and the runs of your dreams are skill and a big, fat bankroll.  And while partially true–being a good rider and having coin will definitely get you somewhere in AK–the truth [...]

Pace

If you’ve ever seen deep-water soloing, you know how compelling it can be. Rock climbers dangle free and untethered far above the crashing surf, falling violently into the waves when the stone spits them off. Spaniards invented the sport on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca—a place where orange limestone cliffs jut out over the sea. They called the new climbing style ‘psicobloc,’ and for years I’ve watched video, but I’ve never had a chance to make the trip. Recently, though, I was able to get a taste of what it’s all about at the Utah Olympic Park—conveniently located across the [...]

Travis McKnight

Dogs, with their zesty attitudes and unrivaled sense of adventure, are wonderful backpacking companions. Their exuberant romps through the wilderness add a tinge of playful innocence to any excursion, but that fervor to explore also gets them into trouble. Unfortunately, dogs are a bit oblivious and tend to jump in first and then figure out the consequences of their actions later, which eventually leads to an injury. Sometimes these mishaps are small and the adventure can continue as planned; other times it’s a life-threatening injury and your preparedness means the difference between life and death. Having fun … and looking [...]

Pace

Lake Powell is a bit of a paradox; it’s a crystal-clear ocean of bath water surrounded by an endless expanse of fiery red sandstone. But nature didn’t make it that way, and Glen Canyon Dam stands as a monolithic testament to what men can do with an infinite amount of concrete. I did get a melancholy vibe when I stopped playing and thought of the shaded canyon bottoms and Native American sites lost beneath the surface, but it’s hard to not be seduced by the place all the same. With 2,000 miles of coastline and nearly 100 side canyons, Powell [...]

Griffin Post

Chamonix, or Cham (pronounced “Sham” if you’re an American), is to skiing what Fenway Park is to baseball. There’s no ski area in the world that has the high profile of Chamonix, and for good reason: the terrain, town and general vibe of the valley is completely different from anything else in the world of winter sports. It’s beautiful, it’s extreme, and it’s a melting pot of cultures from around the ski world. Individually, any of these elements would make Chamonix worth the visit, but it’s the combination of factors that make the north side of Mont Blanc something truly [...]

Pace

For a few short months each summer, alpine landscapes are changed from frozen wastes of rock and ice to idyllic grassy meadows—it’s pure mountain magic. When hot temps chase you from the city, these alpine paradises are the undisputed bee’s knees for summer backpacking. But as we were reminded when visiting Priord Lake in the High Uinta Wilderness, the alpine is still a harsh place that requires good gear (daily thunderstorms and hordes of mosquitos are often par for the course); lucky for us, we had some of the best. Osprey Packs Atmos 50 Backpack The Osprey packs we took [...]

Arc'teryx

“Few things combine simplicity and complexity so thoroughly as a zipper.” ZIPPER: An Exploration in Novelty, is a book by Robert Friedel which explores the amazing 100-year history of the zipper, that most ordinary of novel technologies with which we interact daily. It’s compelling reading, believe it or not, and reveals much about the culture and values of twentieth century America. Where ZIPPER ends off, however, is where we begin – with the invention of the WaterTight™ zipper. “People will tell you an idea is bad, even when it’s a good idea.” Fortunately, Mike Blenkarn isn’t one to give up [...]

Andrew Bisharat

Sport climbers fall a lot, and as a result, they wear out their ropes quicker than other types of climbers (who don’t fall multiple times a day). Typically what happens is that ropes will wear out in one particular spot: about three to five feet away from the end of the rope that you are tied into. Why? Because this is the spot on the rope that gets raked across a carabiner gate as a fallen climber winches him- or herself back up to the quickdraw. The rope rakes across the carabiner gate as you pull yourself back up and [...]

Pace

The thought of a mosh pit scares me to death, and even being packed in a crowd like sardines makes me anxious, but I’m growing rather fond of outdoor concert venues. Beyond seeing great musicians, there are a couple reasons why I like these things. First, you can spread out a big blanket with all of your concert gear and lay claim to a healthy-sized personal space. Second, (and this is huge because I hate shelling out 17 bones at a concessions tent for a single beer and a stale pretzel) you can bring in your own food and booze. [...]