Jeffery Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, is a monthly columnist for Backcountry. Each week, Biff provides anecdotes about some of our favorite things: beer, sex and skiing. He can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. Reach Biff at email@example.com. For signed copies of his book, “Steep, Deep and […]
“I obviously knew there was going to be a bunch of obstacles I’d have to overcome,” Vasu Sojitra says about backcountry skiing. Sojitra, profiled the latest edit from T-Bar Films, had his right leg amputated at nine months old. But that hasn’t stopped him from backcountry skiing. Or from starring in this inspiring edit that was a finalist at the Banff Mountain Film Festival and a winner in the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival.
“We’re really just trying to understand the fundamental process that causes a slope to fail in an avalanche in the first place,” says Tony Lebaron, a PhD Candidate in Applied Mechanics at Montana State University, Bozeman. “No one really knows what happens at a microstructural level.” So at MSU’s subzero lab, Lebaron and David Walters, another PhD candidate, are constructing avalanches in hyper-controlled environments to analyze propagation and microstructure. “In the lab here, we can see everything that’s happen,” Walters says, “We really see the whole story.”
As wet snow fell at high elevations last night, the vibe inside Rochester, Vt.’s Pierce Hall Community Center was of exciting things to come. The evening marked the second-annual meeting of the Vermont Backcountry Forum, hosted by the Catamount Trail Association (CTA), the Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) and the Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance (RASTA), and more than 200 skiers and riders packed the historic hall in central Vermont to talk about backcountry opportunity in the state.
It’s October, and you’ve already booked a hut week in the Monashees, a yurt trip in the Sawtooths or a weekend in the Wasatch. But how will you know what conditions will be like at, say, the end of February? And, more importantly, how can you be familiar with the snowpack and deal with avalanche conditions when you arrive in an unfamiliar backcountry zone?
Contributor Dave Dornian saw it coming back in 2001—the bike-helmet-wearing, spandex-clad, skinny-ski toting explosion. Citing races like the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse and European events sanctioned by the International Council for Ski Mountaineering Competition (ISMC), Dorian predicted a boom in ski-mountaineering racing. “The ISMC’s current five-year plan calls for an increasing number of continental and intercontinental races,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, in the North American backcountry, the though of organized competitions is about as foreign as raclette or glügwein.”
Shot on the snow-plastered, seaside steeps of Northern Iceland, this season’s first episode of Salomon Freeski TV is dedicated to Andreas Fransson and JP Auclair, who died last week in an avalanche on the Chilean-Argentine border. “Iceland is famous for its stories, mythical legends of land and people,” the narrator says, “even stories of heroic skiers.”
Andreas Fransson defined modern extreme skiing with fearless firsts and repeat descents that ranked among those of steep-skiing pioneers who, before him, delimited what was doable on skis. He shattered those limits. Editor Tyler Cohen spent a few days in 2013 skiing in Chamonix, France to ski in the shadow of a legend who died Monday, September 29.