“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.”
Five years ago, Valdez Heli Ski guide Eric Henderson took a massive fall on Meteorite, a classic descent in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, breaking his neck and ending his guiding career. Last April, he returned to the Chugach, along with a crew of Dynafit athletes, to revisit Meteorite and ski the area’s other classic heli-lines but with a twist—they’d do it all under human power.
Over the last 25 years, Jeremy Jones has snowboarded everywhere from Vermont to Alaska. He was once a pioneer of big-mountain freeriding and has become a pioneer of human-powered riding. In 2007, he founded Protect Our Winters, an organization aimed at stopping climate change and three years later, he launched his groundbreaking film, Deeper. This month, he’ll release Higher, the final chapter in the three-part series. This won’t mark the end of exploration for Jones, though, “We have our hands full right now getting Higher out the door,” he says, “but there’s a lot I want to do, exactly how I want to document that, I don’t know.”
“The sister range to Utah’s Wasatch Mountains may be lesser know,” Erme Catino writes of the Tushar Mountains in the October issue, “but it features the same approachable terrain and deep powder.” Last winter, Catino and a crew from Salt Lake traveled to southern Utah’s Tushars to check out the state’s highest yurt operation, Tushar Mountain Tours. Along with yurt owner Alec Hornstein, they experienced everything from powder to hurricane-force winds, and Catino wrote about it in the October issue feature “Sliding the Tush.” Here’s a video from the trip.
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.”
This year, Backountry’s annual Gear Test Week brought in more than 200 skis, bindings and boots and some 50 testers, all eager to test the latest technology in backcountry gear. With numbers like these, it takes a village to ensure that each and every piece of gear gets the testing it deserves.
Most skiers can squeeze in turns for five or six months out of the year, seven if they’re lucky. For Andy and Mike Traslin, brothers hailing from British Columbia, things are a little different.
As Powderwhore Production approaches its 10th birthday, founding brothers Noah and Jonah Howell want to do something special. The film features shots from Hokkaido, Japan, Montana’s Beartooth Mountains and the Tordrillo Mountains of Alaska, and the Howell’s promise it will be “a ski movie worthy of our ten years filming the backcountry experience.”
Backcountry’s annual Gear Test Week brings together more than 50 testers from around the country, many of whom have been returning year after year for as long as they can remember. As a result, the annual event has become a family reunion of sorts. Here’s a look at what it means to be part of the Gear Test Week family.