The Art of the Sufferfest: How to make the worst ski days into the best memories

Maybe you’ve watched a few episodes of The Fifty and think Cody Townsend always seems to be having fun. The truth is that he—like most ski mountaineers—probably isn’t, but Townsend has learned that the secret to huge days in the mountains lies in having the right attitude. Though I haven’t been picking my way through the 50 classics (in fact, I generally avoid them), I have had my fair share of sufferfests in the mountains, and there are a few tried-and-true ways to make them less suffer-y.

Three Prominent Eagle County Community Members Identified in San Juan Avalanche

Late on Wednesday night, Colorado’s San Juan County Office of Emergency Management, in a multiagency search and rescue operation, recovered the bodies of three skiers who’d been missing since Monday’s February 1 avalanche near Ophir Pass. The skiers have been identified as prominent community members of Eagle County. In a joint statement from Eagle County and the Town of Eagle, the families of the deceased have confirmed their identities as Seth Bossung, Andy Jessen and Adam Palmer.

Three Eagle County, Colorado, Residents Confirmed Dead In San Juan Avalanche

Search and rescue officials have been working since Monday evening in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to find three skiers who went missing following an avalanche near Ophir Pass. According to the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management, the multiagency search has been ongoing since 5:20 p.m. on Monday and has experienced delays due to elevated avalanche hazard in the area.

Gearbox: Ortovox Diract Voice

As an avalanche instructor, I spend a lot of time calling out directions to my students: “Zig-zag until you find a signal! Follow the arrows! Make sure the numbers are going down! Get lower to the snow! Now pull out your probe!” Well, imagine a world in which I don’t have to yell those things, because your beacon is doing that for you.

Avalanche Fatality Reported Outside Boundaries of Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort

On Saturday, January 30, 57-year-old Kurt Damschroder of Park City, Utah, was caught and killed in an avalanche beyond Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort. This is Utah’s second avalanche fatality of the season, the first of which occurred on an adjacent ridge on January 8.

Slow Down

On February 19, my friend Erme Catino and I met up for a trip to Mapleton, Utah, to ski and photograph Spanish Fork Peak. Some years past, there’d been a fire on the mountain above town, leaving a ghost forest that transitioned from oak to large spruce, sweeping to an alpine environment near the summit. Starting in the mud, we shouldered our skis until there was enough snow to skin. Thoughts of contrasting shades, snow and faded tree trunks lured us higher, and it reminded me why I began making ski photos.

New Hights: Snowboarder Elena Hight trades halfpipes for high peaks

At the age of six, Elena Hight traded sunny beaches of Hawaii for snow when her family relocated to Lake Tahoe, California. “My dad was a surfer his whole life, so the first thing he did when we moved to the mountains was teach us all how to snowboard,” says Hight, who joined the professional competition circuit via the halfpipe at age 13. Since then, Hight has reached the highest stages of snowboarding, including two Olympic Games, a Winter X Games superpipe gold and becoming the first snowboarder to land a double backside alley-oop rodeo during a halfpipe competition. After retiring from the competition scene in 2018, Hight refocused her energy into exploring the world of backcountry freeriding.

Recess is Over

Avalanches are serious stuff. You can go out and play, but getting caught in slides is inexcusable behavior. What’s worse is when folks jump on social media sites and the local avalanche center pages to tell stories about how they “didn’t mean it but didn’t get hurt. What’s the big deal?”

The Mountain Why: Cody Townsend, Michelle Parker and Bjarne Salén find answers on the road

For the last two years, Cody Townsend has been on a mission to ski all 50 lines listed in the book Fifty Classic Ski Descents in North America. Then in March 2020, Covid-19 hit and states instituted stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions, and Townsend had to get creative in order to ski some of those lines before the snow melted. The Mountain Why, a film released December 2020, tells the story of how Townsend devised “a plan to travel safely, away from people.”

Gearbox: Goggles

Editors’ Choice: Anon M4 Backcountry skiing often requires sacrificing style for functionality. Luckily, Burton’s goggle and eyewear company, Anon Optics, finds the balance between the two with their M4 goggle. The next iteration to the M2 and M3, the M4 hit the market in 2019 with an upgraded frame shape that features a slightly deeper […]

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