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.

Travel Wisely: How to safely explore and enjoy the backcountry through a global pandemic

With Covid-19 still spreading across the globe, the only answer to the question, “What happens next?” seems to be “Who knows?” Ski resorts are just one example of a disrupted industry, and while a season with minimal chairlift use might be standard operating procedures for some, a human-powered winter is a brave new world for […]

Mountain Skills: Streamline the Ride

The word efficiency gets used excessively these days. Everything has to be more efficient: cars, computers, factories and, yes, even splitboarders. Over the past several years, splitboard technology has improved exponentially, leaving the door wide open for resort-based snowboarders to access the mountains like never before. Boards are lighter, more durable and more functional, and […]

Mountain Skills: Managing Risk and Responsibility

On February 28, 2014, a Missoula, Mont. snowboarder launched into the Mt. Jumbo backcountry ready to carve perfect turns. Farthest from his mind was triggering a massive avalanche that would decimate two houses, bury three people and kill one. It’s a dramatic example of how someone’s actions in the backcountry can affect others.

Mountain Skills: Set a Plan and Stick to It

You’ve been playing it safe all day. Even though the avalanche bulletin called out “Considerable” hazard for the day (natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered are likely), you haven’t observed any signs of instability while skiing lower angled terrain in the trees. Close to where you’ve been skiing, there’s an untracked slope—and it’s only slightly […]

Hips Don’t Lie: How a solid foundation leads to strong skinning

In 2014, when Exum guide and longtime skimo competitor Janelle Smiley entered a hospital for double hip surgeries, she worried she might never skin again. She and her husband Mark, an internationally certified mountain guide, had built a life around uphill skiing—Janelle is a three-time winner of the National Skimo Championship, a two-time North American Championship winner and won the team division of the 2013 Swiss Mountaineering Championship with partner Stevie Kremer.

Mountain Skills: Essential Education

The list of skills and knowledge needed to get into the mountains is never ending. In fact, it’s subject matter that numerous careers are built on, but safe and efficient backcountry travel doesn’t necessarily require a PhD in snow science or a guide’s certification. It takes common sense, good partners, a willingness to learn and, above all, the following 10 things that every skier and rider should know.

Mountain Skills: Take the time to be prepared for early season turns

It’s late fall and many mountains throughout the U.S. have seen some decent early season snow. As a result, stoke is high and people are itching to ski. Not many ski areas are open yet, however, and the ones that are only have a few groomers to chose from. This invariably pushes people into the […]

Higher Learning: The nuances of how, when, where and why to take a course

Two Marches back, as I stood on the edge of the frozen Bell Lake in Montana’s Tobacco Root Mountains, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. Together with a half dozen no-longer-strangers, I pondered aloud the best route to safely ascend and later ski the face before us that stretched its rock-lined […]

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