1.25.2011

World without secrets: Backcountry skiing

Mt. Mansfield through the trees on Saturday.

So, Vermont's declining arbiter of taste and fashion, The Burlington Free Press, ran an article "Backcountry Skiing is Booming in Vermont", describing how this activity is a hot trend and how new (and expensive) gear has made skiing off-piste more accessible and easier for the masses.

I can appreciate this trend because I find the idea of paying lots of money for lift-serviced skiing to be ridiculous. It presently costs $84/day at Stowe to stand in line or to dangle on a chairlift in a cold wind, while sharing the mountain with hordes of people from parts of the country where life is faster and more aggressive than Vermont.

But it is also discouraging, to read about the $500 bindings, $600+ boots, $800 (and up) skis, plus skins, poles, weather resistant clothing etc. that make up a modern Alpine Touring setup.

Until more pressing needs are taken care of I will continue to plod along on my backcountry touring gear -- touring skis with metal edges and fishscale bases mounted with old-style 3 pin bindings.

Using this old and battered gear, I ventured off-piste in the backcountry trails in Stowe on Saturday. It was a great day despite the cold.

As warm as it got. The thermometer at Trapps Cabin at about 1:30 pm, 12 degrees Fahrenheit.

On-piste: Brilliant blue skies and sun despite the cold. With the right clothing it was a great day to be out.

Off piste, breaking trail up Skytop. Climbing and traversing the ridgeline was fine but getting down via Steeple (a play, I assume, on 'steep') was a challenge as it was steep and totally skied out, a rough, challenging and awkward descent.

I signed up for a Garmin Connect account that lets me post GPS tracks (more online oversharing) so here is the tracklog from the trip:


My GPS unit is a Garmin Etrex, it is almost the most bare bones GPS available, and the time function doesn't to synch to the Garmin Connect site, but the other data is accurate. And since this trip was on marked, named trails I'm not spilling any secrets by posting this data here.

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