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October 31, 2005

Gear Update

My poor second child. It seems that big brother who is 9, gets all the good stuff. Take for instance these new Salomon Ten-eighty Fish skis and Nordica boots. (see extended entry)

I picked the boots up right after last season ended from REI.com for under $80 plus shipping. The skis I bought on impulse from the local ski shop this summer since they had a package deal. Including bindings and mounting, the skis and bindings were under $300.

Jarrett (child number 2) is stuck on three year old K2's and wearing Jake's old boots. Jake got the ski, boot, and binding replacements this year and did quite well I might add. Since Jarrett is such a newbie, he doesn't realize what a bum deal he got, but the good news is that I was looking into my Crystal Ball and I saw him getting a pretty nice pair of Ten-eighty Fish in about three years.

And then it hit me, Jake has a brand new pair of Atomic SL-9's that I bought on clearance two years ago that were too big for him last year. Stinkin' kid has two brand new sets of skis. Those cost me around $100 for the skis at end of season and were new in shrink wrap so I couldn't pass it up. They are 140's though so he had to grow into them.

Here is the problem with having a 9-11 year old. They are "tweeners". My son Jake has big feet but is tall and skinny. Now he has an adult boot (23.5), but is still not heavy enough to be in a purely adult ski and binding. I bought the Atomics, but they require an ADULT Atomic binding since they are predrilled 140's and at 140 there is a cutoff between kids skis and adult skis. Most adult bindings' DINs only go down to 3 and he is barely heavy enough or tall enough to set it at 3. It is like Tetris trying to mix and match and adjust to get the right combination. And on top of all that, you never buy a kid's ski for only one season. It has to last him at least two and preferably three.

The moral to the story--If you didn't buy your gear at the end of April, last year, you are gonna get hosed. Check my other articles on gear recommendations, especially the links to EBAY. The alternative moral to the story--I buy way too much crap. I need to stop buying stuff off of E-bay and clean out the closet of all the extra stuff I have.

Posted by Justin at 09:47 AM

Northern Utah Snow Update

I have been depressed that my travel plans to Wolf Creek for this weekend or next have had to be postponed due to lack of snow. Finally some good news from Alta:

12" New Snow in last 24 hours

Extended Forecast-Mostly Clear through Wednesday with snow possible later this week and next weekend.

I am planning a series of early season trips to northern Utah and Colorado mid-month, snow pending. I hate to take the new skis out in rock conditions. I have my rock skis, but I hate to take them out in rock conditions too.

Posted by Justin at 09:38 AM

October 28, 2005

Alta is getting 4-8" tonight

Good news for Northern Utah. Alta is getting 4-8" tonight.

Heading further south, Brian Head is expecting several inches with hopefully more to follow tommorow. From the NWS for Brian Head:

Tonight: Cloudy. Slight chance of snow. Snow accumulation 3 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 20 percent. Southwest wind 15 mph. Low 21.

Saturday: Snow. Snow accumulation 4 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 60 percent. Southwest wind 15 mph. High 34.

Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy. Slight chance of snow. Snow accumulation 2 inches. Probability of measurable precipitation 20 percent. Southwest wind 14 mph. Low 17.

This is the most recent web cam image of Alta. You can see several inches on the ground plus more is on the way.

Alta-October 28th

Posted by Justin at 05:31 PM | Comments (1)

October 26, 2005

Utah State Fair Videos--Featuring Napoleon Dynomite

Some things just need to be shared. I got a link to these videos via Willisms.com and went over to Jake Hilton's site to see what the fuss is about.

Jake has uploaded all of the Utah State Fair videos to his site and they are well worth checking out. Well worth checking out if you are a fan.

Note, I am spending way too much time surfing the Internet while waiting for the snow to come down. Another storm is coming to the Rockies this weekend that should leave some measurable accumulations (several inches hopefully). In the meantime, hope you enjoy some Utah humor.

Posted by Justin at 04:14 PM

October 25, 2005

Skiing with the Paris Hilton's

Snow Bliss had a review of the MSNBC article on five remote and luxurious ski resorts. No price tag to stay at the Summit at Big Sky. The article made me want to smack my dad for not being fabulously wealthy so that I could drive my Hummer 2 to the resort and spend a month.

Funny thing is, of the five, I am going to ski Big Sky, Alta, and Jackson by the middle of December--probably in one trip to my Mom's house in Billings, MT. MSNBC missed the new Lone Peak Pass at Big Sky that almost doubles the terrain and failed to mention the impending doom of the tram at Jackson. I know there are people that spend their week a year spending $500 a night for a luxury spa treatment, but I happen to like that other part of a ski trip... you know, where you put on those long skinny thingies and have to wear those funny boots.

I am sure there are luxury resorts at places other than ski country for you to blow your money on. But you look so good snowplowing down the greens on your $1000 skis and in your $600 jackets.

If you are interested in how the rich live, I am going to be selling designer ski jackets for lap dogs shortly. Bit Bit needs something to keep the paws warm when we ski the bunny hill.

Posted by Justin at 06:46 PM

The Powder Road

I read a brief review of The Powder Road in one of the many ski magazines that I keep on the coffee table to remind friends and family why I never show up at the annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Easter is hit or miss depending on the snow conditions, but my work tends to shut down from the end of November until the first of the year while everyone is closing out their annual books and taking their vacations. It saves time and answering stupid questions. =)

I got a note from the publisher asking me to come by and have a look at their site--www.powderroad.com--and if I would preview the book. Let my readers know what I think, so to speak. Well, the book is not here yet, but the web site is up with four episodes online for you to watch. I will have a review of the book shortly, but the website was so awesome, that I cannot imagine not loving the book. I wanted to recommend the site as a must read now even before the book comes out. Here is the premise:

Four friends take their snowmobiles north to Canada chasing endless powder. Forget heliskiing. Try heliskiing every day for three months and you better be named Paris Hilton to afford it--or have videographic evidence involving Paris Hilton that you can blackmail her with. We all need a rich daddy.

The first four episodes of the short videographies are phenomenol. The book comes out in Early November and I have already pre-ordered my copy. This is a must have. The scenary is breathtaking. Plus, you just have to support anyone that is ambitious enough to take on Alaska via snowmobile for three months. The site is releasing videos each week for the next few weeks, so go by and catch up on what they are doing.

Now I need some cheesy ratings system. You know, "I give the website 4 out of 4 snowflakes" or something idiotic like that. Two thumbs up, whatever. Nah, no rating system forthcoming, but based on the website, the book will be sitting on my coffee table and the website is in my bookmarks. My rating system is that I am forking out $30 to buy the book and that is worth almost a lift ticket. If a book is worth a lift ticket, that should say enough about my ratings system. =)

Posted by Justin at 02:40 PM

A Basin opened Sunday

Arapahoe Basin opened Sunday with one lift and one run open. Loveland is still open with similar conditions--roughly an 18" base of man made groomed snow.

Weekends tend to get crowded at A Basin during the early season since there is only one run open and a lot of folks from Colorado have the A Basin Bonus Pass that they sell for $229 and includes 5 days at Keystone or Breckenridge and one day at Vail or Beaver Creek. Doesn't it cost something like $229 for a day at Vail alone now? Not quite, but Keystone and Breck both run from the high $50's to $75 per day and Vail and Beaver Creek are both around the same. Add up 6 days of skiing at $75 a day and you could buy two A Basin passes... oh yeah, and you get to ski A Basin all season for free too. If you know you will use it, get a Bonus Pass.

Obviously this is a smokin' deal, but what happens is almost everyone that can buys this pass and so during the early season when A Basin is open before everyone else, all the folks with the pass head up to take their first turns on the one run that is open. It is bad on weekdays, but almost unbearable on weekends. But if you cannot wait to get your first taste of man made snow and don't mind a rock or two gouging your freshly waxed base, good times! The last two years I have hit A Basin and Loveland the first week of November and have the P-Tex bills to show for it. Six months is too long to go without skiing.

Posted by Justin at 11:45 AM | Comments (1)

October 23, 2005

Site updates completed

For those of you who have run a blog, you probably understand trackback and comment spam. It seems that someone out there thinks that the readers of a site about skiing are interested in poker, online casinos, Canadian pharmaceuticals, midget porn, and nude photos of celebrities that are doctored with Photoshop. I have been deluged with deleting spam links and it is a less than rewarding experience.

Joni at the Web Jones and I decided to update to MT 3.2 as it has far better trackback and comment spam protection. No more midget gambling sites that sell Canadian Viagra. Again, you do not know how hard Joni rocks. I send her an e-mail last night at around 5 PM saying how bad the spam is getting and by 1 PM today, the site is back up and upgraded to MT 3.2. If you blog or are simply looking for some Web Design, you gotta check her out. Check the links at the bottom of the page.

I am in a serious holding pattern right now. I know the snow is coming and resorts are going to start opening soon, but Mother Nature is toying with us. On top of that, the contractors on the condo are delayed so I am stuck at home chilling and waiting.

Posted by Justin at 05:32 PM

October 15, 2005

First trip of the season--Wolf Creek in two weeks

It is set. I am opening the season at Wolf Creek two weeks from today. I may sneak up earlier, but am stuck working in Seattle this week on a customer gig. In preparation for Seattle, I have stopped shaving the last week, thrown out my Right Guard, and grown a man-Ponytail--all perfect to compliment my ski bum look. =) That makes the assumption that they will be open by then, but I think I am fairly safe. It appears that there are a couple of storms coming in the next week. Their current ski report states:

Wolf Creek received 14 inches of snow from this past storm leaving a 10 inch base at the summit and a 4 inch base midway. We are hoping for another big storm so we can keep you updated on conditions and opening day.

Speaking of Wolf Creek, now is as good of time as any to explain why I am in love with the place. First, and most important, is the snow. I would ski a cow pasture with a small hill if the snow was good. I took a sick fall and busted my head up night skiing on an ice day three years ago, so I love the fact that Wolf Creek usually has lots of the soft stuff to protect me from myself. Plus my new atomic fats love the powder. Last year I got absolutely spoiled with powder in the Southwest, while most of Summit had to use their rock skis.

Second, it is not a "destination". Despite the development plans announced a couple of years ago to build condos (and with the help of the anti-development groups hell bent on keeping the place the way it is), Wolf Creek has no slopeside condos, shopping, village, etc. You go there to ski and stay in Pagosa. There is nothing fancy or high end about the place. One of the boarders in the slopeside Boarder Dome was talking about the fight over "The Village at Wolf Creek" condo project and said he moved from Aspen just because he hated the way it was taken over by rich folks who were more focused on how they looked than on the skiing. I am mixed on the development aspects because there is so much more terrain that could be opened but probably won't if the resort doesn't expand. It is a business, let us not forget, not a charity for pot head snowboarders that live in VW buses. =)

Third, the hotel I stay in costs around $55 a night for two double beds. It is a 20 minute drive up the mountain, but come on... $55? Get real. And right next door to the hotel are a couple of ski shops and an awesome Chinese restaurant. Grab some sweet and sour whatever and some rice to get the carbs back in the legs.

Fourth, if you have kids, the Wolf Pups program is probably the best value of any youth program I have seen. $50 for an entire day and that includes lift tickets and lunch for kids under 8. You see the kids skiing from the lift with their instructors and they howl like wolves. My son Jake is 8 and spent two days in Wolf Pups last year despite being a solid blue-black skier and they helped him work on his parallel turns. The program lets out at 2:45 PM so there is another hour or so to ski together after that.

Fifth, Alberta and the Waterfall Area. The Alberta lift is fairly remote and there are very few cut runs on the far left side of the resort. It is almost all glade skiing, leaving tons of untracked powder. Before the Superbowl last year we skied almost a week after a big snowstorm and were still in mostly powder. Not the crap they call powder or packed powder that in reality is neither of the above, but rather snow that was untouched through the trees.

Finally, proximity. Wolf Creek is only 9 hours from Phoenix. An impromptu trip last year started at 8 PM on a Thursday night and we were asleep in the Avalanche by 5 AM in the parking lot after a pretty solid debate of politics, money and religion and what came close to a fistfight over politics and religion. =) It sure made the trip go faster though.

Posted by Justin at 11:43 AM | Comments (2)

October 14, 2005

2005-06 Season Opens at Loveland

Loveland, CO again starts 2005-06 off by being the first resort in the nation to open. Last year, I skied Loveland twice during the first week of November and they had maybe 10 runs open. All were either blues or greens. I was working for a customer in Denver and instead of flying, I drove from Phoenix and brought my skis. I hit Wolf Creek on the way home. Early season skiing is like eating bone-in buffalo wings. It is kinda messy and it is tough to get completely filled up on it. They make great appetizers, but the full course is so much better. Take the rock skis, not the $1000 pair that you just bought and are aching to try out. (not that I have ever had a $1000 pair of skis)

From the Rocky Mountain News:

Loveland Ski Area expects to win the race to kick off the state's coming ski season, saying there is a "90 percent" likelihood lifts and trails will open Friday morning. Without the 18 inches of snowfall Loveland has received in the past few days, an opening likely would not have happened until a week later, a ski area official said.

Here is some info on the rest of Summit County from the same article:

A storm that began over the weekend dumped snow on many of Colorado's ski slopes. Here's a rundown on how much snow areas had received by midday Monday, along with tentative opening days:
  • Arapahoe Basin 12 inches Oct. 21
  • Beaver Creek 16 inches Nov. 23
  • Breckenridge 30 inches Nov. 11
  • Keystone 17 inches Nov. 11
  • Loveland 18 inches Friday
  • Monarch 10 inches Nov. 23
  • Powderhorn* 6 inches
  • Telluride* 8 inches
  • Vail 13 inches Nov. 18
  • Winter Park 12 inches Nov. 16
*Opening day information not available from these resorts

Good times!

Posted by Justin at 03:46 PM | Comments (1)

October 04, 2005

Fall Colors

I thought that I would share this picture of Brian Head Resort in full fall color bloom (hat tip Brian Head Resort). The leaves are changing and a snow storm is expected this weekend. Probably only a dusting, but I'll take what we get at this point.

brianhead

Posted by Justin at 02:53 PM

October 01, 2005

A Friendly Reminder about Fall and Spring Skiing

I did it again... A little different circumstances but same result. Last spring, I had a conference in Boston, MA, to attend that started on a Wednesday morning. I planned to fly all Tuesday and my boss thought I was in the conference "all week". A day when I am completely unaccounted for and assumed to be working. Where do you think I would be?

So it is low 40's and young Jake and I head up to Sunrise. The only problem with impromptu trips is that you tend to forget things on your checklist.

  • Skis--check
  • Jacket--check
  • Boots, Poles--check
  • Goggles--check
  • sunscreen--

Mid 40's combined with bright blue skies combined with 6 hours of direct sunlight plus the reflection combined with ski goggles... I sported and interesting pigment pattern for my conference where I happened to be presenting. Thankfully like OJ, I overcame conviction for my crime, but for the educated and ski knowledgeable folks in my class, they knew what I was guilty of. If the ski goggles fit or something like that.

My son Jake on the other hand had played hooky from school to go skiing. Perfect attendance August through November 1st and from April until the end of school. I usually blame doctors appointments or illness for the days he misses in between. We were so busted.

Well, I have another trip to the East Coast tomorrow and instead of skiing, I engaged in my other favorite past-time. Since I did not have to skip work, I made it known to the office and the folks I work with that I was unavailable from noon until 7 or 8 PM today because I was going to the ASU vs. USC game. 100 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and not a drop of sunscreen. 5 hours straight and nice metal bleachers to get the reflection really going. At least I wore a hat.

I have two marks that I get to carry with me this week on my business trip to Pennsylvania. The mark of shame that is shaped like a boot on my ass from the whipping that USC gave us in the second half and the dark crimson pigmentation from just below my eyes (thanks to the hat) gradually forming a V on my jersey neck.

When does it start snowing?

Posted by Justin at 10:15 PM