Showing posts with label skiing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label skiing. Show all posts

April 25, 2010

Mountain Community Photo Gallery

If you can't get enough of pictures of people telemarking down the Great Sand Dunes and the like, visit Mountain Gazette's Community Photo Gallery, where you can upload your own shots.

March 07, 2010

Italian SAR is Piste Off

Search and Rescue (SAR) teams in the Italian Alps are increasingly unhappy with out-of-bounds skiers, reports the Times of London.

The official reponse? More rules:

In a crackdown on “avalanche tourists”, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, the tourism minister, announced that she was drafting strict rules, similar to the Highway Code, to govern off-piste skiing. 

Yeah, that'll work.

February 25, 2010

Going Camping

Blogging will cease for a few day while I take a trip. It should involve snow, skis, and tipis. Other people are in charge, so I get to ride along, try to be cheerful, and pull my weight (literally, as there is sledging involved).

No, that is not me in the photo. He is a competitor in one of the original primitive biathlons at Smugglers' Notch, Vermont.

We might be able to figure out some kind of biathlon too.

Right now the study floor is littered with gear, and Fisher, the young Chessie, has discovered the fleece sleeping-bag liner.

December 20, 2009

It's Time to Ski in Style

These Finnish ski troopers c. 1939 have the cross-country skiing style as far as I am concerned. Check out the man on the left with his plaid shirt.

Did he have to buy special clothing to make himself look like a multi-colored insect? Absolutely not. (Click photo for larger version.)

You can still find the pull-on knit gaiters as worn by the troopers in the center in surplus outlets sometimes, usually ex-Swedish Army, but they are about the same.

Law professor and blogger Ann Althouse is bucking the Spandex trend. She has that Edwardian look down too.

March 14, 2009

A New Interest in Biathlon

"It’s guns and skis, you know? It’s just a lot of fun," said Bill Weidner of Warrenville, Ill., who has taken up the sport of biathlon in middle age.

He is quoted in a New York Times piece on a small biathlon renaissance. Apparently the fashion section is less like to hyperventilate about guns than the news pages--who knew?

As Sebastian points out, however, writer Katie Zezima makes one small error: biathlon's origins lie in early Scandinavian ski troops more than in hunting.

Those are re-enactors in the photo, portraying 19th-century Norwegian ski troops. For more history and images, including this one, go here.

I have always liked the idea of the snowshoes-and-flintlocks "primitive biathlon" too.

February 12, 2009

Freedom of the Heels

M. skis up a snowed-in Forest Service road in the Sangre de Cristo Range.

February 28, 2008

What Killed the Russian Skiers?

Another reason to go into Search and Rescue work -- until the day when you end up completely creeped out and stay home with the doors locked.

(Via Hell in a Handbasket.)

January 26, 2008

Skiing: Glitz or Experience?

Today on my way to Westcliffe I passed the long-vanished Silver Hills ski area, one of Colorado's lost ski areas.

Many of them were more about real estate sale than the experience of skiing, but Silver Park was just a little family-oriented ski hill, like many of the lost Northeastern areas described in yesterday's New York Times.

In a paired article, Helen Olsson, an editor at Skiing writes about skiing for the experience, not for the glitz.

Skiing is widely known as a rich man’s sport, but flush my family was not. We ate meals from a picnic basket, skied in hand-me-downs, shopped ski swaps, and wore downhill suits sewed in the basement. Instead of paying a ski technician to set our bindings, we clicked into our skis in the living room and hurled ourselves forward while Dad stood on the tails. If we released with, say, medium effort, we figured the setting was correct.

The Times illustrated the article with a photo of Trak cross-country skis. A subtle comment or an editor's ignorance? I suspect the latter. Memo: A pair of 1960s Head skis would have been more appropriate.

One of my enduring questions: Why do Americans have to take a simple, pleasurable activity and complicate it and make it more expensive and glitzy. Skiing (for instance) is skiing, whether you eat a bowl of chile con carne or a five-course meal after your run, whether you sleep in a bunk bed or a multi-million dollar house.

M. and I, lovers of simple pleasures, put in five miles on one of our favorite cross-country trails yesterday. Skiing is a European import, and by day's end sometimes we start speaking European:

C. Did you enjoy the day sportive?

M. In effect! Where shall we go for the after-ski?

C. For the after-ski, let us visit Amicas restaurant where we may eat Pizza Roma and drink the beer locally produced.

M. Yes, that is an idea marvelous.

In slightly related news, discounts for senior skiers are drying up at Colorado resorts.

January 08, 2008


by Mike Adams

I ski now, untracked,
into the falling snow
that falls into the trough
of hard snow left
by yesterday's travelers,
so that the going,
through the snow-bowed
pines, is easy yet new,
my skis buried, only
the tips, pushing
tiny bow waves, visible
and making the smallest
of sounds, a faint
hissing in the full silence
of the forest.

My breathing, the fixed
flowing rhythm of arms and legs,
the still woods--

The world with all
of its burdens falls away.
I think of my 57 years,
the mountains I have climbed,
nights under the wheeling stars.
All of the women I have loved
and the one I love now,
with all the fullness of my years.

And I think too, of companions gone--
men and women--carried out
of my life by death or the strong
currents of life,

And the falling untracked snow
and what lies at the heart of it all.

I read this poem in the new Mountain Gazette right after spending yesterday afternoon x-c skiing with M. near Salida. It went right through me (even though I'm not yet 57).

It's like Frost's famous snowy woods. That poem was no big deal when I was young. Now it scares the bejabbers out of me.

February 05, 2007

A new birthplace for skiing?

Retro skiers of the Altai Mountains
My readers who are familiar with Central Asia (the both of youse) may enjoy this news.

Stranded in the customer lounge of the Jeep dealership last Friday while M's TJ was undergoing a facial, Swedish massage, and mud bath (Jeeps love mud baths), I read an interesting item in one of last year's issues of Skiing magazine.

The oldest archaeological evidence for skiing comes not from Scandinavia but from the Altai Mountains, where China, Mongolia, Russia, and Kazakhstan meet.

Stone Age cliff paintings found in the Altai range in northwest China that date back to about 8000 B.C. are the latest proof that skiing got its start in central Asia. And even though the paintings, which depict hunters using primitive skis, are 10,000 years old, not much has changed in the Altais: Nestled in valleys ringed by 14,000-foot peaks, a handful of tribes are still using what looks to be the same ancient skiing technology.

The indigenous, nomadic Altai people have had minimal contact with their ethnic-Chinese neighbors until very recently, and even less exposure to the West (thus no P-tex or dorky Austrian graphics). In turn, they have maintained traditional lifestyles, living in log houses and yurts, tending livestock—and slapping on eight-foot-long, five-inch-wide wooden boards when the snow flies.

Since I doubt that there was a Mongolia-Finland trade route, I suspect that Scandinavian skiing, which goes back at least four millennia and maybe more, was an independent invention.

In Colorado, however, we assume that skiing was invented by the 10th Mountain Division.

January 29, 2007

Dolores LaChapelle

Dolores LaChapelle of Silverton, Colorado, died January 22 at an advanced age. (She was still skiing deep powder in her seventies.)

She begins the preface to her 1992 deep ecology book Sacred Land, Sacred Sex: Rapture of the Deep: Concerning Deep Ecology and Celebrating Life by stating that it does not fit into any categories:

it's neither psychology nor philosophy, neither history nor anthropology--not even social anthropology. It's most certainly not "eco-feminist," "new age," or "futurist." Yet it takes in all this and much more.

So did she.

The University of Utah has an online collection of her skiing photographs. She was a pioneer of ski mountaineering, among other things.

The Durango Herald ran this feature article about her in 2002.

LaChapelle became renowned in skiing circles for her powder skiing prowess. [While at Alta] she even earned the nickname “Witch of the Wasatch” for her uncanny ability to predict storms.

Look at her article "Ritual is Essential" for an understanding of how she connected human ritual with living "in place"

Ritual is essential because it is truly the pattern that connects. It provides communication at all levels - communication among all the systems within the individual human organism; between people within groups; between one group and another in a city and throughout all these levels between the human and the non-human in the natural environment. Ritual provides us with a tool for learning to think logically, analogically and ecologically as we move toward a sustainable culture. Most important of all, perhaps, during rituals we have the experience, unique in our culture, of neither opposing nature or trying to be in communion with nature; but of finding ourselves within nature, and that is the key to sustainable culture.

January 22, 2007

Colorado snow dogs

What? We have go to home now?

A year later, Jack's thoughts on bipedal locomotion on snow have not changed. But there is a lot more snow here in central Colorado than there was in early 2006, so we are enjoying it while we can.

January 14, 2007

Colorado's lost ski resorts

Many of Colorado's failed ski areas could be summed up in this quote about the Stagecoach area near Steamboat Springs, which operated briefly in the early 1970s.

The whole rationale for the ski area was to sell condos and home sites, but the area was such a ragtag operation that the real estate folks had no traction at all.

"To sell condos and home sites" was also the rationale of the sometimes snow-starved Conquistador area near Westcliffe, which lasted from 1976 until the late 1980s. I can think of two other small day areas here in Custer County, such as Silver Park on Colorado 96, which also came and went fairly quickly. Now another is planned near Lake Isabel, but the developer keeps missing meeting dates with the county zoning board.

One area not mentioned is Ski Broadmoor, where at least two generations of Colorado Springs kids learned downhill skiing, if they were not at the Pike's Peak ski area, which is also gone as well.

This trend troubles me: I have not gone downhill skiing for years, just Nordic, but where do people go who don't have the bucks for the Vails, Breckenridges, etc.? Where can you learn to ski after school if you do not live in a bona fide ski town? That was the important niche that areas like Ski Broadmoor filled.

In skiing, like hunting, there are plenty of opportunities for the well-heeled, but the entry steps are getting higher and higher, unless you are connected through a club or something.

Right now, another ephemeral ski area is open, right here at Owl Lodge. After three feet of snow in the last three weeks--not that all of it is still on the ground--we have reopened our Nordic ski trail system that involves our driveway, the sloping lawn of the rental cabin, and a little bit of the 1870s Siloam Stage Road that runs through the property.

Apres-ski activities include writing book reviews and syllabi, but the bar is open.

January 26, 2006

A dog with some standards

Guest-blogging by Jack

Jack, a Chesapeake Bay retrieverSomething bothers me about this blog. He (the Man) has been writing more about Shelby than about me. She is OK, I mean, she's my pal, but she is nowhere as devoted to Them as I am. I am Mr. Dog, if you know what I mean.

It's my job to set boundaries and to point out things that are Wrong. For instance, foxes barking in the night time right outside the bedroom window--very Wrong. It's a good thing that I can bark louder. Why does that upset Them? I'm a good dog. I know I am. Why can't They let Shelby and me outdoors to deal with those blasted foxes?

Or take last Monday. They load us up, and we ride for a long time. When we slow down, and the road gets bumpy, I think we are coming to an Interesting Place for Dogs, and I express myself. Why am I yelled at?

Finally, we do arrive at an Interesting Place. It's a wide path in the snow, and Other Dogs have been here, so I have to sniff and mark. It's what I do.

But then, doggone it, They do something Wrong. Now I love to go for walks. Regular walks in the forest are good. Walks with shotguns and birds are the best, but I'm not picky. But what they do next is Wrong. They are supposed to walk. Instead, They put long things on their feet. They move funny. It's sort of like walking but it's slide-y and faster. It's Wrong. I run along beside Him and tell Him loudly that it's WrongWrongWrong. Does He stop? No!

Instead, He stops moving his legs, but just jabs with these two sticks and goes even faster downhill. Damnit! That is exceptionally Wrong. Humans are not supposed to move that way. I have told Him in the past, so why doesn't He listen? And She is no better. WrongWrongWRONG!

If I try to intervene by stepping onto the back end of the long things, I get yelled at again and smacked with the stick. I know He is not really angry--after all, I am The Dog and no one can really be angry with me--but it is terrible to be so misunderstood. I am just trying to explain Their errors.

After some time and distance, I do get tired of barking. They say that it is because I am "going on ten." Whatever that means. I keep going though. I am not going to let Him get out of my sight, even if I can only critique Him through whining.

And what about that silly collie? Oh, she's stepping into deep snow that comes up to her eyes, and running up to strangers, tail wagging furiously, and generally being her irresponsible self. It's up to me to set the standards of behavior around here.