Catching Up with Buddies at Big Sky Montana

27 01 2023

Big Sky Montana was my third ski resort on this road trip! I met up with Chris Kittredge from Portland, Maine, at the Bozeman airport. We’d be there five days and ski four. Another buddy, Bob Rhea, lives on the mountain and we’d meet up with him, too. We all went to college together.

Big Sky is my favorite ski resort. It’s the largest single mountain ski area in the US. It offers plenty of terrain, including glades, for any skier ability level. We had terrific conditions! No ice, It was soft packed powder and it snowed 2-3″ dry powder every night.

Bob gave us directions to his place, which was at Moonlight Basin. We had no idea what to expect. We drove up, and valets took care of our car and our skis! They delivered the skis to the other side of the building where the trail was. On our side, we were greeted to a fire pit. Inside, welcoming staff, a grand fireplace, bar, restaurant, and comfortable chairs to put our ski boots on. Later, Bob treated us to lunch and drinks! This went on for three days, right on through the NFL playoffs! Wow!

Whilst enjoying the bar, and talking with other skiers and some instructors, I was introduced to a skiing legend!

I met Mr. Lonnie Ball. Lonnie is the first person to jump (or huck) into Corbett’s Couloir at Jackson Hole! What a nice guy. We had a spirited conversation for maybe 10 minutes.

Today, he is a brand ambassador for a ski manufacturer and does photography for the World Cup. Wow!

I have to say, on this segment of my big ski road trip, my cup runneth over!





Skiing at Schweitzer Idaho was Cushy!

18 01 2023
Schweitzer Base Area

Schweitzer is one of my favorite Pacific Northwest ski resorts. It has plenty of long, gladed ski runs. It is close to town. In fact, it was only 24 minutes from my hotel! The town of Sandpoint has a lot of interesting early 20th century architecture, and plenty of unique small businesses including art galleries, eateries, bars, and sporting goods stores. It sits along enormous Lake Pend Oreille, which boasts summer activities. I’ve been there five times, but not in the past 10 years. The summit is 6,400 feet and the base is 4,000 feet, so there is plenty of vertical. I love the gladed tree skiing. Schweitzer is a very family friendly ski resort. I always see lots of kids learning how to ski.

My hotel even had its own ski tuning bench! I took full advantage!

The resort makes an effort to give guests a true outdoor experience. They have fire pits at the base, and at the Outback Lodge by the Stella high speed six-pack lift.

All in all, I like to return to Sandpoint / Schweitzer. I find the area more relaxed and a lot more economical than other large ski areas! It’s about one hour’s drive from Spokane. Check it out.





MLK Weekend at Anthony Lakes OR – Dry Snow and Family Fun

18 01 2023

I just spent a few days at Oregon’s best dry powder ski area – Anthony Lakes, right outside La Grande. It’s a low-key family oriented ski resort with prices from yesteryear. On Thursday January 12th, it was their 60th anniversary and lift passes were $2! On other days, however, the regular price for a day pass is $50. Which is still a bargain by today’s standards. I stayed in La Grande with my friend Lisa and her husband Mike. They even put fresh flowers in my room!

Thursday was a few inches fresh snow.

Anthony Lakes has a base elevation of 7,100 ft, so it gets snow when many other resorts in the region get rain. Families set up elaborate tail gate parties in the parking lot. Friday was some kind of Kid’s Learning Day. I really enjoyed watching the kids learning.

My friend Lisa is such a super host and great to ski with! I’m looking forward to visiting again sometime this season.





Choosing Ski Goggles

26 12 2021
Ski goggles and lenses come in a variety of shapes and colors!

When it comes to enjoying snow sports, visibility, whether good or bad, can make or break your day! The ability to see changes in terrain, ice, bumps, rocks, other riders and trees, is especially important for skiers and snowboarders, who need to make instant changes in direction. They need to be able to see in bright light, dark, snowy weather, and even under the lights for night skiing. The goggles need to stay fog-free, and fit snug no matter the face. They also need to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

What about sunglasses? Sunglasses provide protection from UV rays but often do not keep wind completely out of your eyes. And no protection from the cold. If you’re like me, and you ski fast, wind may billow behind sunglasses and cause your eyes to water. Even worse, I used to wear contact lenses, and my watery eyes lifted the contacts completely off, and they blew off and stuck to the sunglasses! At the very least, choose 100% UV protected sunglasses and aerodynamic glasses.

A good fitting ski goggle keeps wind and snow out, and also helps with warmth. It will allow just enough venting to eliminate fogging.

Night Skiing and Very Dark, Snowy Days

At night, the lights, since they shine at a low angle on the slopes instead of overhead like the sun, create shadows that intensify the visibility of small changes in terrain and the bumps. Lenses that let in as much light as possible make for a better experience than those which cut out light. Clear lenses are ideal, and yellow lenses work well. Category 0 lenses let in 80% of the light.

On very snowy days, and in the fog, yellow, or rose bring visibility to flat light so that changes to terrain are more visible. These Category 1 lenses allow 43% of light to pass through.

Cloudy Days

These conditions call for Category 2 lenses, which let in 18% to 42% of light, depending on color. They could be blue, amber, or rose.

Bright, Sunny Days

On blue bird days, especially at higher altitudes, UV protection and eye strain protection are paramount. These are Category 3 lenses, which allow only 8% to 17% of light to pass through. They are often brown or gray. Often, these lenses are treated with 50% polarization to reduce glare.

Changing Lenses

Price will dictate the quality of lens, the ability to and ease of changing lenses, and how many lenses come with your goggles. Some goggles only come with one lens and additional lenses must be purchased separately. Then there are those that come with two lenses, but changing requires time consuming fiddling to complete the switch. To facilitate the switch, some offer “magnetic” lenses which quickly stick to the goggle frame and can be changed in a flash. For more money, there are photo-chromatic lenses which automatically change shade based upon available light.

Fit Is It

20 years ago, there were only two size of ski goggles: Adult and children. Today, there are choices for women, kids and some that fit flatter or thinner faces and noses. It’s all about comfort and sealing out the wind. Also, pick a goggle that works with your ski helmet, if you use one. There are even goggles that are made to fit over prescription glasses, and goggles with prescription lenses!

Price

Expect to pay $40 to $299 depending on features and quality. Rather than an afterthought in your ski kit, goggles should be a top priority!





Skiing Anthony Lakes, Oregon on Super Bowl Sunday

8 02 2020

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Mike, Lisa and Myself. Fluffy snow!

I have a friend, Lisa, who lives a 4-hour drive east in La Grande. La Grande is blessed to be a 40-minute drive from Oregon’s best powder ski resort, Anthony Lakes. I try to make a pilgrimage out there from my home in Portland, OR, at least once a winter. The Grande Ronde Valley surrounds La Grande, and the mountains which ring the area have plenty of year round opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

In winter, the Elkhorn Mountains, which rise above 9,000ft, offer Alpine skiing at Anthony Lakes as well as countless Nordic trails. You won’t find Portland area crowds. In fact this past weekend, which was Super Bowl Sunday, we did not have a line at the ski area. We pretty much had the slopes to ourselves.

Anthony Lakes is like skiing way back when. When fixed-grip chairlifts rules the resorts. When a $40 lift pass was the norm. And there was no hyper rush to get the best parking spot. Today, Anthony Lakes is still like that. Only you can get a weekend pass cheaper if you buy online early. And, tickets are $20 on Thursdays. It’s mostly advanced terrain. But, there are green-rated slopes from the top. BTW, there is excellent Nordic skiing from the lodge around the lakes, and your alpine pass is valid for the Nordic runs, too.

The plan was to start skiing early and then host a Super Bowl party at Lisa’s house. It was to be a perfect day! While it was stormy and icy Saturday, it snowed 6″ of dry fluff overnight. The weather on the hill was blizzard–>sun–>blizzard–>repeat. So we had filled-in tracks snow most of the time we were there.

Well, I didn’t bring my GoPro. So, in this video, I was holding ski poles, gloves, and bare-handing the cell phone. At least you can see how nice the snow was!

We departed in time to get back to town and make preparations for the Super Bowl. Friends arrived, we munched, and watched the best Super Bowl in years. Both teams, the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs were peaking in the weeks prior. I like both teams, but the Chiefs had a 50 year drought and I favored them. The 4th quarter did not disappoint. The chiefs came from behind with a spectacular defensive effort and three touchdowns!





The “Teton Convergence” in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park Region

11 03 2015

grand teton national park,xc,cross country

Bluebird day! Cross country skiing with April below the Tetons!

I just spent a week skiing and visiting friends in the stunning region around Grand Teton National Park. This was a confluence of friends from different parts of my life. Friends from Portland were there to ski. But Dave Adams lives there and is a friend who moved there from Portland. Ed Parigian, a Boston housemate living in Park City, Utah, drove up. And Mary Woolen, a college friend who I’ve not seen since 1984 also lives there. Whilst my Portland friends stayed in a condo in Teton Village at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Ed and I stayed with Dave Adams on the Idaho side in Tetonia, Idaho.

We alpine skied, cross-country skied, looked at moose and reveled in the views. So beautiful!

mt moran,jackson hole national park

Mt Moran

The craggy Teton Range dominates every view, with 13,777ft Grand Teton soaring above it all. In an unusual geologic action, the Teton Range soared whilst the valley below dropped. Park literature says the vertical drop from the top of Grand Teton to the original valley floor exceeds 25,000 feet! Today, you won’t see that. This is because glaciers from several ice ages scoured material from the peaks and deposited it on the valley below. In the valley, it’s completely flat except for a few glacial morianes. A moraine is a pile of rock left over from the snout of a glacier. They can be hundreds of feet high. If you think of a glacier as a 5,000-ft high conveyor belt with the end depositing rocks and boulders, you have a moraine building machine. As the glacier retreats, it builds that moraine. Today, the flat valley floor is about 6,000-ft below Grand Teton.

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View from Dornan’s Bar. An apres ski beverage at Dornan’s is a must!

It is 12 hours of almost non-stop driving from Portland, OR to get there. I arrived at Dave’s house late Saturday and after a meal at a local pub fell dead asleep. Sunday I headed up to Grand Targhee Ski Resort to meet the Portland folks.

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The base at Grand Targhee!

It had not snowed for weeks, but at least the weather was good. I had a great time skiing with Valerie and Scott as well as meeting everyone for beers at happy hour. And, the views were great. But with no new snow, and $120 lift tickets at Jackson Hole, I made up my mind the conditions did not merit spending a fortune on alpine skiing that week. Instead, I decided to cross country ski – mostly with April!

grand targhee

Valerie, Scott, Lisa and myself.

Monday and Tuesday I cross-country skied in Grand Teton National Park. Monday Valerie, April and I went up above Moran Junction near Jackson Lake and skied southward past Mt. Moran toward Grand Teton.

cross country skiing,grand teton national park Although I have cross country skied for years, I still consider myself a novice. It always seems I need to get used to it all over again. Of course you can “walk fast” in cross country gear. But there definitely is a rhythm you pick up – and when you get it, you can ski along fast and efficient for a long time. This day I finally got the rhythm after 90 minutes. The breathtaking views made me forget I was tiring.

Valerie and April at lunch

Valerie and April at lunch

Cross country skiing elevates your body temperature quickly, and we all found ourselves dropping layers. But it was still cold. When we stopped for lunch we had to add layers all over again, only to peel them off.

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Famous Ansel Adams view

On the return we stopped by to see view of the bend in the Snake River made immortal when photographed by Ansel Adams. Gorgeous!

jenny lake trail,cross country skiing,grand teton national park

April along the Jenny Lake Trail

Tuesday April and I tackled the Jenny Lake trail. It’s mostly easy and flat with the Tetons right on top of you the whole time. The trail is well groomed – it’s actually a road in the summer. One side is for traditional cross country gear. The other is for skate skiing, snow shoeing and pets.

The rest of the crew tackled Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. This mountain is HARD. I have skied it several times. It has taken lives. It has areas with long cliffs, and on foggy days it’s possible to accidentally find one.

Lisa is Jackson Hole's newest victim!

Lisa is Jackson Hole’s newest victim!

And on this day, it claimed one of us! Lisa had been dealing with a problem knee cross country skiing Sunday at Grand Targhee, and took Monday off to rest. On the 3rd run Tuesday at Jackson Hole, the mountain struck just as a predator picks upon the frail. Somehow coming off a bump her leg broke just at the knee! She was done for the trip. The ski resort was very accommodating, refunding her three-day lift ticket. She even received a hand written note at home from the ski patrol! I admired her good attitude about everything.

Earlier in the day, April and I met up with Mary Woolen – a college friend I hadn’t seen since 1984! It was so nice to meet up again! I want to visit again next time I’m there.

Rod and Mary

Rod and Mary

The Teton region is famous for its wildlife. Bison, wolf, bighorn sheep, elk, bald eagle, moose, coyote and more are all here. We saw thousands of elk wintering out in the valley. And traveling to the cross country trails, we saw a bunch of moose! moose

They are unmistakeable and are incredibly big, standing 9 feet tall. When they want to, they can move swiftly!

Ed, Rod, Dave

Ed, Rod, Dave

Wednesday Ed was to arrive from Park City. So Thursday and Friday Dave, Ed and I visited and did some cross country skiing. We tried a different less-groomed trail near Jenny Lake, and also a really pretty railroad converted to trail over on the Idaho side. 2015-02-19 16.03.46

Snowfield and sky, Tetonia, Idaho.

Snowfield and sky, Tetonia, Idaho.

Another ex-Portlander is Ed’s very cute border collie Turbo! He joined us for our skiing.Turbo!

It was a good week and I made the best of the old snow by mostly cross country skiing. And so great to visit with long-lost friends Ed, Dave and Mary Woolen!

I’m going back.