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Your Bucket List is Wrong

Everytime I unlock my phone and click that little, pinkish-purple, camera shaped app, I’m bombarded by stoke. Pictures of The North Face expedition team climbing vertical walls in Antarctica, Renan Ozturk and Chris Burkard flying on ultralight trikes over Bears Ears, and Zion canyoneer guides putting first descents into “superslots” in the remote backcountry all roll down my Instagram feed as my fingers vigorously like images. Soon, my mental bucket list overflows with ideas.

Initially, this is motivation. It pushes me to make the most of every weekend, staying up late finishing assignments ahead of time and driving far too late at night to get to my weekend destination. However, the pressure mounts. For every one check I get on my list, another five boxes appear. I’m pushing harder to do more, go bigger, and become as objectively rad as the people I’m trying to imitate on Instagram. What started out as fun motivation turns into a competition, and I find myself living less in the moment and more for the checkmark.

The epitome of this came last July when my Colorado peak-bagging/backpacking trip was outvoted by my friend’s California beach trip. I was bummed, climbing a 14er had been on my list for months, but I clambered into the car packed with my five friends, flip flops, and sunscreen all the same. I figured California was just as cool, and I could still make the trip worthwhile. As it ended up, nothing extraordinarily adrenaline-pumping or groundbreaking happened. We took short day hikes on small, beautiful trails, slept on friends’ floors, and sat on many beaches. I didn’t even get a clear picture for Instagram, but it was the best trip of my summer.

For once, I was relaxed. I didn’t worry about whether or not what I was doing would make me a better canyoneer, gain me points on the radness scale, or check a box on my arbitrarily decided list. I was living for myself and made the decision that brought me the most happiness. The freedom we had during those five days brought a joy greater than any I had felt after checking any box before.

That trip forged a model for my friends and me that summer. Instead of choosing what we were going to do, we would decide where we wanted to go and go with the flow from there. We’d purposely avoid all pictures so we could be surprised by what we saw, we brought plenty of gear so our options wouldn’t be limited once we got there, and most importantly, we always did what sounded the most fun. We didn’t have goals for our outings, because goals are inherently structured and require planning. We just went.

We discovered a way to truly adventure. We headed into our trips blindly, but full of enthusiasm and ended up creating memories we all cherish deeply to this day. No firsts were made, no feats of adventure completed, and nothing we did would get us sponsored by some cool company. At the end of the day, we would all sit down together and watch the sun set, the fire burn, and the stars slowly creep out. My bucket list didn’t see many checkmarks over those months, but nothing could have made me happier.

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

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Weed Outbreaks and Why You Should Care

Last fall, while taking a homework break to hike around the Bonneville Shoreline trail, I ran into two guys bent over ahead of me. At first, I couldn’t tell if there was something serious going on, but as I got closer, I realized they were leaning over their bikes, trying to pump up their tires.

Isatis tinctoria. Photo by Sierra Marty.

“This is the fifth time in two weeks that I’ve gotten a flat tire riding on Salt Lake bike trails,” one of the men told me. His tire had a few goat heads, a spiky weed famous for popping tires, sticking into the tube, which he had picked up biking around the city. As spring time starts to approach the valley, it becomes a notorious time for noxious weeds to start spreading around the valley and repopulating.

Onopordum acanthium. Scotch thistle. Photo by Sierra Marty.

I sat down with Neal Dombrowski, a botanist at Red Butte Gardens, who told me about some of the weeds they have problems with here in Salt Lake City, which include yellow dtarthistle, myrtle spurge, goat heads, dyers woad, and medusahead.

Most outbreaks of noxious weeds start in wildland-urban interfaces, where human population ends and wildlife begins. The avenues, mouths of the canyons, and Capitol Hill are good examples of this. “Within the city we can contain it, but once it starts creeping into the wild areas, it’s a lot less controllable,” said Dombrowski.

These different kinds of harmful weeds can be a huge problem for mountain bikers, because they could get their bike tires popped; hikers, because certain weeds could cause skin irritation and blistering; animals, because certain noxious weeds could be poisonous; and the environment, because they can kill native plants. Botanists like Dombrowski are able to control weed outbreaks by chemical, mechanical, and biological methods. Chemical methods can include any kind of herbicide, but chemicals don’t always work particularly well at killing weeds, and can have other unknown effects on the environment. Mechanical methods include weed pulling by hand, or using tools such as rakes and vacuums. Biological methods are used when native predators, such as weevils, are introduced to an environment to kill and control a specific weed. There are a few ways we as students can help prevent outbreaks. We can control what grows in our yard, and make sure we get rid of any kind of noxious weed that begins to grow. We can rinse off our shoes and bikes after hitting up different trails to make sure that we aren’t transporting potential seeds. Also, we can report outbreaks that we see before they spread to places like the Shoreline trail, leaving bikers at the risk of getting popped tires.

Myrtle Spurge. Photo by Sierra Marty.

The most effective way to get rid of weeds is with the help of volunteers. However, one must be very careful not to just go pulling anything that looks like a potential weed. For example, many plants in Utah look like different thistles, and while most thistle plants are no good, there are actually a few native plants to Utah. “Proper identification is key,” said Dombrowski. One good way to figure out whether a certain plant could potentially be a nuisance weed is by emailing Salt Lake County a picture of the weed just to be sure. Last year, weed pulling events hosted by Red Butte Gardens had an average of 37 volunteers, and were sponsored by big names such as REI, KRCL, and the Nature Conservancy. While spending a Saturday pulling weeds may not sound like tons of fun, knowing that I get to help protect the outdoor environment in Salt Lake City (and my bike tires) is enough motivation for me to get out and do it regardless. Anyone interested in learning more can contact Neal at nealdombrowski@redbutte.utah.edu

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

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Using Home Crafts to Make A Wilderness Adventure Amazing

Contributor article by Sally Writes. Photo by Chris Schog on Unsplash. 

Spring has truly sprung, and Americans everywhere are revving up to hit the great outdoors. In the spring of 2008, 41.75 million Americans went camping, and this jumped by over 5 million at the start of spring of 2017. This growth continues and an extra million households are expected to start camping each year. The camping industry generates $2.5 billion annually, and while it is possible to camp on a budget entry, any luxuries can quickly drain your disposable income. Is it possible to glam in the wilderness on a shoestring budget? It is if you are canny.

Keep Your Brain-Box Warm

As the sun vanishes below the horizon and temperatures drop, the risk of hypothermia increases. You can’t help radiating heat, so anywhere you don’t have clothing can become a source of cooling from radiation heat loss. On the other hand, effective use of clothing and layers of air can help trap heat while camping. A simple knitted hat can help keep you warm by trapping the heat lost from your head.

Upgrade Your Sleeping Arrangements Cheaply

For first time campers, it is the night that worries them most. There is nothing like a rock hard, freezing cold floor to take all the enthusiasm out of even the most excited camper. Air beds can be extremely expensive, bulky, and a pain to inflate. Roll mats are great but the affordable options don’t always work, and the ones that do, cost too much for a budget camper. Instead, it is far cheaper to go directly to foam suppliers, where you can purchase a roll of 1/4 inch Closed Cell Foam, and cut it to size. If the idea of lying on the ground doesn’t appeal even with a mat, a DIY hammock offers an incredibly cheap and comfortable alternative. Visit your local military surplus shop and get some parachute fabric; you will need a piece around 7 foot by 4 foot and some paracord. Fit brass eyes at each corner, thread your rope and firmly attach your bed to a couple of trees. If you feel too exposed, use any surplus fabric to fashion a makeshift flysheet.

Prepare Homemade Emergency Rations

Sometimes you just need a lift. When things go wrong in the wilderness, nothing can give you a boost like a hit of glucose. Traditionally hikers have kept Kendal Mint Cake on them for those occasions when nothing else will do. Save yourself money on this emergency ration and have fun making it for yourself. All you need is sugar, milk, and peppermint oil. Eating well when on an outdoor adventure is absolutely key, so those emergency rations shouldn’t be overlooked.

Get Organised and Relieve Stress

If you are staying at your chosen campsite for any length of time it’s important to get organized. Scrabbling through wet clothes and smelly bags can get old really fast. Camping cupboards and shelves are a great solution, but they don’t come cheap. Thankfully, in the woods you can find all the raw materials you need to make as much furniture as you want, provided you got your pioneering badge in Boy Scouts, or have read this guide. For a first time camper, the simpler solution is pallets. If you have a group of families camping together, each can bring a pallet on their roof racks, to which other equipment can be tied. Pack a good claw hammer and some nails and even the most inept carpenter can knock up a simple shelf/table unit in minutes. Combine your unit with dollar store car organizers, and you’ve got something really useful. When you are finished you can take your creation home or use it on your last big fire of the camp.

Every Problem Has a Cheap Solution

Don’t want to squat over a hole in the ground but can’t afford an expensive camping toilet? Buy a cheap but sturdy bucket from a builder’s supply shop and a swimming noodle from the dollar store. Wrap the noodle around the top, cut it to size and then slice it lengthwise so it will fit around the rim.

Can’t afford an expensive battery powered fridge? Get a metal ammo box from a military surplus shop, bury it to the rim, half fill with water and keep things in it sealed in bags. If it starts to feel warm inside, place damp tea towels on the lid.

Miss your warm shower? Buy industrial strength black trash bags. Cut a hole in the bottom corner, use duct tape to attach a small length of hose, tape the rose from a dollar store watering can at the end, add a bulldog clip just above the hole, hang the bag up in direct sunlight and fill with water. By the end of the day, you will have a bag of warm water ready to be released through the rose when you release the clip.

Don’t like the dark but can’t afford a power light for your camp? Fill an empty wide-mouthed bottle with a mixture of bleach and water duct tape a headlamp to the mouth of the bottle pointing down into the liquid, fashion a handle out of some string, hang it on a branch above your camp, and then turn the lamp on. The bottle will glow as brightly as an incandescent bulb and illuminate your whole campsite.

Your budget does not have to stop you from enjoying the wilderness this spring. The only thing in your way is planning, research, and original thinking. Don’t slum it and have a break you wish you could forget—prepare a budget glam and create memories to treasure forever.

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1976 vs. Now: What do you do with no snow?

Photo by Peter Creveling.

Winter here in Utah is a very exciting time. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and there are plenty of ways to keep yourself occupied. Utah is known for its “Greatest Snow on Earth” for one thing, and all the locals will testify to that greatness. The Wasatch Mountain Range is a world class destination for snow skiing, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area each year. With all that importance placed on our snow, what happens when snow doesn’t come?

Snow is an essential element in the ecosystem. It is a storage system of fresh water that can be utilized during Utah’s typically dry summer months, it regulates the global temperature with its ability to reflect 80 to 90 percent of incoming sunlight, and it also provides insulation that prevents moisture and other gases from escaping into the atmosphere. In short, snow serves many vital purposes that we often take for granted.

Here in Utah, we mostly look at snow as a recreational good, but its importance in other ways cannot be overstated. With the current lack of snow this season, Salt Lake City will most likely be experiencing a drought of varying severity.

Have we always been this concerned about the lack of snow in years past within the Beehive state? The simple answer is yes. In years past, ski resorts have delayed their opening days significantly due to the lack of snowfall, in fact. There are many patterns in history that cause a large fluctuation in weather, such as El Niño and La Niña years, but it seems that there is a general trend: the Earth, on average, is getting warmer each year.

Skiing and pond skimming with Blake, and Kristen at Snowbird on Sunday, June 4, 2017.
Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

Back in 1976, Colorado ski resorts almost didn’t open. In a place like Salt Lake, this is almost unthinkable. Today’s technology has come a long way since the ‘70s, and artificial snowmaking is now an important part to a successful ski season, but there is no way to control the temperature. This day and age, the air temperature must be at or below freezing for snow to be made.

If you look at the snowfall over the past 60 years in Utah, the average is around 470 inches of snow. All the records of large snowfall were set back in the ‘90s or earlier, and the only records set between 2000 and now recognize how little snow we have received.

This may just be the cycle of weather we are experiencing in the new millennium, but I sure hope that end of the cycle is near. It’s scary to think that one day it could no longer snow in Utah. For now, make the most of what snow we have received so far by getting out and going skiing as much as possible. When you ski, also be mindful of the potential snow has for more than just a ski slope and do your best to cut down on carbon emissions to help preserve it in the future. Ski resorts are already beginning to close throughout the world for good. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen within the Wasatch Mountains.

p.creveling@wasatchmag.com

Cover photo by Kiffer Creveling.

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Stoked Roasters: Coffee in Park City

Photo by Samira Guirguis.

Few coffee shop owners can say they’ve run a marathon, let alone, been the first woman to finish the Four Deserts Grand Slam Plus. Yeah, you heard me. That’s the Atacama, Gobi, Sahara, and Arctic deserts as well as Sri Lanka all in one calendar year, and she was crowned its 2016 Female World Champion. Jax Mariash has faced the whirling sand and glaring sun, temperatures that leave limbs numb, and has stood in spectacular environments that capture the essence of nature in its unadulterated form. What really animates Jax, is not the fact that she can endure long distance running, but that she loves coffee. So when Jax announced she was opening a coffee Roasting facility and tasting room in Hoodriver, OR, and now a coffee shop in Park City, UT on Main Street, no one doubted that she’d pull it off.

STOKED ROASTERS coffee is all about inspiring people to get outside and get “stoked” on their adventures while bringing craft coffee to the outdoor industry. People might think that that these two ideas don’t mix, but most outdoorsy people are very health

Photo by Samira Guirguis.

conscious about what goes into their bodies and environments. Whether that might be trying to live a summer on a vegetable garden or trying to support brands that invest in protecting national monuments. It would only make sense that this niche of people would seek out a coffee that aims to do that as well.

“Roasting coffee is like wine, where various green beans from different origins all carry unique flavor notes to them depending on what beans you choose or how long they are roasted. You get different gradients of coffee flavors when you produce a light roast, medium roast, or a dark roast,” Jax said proudly. What makes STOKED ROASTERS stand out from other coffee shops is that they don’t cut out the extra steps when roasting and watching every batch by the minute. STOKED ROASTERS has a variety of blends all named after different outdoor adventures such as Bluebird, Double Overhead, First Tracks, Soul Session, Dawn Patrol, and White Out. Furthermore, STOKED ROASTERS is the only coffee company to support a fleet of sponsored athletes.

Photo by Samira Guirguis.

Another signature that is making Jax’s coffee stand out in the outdoor community are her STOKED STIX instant coffee. Stoked will be wherever you might be, whether that is camping with your kids in the Wasatch or on a plane dreaming of heli-skiing. You will always have premium coffee with you in two roasts: medium roast and a dark roast. “Anything that is beyond the required is a luxury in the outdoors because you’re adding weight to your pack, but [coffee] was something I couldn’t do without,” laughs Jax. Every morning during the Grand Slam Plus she would have dehydrated muscle milk, oatmeal, and a STOKED STIX as her breakfast. STOKED STIX are good whether you are in isolated wildernesses or tramping through the urban jungle. This coffee shop is worth a try and it will give you the fuel to kick start your next adventure.

s.guirguis@wasatchmag.com

This article has been updated to reflect more accurate information.

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Be Aware This Spring Break

There are few things as quintessentially American as the classic college road trip. It is an adventure every student should strive to experience before that graduation cap lands atop their head. The memories created driving across a dirt road, windows down, with friends and camping gear in tow are truly special, and the memories made when everything goes wrong, and you’re forced into some crazy predicament, are absolutely unforgettable.

Here in Utah, we have the incredible fortune to be practically drowning in all the possible road trip itineraries. Spend the week,or at least a few nights, exploring some remote corner of the desert, visiting that national park you haven’t been to, or climbing, paddling, hiking, or pedaling that line you’ve been eyeing. Get out and revel in the absurd beauty of all our state’s natural spaces.

While you’re there, remember one thing. We aren’t the first spring breakers here, and we certainly won’t be the last. The reason our pristine natural places exist to this day are because those who took the trips before us were respectful enough to visit as a ghost, and leave with no trace. Pick up your cans, use your wag bags, and please, for all that is good, do NOT carve your name into the sandstone next to that petroglyph. Let’s be sure this great college tradition of visiting pristine places can be carried onto the next generation of adventurers.

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Dalton Rees.

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The Wizard of the Wasatch

Somewhere back in the powdered ladened lines of the Wasatch resides a wizard. Granted he climbs mountains instead of spiraling towers, carries poles instead of a wooden staff, and rides skis instead of dragons, but he’s a wizard nonetheless. His name’s Bob Athey, he has a beard that rivals Gandalf’s, and he’s been flying down fresh powder lines in the remote Wasatch for decades.

The Wasatch Wizard at home on the snow. Photo by Peter Creveling.

Athey started touring in the early ‘70s. He and his then girlfriend went up to the summit of the 10,700 ft Clayton Peak to attempt a graceful descent. “I thought I knew how to ski, and I was all cocky,” Bob said as he was describing that first run. The reality didn’t quite meet their expectations. Rather than hitting swooping turns down untracked lines, they sort of stumbled and fell their way down.

“I had 210 cm cross country skis, double camber, and shoes like that,” he said, gesturing to my hiking boots. Translated from ski jargon, that basically means Bob was woefully ill-equipped for the downhill runs he was trying to make. However, that setup was standard for the time. For whatever reason, touring just wasn’t widespread enough to warrant having its own gear yet.

“I spent several years falling down hills,” Bob recalled, “but the equipment gradually improved.” Soon, Bob was in a pair of nice telemark skis, which were leaps and bounds better than his previous cross country setup. At least the telemarks were intended for downhill slopes. Finally, the equipment was adequate enough to keep up with Athey’s drive. Now, he was really hitting his stride.

By the ‘80s, Athey was bombing downhill as quick as he could. Unfortunately, the economy took a similar trajectory. Unable to get started in a solid career, Athey had to sign up for unemployment. Instead of hanging his head at his bad luck, Bob realized he now had just enough funds and more than enough time, to ski almost everyday. So he did. He called it, “the state ski team.” Since the times were so tough, unemployment got a special extension. It now lasted for 52 weeks. “I was on unemployment for so long they thought I was unemployable.”

The Wasatch Wizard skiing. Photo by Peter Creveling.

For a long time Bob ran his own construction company and would save up enough money to take the winters off for skiing. He started learning more and more about snow science, safely travelling in the backcountry, and touring in general. He submitted reports almost everyday to the Utah Avalanche Center, and did such a good job that a non-profit called Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center raised funds to pay him for it. For fifteen years, until 2007, he was the only paid, full time field observer.

Even with his deep knowledge of the snow, Bob hasn’t been able to come out of every run unscathed. “I’ve triggered many, many, many avalanches.” Bob said. One was especially nasty. It was off Gobbler’s Knob and left Bob with a dislocated shoulder. While the injury was debilitating, the run got named after him, and Bob still has a sense of humor about it. “On their map they call it Bobsled, I call it Bobslid.”

While having a run named after him helped cement his fame, his real notoriety came from a Salt Lake Tribune article. Bob had been on a day hike of Lone Peak one day with an editor of the Tribune. The editor thought Bob was a hilarious character, so he assigned a reporter to go skiing with him and write an article. The reporter, who also worked for the UAC, talked to her coworker there and asked him how this Athey guy had been skiing so much and hadn’t died in an avalanche. The coworker responded with, “It’s magic, he’s a wizard.” When the article came out the title was “The Wizard of the Wasatch” and the name stuck.

Today the Wizard of the Wasatch is as focused on touring as ever. He runs a website and instagram that aim to provide reliable snow reports to anyone needing the information. “It’s ski touring up, skiing down, figuring out what the snow’s doing, avoiding avalanches, skiing deep powder, the whole thing” that interests Bob. “It’s not just the skiing,” he said.

Bob’s interest in snow science, dedication to getting out, and unique character have made him an infamous and beloved figure in Utah’s backcountry community. Although his life has had its hardships, he said that it’s been fun, and that he’s not planning on stopping anytime soon. As long as the wheels on his car are turning and the snow is falling, the Wasatch will continue to host their resident wizard as he carves around its peak’s most remote corners.

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

Photos by Peter Creveling.

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Transmission: The Hidden Voice of the Ancients

An interpersonal connection with nature and the surrounding world has remained fundamental to the human experience for time immemorial. Through sight, sound, and touch, we perceive and interact with this planet. aAll experience, however, is entirely limited to the capabilities of these senses, permitting us only a small glimpse into the mysterious and infinite realm that lies just beyond our reach. So many of the Earth’s constant processes and transformations occur far too slowly and quietly for the unassisted ear to catch, though new advances in technology and artistic vision are changing that, giving voices to the long unheard.

Photo by Dalton Rees.

The  creative movement to explore the intricate dimensions that slip past human perception has become further enriched by a recent collaboration between University of Utah geologist Jeff Moore and Jacob Kirkegaard, a European sound artist who has devoted his work to ambient, hidden sounds in the environment.

The project was initially inspired by Moore’s research into the imperceptible seismic vibrations of arches in the deserts of the Southwest, beginning when he and his colleagues began to analyze the origins and influences of these waves on arch structure and sustainability. In their 2016 study of southern Utah’s Rainbow Bridge, among the highest natural bridges in the world, they discovered the constant influence of seismic sources as close as nearby vehicles and as far away as small earthquakes in Oklahoma. Moore came to understand these structures not as fixed objects that change independently, but rather as “transient landforms sculpted by erosion and inching nearer to collapse every day,” he said. Moore found that “We as humans aren’t equipped with the senses to experience these subtle movements.”

The geologist’s hyper-concentrated recordings of seismic waves and vibrations within the red rock arches of Southern Utah and Arizona brought him to recognize a mysterious agency in these structures in addition to just how intimately receptive they are to the surrounding environment. What began as a scientific project in the structural sustainability of these arches developed into a profound shift in how they are to be perceived and understood.

Photo by Dalton Rees.

“These movements are happening every second of every day, but are too small to see or feel,” Moore said, “Hearing the natural hum of these arches I feel gives them a voice, a real voice where they call out things like their state of health and response to all manner of forces.”

The vibrant synthesis between scientific and creative came when Moore reached out to Kirkegaard after learning of the artist’s previous works and dream “to one day be able to record the deep vibrations of the Earth.” The artist’s sound can be described as avant-garde and ambient, ranging in compositions derived from recordings of molten lava, drifting ice, and the operation of nuclear power plants, to his single, “Labyrynthitis,” consisting of recordings from inside his inner ear. Manipulating the understated and nuanced movements of red rock arches into music struck Moore as something for which Kirkegaard was extremely well-suited.

Over the course of the more temperate months of 2017, Kirkegaard traveled with Moore’s team through Southern Utah and Arizona, painstakingly recording the sounds of the desert landscape surrounding these arches, including winds, waterways, and the musings of wild animals. These real-time nature recordings were later synchronized with Moore’s seismic waves and vibrations sped up to audible frequencies, ultimately resulting in an art piece as intimate as it is profound.

Photo by Dalton Rees.

The refined product of this explorative undertaking, “Transmission”, was presented by Kirkegaard at an installation at Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum last year from September to December. The atrium was outfitted with large speakers at the polar top and bottom of the concrete room, where the seismic humming of the arches from below resonated through the active recordings compiled on the surface.

“Transmission” tangibly conveys the intimate connection between these mysterious objects and the temporal progression around them with quiet elegance, allowing the previously obscured voices of the desert’s ancient structures a platform for expression. Moore reflects that his collaboration with Kirkegaard allowed him to “focus on trying to communicate the ‘hidden voice’ of the arches and what they are saying, which our data uniquely allow us to decipher.” This profound synthesis between the scientific and creative can be experienced at fonik.dk/works/transmission.html. Stop, listen, and learn.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com 

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Learning to Be in the Backcountry

At the beginning of every Avalanche One training class the instructors always ask, “Why are you here?” Almost everyone in the class answers with some version of, “I’m sick of lift lines and I want to ski some gnarly, waist deep powder and not die.” If you feel the same, a PRTS Avalanche Level One training course through the University of Utah will give you the risk assessment tools to ski the greatest snow on earth, keep yourself and others safe while in the backcountry, and earn credits toward your degree.

I caught up with Nick Rushford, who is in his third year of teaching the Avalanche One training course at the U. Explaining why this year has been dangerous for backcountry skiing, he said, “This year has been very Colorado-esque. We have had long periods of high pressure and a small snowpack. What this leads to isn’t bad skiing, but rather people being excited when it snows even when it’s not the conditions to be out there.” He adds, “The reason why we have had multiple avalanche incidents in Utah this year is because people have been putting problems and human factors on the backburner.” Human factors include cognitive biases like groupthink, sunk cost, expert halo, and familiarity. These factors affect our decision making, and not being aware of them can lead to death in the mountains. Human factors are just one of the many variables you need to consider while in the mountains. “I’m excited for people to get out there and learn more about this stuff in-depth,” Rushford said.

Photo by Samira Guirguis.

Not being aware in the backcountry leads to very real consequences. On January 26, 2018, a group of three experienced backcountry skiers went up to Big Cottonwood canyon and unintentionally triggered a 20” by 150’ avalanche. Reports say they had taken a couple of runs down the slope previously before the slope collapsed. One of the party members caught in the avalanche suffered a head injury and was airlifted out of the Wasatch.

If you have no backcountry experience, an Avalanche One course with Avalanche Rescue Training will give you the basic tools you need to be safe in the mountains. In the Avalanche One training course offered through the University of Utah’s PRTS program, you will learn about avalanche risk assessment, mental checklists, and how to perform an avalanche rescue. If you already have taken Avalanche One with Avalanche Rescue Training, Avalanche Two will delve deeper into the snow science behind avalanches and will help further hone your avalanche assessment skills.

Avalanches are predictable, and with the right training you can learn to mitigate risk, prevent injury to other people, earn credits toward your degree, and get as many powder shots as possible. To sign up for an avalanche training course, visit the University of Utah campus information services page, browse the course catalog, click on the PRTS course, and search for the level of avalanche training that is right for you. Stay safe, and happy touring.

d.valiquett@wasatchmag.com

Cover photo by Samira Guirguis. 

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Telemark Skiing: Why You Should Drop a Knee

Telemark skiing is the concatenation of Alpine and Nordic skiing. In Alpine skiing you can only go down the hill (depending on your bindings) and Nordic skiing allows you to travel great distances on flat surfaces. Telemark combines the best of both worlds by not attaching your heel to the ski. When you want to go downhill, you have the option to allow the boot to stay in a relative alpine position and when you want to tour, the boot flexes, allowing for greater movement and flexibility.

Peter Creveling telemark skiing at Snowbird on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

Telemark skiing was first introduced back in the 1800s in the region of Norway known as Telemark. It has become more popular due to more advanced technology, increasing the draw to backcountry skiing. One of the original binding mechanisms that attaches the ski boot to the ski was called a “three pin,” a term many skiers may have heard before. There were three metal pins to allow the metal prongs of the binding to secure the boot in place for touring. That has been replaced with touring bindings that use springs and carriages to hold the boot in place on the ski. More modern bindings allow the Telemark ski to have a brake which prevents the ski from sliding down the mountain when the boot is removed from the binding. This is known as an NTN binding and eliminates the unreliable cable system as well as provides a safety mechanism when a skier is in trouble. The NTN bindings are releasable just like traditional alpine bindings.

What is all the hype and craze with Telemark skiing? From my own experience, Telemark skiing is not for the faint-hearted. The sport is excruciatingly difficult because not only do you have to ski down the hill, but in order to make the proper Telemark turn, you need to lunge into position and hold your body weight up on one leg as you do so. You will typically feel a burning sensation in both of your thighs after long runs. Sometimes you feel as though you don’t have any additional leg strength to hold yourself up after making a successful turn. That is normal.

Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

Here is the inside scoop as to why you should Telemark ski: Telemark skiing is beautiful. The turns are more graceful as you meander down the mountainside, creating a more drawn out “S” shape. Other skiers on the mountain will watch and comment as you gallantly ski by them. I have had my fair share of skiers comment on the beauty and grace of the Telemark turns, something I have never experienced on alpine skis before. It is a great feeling inside knowing that what you are doing is inspiring to others.

With the new technology that ski companies have been putting into their outdoor equipment, it is unbelievable how amazing the equipment is today. The boots that I had five years ago don’t even compare. The new boots have better liners to keep your feet warm when you are skiing, and the flex at the toe is on par with walking in leather boots. The rigidity and stiffness of the boots allows you to lunge further than you could ever have imagined before. Most importantly, the ski manufacturers are looking out for safety. Traditional Telemark bindings would not disengage in the event of an accident, resulting in a knee injury that typically results in knee surgery. Borrowing a solution from alpine, Telemark boots will now eject from the binding when the specified torque has been reached.

Skiing with Peter and Polly up at Snowbird on Sunday, March 19, 2017. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

For those of you who want to get into Telemark skiing, the University of Utah Outdoor Recreation Program (ORP) is the perfect place to rent the gear and give it a shot for a weekend. With their excellent student rate prices, it is a no-brainer if you are thinking of escalating your skiing skills. You’ll be surprised after a few days on the slopes at how much stronger your legs will feel, and you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful snow covered great outdoors in a new way.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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