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| May 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Washington Pass Opens



The North Cascades Highway is scheduled to open today, Wednesday May 25, at noon (WA DOT website updates here). The road offers access to some of the best roadside attraction skiing in the lower 48. Classic ski tours such as the Birthday Tour, Easy Pass and Cutthroat Basin are all accessed from the Washington Pass area. 


This year's late opening is due to above normal snowfall in March and April. Under normal cicumstances the pass opens in April. This week's weather forecast is not real inviting for spring ski touring, but with the road open, it is time to make room in the schedule for some spring touring. Be sure to touch base with North Cascades Mountain Guides for local beta.




Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Solitaire Episode IV - Sweetgrass Productions latest ski film installment



Episode four of Sweetgrass Production's 12-part webisode, Solitaire. Journey to Las Lenas, Argentina for an inside perspective on the making of a ski film with Nick Waggoner and crew.



On the Road with Solitaire Episode IV: Low Tide from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Aeropress - Great Backcountry Coffee

 AeroPress Coffee Maker


In my pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee, I am always on the lookout for interesting ways to make coffee while on the road or an extended ski tour. A true coffee addict (and snob), I always travel with some level of coffee making apparatus and some quality beans in case I need a fix.


My default apparatus of choice is a simple cone (preferably a #2) filter set-up. This system is reliable and makes an excellent single cup of coffee. It is light and easy to pack on a multi-day ski tour or road trip. And it requires nothing more than coffee,hot water and a paper filter.


Recently, I was turned on to a cool new coffee making tool that may well replace my standard cone filter set-up, the Aeropress Coffee Maker. It is a simple espresso style coffee system, and it makes an excellent cup of coffee. It is light and very packable. It is also unique in its brewing method.


Using a small paper filter and an espresso style coffee filter basket, the Aeropress Areopress Esspresso Coffee Makerpushes hot water and grounds into the filter basket using its plunger. Unlike a French press, the Aeropress plunger forms a tight seal and it is air that actually pushes the forces the water through the filter.


In the end, you are left with an espresso style puck in the filter basket, a great cup of coffee and very little clean-up, as the plunger completely flushes the aeropress cylinder. The small paper filter allows no grounds into your cup, so you have a completely grit-free cup of coffee.


I have been using it to make an Americano style cup where I essentially brew a double shot of espresso and then top up my cup with hot water. I am a harsh critic of a poorly made cup of coffee, and the Aeropress coffee maker brews an excellent cup. It is not a pro-level shop made Americano, but it is smooth and tastes great. It is a smooth, supercharged version of a good cup of drip. The Aeropress appears to be similar to a French press, but the process is actually pretty different, and the cup of coffee better.


In addition, the Aeropress is very portable and super simple to use. At 7.5 ounces, it weighs more than a cone filter, but the lack of a messy filter post brewing is a nice bonus. The small paper disc filter from the Aeropress is easy to deal with.


The Aeropress Coffee Maker is available online including through Amazon - cost is around $30. Sure, I may be addicted to caffeine, but at least it is legal, inexpensive and readily available...







Monday, May 16, 2011

Summit Fever Gone Bad



Well, the fickle Northwest weather is dragging out the spring snow consolidation process. Spring corn skiing has been a bit elusive the past couple of weeks. If you manage to get out between storm cycles, there is good snow to be had, but Mother Nature is serving up storms more often than calm. The northwesterly flow continues this week - maybe by Thursday we will see some weather stability.


In the meantime, here is a short Tuesday time waster to remind you to be careful when locking into your skis on the summit . . . yikes.



Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wallowa Avalanche Center Receives $4k Grant



wallowa mountains oregon


The Wallowa Avalanche Center (WAC), the non-profit avalanche information hub based in Joseph, Oregon, just wrapped up its second season of operations. The center provides high quality snowpack reports and promotes avalanche safety in the Wallowas and neighboring mountains, providing a valuable service for the backcountry skiers in Northeastern Oregon. WAC just announced that they have received a $4,000 grant from the Oregon-based Wildhorse Foundation to fund avalanche information and education outreach efforts. 


According to board member Penny Arentsen, "The grant funds will help further WAC’s mission: to provide winter travel safety information for winter recreationists in Northeast Oregon.  These dollars will support a number of new education and backcountry safety programs WAC is launching in 2011/2012. For education and outreach, WAC will develop a program to teach the general public and schoolchildren about the dangers of avalanches, as well as how to recognize avalanche terrain. The goal is to instill the desire to learn more about safe travel in avalanche terrain in all backcountry travelers, from motorized to non-motorized travelers.  The Wallowa Avalanche Center also provides weekly current condition summaries on its website."wallowa avalanche center grant

The Wildhorse Foundation supports a range of programs in Northeast Oregon on behalf of the Wildhorse Resort and Casino and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.


WAC is currently looking for proposals to develop an avalanche awareness and snow safety program for the general public. If you are an experienced avalanche educator, check out WAC's request for proposals at







Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Summer Telemark Skiing on Mt. Hood



Telemark Ski CampCalling all freeheel skiers - WyEast Nordic just announced their summer Tele Camp schedule. This year marks the 27th annual Summer Tele-Ski Camp! This year there will be a documentary film night plus unique historic footage of previous tele camp participants and skiing styles. Here is what Shelley has to say...


Join us for high glacier skiing, spectacular scenery and professional instruction at the Summer Tele-Ski Camp. The 2011 Mt. Hood summer snowpack should be outstanding.


Whether you are an 'extreme skier' or new to the sport... we can help you improve your telemark skills. Our experienced teaching staff will give you the "tricks" and skills needed to ski new terrain and try new slopes!


Three full days of summer skiing high on the snowfields of Mt. Hood - two days of special instruction, plus our traditional "ski down" days offer a unique opportunity for you to practice, enhance and enjoy your tele skills.


Lodging and famous homestyle meals will be available at the Mazama Lodge on Mt. Hood just above Government Camp.


Our teaching staff includes internationally known mountaineers & professional ski instructors from throughout the Northwest. We provide beginning through advanced instruction, small classes and video analysis.

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