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Adventures

LOOKING DOWN ON IT ALL

Alf Alderson heads to one of skiing’s most iconic locations If the weather was playing ball the view from here would be one of the most spectacular in the world – as it is all I can see is whiteness. Where the Matterhorn should be – white; where the Breithorn should be – white. So why, you may reasonably ask, am I trudging upward on climbing skins towards 3479-metre Testa Grigia, some 1800 metres above the famous Swiss mountain town of Zermatt (which needless to say is also lost in whiteness)? Here are the reasons: 1. It’s an alternative to climbing up the 4164-metre Breithorn, which was the day’s original plan; 2. I’m in the company of local…

BC RIDER

Alf Alderson hits the road in a huge ‘RV’ to visit five of BC’s best If there’s one way of guaranteeing first tracks on a powder day it’s to sleep next to the ski lift, which is why I found myself nodding off one night last February within spitting distance of the Silverlode Chair at Red Mountain, BC. Snow had been falling since dusk some six hours ago, but I was safe and warm in a queen-sized bed in a monster-sized ‘recreational vehicle’, or ‘RV’; this was how, along with my mate and co-driver James, we’d managed to negotiate ourselves into pole position for the feeding frenzy that would…

POWDER HOUNDS

If you’re caught in a slide, these are the guys to call… By Alf Alderson I’m buried beneath a metre of snow, a few chinks of sunlight slicing through gaps to the outside world; but I’m not hurt - in fact, I’m not even worried – because I know an avalanche rescue dog is on the way to find me, and these are the go-to guys in this situation. ‘This situation’ is actually an exercise with the Breckenridge Ski Patrol, so apart from getting a little chilly there really is nothing to get anxious about, for within a minute an enthusiastic canine member of the ski patrol team known as ‘Ayup’ can be…

THE GREATEST?

Trying to ski the ‘Greatest Snow on Earth’ isn’t as easy as you might think. By Alf Alderson There’s an urban myth that the Inuit have around a hundred words for snow (although a recent article in the Washington Post claims the figure is actually 50), but North American marketing men seem intent on pushing the number of English words for the white stuff even higher. Steamboat Springs has its ‘champagne powder’ (trade-marked too, so don’t try using it without permission; which I just have); BC skiers float through ‘white smoke’; and, of course, if you’re in Utah you’ll be skiing the ‘Greatest Snow on Earth’. Or will you? Well, last February, me and my mate James decided…

MOUNTAIN MAJESTY

Alf Alderson enjoys a day amongst the masses and massifs above Chamonix Chamonix is such a peculiar mix – the height of urbanisation and easy living in the town, the height of the Mont Blanc massif above the town, and the surreal combination of the two providing all the thrills any man or woman could want in an average lifetime. There are few places in the world where you can be sipping a breakfast coffee in a swanky ski chalet at 8am, and traversing a knife-edge ridge with death drops either side at 9am. Which is exactly what I’m doing right now, roped up to American mountain guide Zoe Hart and Italian ski journo Luca Cataldini. We’re negotiating…

First Successful Ski Descent of K2

One of the few remaining great achievements in skiing has been realised with the first successful descent on skis of K2 on Sunday, July 21st. The full story of the descent of the world's second highest mountain by Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel, along with the first pictures, is only just starting to reach the wider world. At 8,611 metres K2 in the Karakoram mountain range is just a little lower than Everest, which has been skied and snowboarded down multiple times over the past two decades, but for climbers and skiers alike is regarded as the much greater challenge. The 30 year old attacked the summit on Sunday and when he finally reached the peak, simply strapped on his…

First Ski Descent of Pakistan’s Laila Peak

A first ski descent of Pakistan’s Laila Peak has been made by French skiers Carole Chambaret, Tiphaine Duperier and Boris Langenstein. Located in the Hushe Valley near Gondogoro Glacier in the Karakoram range Laila Peak has an elevation of 6,096 metres (20,000 ft) and a distinctive spear-like shape. Its northwest face has a slope of 45 degrees for more than 1500 vertical metres. The mountain was first climbed in 1987 when a British expedition climbed the west wall and in 2005 Scandinavian extreme-skiers Fredrik Ericsson and Jörgen Aamot made an attempt to ski the mountain but were forced to turn back 100 metres from the summit due to poor weather conditions. Subsequent attempts to ski the mountain over the past…

Beartooth Basin Delays Opening Due To Too Much Snow

North America’s only ‘summer-only’ ski area, Beartooth Basin, has delayed its 2018 season by a week due to there being too much snow. “We have so much snow! Too much in fact - all this snow has given us a big load of lift maintenance to attend to. We are now planning to open on June 2nd. Thanks for understanding. The good news is that we'll easily be skiing the Basin until mid July!” The ski area, located on the border of Montana and Wyoming, is one of half-a-dozen or so ski areas in the northern hemisphere worldwide that only open during the summer months, either because the roads that access them are closed mountain passes in winter, or because…

World Record For Most Vertical Skied in a Season Broken

The world record for the most vertical skied in one calendar year appears to have been (unofficially) broken, almost two years to the day after it was last broken. Scott Howard, a 65 year old retiree from Vermont, USA, has passed the 6,025,751 vertical feet (1,836,649 vertical metres) record set on 10th May 2015 by Canadian Pierre Marc Jette, skiing at Whistler, British Columbia, Canada two seasons ago. Mr Howard has been skiing predominantly at Killington in Vermont, although he has also skied at another Vermont resort, Stowe, this season.   He measures his vertical using an app called Trace, but he is now hoping to make his achievement official by replacing Mr Jette in the Guinness Book of World…

Ski Slopes Turn Orange in Eastern Europe

We’re used to green, blue, red and black slopes in skiing, but orange? This time it’s not a grading of a ski run either, but the colour the snow has turned across a large swathe of mountainous regions in Eastern Europe. Orange-tinted snow has been falling across Georgia, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania and other countries with ski areas in eastern Europe. The orange snow has become a tourist attraction in its own right at the 2014 Winter Olympic venue of Sochi in Russia Weather experts report that the unusual phenomenon is the result of sand and dust stirred up and carried into the atmosphere from the Middle East and/or North Africa hitting colder air in Eastern Europe after travelling east and…