Archive for Skiing

From “The Top of the World”

// March 9th, 2017 // No Comments » // Advice, Skiing

View of the Gore Range from near the end of the Commando Run

View of the Gore Range from near the end of the Commando Run

The Commando run is a 15 mile ski tour through the high backcountry of the White River National Forest near Vail. The high point, just above 11,000 feet, is called the “Top of the World.”  Yesterday I was able to complete this trip for the x-teenth time with two old friends, and one new one.  Along the way it impressed me that even though I had not seen these friends in a while we pulled this off in a very respectable time with very little planning, and a lot of laughs along the way.

It served as a reminder that when we take care of our bodies, keep our skills sharp, and have each other’s backs, we are ready for adventure at the drop of a hat.  So whether at work, with family, in our organizations, sports or hobbies, keep those skills sharp, stay fit, remain selfless and have fun because adventure awaits.

Talons Challenge 2013 – Siezure Free

// March 5th, 2013 // Comments Off // Skiing

This past Saturday I was able to participate in the Talons Challenge at Beaver Creek with a special friend of mine, John Olson.  I have known John since he was in his early teens, now ten years later John continues to struggle with a severe seizure disorder but that does not seize him from living life to the fullest.  In spite of numerous surgeries, medications, and continual epileptic eruptions John enjoys climbing peaks, swimming, cycling and skiing the most difficult terrain he can get his skis on.  With some funding help from a company called Cyberonics, and an implant placed in John’s chest by the same group, we were able to take on the challenging task of skiing 14 of Beaver Creek’s most challenging runs that add up to over 26,000 vertical feet of black and double black diamond skiing.  This challenges the quads of even the fittest expert skiers and the only rest a skier’s quads get is on the high speed quad chairlift which zips participants back up the mountain at ten meters per second – hardly enough time to clear out the lactic acid.

The day began at 8:30 a.m. with a ride up the opening chair.  By 9:30 we were 1/4 of the way through and by 2:10 with weary legs and a hardy appetite we had completed our goal, and just in time too.  This week John is undergoing extensive testing and will spend five days in the hospital.  My hope is that the strength he needed to pull off the Talons Challenge will help him also get through this challenge.  We are routing for you John, and praying to – Well done!


// March 1st, 2013 // No Comments » // Skiing

On Christmas morning my wife Amy opened her stocking to find a big surprise – I had signed her up for a Ski Mountaineering Adventure Race without her knowledge.  Even though this gift was complimented with some new ski gear, I think that her stomach dropped and a bit of doubt and insecurity began to show.  We had talked about the idea of doing this but she wasn’t pulling the trigger so I figured I would pull it for her.  Throwing on skins and gliding up the mountain is one of her favorite past-times and methods for working out, it made perfect sense to me to give her a training goal.  Well it worked.  We both got on board with a program, she invested herself into it, practiced harder and more consistently than ever, added variety to the routine and it became more fun – for both of us.  I don’t know who was more brave – me for signing her up, or her for going through with it.

Soon race day was upon us and due to nervousness Amy didn’t sleep much the night before.  The start would be early and as the gun went off the snow began to fall.  Initially the course would take racers up over 2,500 vertical feet and then skins would come off followed by a rapid black diamond descent.  One more round of skinning would lead to a final boot pack ascent and a speedy finish through the race course on Gold Peak.  Throughout the race I was able to offer support by using the lifts to follow the competitors.

As the video shows Amy thought she was somehow behind the other female racers when in fact she was only behind four others – in the MEN’s division!  Amy had won the women’s division of her race, her first race at that.  I was so proud of her for giving it her all both in training and in the race.  More than anything what this event did was give us something to focus and work on together.  Winning was not important though it did feel good.  What was of more importance is what it did for our relationship.  Amy has always been supportive of me and my adventures, but this time I go to support her and we got to help each other in the process.  Goals are important to have and they become more meaningful and more achievable when we strive for them side by side.Up!Amy on the Podium

Racers at the Lionshead Starting Line

Racers at the Lionshead Starting Line

I/O Merino Wool Baselayer Test

// November 13th, 2012 // 2 Comments » // Climbing, Gear, Skiing

What do you wear when the warm weather has wandered away ? That warmth you wish to retain may be worn from clothes of a critter sheared and shorn.

Wool could well be the answer.

Wearing wool often conjures up memories of big and heavy itchy and scratchy rag wool sweaters and socks. Well, thankfully those days are gone (for smart shoppers anyway) and recent developments in the weaving of fine merino wool have made this a very comfortable and functional option for active outdoor enthusiasts.

I/O Merino, a new company out of Australia, recently sent me a few pieces from their line to use and review. Now having put them to the test trail running, cycling, and even the most rigorous of all tests – the sleep test, I have something to report.

From Alaska to Argentina, Everest to Australia I have been using both synthetic and wool clothing for some years and the one thing I must say is that no matter what, I like my clothes to disappear – from my mind at least. There is nothing like being on a climb, or ski tour with layers that bind, run short, lack breathability and are slow to dry. Before long these qualities will command your attention and possibly ruin a trip. At times my life can depend on the clothes I wear so I am very selective and discriminating.

I/O Merino Contact Euro T – Large: My first thought was that this shirt was nice and light, good looking, subdued but colorful. Then I slipped it on and found that the athletic fit would work well alone or under other layers. I wore it all day and even slept in it that night. This is definitely when you will discover if a wool garment is well made or not – if it itches or not. I am pleased to say that there was no itch and that I forgot all about the shirt and long johns as I slept. The only gripe I have of the shirt is that the collar hit me just a tad high, but since it was not overly tight this was not a problem.

I/O Merino Contact full Tight 160 wt – Medium: At nearly 6’2″ with a 33″ waist I always struggle with sizing. Either baggy and long or a good fit but too short. This base layer fit and was just long enough – a pleasant surprise indeed. With a bit of stretch and a nice weight I was comfortable with these on many trail runs especially the other morning when the temp was a meager 3 degrees f. Alone or combined under other layers these bottoms offer the flexibility to go light or layer up, and will be great for ski tours, snowshoeing and skate skiing. With such flexibility, comfort, odor resistance and the ability to maintain loft and warmth when wet, wool has become my base layer of choice especially from the waist down. The downfall of some lesser quality wool products may be itch, and the downfall of synthetics can be that sticky, clammy feeling when wet, however with these there is neither.

I/O Merino Contact Boxer Brief Med: of the three pieces these are my favorite. I know what you’re thinking “you’d wear wool there?!” Absolutely. It’s soft, dries quickly and fights odor. They fit and function well and are not what I am thinking about when my climbing harness is holding me high above the ground. For a multi-day ski tour, hut trip or backpack these are the undies of choice.

Lastly all of these garments survived a machine wash and dry. I always try my best to keep wool out of the dryer, but when my wife accidentally ran them through I was pleased to find no shrinkage.
They are all natural and will please your “Eco conscience”.
Overall I can say that I highly recommend these base layers and will be wearing the tights against my skin next week as I head to the arctic to run a marathon in 85% humidity and single digit temps.

To check out the entire line go to they have many other great items.


Skiing Vail with GoPro and Garage Band

// December 7th, 2011 // No Comments » // Skiing, Stress Free Moments

I had fun skiing Vail with my friend Mark French who is also the President of Leading Authorities Incorporated – a speaker’s bureau that provides me many corporate speaking events.
Skiing with Mark gave me an opportunity to test out a new GoPro HD POV camera as well as Garage Band music software .
What you are about to see was made purely for fun to test this system for future use.  I found the camera easy to use, however the mic leaves much to be desired.  As for the music – for a first timer I couldn’t be more pleased with the ease of use and the end result.

The Tenth Mountain

// August 23rd, 2011 // No Comments » // Leadership, Skiing

Army trek from Vail to Aspen

What do the founders of Nike, Aspen, the Sierra Club, Vail, and the National Outdoor Leadership School all have in common?  They all served in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.
Fire on the Mountain is the documentary I just watched on this group of elite mountain troops and it has made a lasting impression on me.  It would be wrong to say that the film itself has made the impression, rather it was the subject of the film.  What impressed me was the spirit of these men and the legacy that they have left behind.  These men embodied courage, bravery, camaraderie, ambition, a pioneering spirit and values that made them successful in the campaign against Nazi aggression and also in their lives after the war.

In watching this film it made my heart glad that there were men like this that would stand strong for America and what is right.  In nearly the same moment, as my thoughts wandered, I became a bit disheartened thinking that in our world today there may no longer be men like this.  Then I turned my focus further inward to ask myself – am I like this?  Well I do know that character is not something we are born with, but something that is forged over time, I for one am thankful that I still have time and pray that mine might be shaped into something like that of these men I admire so much.



Fire on the Mountain is available on Netflix

Farewell to A Friend

// June 2nd, 2011 // No Comments » // Skiing

While climbing in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru last summer with my friend Erik, I met a super nice person named Kipp Garre.  Kipp was travelling with a few other well known skiers who would be seeking some steep first descents in this high range.  The thing that first struck me about Kipp was his kind and humble nature – no attitude and in no hurry to boast of his accomplishments or goals, just as interested in others and what they were doing as he was in his own pursuits.  Sadly on that trip Kipp lost one of his team members, Arne Backstrom, in a ski accident when he fell 1,500 feet to his death.  It was certainly heartbreaking and we met Kipp again after our climb as we all travelled back to the US together.  Kipp was certainly an up and coming star in the world of extreme, or “big mountain” skiing” and even made the cover of a recent ski publication.  He was a Mountain Hardwear sponsored athlete but most notably he was just a great guy and I looked forward to the day that our paths would cross again, hopeful that we may be able to make some ski descents together.  Just recently I got the sad news that this fellow skier and lover of the mountains has lost his life in those mountains.  Kipp and his girlfriend Allison Kruetzen were found at the bottom of Split Couloir south of Bishop, California burried in an avalanche.  My prayers go out to the family and friends of Kipp and Allison as they suffer this loss.  Kipp has inspired me in the short moments where I got to know him to be a better skier, but more importantly, to keep it in check and be a better person.

10th Anniversary Blind Everest Summit

// May 21st, 2011 // No Comments » // Climbing, Events, Hiking, Skiing

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Everest’s first blind summit my team hosted a fundraiser for the No Barriers foundation and the Soldiers Project by climbing Quandary Pk and raising money to help those who have been injured in battle.  The evening celebration was terrific as we got to see old friends and preview Michael Brown’s new film for the Soldiers to the Summit climb last fall.  This will be an amazing work when it is complete.  The climb began before the sun rise and fifty plus of us made it to the 14,200 foot summit.  Some were blind, some were missing limbs, others had their own issues to overcome, but nothing could stop us (not even the weather) from having a great day and a great celebration.  Congratulations on who participated and thanks for being there with us on this joyous day.

Friday Stress Relief 2-11-11

// February 11th, 2011 // No Comments » // Skiing, Stress Free Moments

A day in the mountains, playing with iMovie HD for the first time.  This, I hope will make you smile.

A Backcountry How-Not-To

// January 19th, 2011 // No Comments » // Advice, Skiing, Stress Free Moments

Sometimes life gets a little heavy and the things of everyday tend to weigh us down. For me when I feel this way I like to get out with a good friend and have fun and forget, at least for a few moments about some of the stuff clogging up the pipes in my brain.
This video is evidence of that. If your feeling some stress and have a couple of minutes to kill, watch this video on what not to do while skiing in the backcountry. This is my friend J Whorton humoring me as I interviewed him on a quick morning ski tour in the backcountry near Vail.