CLIMBING MOUNT SAINT HELENS

The first time I heard of Mount Saint Helens was when I was 10 years old. It had just erupted and my family and I were getting ready to move to Seattle from Detroit, Michigan. It was both excited and frightened. The wild west coast was something with mountain ranges and oceans and erupting volcanoes. Twenty years later I was living in Portland when I first climbed Mount Saint Helens. My friend Jim and I drove to Cougar, Washington, and went to the local bar and grill where they held a lottery for permits to climb the mountain. Nowadays you can go online a purchase the permit; ahh technology. We won the lottery, got our climbing permits, and slept the night in his Jeep, which sucked because Jim neglected to tell me snores a water buffalo. Now I don’t know if water buffalos snore, but I imagine that if they did they would sound like Jim. The next morning we headed out on the trail with spirits high. The hike was about 5 miles and gained 4,500 feet. The trail wove through the woods until we got to a huge field of boulders. Hopping from boulder to boulder for awhile it finally thinned out. Next came the pumice and ash. It was slow going. You would take one step and slide back half a step. It was overcast and snowing. We kept going for what seemed like an eternity. Suddenly we pushed through the clouds and it was bluebird sky. It was a gorgeous day on top of the mountain. We could see Jefferson, Hood, Rainier, and Adams poking out over a sea of clouds. We sat for awhile soaking in the view and headed down. Looking back it was one of the best days of my life. I highly recommend it.

Andrew and Dan ascending.

Recently I was talking to two guys from the shop, Andrew and Dan, who climbed Mount Saint Helens back in June. Both moved to Portland a few years ago from New York state. They didn’t know each other, but weirdly attended the same college. Andrew has been snowboarding since he was 8 years old. He loves pizza. His favorite topping; just cheese. He’s a purist. Dan has been skiing since he was 5 and snowboarding since he was 13. His favorite food; chicken wings. Favorite sauce; the time-honored Hot Buffalo. Another purist. Pizza and wings. Classic New York.

Andrew on the ascent.

They camped overnight and hit the trail at 4:00 am. They took the Worm Flows Route which is almost 11 miles and ascends nearly 5,700 feet. Andrew was using his Arbor Coda Splitboard with Burton Hitchhiker bindings. Dan was skiing on Rossignol Soul 7 HD Skis and Marker F12 Tour EPF Bindings. Dan actually hiked up in his Rossignol Alltrack Pro 120 ski boots. They both had Dakine Heli Pro 24L Backpacks loaded with water, snacks, shovels, avalanche probes and Pieps tranceivers. The ascent took them about 6 hours. They were on the summit by noon. It was perfect weather. Blue sky all around. They hung out awhile drinking it all in and then came the fun part. The descent.

Dan at the summit.

Andrew contemplating his descent.

They took their time enjoying the ride down. It took them about and hour and a half to cover about a 4000 ft. descent. For both of them it was their first real big mountain. They both said they had the time of their lives. Cheers Gentlemen.

Dan and Andrew at the summit.

Top 7 Skis for 2013

Sadly, planking, (that ridiculous fad of lying flat on some object that you undoubtedly have a few pictures of), has gone out of style. R.I.P. But fortunately, twin planking, (that awesome thing where you fly down a snow covered mound) is still all the rage. In order to guide your search for the perfect set of skis to maximize mountain mashing, we have compiled a list of 7 top twin tip skis for 2013 that exist solely to do your bidding. Much like the snow falls from above, these top 7 were sent from heaven to endow this season with divine glory.

Volkl Gotoma SkisIf you are like the rest of us, you have got a cramp in your fingers from keeping them crossed all summer for a winter packed with powder days. Once those blissful days arrive, you are going to want to saddle up the Volkl Gotama Skis for some serious big mountain riding. Equipped with vertical sidewalls, a torsion box, and a rocker design, the Gotama is fully prepared to take on the most outrageous backcountry terrain, while also remaining versatile enough to charge anything the rest of the hill can conjure.

When you want a full powered weapon that can lay waste to anything it touches, step into Blizzard Cochise Skisthe Blizzard Cochise Ski. Designed for freeriding fanatics, these twin planks stay loose and playful out towards the tips with a rockered shape, but remain flat through the feet so you get intense response. For a smooth, reliable flex pattern, Blizzard has incorporated a CNC 3D-Bamboo Isocore that also keeps the Cochise lightweight and durable. Float powder, crush crud, and burn up the groomers with this ski that has a handle on it all.

Get your behind the scenes pass with the Atomic Access Skis. See what really makes the mountain tick as you explore deep powder through the trees, or uncover some wicked natural features. Atomic loaded up these skis with unparalleled versatility by installing the Power Rocker 10 out in the tips and wood core throughout that delivers a mean combo of durability and stability. Fearlessly mix it up in some rough terrain knowing that the Down-Sidewall L2 construction has got your back. Unlock admission to the entire bump with the Atomic Access Skis.

Line Mr. Pollards Opus SkisYou know what’s not fun? Having to bring a different pair of skis depending on if it’s a powder day or not. Fortunately, the people at Line are committed to injecting the most fun possible into the sport. That is why they teamed up with freestyle-loving, fluff-crushing legend, Eric Pollard to bring you the most versatile powder ski known to mankind. The Line Mr. Pollard’s Opus Skis feature a unique design that floats forwards and backwards effortlessly through the fresh, while also setting you up with 20% additional active edge for more grip when you decide to rip something a little less powdery.

Armada’s best all around ski in their lineup is the TST. It handles everything you canArmada TST Skis throw at it like a stud, as these planks have harnessed all sorts of super powers like AR50 sidewalls, a 1.7 impact edge, an Ultralight core, and of course a rockered shape. It doesn’t matter if it puked powder the night before, or if a flake hasn’t been detected in a week, because the highly versatile Armada TST Ski tears it up in or out of bounds.

Everyone thought that the folks at Rossignol were just a bunch of mad scientists cooking up some crazy ski concoctions, but now, their S7 Ski is the industry’s most imitated model. These groundbreaking slabs paved the path for the revolutionary rocker/camber combo that is now so popular. The Rossignol S7 Ski purées a sweet blend of float and versatility with a Centered Sidecut, which provides supreme edging power that is undetectable in other rockered skis. The original game changers are back for another season of powder slashing good times.

K2 Sideseth SkisSeth Morrison’s continued evolution as a skier inspired K2’s Sideseth Ski. Reflecting Seth’s recent emergence as a technical, big mountain focused rider, this pair of sticks is the ultimate backcountry slaying instrument of destruction. However, given its mild rocker construction and slightly stiffer tail, the Sideseth maintains a healthy dose of utility across a wide range of snow conditions. If Seth Morrison rocks a set of these shredcicles, then you should have no doubt that the K2 Sideseth Ski will spin some mountain magic for you as well.

No matter which set of sticks your mind picks, your heart will be forever grateful as it is filled with happiness with each turn. May your season be filled with endless powder days and more fun than you can shake a pole at.

By Jennifer Frost