It is about this time of year that our first skiing dreams make their appearance. We’re not sure what sparks these annual visions; the drop in temperatures, the first ski rag landing on our doorstep, the titling of the earth, or perhaps it is something far more preternatural.
Billy Marcial enjoying Evan’s Heaven December 22, 2014. Craig Moore / GlacierWorld.com 2014
The format and mental cinematography of the dreams may vary but the excitement is always the same. In some dreams there are endless spines and rolling high alpine powder fields as far as the eye can see. In others there are sub alpine firs encrusted in snow and coming alive as we dart between them giving a eerie creak that haunt us in our waking hours. Dark forests blanketed with snow disappearing beneath our feet as we soar off a cornice into an unbelievably epic air that somehow ends in an amazingly perfect soft landing. ‘Snorkelfests of pillow lines through deciduous trees that ends in a seascape along an unknown shore; those strange combinations of geographies that only exist in our imaginations.
Erick Gelbke and Kate Atha soak in the morning sun at Whitefish Mountain Resort on December 16, 2014. Craig Moore / GlacierWorld.com 2014
If the dreams have yet to arrive this fall we suggest you visit your local ski shop, get tactile with some new gear, check your favorite ski blog, and buy a few tickets to the annual lineup of winter films like The Banff Mountain Film Tour
Kyle Taylor dreaming big in deep powder at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Craig Moore / GlacierWorld.com 2014
It’s Spanish for “The Nino!” Depending on where you live, you either love that little boy or you hate him with a passion — pun intended. There have been some serious El Nino doomsday predictions floating around the interwebs recently. But no need to nerd out on those stories because we’re going to drop some science here on the GlacierLife.
Only the man made snow holds around Chair 6 at Whitefish Mountain Resort on April 9, 2015. Photo (C) Craig Moore / GlacierWorld.com Inc. 2015
We’ve all heard of El Nino and La Nina, but what happens when you’re shifting between these weather cycles and where does it all come from? The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a naturally occurring phenomenon that involves fluctuating ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. The warmer waters essentially slosh, or oscillate, back and forth across the Pacific, much like water in a bath tub. For North America and much of the globe, the phenomenon is known as a dominant force causing variations in regional climate patterns. Sum up… Nino is warming waters and Nina is cooling waters in the Pacific Ocean and they run global warming like Rick Rubin.
2014-15 winter’s ENSO report from the NOAA is chalk full of charts, graphs and data that would make even the most hardcore amateur meteorologist’s head spin like Candide Thovex. On average during ENSO ‘tweener cycles the Northern Rockies generally receive above average snowfall, but we’re talking from Missoula, MT north into Canada. Last winter the switch to El Nino took hold which meant warmer and dryer temps throughout the inland Northwest and parts of the Northern Rockies. In like a Lion and out like a Lamb.
Last fall during the Northern Rockies Avalanche Workshop Greg Pederson of the USGS gave a talk on snowpack history that was pretty revealing regarding high and low snowpack years i.e. while on average our climate is getting warmer and dryer there is always variability and spikes in snowfalls can happen during even the worst cycles. So, regardless of the averages it is no excuse to throw in the towel. In fact it is even more incentive to pump your quads, prime the sled, re-glue your skins, wax up those fatty’s, double check that beacon and get ready for winter because you might have to hike a little higher or a little farther to get the goods. They’ll still be there waiting for you.
Drew Pogge skins below the northeast face of Mount Stimson that rises to 10,141 feet above sea level. Craig Moore / GlacierWorld.com
Feeling charitable regarding the climate? Visit POW and make a donation (or buy some swag). Curious about global implications of changing weather? Read the latest from and The Guardian
Bucket work on Glacier Rim Fire along the North Fork of the Flathead River near Columbia Falls, Montana on June, 28, 2015 – Photo (C) Craig Moore / GlacierWorld.com Inc. 2015
While smokey air chokes the lungs and images of soot faced fire fighters and fire refugees covers front pages it is not hard to believe that the summer of 2015 is on record as the driest in history. The last conditions were as dry was 1929 when epic fires raged across the west with far less resistance from mankind. Some people were evacuated, some lost their homes, and sadly some their lives. Seeing an awesome force of nature first hand, whether it be avalanche, tornado, or wildfire puts a lot of things into perspective. The clear insignificance of mankind against nature becomes overly apparent. While scary, this sense of fear and smallness is what often times brings us closer to nature and sometimes each other. It is an odd paradox but one that exists nonetheless and even more so it seems in mountain communities like ours. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all those effected by the fire and to those who fought to contain it.
North American Interactive Wildfire Map http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us
Bucket work on Glacier Rim Fire near Columbia Falls, Montana on June, 28, 2015 – (C) Craig Moore / GlacierWorld.com Inc. 2015
US Highway 2 near West Glacier as the Thompson Creek Fire grows in the afternoon wind on August 11, 2015. (C) Craig Moore / GlacierWorld.com Inc. 2015
This winter we made our 14th annual trip to Big Sky Resort. This year we connected with two Big Sky locals – Brad Biolo and Dan K. Over two storm days we toured all over Big Sky Resort finding deep powder and hidden lines that seemed to go on for miles. While we hoped for some sunshine we got nothing but blower powder. If its not going to be sunny it better be snowing. It snowed for almost 30 days strait at Big Sky and we were there during the middle of it! We wish we had more time to explore the largest skiing in America during our time at Big Sky. Enjoy the images and keep your eyes open, a few of these may pop up in some tourism and skiing related media. Thanks Dan, Brad, Big Sky Resort, 810 Mtn Crew, Mystery Ranch, Montana Ski Company and GlacierWorld.com photography.
Brad playing in the Big Sky Resort powder.
Powder was the name of the game at Big Sky Resort.
Brad dropping in the forest on a powder day.
Brad booting up from one of the tree forts around Big Sky Resort.
The Big Sky Resort Mountain Mall got a face lift and looks even better with a fresh coating of white.
The Big Sky Resort village is the starting place for all things fun at Big Sky.
A new breakfast and lunch spot on the resort above Rice Bowl.
Dan loving this powder day.
Dan in the old forest near Dakota Lift.
Dan charging down the lower section of Lone Peak.
Brad airing out a cliff near Lone Pine on the Moonlight side of Lone Peak.
Brad cruising down Three Forks Chute on the Moonlight side of Lone Peak.
Brad enjoying the powder on Bone Crusher with Challenger lift in the background.
I wanted to share these images of mine from skiing the past five days in the Canyon Creek area near Whitefish, Montana. They show the Skook Chutes before and after the avalanche on 2/25/2014. On Sunday 2/23/14 our group skinned up to the Skookoleel Peak and dug a pit in the first opening. Here are our ops from that Sunday.
We skied Banana Chute a few days before this avalanche and got the third shot shown below before the slide. Then today 2/26/2014 we skied Banana Chute a day after this slide to photograph the crown, run out and damage.
Please have all your gear, travel safe, dig a pit and read the avalanche report – http://www.flatheadavalanche.org
Lookers left of Skook Chutes from Banana Chute.
Looking direct at Skook Chutes from middle Banana Chute.
Looking direct at Skook Chutes from upper Banana Chute on Feb. 21, 2014 – 4 days before the slide seen in the above photo.
Debris pile and broken 9″ tree section. Deposit depth 6-10 feet wide spread. A groomer has been through since the slide
We got the call from TJ David saying he was going to be back in Montana for a few days via the train. We connected for two great days in the backcountry with friends David Steele & Greg Fortin of Glacier Adventure Guides. TJ and his Storm Cycles crew are rolling Amtrak from Chicago to Whistler, BC and hitting some ski spots along the way. This year’s crew was TJ David, Hayden Price, Whit Boucher, Thayne Rich, Caleb Brown and Trent Bona.
We made new friends and shooting was smooth – all the powder and pillows we could ask for. Keep following them on their adventures at http://amtrakseason.tumblr.com
David stomps a back flip as TJ films from below.
Thayne tapping the snowghost.
Hayden skiing in the burn.
Thayne in the burn.
Whit skiing the burn.
Hayden popping off some pillows.
Thayne in main pillows.
Caleb doing some tree limbing while in the air.
TJ on the main pillows line.
Hayden getting some air.
Caleb popping into some pillows.
Whit rolling over.
Caleb blasting through some pow glades.
Hayden playing on a natural feature.
Thanye and Hayden checking the iphone footage.
Thanye thinking up his next trick.
Hayden loving life.
Whit post pillows.
The crew crossing over the railroad tracks.
Whit and Hayden in the no fall zone.
Whit and Hayden heading back to the lodge for a beer.
The crew back at the trail head.
Caleb, Hayden and Whit coming out of the backcountry.
Trent making some web teasers in the morning.
Thayne skiing above Coal Creek.
Greg and the crew snacking.
David will some Lodge Pole ash war paint under his eyes.
Whit and Hayden finishing out the jump.
Thayne and David building the jump as TJ and Caleb make sure everything is safe.
Hayden stepping out the jump.
Whit coming off the wedge.