Friday, January 29, 2010


Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  I've been super busy.  I picked up another skiing job (instructor of a skiing class for a local community college), so I'm doing that on Tuesdays and Thursdays until mid-March.  Plus, I have regular work (which seems to be picking up lately), plus my parents are going on vacation, so I have to look after their dog for a week (which should actually be pretty fun).

We got hit with a pretty bad rainstorm Monday, but skiing was decent on Tuesday and Thursday at West, so I hope there's some promise for the weekend.  I'm actually going to ski Royal Mountain (outside of Johnstown) tomorrow, and Gore on Sunday.  Hopefully, when I come back on Monday, I'll have enough time to write up a report.  Of course, then I'm going to ski Willard on Monday night, so the report might not come until Wednesday.  But Lost is on Wednesday, and I really want to see what happened at the end of last year, so maybe the report won't come until later . . .

I'm sure I'll fit something in sometime.  But really, when I get old and look back on my life, am I going to say "I wish I spent more time on my computer"?  No!!  I'd rather be skiing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The key to a successful blog is original content (stuff you can't get anywhere else).  So, with that in mind, here are some videos and pics from this past weekend.

First, some helmet cam footage of Tahawus Glades on Saturday:

Tahawus Glades on Saturday, 1/16/10 from Matt Charles on Vimeo.

Then, some helmet cam footage of Rumor when they dropped the rope on Sunday (very cool morning to ski, sunny at the top with clouds in the valleys, you can sort of see it in the video):

Rumor on Sunday 1/17/10 from Matt Charles on Vimeo.

Then, the batteries on my helmet cam were running out (rechargables don't last as long as the lithiums), so I put it into photo mode (where it takes a photo every 2 or 3 seconds), and ripped down some off-the-map glades.  Here's a selection of pics:


As for the report, Monday was the best day.  There are a couple of droplets on the lens there because it was misting for a while, but the 4-5 inches of snow on the mountain felt real good after the snow drought we've been going through.  Just to feel the soft snow under your feet (even on the trails) was a great feeling.  I skied tele on Saturday and Sunday (as you may have noticed in the videos), and alpine on Monday (although I kind of wish I brought my fat tele boards out).  I skied trees all weekend, always had people to ski with, and I had a blast.  There were a lot of people on the mountain on  Saturday (and, to a lesser extent, Sunday), but by skiing the trees, we were able to leave the crowds behind and get into our own little world. It really is amazing how quiet it can get in an area that is only a short hike away.  The fireworks on Saturday were great too, but I didn't stay at the bar long enough to get into the shenanigans that other people got into.  Maybe that's a good thing.   

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Still Time for New Gear . . .

I keep waffling back and forth on what I want.  I consulted this chart, and it seems like the BD Stigma (in the 182) weighs 7 pounds 9 oz.  Also on the EMS website (for $100 more) is this nice looking ski:
 That'd be the Movement Freeheel, made in Switzerland, and asymmetrical.  It weighs 7 pounds, 5 oz. in the 176.  But that puts me up around $400, and if I'm going to spend $400 on those, shouldn't I just spend $375 for the Atomic RT 86 on (feather light 6.5 pounds in the 183)? I'm leaning towards the RT 86 at this point, especially if I can get it at that price, with the Voile Switchback bindings (which they don't have on Telemarkdown . . . I guess I'll miss out on the free mounting).  It's a good thing that nobody reads this blog.  I think the RT 86's will sell out pretty quick at this price.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Time for New Gear?

Since three of my goals for this year involve backcountry skiing, I thought I'd take a look at what I'd need for my future off piste adventures.  I pulled up this list, so that I could get an early start on preparing for the Haute Route, and make sure that any gear purchases that I make between now and Spring of 2011 will further the cause.  I have several problems:
  1. I need skis.  My only tele skis are twin tips (Dynastar concepts and Karhu Jaks - the old ones, not the Jak BC).  I'm looking at buying new older model skis in the $300-$350 range, maybe something like the Black Diamond Voodoo or Stigma.  I'm leaning toward the Stigma right now because of the lower weight and more preferable length (182 vs. 185).
  2. I need bindings.  I thought I could get away with using my G3 Targas, but their durability has been questionable lately, and they don't have the free pivot feature that a lot of the newer BC specific bindings have.  After hearing some questionable reports about the Black Diamond O1 and the G3 Targa Ascent, I've got it narrowed down to Voile Switchbacks and 22 Designs Axl.  The Axl will probably ski like the Hammerhead, which would be awesome, but it weighs 1 pound more, and doesn't look like it would be compatible with ski crampons (which seem to be a must on the Haute Route).  I have to decide if I want to power of the Axl or the weight advantage of the Switchback.
  3. I need other backcountry equipment.  I was never much of a winter adventurer, so I need crampons that would fit over my tele boots (probably these or these), an ice axe (probably something "cheap" like this), a harness, and maybe a new pack (apparantly there is a stereotype of Americans over there with ridiculously oversized backpacks and 18 different GPS systems, altimeters, and barometers coming out of their pockets).  This doesn't even include the beacon/shovel/probe that should be part of every serious backcountry skier's collection.  
So, about $1000 later, I'll be (sort of) ready for the Haute Route.  I hope I get a decent sized tax return this year . . .

Monday, January 11, 2010

Last Weekend

Last weekend was sweet.  Lies was sick on Saturday (I hit it 18 times).  I was skiing alone, so I didn't sample the trees too much (did Darkside Glades, Lower Newt's and Mineshaft/Nugget).  All were good, but I really loved pounding the soft bumps on Lies with my Tele skis.  Here's some pics from that day (all pics are screen shots from my video camera.  My helmet cam works great, but the batteries only last if it's warm.  And this past weekend was decidedly not warm):

High Peaks Chair

Dark Side Glades (first one in!)

Another trail (which shall not be named)

Sunday was good too.  I spent the morning skiing with Marino and Eddie O ("The Mayor?"), and I even skied Top secret and "Paul's Peril" (I always called it "Upper Hippy") with a group including Harvey44.  He left early, though, and we proceded to rock the trees for the rest of the day.  All in all, it was a solid weekend, and I can't wait for more snow (then the trees will be REALLY good).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Goals for 2010

Here's a list of my ski goals for 2010:
  • Ski more backcountry
  • Ski more days in April and May
  • Ski more
  • Buy new Tele Skis (for BC use).  I'm not sure what I want yet, but something cheap, light, and wide enough for powder and cruddy BC conditions.  I'll mount them with the Targas from my Dynastars to save money.
  • Save $2,000 for future Haute Route Ski Trip.  If done right, this could be the trip of a lifetime, and I want to get it done soon (so I can move on to the next adventure).
  • Road bike over 1,500 miles (not really a ski goal, but it will get me in shape for skiing next year), and maybe buy a used mountain bike.
  • Make sure this year's skiing video is better than all previous years combined.

Important Video

I'm trying not to release a bunch of posts at once like some type of unkinked hose, but there's a video that I feel is of vital importance for a skier's weight regimen:

Work Update

Part of the reason that I haven't been posting much is because of the hectic schedule I'm on lately.  I don't work at the mountain anymore, but Ace still does, and we're up there every weekend.  Plus, she's coaching Tuesdays and Thursdays (and usually racing Mondays and Wednesdays).  And, for some reason, it seems like I have a lot of stuff to do on those days too.

I did some video for her ski team up at West on Wednesday for her.  I'll post the Youtube in this thread when I get it up next week.  It was fun to watch the racing, and it kind of made me miss the competitive aspect of skiing.  Not too much, though.  Skiing has been, and always will be, purely about fun for me.


Does anyone find that life is a series of waits?  Everyone seems to be waiting for something: waiting for the weekend, waiting for snow, wating for vacation, waiting for someone to get home so I can start making dinner . . .  Waits can be short term (tomorrow's Friday!) or long term (I wish I had enough equity in my house so that I could sell this sucker and move out west).  But we don't really realize that, while we're sitting around staring at our watches, all sorts of stuff is going on around us.  Life is happening, and it's happening to other people.  Here's something from Skiing in the Shower, one of the blogs I read (listed at the right):

A lot of us thin[k] that once the house is clean, we can sit down and write that story we've always meant to, or once the lawn is mowed, we can spend some time playing with the kids, or once the laundry is done, we can finally read that book that's been gathering dust on the side table.

And that once we make our money, and we have enough in savings, we can do the thing we were meant to do. I don't think that life is meant to be like that. I think that life is passing us by at warp speed. And I think that how you reach for the things you wish for in life, every day, is what living life is about.

The author of that blog (Kate Howe) is basically living the dream.  She recently moved to Aspen, works as a ski instructor/massage therapist, and writes articles for several ski publications.  And since she's a skier, she's able to work in sweet skiing analogies:

I think about this when I think of skiing as well... we search for the perfect turn, and sometimes, we hang on to our old turn because we love the safety and security of it so much... we are so sure that the next one will be the good one if we can just hang on to this one long enough and get ready, be totally and completely prepared for that next turn, and by the time we've triple checked everything, we've missed our opportunity, the next turn has come and gone, there's a tree in the way and its time to make a drastic, quick move to avoid catastrophe.

What if, in life, as in skiing, we let each "should have" go as the turn passes us, what if we kept moving into the future, reaching for what was working, and letting the ski glide under our bodies, letting the snow spray, letting the sun hit our faces [. . . ] in the most inopportune moments, because we don't care about the time and place being right, we care more about living[?]
Exactly.  Life shouldn't be about waiting, it should be about . . . ummmm . . . Living.  Maybe it's time to let go of that old turn, turn the page in your life and move on to something else.  What are you waiting for?


Monday, January 4, 2010


Sorry for the devastatingly long time between posts.  It seems like I was running around like a maniac over the holidays.  There were so many parties to go to, people to talk to, and places to be, I felt like I was simultaneously doing everything and nothing.  My brother was in from Arizona over Christmas, and we went down to New Jersey to see some family over the weekend of the 26th (so I didn't get to ski).  It doesn't seem like I missed much, though, and the party with my relatives was pretty entertaining.  Then this week, there was supposed to be a decent sized storm, but it ended up missing us to the east.  And the lake effect snow ended up missing us to the west.  Not cool . . .

At least I got some skiing in over the weekend.  Saturday was decent (I was mostly in the woods).  Sunday was weak (mountain was closed due to high winds).  Today was the best day.  We mostly skied the trees again, as the trails were icy death.  We were on the map and off the map, and here are a couple of shots from the former:

Pinebrook Glades

The Cave

I'm sure I'll have more to say later this week, but right now, I have to go do more "really important" stuff.  Peace.