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Backcountry Magazine, 2000-09

Backcountry Magazine, 2000

Dec 2000, p. 12, Letter from Chris Townsend

"Having just read the 2000 Ski Test in Back Country 24, I feel quite depressed. There isn't a single ski reviewed that I would consider buying as none of them are suitable for backcountry touring. Ski-mountaineering, yes. Extreme downhills, yes. Piste skiing, definitely. As the introduction to the review makes clear these are downhill skis not touring skis.

"We seem to have returned to the situation of the 1970s where the choice was between skinny cross-country skis that were pretty useless downhill and in deep snow or heavy alpine touring gear that worked fine on steep downhills but was slow and hard work everywhere else. The rediscovery of telemark skiing was the solution to this problem. Now telemark gear has become part of the problem and the equivalent of the heavy alpine gear of old."

[...] "Traditional style touring gear--skis with a tip width of 65-80mm and a sidecut of 10-20mm plus leather boots, perhaps with a single buckle and stiffened side walls--is the right equipment for [backcountry touring] but is now increasingly hard to find."

The October 2003 issue (p. 24) finally reviews lightweight touring skis and boots, like those preferred by the writer.

Backcountry Magazine, 2001

Jan 2001, p. 24, Shelton, Peter, "The Gospel According to Paul"

Paul Ramer died at age 56 in March 2000, seven months after being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. In the early 1970s, after he took a job at Rocky Flats near Boulder, Colorado, he took up backcountry skiing on wooden fjellskis with Silvretta cable bindings. A big man, Ramer kept breaking cables, so he began designing his own bindings. By the time Rocky Flats laid him off in 1975, his alpine touring binding was ready for production. "It would be difficult to overstate the impact of the Ramer Universal binding on the fledgling backcountry skiing community. At the time, it was the only alpine touring binding available in this country. And for many years, even when European imports were occasionally to be found, it was the best." The author discusses Ramer's other inventions, his business failures, his conception of the Colorado Grand Tour, and his hope that Zardoz NOTwax base lubricant would finally bring him business success. The article includes many fine photographs provided by daughter Kris of Paul Ramer and his backcountry skiing inventions.

Jan 2001, p. 48, Skoog, Carl, "Count Down on Mount Baker"

On July 16, 2000, Rene Crawshaw and Carl Skoog skied the north ridge of Mt Baker. Crawshaw had made seven previous attempts on the route, which failed for various reasons. The pair climbed the mid-route ice wall farther west than normal, because that location offered a shorter rappel for the descent. After summiting, they skied back down to the wall, where Skoog switched to crampons to place an ice screw anchor. Skoog rappeled over the wall with skis off and Crawshaw with skis on. Lower, soft snow offered more relaxed skiing. The article includes photos by Skoog of the route and of Crawshaw climbing and rappeling the ice wall, standing on the summit, and skiing the lower slopes of the north ridge.

Feb 2001, p. 48, Dornian, Dave, "Alpine Acceleration"

Standardized ski mountaineering competitions began in the late 1980s in Europe. The orgininal competitions were held in Spain rather than the Alps, and the sport's stronghold is still in the mountains of Catalonia. An international competition circuit has been in existence for about 10 years. This winter there will be three World Cup events, in France, Switzerland, and Italy. The race format requires a complex mountain route that may include considerable technical terrain, multiple summits, and 10,000 feet of combined elevation gain and loss. Competitors must carry a pack containing a water bottle, crampons, headlamp, first-aid kit, and a survival blanket.

Dec 2001, p. 22, Scott, Chic, "A Portrait: Don Gardner"

Near the end of this profile, the author writes that for the past half-dozen years, Don Gardner has been working his way south on skis from Canada to Disneyland by stages: Elk Pass, Fort Steele, Osoyoos, Winthrop, Lake Chelan, Stevens Pass, and Snoqualmie Pass. "The most challenging part, he says, was from Winthrop to Lake Chelan in Washington, along incredibly steep-sided valleys, traversing high above canyons and crossing roaring creeks on log bridges. Travelling alone, a slip could have been fatal."

Backcountry Magazine, 2002

Nov 2002, p. 22, Skoog, Carl, "Around the Big One: Skiing all sides of Mt. Rainier"

This article describes a three-day circumski of Mt Rainier [in 1996] by Lowell and Carl Skoog with Bruce Goodson. The author discusses the history of high-level orbits around Rainier on foot and by ski (derived from this project, see subject index.) This party roughly followed the 1968 Foss-Molenaar route counter-clockwise around the mountain from the White River campground to Ptarmigan Ridge (day one), Success Cleaver (day two), and finishing at Fryingpan Creek (day three). The article includes a map of the route and a half-dozen fine photos, all by the author.

Nov 2002, p. 44, Scott, Chic, "Hans Gmoser and Leo Grillmair, Pioneers of the Canadian Rockies"

This article describes how Gmoser and Grillmair revived mountain guiding in Canada in the 1950s and founded the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. The author discusses their pioneering climbs, early ski guiding, and Gmoser's mountain films. Gmoser began helicopter ski guiding in 1963. Some of his first guests to experiment with heli skiing were Duke Watson of Seattle and his friends from the 10th Mountain Division. In 1965, the first successful commercial heli ski week took place in the Bugaboos. Brooks Dodge, Olympic racer and legendary skier from New Hampshire brought the clients and Gmoser did the guiding. Gmoser sold Canadian Mountain Holidays in 1995.

Backcountry Magazine, 2003

Nov 2003, p. 52, "2004 Gear Guide - Boots"

The Scarpa F1 boot further blurs the distinction between alpine and nordic gear. The F1 is a plastic alpine touring boot that flexes at the ball of the foot, using the same bellows construction as Scarpa's Terminator telemark boots. The boot, developed for randonnee racing, must be used with the frameless Dynafit Tourlite bindings.

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