This winter has been full of time on the slopes for us. We have spent a lot of the season teaching not only our son, but also Jentri, how to enjoy the slopes. The Freerider Pro 30 has been a main staple for our “in-bounds” adventures.
Our first attempts at teaching Ky to ski were what we will call a “learning experience”. We took him to Teton Village in Jackson, WY (read more about that and the Kid Comfort III here) with hopes and dreams of him loving it and getting the technique down straight out of the gate. Much to our demise his favorite part of the day was riding the lift UP the mountain, and he was not impressed by the way to get back down.
Defeated with our first excursion for the season we stepped back for a while and stuck to the groomed Nordic trails. Steve at Deuter gave us a tip at Winter OR that Nordic skiing would help Ky learn the necessary balance and technique needed to slide on the snow. We came up with the idea to bring some M&Ms along with us so that every time he fell down we would cheer and give him an M&M once he got back up (a trick we’re using for potty training). In the span of one hour Nordic skiing it suddenly became ok to fall down, in fact we believe he started falling over on purpose just to get chocolate.
After a month of hanging out in the tracks we sojourned back to the mountain. We had to leave our expectations at home and make the trip more about his progress than about our own desires. So we packed up our enthusiasm and some extra encouragement and headed back to the hill with our Freerider Pro 30, our secret weapon. Loaded up with diapers, wipes, snacks, treats & a DVD player we discovered that the Freerider Pro makes an excellent resort diaper bag! Its back access makes it easy to get to everything without a fight and all of the pockets help make it organized. AND not only will it contain all of the snacks, water, and dvds you will need but it will also haul the skis so one of you can have a free hand to assist the toddler to the lodge.
Once getting to the resort we would go into the lodge and set up “base camp”.. One adult would split and grab a couple of runs while the other worked to psych up the toddler to put on his ski gear. In a four hour span of being at the resort Ky would only do about 2-4 runs total on the rope tow. After one run Ky would want to return to the lodge for more hot cocoa and snacks before venturing out once again.
Our trips this season were mostly night skiing because of work schedules and college classes which made things a bit difficult for Ky but over all he was a great sport. Our portable dvd player came in handy as backup entertainer when Ky got tired of playing around outside, exploring the small lodge, or when it was simply too cold outside.
Ready to get out and explore with your little one.
Hailing from Teton Valley, Idaho, Chris Roy has joined the Deuter Ambassador team, bringing his stoke for skiing, sailing and kayaking to the group. With roots in the North East, Chris started living a life of adventure from a very young age through his family. A passion for the outdoors and pushing the adventure envelope seem to be his credo and Chris navigates the changes in season from sport to sport easier than most folks we know. Future goals include circumnavigating Mt. Baker and sailing the open oceans and we have no doubts he will achieve them.
What is your core sport(s)?
Big mountain skiing, ski mountaineering, sailing, sea kayaking, trail running, climbing big mountains and mountain biking.
When/what was your first memorable “outdoor” experience?
I grew up in a very small town of 250 people on the Buzzards Bay side of Cape Cod. Much of my time as a child was spent with my parents on a small sailboat that they would use when the conditions allowed. One of my first memories of being outdoors was on the boat in a small hammock where I would take naps. I was probably 4-5 years old when I first remember being on the boat, although my parents will tell stories of me being on the boat as a baby.
I remember clearly the first time my father took me to a small ski hill in western mass named Jiminy Peak and tried to teach me to ski. It was a rope tow that first brought me up a slope with my father behind me coaching me to hold on and stand up and to keep the skis straight. My first thought at the top was to head down hill. With my brother watching along with my father, I didn’t make a turn. I stood up and kept my skis straight, but with no prior lessons, I never bothered to think about stopping or turning until I hit the trees at the bottom. And that is what started a skiing career at the ripe age of 7.
How do you take your coffee?
“America Runs on Dunkin.” Extra cream and 3 sugars
What is your “go-to” Deuter product?
Freerider Pro 30. Super solid pack with tons of options and places to put gear.
To learn more about Chris,
Check out Deuter’s Ambassador page.
We experienced low temperatures this winter in Idaho that kept many inside sitting by the fire including us for a few weeks. Amazingly though in between the chilly temperatures there were a few days we were able to ride every month. Now, happily, as we all start recovering from our cabin fever trails are opening up daily as the snow melts across Idaho and the country.
March was a crazy month; temperatures were warm and the skies blue. The spring thaw arrived with only a few days of cold mixed with some flurries. It is looking to be a great riding summer. Fun is in the works, trips are being planned, and riding will be enjoyed.
We look forward to many things in Idaho during the summer. There are the races, mountain biking festivals and events all across the state. It is hard to pick and choose which to take part in. Sun Valley has a week of mountain biking fun with enduro races and cross-country events. There are races at Soldier Mountain Ski Resort and Brundage Resort in McCall has a music and biking festival. It still amazes us how much the people of Idaho support local non-profits that promote mountain biking, and protect and build trails. There are so many mountain biking fun events to pick from we often wish we could be in two places at one time.
We are thinking about riding in a few of the events and maybe even trying our hand at a race or two. Unlike many of our rides, which are about enjoying the scenery and stopping to smell the roses, races are about going as fast as you can. For Derek and I this is not a race against others as much as it is a race against ourselves, overcoming our fears, and going the distance. For racing we will be switching from our Compact Air EXP 8 SL and our Compact Air EXP 10 to the smaller Hydro Lite 3.0. The smaller bag has less weight to it, yet will carry the essential tools and fuel necessary to ensure we make it across the finish line.
The smaller bag is not only great for racing but also works well for the shorter rides we do in the Boise foothills during the summer. Winter and spring riding requires us to be more prepared for crazy weather with items necessary for safety, warmth, and keeping dry, however during summer the main thing we need is water and fuel.
Spring still has some rain and chilly weather in store for us, but summer is close enough that we can feel it in the air. No matter what time of year we ride or conditions we face during the ride we always have a well-equipped Deuter bag with us.
–Kerry and Derek Dunn (Outdoor Ambassadors).
Get ready to ride with the Compact EXP and Hydro Lite packs:
The sun was setting in Los Angeles with maybe another thirty minutes to see the palm trees’ silhouettes through the tinted glass of my town car. Over the past few days, I had two major meetings, presented a lecture once to students and once to professionals, and led a group consultation. The meetings, in particular, were a sweet blizzard of lofty opportunities, all of which might be utter illusion. Now I was on my way to a red-eye flight back to JFK. All the discussions, consultations, and promises had taken their toll on my blunt, East-coast sensibilities.
Thankfully, before California I packed the Deuter Cruise 30 backpack and it could fit everything: change of clothes, ski pants, some leisure reading, my incredibly un-hip lobster gloves . . . So, after the flight, I took a long shower, awoke Wife and The Little One (“TLO”), and shoveled everybody with our luggage into the car. We left Queens and went straight across New Jersey for Mountain Creek. Everybody was still exhausted and we missed a few exits, with a drive totaling a little over two hours.
Once we checked into the Minerals Resort Spa, my energy was up again. It had been over a decade since I had hit any slopes, and this would be TLO’s first ski lesson, her first experience actually doing a winter sport. While Wife went to the spa, I took TLO to her lesson and re-assessed my legs on Sugar Slope, Mountain Creek’s easiest.
As a holiday weekend, the proportion of wait time at the chairlift (5-10 minutes) to time actually moving downhill (a minute?) was not very good. Additionally, I had to dodge the slow, timid, and immobile, leaving time for only two runs on the Sugar Slope and one from the top of Vernon Peak (Upper Horizon, feeding into Lower Horizon). Even from the top of the mountain, though, all the powder was on the side, the ongoing crunch of ice scraping on skis pervasive on every mountain throughout our time there. But, I still assert reasonability in hoping the trails from the peak would be better than Sugar. After all, like any other ski resort, Mountain Creek has its own version of a sweet, illusory blizzard: 1,000 snow guns.
But my legs felt good and my little girl had a good time at her lesson. Wife was relaxed and dinner at the resort restaurant was convenient and kid-friendly.
The next day, TLO had an early private lesson during which Wife and I went to the Sugar, after which we tried a plan where Wife would stay with TLO for supplemental skiing instruction while I went to the top of the mountain for a run; then I would give instruction to TLO while Wife went for a run. What could possibly go wrong?
In short, when I returned, everybody was crying. Wife was saying, “She’s not listening to me!” and TLO would shout, “Mommy’s being mean!” So we opted to take TLO on her first chairlift ride up Sugar. And this was probably the most beautiful part of the trip: everybody was happy, we were away from the chaos of the holiday crowd, and the waxing moon claimed the cloudless, pale blue sky.
Our descent was…laborious, as the lessons had not completely taken and TLO was having trouble moving her skis from “French fries” to “pizza slice.” It was certainly the last run of the day and we all went back to the hotel. My family relaxed on the bed and Wife talked of going to the well-heated outdoor pool. My self-delusion of a ski weekend was exposed, embodied by a wasted lift ticket, hanging pristinely from my coat—until Wife said, “Why don’t you just go back to the mountain. We’ll be fine.”
What joy! I spent the next several hours making sure that I hit every intermediate slope at the resort: Great Northern, Fox Tail, Garden State, etc. I even went on the free-style trails on South Peak, but felt like I was intruding on the fun of the snowboarders, so headed back to the traditional slopes. It was a great time, including some tracts where I was alone with a thin layer of snow, the trees, and the moon. I could coast with arms at my side or arms stretched up to the air.
Afterward, I showered, we picked up some food from China Star—some of the best Chinese food I’ve had. Wife and I watched “Life of Pi” while TLO slept deep enough to qualify as a micro-hibernation.
Mountain Creek is perfect for bringing a toddler to learn how to ski, or a spouse who needs to regain her legs. It is not as pricey as a resort in Vermont, Colorado, or (my favorite) Sun Valley. But in the larger scheme of resorts, it’s clunky and I was surprised to learn that they were opened year-round. The frustration I found on some Internet reviews seemed warranted. Ultimately, it’s skiing in New Jersey: a good family getaway and a welcome break from my usually illusory blizzards.
–Dave Faux (Family Ambassador).
Find Your Getaway with Deuter’s Cruise 30
The following is an account from my most recent triathlon. I finished 6th in a field of nearly 60 professional triathletes with a final time of 1:45.52 for the Olympic Distance (1.5K Swim, 40K Bike, 10K Run) event. This is not a race report or a race summary, though. I want to take this opportunity to show the importance of organizing both one’s thoughts and one’s equipment to achieve a desired result.
Racing provides an interesting framework for analyzing certain elements of human nature. Winners recognize opportunities and seize them while losers idly wait for opportunities to be handed their way. I know this is harsh, but sooner or later one must recognize this reality.
Competing alongside the world’s best triathletes for the past 3 years, I’ve learned that too much thought can be paralyzing. Thinking you deserve something because you’ve worked hard is insulting to your competitors. Haven’t they worked hard as well? The clock starts at 0:00 for everyone. From that moment until you cross the finish line, one’s willingness to take action at precisely the right moment will determine the outcome of the race. Organization for the sake of being organized is useless. Yet, organization matters a great deal when it leads to action. Organized equipment means you won’t forget anything. Organized thoughts mean you will be prepared to act. Taking action at carefully planned moments will win races.
One’s willingness to take decisive action at precisely the right moment, more than anything else, determines the outcome of my races. Endurance events have a funny way of rewarding the most efficient athlete. Sometimes the winner is the hardest worker in the field, but sometimes he’s not. Sometimes he is the most talented in the field, but sometimes he’s not. Sometimes he’s the luckiest competitor in the field, but sometimes he’s not that either. Always. Always. Always. The winner is the person who takes the best actions between the starting line and the finishing chute.
During my most recent competition, I stuck with the leaders through the swim and bike portions, but on the run I made a decision to let the group of 5 guys I was running with go up the road with the hopes of catching them before the finish chute. “My stomach is killing me, I’m going to ease up. You’ll get them, just give yourself a minute or two to get your legs under you then chase ‘em back down,” I said to myself. Every one of those guys ended up beating me.
Maybe I didn’t have the fitness to win the race that day. Those five guys were better than me, and they should be congratulated for their efforts. Still, 6th pace is a tough pill to swallow when you wanted the win. Now, I return to training with this experience fresh in my mind. I reflect and learn, and then I will continue to move forward. After all, that’s human nature!
Thought is good, but only when it is directed toward one’s purpose. The excess only slows you down, often making difficult challenges seem insurmountable. Whatever your challenge, I hope my recent experience in triathlon helps you organize both your equipment and your thoughts in a way that promotes action towards your goal. Whatever challenge you’re thinking of taking on–go out and get after it!
For organizing your equipment, I recommend using a Deuter Futura 28 backpack. For your thoughts, well, you’re on your own. (I taped this saying on my bike to remind myself to be organized in my thoughts and decisive in my actions. Can you name the movie this quote is from? You’ll find the answer at the bottom of this post)
–Joe Maloy (Outdoor Ambassador).
Get organized and get out going on your next goal!
- Learn more about the Futura 28 on Deuter.com
- Order one from the folks at Campmor.com
- Get one send from TahoeMountainSports.com
- Have one shipped from Moosejaw.com
(The quote is from Disney’s The Greatest Game Ever Played)
It is a beautiful life on the far southern edge of the world. The wood stove in the corner is crackling and cuts the light chill of the late summers evening. Beers are opened as the conversation drifts cleanly from the meaning of life and yarns of past adventures to the group of Swedish girls a couple of the boys were hooked into the last time they were in town. Outside, the Southern Cross gleams in a sea of stars above the small hut on the Awarua River and if you listen closely you can hear waves breaking in the bay.
The generator out back is running smoothly and the chiller is full. A freshly shot and cleaned Red Deer hangs in the cooler next to a few cases of Speights Gold Medal lager. A box on the floor holds half a dozen large Red Spiny Lobsters, or ‘Crays’ as they call them in this part of the world, that we pulled up after the afternoon surf. The salt and sun crust from a long day in the water is visible on the smiling faces of everyone present. Arms and backs are sore from hours of splitting peaks on a lonely A-frame and chasing the crays around the rocks 15 feet underwater. Several of those big bastards have already found their way into the pot and are being cracked open and devoured by the hungry crew surrounding me. The smell of fresh venison being sautéed with garlic and onion fills the small room along with the easy laughter of contented men who have been living well and know they are in for a feast of the first order. The venison is served and glasses are raised in a rowdy cheers to the bounty the land and sea has provided and the simple joy of being a long way from anywhere. The closest road is a six-day walk away through the mountains, the supply plane left its load of beer and other necessities the day before, our primary modes of transportation are our feet, two small boats, a couple of four wheelers and a helicopter. A beautiful life indeed…
There are six of us in the small hut and other than two hikers who wander through later in the week we wont see another soul in the bay for the entire trip. Rounding out the Kiwi contingent are 24-year-old Jason Glew, freshly back from a year of traveling and sailing the world and Leroy Rust. At 22, Leroy has established himself as one of New Zealand’s best surfers with a hardy appetite for the big waves of the wild southern coast. Traveling with me are my twin brother Kitt and Matt Nye, a father of three small children from New York who jumped at the opportunity to leave the hectic world of raising young kids behind and get out into the wild.
The area we are in is known as Fiordland. It is New Zealand’s largest national park comprised of over 4,800 square miles and established in 1952. We have all come to this far removed corner on the Southwest tip of New Zealand’s South Island to explore one of the world’s most remote coastlines at the behest of Warrick Mitchell. Warrick’s family has been rooted to this isolated and dramatic land for 5 generations. His great, great grandmother first came over the mountains with her family in the late 19th century during a failed attempt to homestead and farm the Hollyford Valley. At 34, standing a few inches over six feet with the solid build of man who is comfortable living off the land, Warrick exudes the kind of bountiful energy, ingenuity and humility Kiwi’s are famous for. Trained as a chef and spending a good part of the year working on a super yacht cruising the south pacific it is the wilds of Fiordland where he was raised that always calls him back.
The simple hut that will be our base for the next 10 days was his childhood home and it is obvious from the moment we arrive that this land is sown into the fabric of his being, as much a part of him as his blue eyes and easy laugh. It isn’t cheap to maintain a homestead this far removed from the modern world. The simplest things need to be flown in by plane or helicopter and maintenance is a constant series of sisyphean tasks. To help offset these costs Warrick has taken to sharing this remarkable place with small groups who come to surf, fish, dive, and hunt. More than any single activity it is the chance to partake in a way of life, a way of life that is both rare and jealously guarded from the outside world that has brought us to the southern edge of the world and this small hut on the banks of the Arawua.
Getting here was, as the Kiwi’s would say in their lilting accent, “a piece of piss” thanks to modern technology. The Air New Zealand flight from LAX to Auckland was an exercise in Kiwi hospitality. The plane was new, the seats comfortable and the wine delicious. A simple connection and we arrived in Queenstown after a stunning flight over the southern alps, the jagged peaks and snowfields made famous as the story book landscape in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Queenstown itself is a pleasant lakeside hamlet that proudly bills itself as “the adventure tourism capital of the world”. You can hardly walk 25 feet down one of the main streets without being inundated by sandwich board offers to partake in some sort of ‘adventure’ or thrill. Wildly popular among the 20-something backpacker set as the place to get a rush, drink excessively and sleep with other backpackers, ‘getting radical’ in Queenstown has become a bit of a cliché. Nevertheless there we were and within an hour of arriving I am standing on the edge of a platform 140 feet above the Karawau River with my ankles strapped to a bungee cord. The entire bungee jump phenomena can be traced back to this very bridge where some severely bored adrenalin junkies looking for a quick fix first decided to tie a latex cord to their ankles and jump. With the amount of safety standards in place nowadays it is about as dangerous as riding a roller coaster at six flags but the combination of the jump and the dunk in the turquoise water certainly cleared any jetlag from my system. The list of ‘thrills with no skills’ available in Queenstown is stunningly long and in the next 36 hours we jump off another platform, this one on a cliff and attached to what equates to a giant swing. We tear through tight box canyons in a jet boat, eat and drink lavishly at the Jervois Steak House and with beers in hand stare dumbstruck at the sunset on the serrated ridges of the Remarkable Range. After two days of chasing the Queenstown dream our adrenal glands are drained yet it all feels a bit too controlled and leaves us craving something more involved than riding a tour bus to another platform that we jump off, get a quick hit of adrenalin, grab a t-shirt and then get back on the bus for a ride back to the bar.
Lifting off in the polished AS350 B3 helicopter, lovingly referred to as “the squirrel” an hour after sunrise we are quickly above Queenstown and gaining altitude as we head due west. It is immediately evident that while Queenstown thrives on providing safe ‘thrills with no skills’ to the masses, the surrounding natural environment is, and always has been, the real draw. It is a flight straight into the heart of Middle Earth. Braided rivers give way to steep, densely treed valleys rising towards the glaciated peaks of the Southern Alps. It is the type of landscape that stretches the human mind and encourages a belief in magic. The bird’s eye view afforded by the helicopter lends perspective to just how severe the wilderness below us is. We leave the misty mountains behind and traverse a thick canopy before hitting the rugged coastline. Dropping low and flying the length of the bay at 100 feet, the surreal mix of elements that the 40-minute flight took us through begins to settle in. Pastoral fields dotted with sheep that were reminiscent of County Claire in Ireland. Towering mountains and dramatic river valleys that would be at home in Idaho or Alaska. Dense rainforest that reminded me of the upper reaches of the Misahualli in Ecuador and now a cliff ringed bay of cobalt water that seems like something straight from the Hawaiian Islands. My geographical reverie ends as our pilot banks a hard left over a river and the small cluster of buildings that will be our home for the next week comes into view. The chopper sets down in the small open field and we quickly unload our gear and drop down to our knees as our pilot gives a wave, hits the throttle and lifts off. We watch him go and soon the noise of the spinning blades is replaced by the humming of the cicadas and the isolation really sinks in. The staged adventures of Queenstown are forgotten and a wide grin slowly spreads across my face. This is more like it.
I swim to the surface and gasp for air, sputtering obscenities through my mask and snorkel as I had just lost my grip on what was, by far, the largest lobster I have ever been face to face with…. Had to have been close to 8 pounds (3.5kg). I cursed my rookie mistake. I’d gotten too excited, giving away my intention to grab it a split second too soon and instead of getting a hold on the sturdy horns or his back he saw me coming and quickly pulled away with surprising speed, leaving me a handful of salt water and a few small tentacles that I was still clinging to in my thickly gloved hand. Warrick had schooled us in the technique of remaining nonchalant when approaching a group of Crays, how to move very slowly until you are within a couple of feet and then stop moving completely for a second, making the Cray believe you are not a threat and then, in one quick and simple burst, pin him by his back to the rocks or grab the thick spiny horns close to his eyes. Sounded simple enough but there I was spitting out saltwater and alternating between cursing and laughing at myself. Swimming slowly back to the boat to check in with the rest of the boys I pause for a moment and marvel again at this place and a lifestyle so in tune with the elements.
Tide, wind and swell command daily life out here on the southern edge. The current state of each dictates everything, from when the first pot of tea is put on in the morning to what is on the menu for lunch and dinner. Swell is small, tide is low and the prevailing South West wind is howling? Jump on the Quad bikes and race down to the south end of the bay to pull some Green Lipped mussels off the rocks for lunch. Tide is high, swell is small and wind is out of the north? Off we go to grab some Crays at the north end of the bay. Tide, wind and swell are all up? Grab a reel and go trout fishing up the river. It is an ancient rhythm and one that we fall easily into. Climbing aboard the boat to relate my near miss I see that the rest of the boys have fared far better and the tray has five solid bugs in it. Looks like its Crayfish for dinner again. Some strong tea is shared out of a thermos as the Kiwi’s have a laugh at my expense. Luckily Matt represented the American contingent well and grabbed two beauties so our national honor was spared. With dinner sorted, Warrick fires up the motor to check a wave just up the coast that might be working now that the tide is dropping and the wind has switched. Checking the forecast while smashing a fresh crayfish curry later that evening it appears that we are in for some ideal conditions over the next couple of days and the decision is made to bring in the helicopter for some proper surf exploration.
Helicopters have been synonymous with the wilds of New Zealand and specifically Fiordland for well over 50 years. The machine’s ability to fly in bad weather and land almost anywhere has made them indispensable tools in the region. Choppers even played a key role in the regions only economic boom when, from the late 60’s until well into the 90’s, Red Deer meat became a lucrative product in the European market. With no natural predators the Red Deer population in Fiordland had exploded since the introduction of the species to in the1850’s. With the meat commanding ever-higher prices, thousands of young men took to the skies in small Hughes 500 D choppers in a gold rush frenzy. It was the thirst for adventure and perceived promise of easy money that brought Warrick’s father Graeme Mitchell or ‘Mitch’ back to the isolated land of his ancestors in the late 60’s. The killing eventually gave way to the capturing of live animals to be transported to the thriving venison farms further east. A single live female was worth up to $3000 at one point.
Early the next morning over poached eggs and leftover venison Warrick described, with characteristic Kiwi humor, how pilots would chase deer through the dense bush while a shooter, armed with a net gun, would stand out on the skid and shoot the net to ensnare the animal. If the net got the deer the shooter would then jump from the skid onto the animals back, trying to avoid being skewered by the antlers during the fall and subsequent wrestling and tying of the legs before man and animal are air-lifted back to the safety of a clearing. I shake my head in disbelief and mutter something about ‘crazy f’ing kiwis’. Warrick laughs and admits that many died and far more were gravely injured but to those involved life didn’t get any better than those wild days making a hard living in the bush and skies of the far south.
Thirty minutes later as we strap the surfboards to the skids of an attractive white and green Raven 44 for a sunrise flight to a high quality sandbar a few kilometers down the coast, pilot Jeff Robinson is smiling and regaling us with humble tales of daring deeds during his time as a young pilot hunting deer with Warrick’s dad. Jeff’s reverential smile is one of a man who has lived his dreams and still loves what he does. “Let’s go find some waves for you boys” comes over the intercom as we lift off into the sunrise. As a vehicle for surf exploration on remote coastlines the helicopter is unmatched.
As we fly the coast, one set up after another passes below and I struggle to soak in the moment as my imagination runs wild. Cresting a small rise at the end of a large bay my jaw drops as a fantasy scene is laid out in front of me. Snow capped peaks line the horizon, the golden light of sunrise floods a lush river valley and a sapphire bay separated by untouched dunes of white sand. Where the lazy river meets the glassy ocean a sandbar is sculpting the southwest swell lines into clean peaks… Jeff’s voice comes crackling over the intercom and shakes me from the disbelieving trance I was in. “This look good to you boys?” I shake my head and babble something incoherent about how beautiful it all is. After landing on the beach I stumble out of the chopper, climb the nearest dune and give a victorious fist pump to the universe. The swarming sand flies quickly bring me back to reality and I scamper off the dune, swatting at the little black demons as I pull my wetsuit on and paddle out into the dream to join Kitt and the boys.
–Cody Doucette (Outdoor Ambassador).
Cody traveled to New Zealand with the Traveller 55 + 10SL. “The Traveller was perfect for getting all my gear out to big bay and the detachable pack was great for the day trips out to the waves.”
Find uncharted adventure with the Traveller 55 + 10SL…
Skiing in Alaska is many a skier’s dream. I’ve been fortunate to make the pilgrimage three times in my life, most recently a couple weeks ago. I decided to head north from Tahoe after the driest January and February on record. Not that we don’t have any snow, we’re just skiing the same snow we’ve been skiing since Christmas. There was plenty of fun to be had, but I was in the mood to experience cold snow, cold air, and the big mountains of AK.
Fortunately, my girlfriend is working as heli-guide near Thompson Pass, so I had a free place to stay. I booked my ticket and anxiously counted down the days until I could lay some tracks in POW! I arrived in Alaska with the weather forecast looking clear and cold for the first week of my stay. I rented a car and motored on to Thompson Pass, excited to see my girl and to ski some steep, cold snow, well on my way to the least expensive Alaska trip of my life.
The three days prior to my arrival, high winds ravaged the powder-laden slopes of the Chugach. The majority of the roadside touring objectives off the pass were wind hammered, and the skiing was mostly variable wind affected cold snow. I was determined to get after it, so I decided to explore a few zones that I’d wanted to check out for years, and just be happy to not be skiing the same old snow and lines at home.
I toured up a zone called Crudbusters, one of the more popular touring spots on the pass, right around mile 40 of the Richardson Highway. The 3,500-foot climb breezed by as I gaped at endless glaciers, ski lines, and scenic beauty that you don’t find anywhere else. Eventually, I found myself at a heli-drop, looking down a steep 2,500-foot north-facing zone. One of the heli operators on the pass has sessioned the area, but fortunately, most of those skiers skied immediately on top of each others tracks down the easiest lines on the face. I was also stoked to find that the snow in this zone was almost all powder, with little to no wind affect at all. I picked my way through some rocks and into one of the better runs that I’ve ever taken off Thompson Pass.
The following day, the wind came up again, and my girlfriend didn’t have any clients for the coming week. We decided to hit the road and try to find some less wind affected snow at Turnagin Pass, where it was rumored the wind hadn’t blown as hard. We booked a ferry ticket from Valdez to Whittier, and drove down to catch a ride on the Alaska Marine Highway. On an extremely cold and windy day, riding the ferry through Prince William Sound was the perfect way to take in the view and make our way over to Girdwood. The snow capped peaks, icebergs, porpoises, and eagles were all the entertainment we needed for the five-hour cruise.
We arrived in Girdwood and settled into our bed and breakfast right at the base of Alyeska. Girdwood is not only the home of Alyeska resort, but it is probably the coolest town within a five-hour drive of Anchorage. Turnagin Pass is only a 30 mile drive from town, and is home to some of the best roadside ski touring that I’ve ever experienced. I’ve scratched the surface of Turnagin Pass a couple of times in the past, and every time I go I’m reminded how much more there is to ski. We toured a couple days up on Sunburst and Magnum, finding good cold snow on all aspects. The long daylight of mid-March allowed us to take our time, getting on the skin track at 11 am or later, taking our time and loving the non-wind affected snow. It wasn’t deep, but it was glorious, and I happily busted out a couple laps a day on the long steep north facing shots.
We spent a windy day at Alyeska, checked out the classic steeps of the Christmas Chute and north face. We enjoyed dinner at the world famous Double Musky restaurant. I’m not entirely sure why there is a creole restaurant in Girdwood, AK, but there is, the food is great, and if you’re ever there you must check it out.
After several days of living it up on Turnagin Pass we decided to head back towards Thompson, by way of Hatcher Pass. Just an hour on the other side of Anchorage from Girdwood, Hatcher Pass is close to the towns of Palmer and Wasilla. An historic mine is now part of a state park, and the road is cleared year round, giving skiers easy access to another backcountry touring mecca. Hatcher Pass is a little further from the ocean, and therefore generally gets less snow, and there we found the dreaded wind affect, again. We went for a short tour on one of the peaks near the top of the pass and took in another panoramic view of endless ski lines in a sea of mountains. We didn’t have the best conditions, but I added a thousand lines to my list of things I’d like to ski.
As we drove back into Thompson Pass a storm was bearing down, a much-needed storm bringing fresh pow to cover the wind affect. The unfortunate thing about being Alaska when it’s snowing is that you basically can’t go skiing. The general lack of trees on skiable terrain allows for little to no visibility and can be quite a dizzying experience. I sat out a couple of stormy days before heading back to Anchorage, grudgingly flying home, but hey, someone’s got to feed the cat…
In my ten days in AK I learned that you don’t have to go broke to have the trip of your life in AK, as long as you don’t mind a little hiking… The ski touring off Thompson, Turnagin, and Hatcher Passes is only limited by your fitness and hours of daylight. The terrain is all-time, and as gnarly or mellow as you’re looking for. I like riding in helicopters as much as anybody, but I sure can’t afford it… You can find yourself atop heli-terrain, in some cases heli-drops, just a few hours from your car, and my trip cost only about $1,000 for ten days including my flights…
–Jeremy Benson (Outdoor Ambassador).
Get geared up for your own big mountain adventure.
There are some amazing athletes that use Deuter packs to help push the envelope in outdoor sports, so as family ambassadors, sometimes you can feel a little pedestrian. Ali (our edgy, two-year old crusher) wanted mom and dad get after it a little more, so she had us test two of Deuter’s kid carriers to see how they would hold up to the intense conditions and pressures found at 282 feet below sea level. That’s right, we took the Kid Comfort III and the KangaKid to Death Valley for a break from winter to enjoy a little fun and sun.
After doing a little sightseeing on the drive in, we started our adventures with a morning walk on the salt flats of Badwater Basin. Badwater is the lowest point in Death Valley and also the US at -282 feet elevation. The KangaKid was tested in this pressure packed environment and held up to the rigors of intense flashes from tens of international photographers and Ali smearing the salts all over it. Badwater is very kid friendly romp across the great white open and seeing the sea level sign perched high on the slopes above you is pretty cool.
Up next (about a 10-minute drive away) was Natural Bridge Canyon. This is another short (2 mile roundtrip), extremely kid-friendly hike up a slot canyon with the namesake natural bridge near the top. You walk under the bridge to see cool, dry waterfall chutes. Ali rode in the KangaKid most of the way up to the bridge, but decided to run downhill after loading some pretty rocks into the pack. The KangaKid is a great daypack with plenty of storage for shorter hikes. When Ali gets tired she just gets loaded up “like Yoda” and we can keep cruising. After the hikes, we spent the afternoon back in Furnace Creek at the pool.
The next day we hiked the fantastic Golden Canyon/Gower Canyon loop. Golden Canyon heads up a beautiful badland wash with red, orange and yellow mudstones. After topping out Golden Canyon, you can return down Gower Gulch to the south following a tight and twisting watercourse. For the longer day, we loaded Ali in the Kid Comfort III. It carries like a champ, offers great sun protection, and is very comfortable for Ali to ride in.
The main trail sticks to the low points in both canyons and is four miles long, but offers side trips up the pyramid-shaped hills and into the maze of smaller canyons. The Kid Comfort III was very stable to carry even with a curious child on board. The plush, oversized chin rest lets Ali fall asleep comfortably during longer hikes like this one.
The colors and shapes in Golden Canyon are amazing, the views from the pass between the canyons are outrageous, and Gower Gulch gets more and more narrow before spitting you out on a ledge above a dried waterfall. This dramatic perch features a fantastic view of Death Valley and Telescope Peak to the west. Ali took a nap for about an hour during the middle of the trip but woke up for the dramatic finish.
In addition to these great hikes, there are many others adventures in Death Valley. The best time to visit, especially with a child, is fall through spring. From April through October it’s usually too hot. Always bring tons of water and sun protection, enjoy the easy car-camping, and go see some amazing geology and natural features.
–Keith and Julie Rainville (Family Ambassador).
Deuter packs are tough enough for Death Valley Adventures
As an adventurous family it is important that we have appropriate and comfortable gear. No one wants to hike down a trail miles into the woods with a backpack that is rubbing your skin raw or weighing on your back in all the wrong places. That just makes for a miserable trip. I’m pretty sure we have all been there at some point in our hiking careers and we try our hardest to avoid such situations. That’s why, when we find a piece of outdoor gear that makes life enjoyable on the trail, we stick with it.
Deuter is one such brand that offers gear that is comfortable, versatile and functional. Their backpacks fit comfortably, there are multiple sizes to select from based on your needs, backpacks come in women’s specific sizes and, a huge factor for us is, they make toddler and kids backpacks. It’s truly a family brand.
Since Deuter backpacks were comfortable for Bret and myself, we wanted J-Man to try out the kids backpack and see if it suited him well. J-Man initially started out with the Junior backpack and it was quite functional but it was a little too big for his 2 year old frame, so we switched him to the Ultra Bike backpack and it fits perfectly. There are 2 water bottle holders on each side and 2 pockets to organize and store gear. It has the perfect amount of space for all of his adventure needs. Although this backpack is named Ultra Bike, it is perfect for many other types of adventures.
This Ultra Bike backpack goes everywhere, has been put through the toddler ringer and it’s still going strong.
–Melissa Edge (Family Ambassador).
Take Your Tyke On An Adventure with the Ultra Bike
It was the day after New Years Day and we wondered, as we drove up the pass, if it would be busy at the trailhead with other skiers who were trying to extend their holidays too, or if we’d have it to ourselves. Making the last steep climbing turn in the road, we saw an empty trailhead and rejoiced at the prospect of having the backcountry to just the two of us.
A rare day on Cameron Pass, besides an empty trailhead, we were also treated to no wind and about 5″ fresh powder from the night before. It was frigid and I suddenly wished I had spent the time at home to put my skins on my skis in the warmth of our house and to have figured out how to use my new helmet holder.
In the spirit of the way the day was shaping up though, my skins went on fast and easy and the Helmet Holder attached easily onto the Cruise 28 SL ski pack with four quick, intuitive hooks. I never would have thought having my helmet secured tightly to the outside of my pack (versus swinging by the helmet’s clip to an outside pack strap as I’d become accustomed to the past 12 years) would make such a difference – no feeling of loose gear swinging around and no annoying banging of plastic on plastic with every glide forward.
We skied up the trail in the 2F degree temperatures and absolute silence, save our skis gliding on snow. We enjoyed a few powder runs through the trees, drank hot tea and ate sandwiches hunkered down in our down jackets. The day ended with a fast fun ski down the trail. New snow, new gear, and a new year – the perfect way to ring in 2013!
–Meegan Flenniken and Eric Odell (Family Ambassadors).
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