Terminal Cancer Couloir

Spring break 2013 was a wild one. The highlight of the trip to the Tahoe region might have been taking home the Golden Saucer from the 2013 Pain McShlonkey at Squaw Valley, but there was more to the ten days of corn hunting then just a gleaming saucer.

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Terminal Cancer

Our mission of the trip was to ski the Terminal Cancer Couloir and as many other classic lines as possible. We ended up with just Terminal Cancer. Terminal Cancer is the gateway to the Ruby Mountains, which flank Elko, Nevada’s southern edge. Most people who adventure into Elko are more apt to get distracted by the glimmering Casinos before they even think about climbing and skiing Terminal Cancer. While the Casino’s distracted us as we motored through the dismal strip we were there to bet on Terminal Cancer, not fling ones at spinning slot machines into the twilight hours.

The couloir sits about a quarter mile up from the Lamoille Canyon trailhead and juts up across the creek on the westside of the canyon pointing towards the only visible patch of sky between its vertical rock walls. Holding 1,800 vertical feet of snow late into the spring Terminal Cancer has been named one of the classic 50 ski descents in North America. It gained this prestige status by its unique location and aesthetically pleasing ascent and descent.

 To our luck it snowed six inches the night before Rudy and I set out for Terminal Cancer, but unfortunately due to a five car pile up on highway 98 we were stuck following a preset boot pack up the couloir. The party of five that set the boot pack summited out as we finished the approach so we proceeded to watch them descend the couloir.

Slightly disappointed about sloppy seconds as we started the climb we soon regained our stoke as the walls began to heighten on our sides and the shadow was cast upon us. We were getting Terminal Cancer. After the hour boot pack we sat at the summit of the couloir and looked down into Lamoille Canyon on both sides. It was time to see what enjoyment the Terminal Cancer Couloir brought to us. Little did we know it was just the beginning to a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-type of skiing adventure that ended with the Golden Saucer a week later. 

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Looking into Terminal Cancer

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Rudy descending Terminal Cancer

Pooter Hunting in Wyoming

It finally started snowing in Wyoming and I was there as the storm began. It started a week and a half ago and the flakes didn’t come singularly, they came in the hordes dumping over 30 inches on Targhee over four days. Thankfully my buddy Rudy had the Chalet, an early ‘90’s rustic truck camper, parked on the ridge a mere quarter mile from the Ghee’s lifts. With plush ski in ski out accommodations and the first true storm of the season puking on us it was sure to be a killer few days of pooter hunting. The first day of the storm the Targhee ski patrol and lift crew battled to get the Dreamcatcher, the center point of Traghee, spinning and finally did mid after-noon. While they battled the elements we were farming low angle powder off the Sacajawea lift and dipping into the Toilet Bowl for some faceshots and cliff drops. Once the Dreamcatcher was spinning the Headwall offered up free refills all day thanks to Mother Nature and the fact that most already retreated to the Trap bar for nachos and pints. For the next two days the routine continued; the flakes fell, the ski patrol bombed, the lefties desperately tried to get lifts spinning and we skied. Unfortunately my camera passed on the trip due to high moisture content in the ol’jacket caused by a few  to many tomohawks in the deep pow.  Thankfully a few of the shots survived the ordeal. Here they are!

Day one of pooter hunting.

The Chalet's Hi-tech drying system.

Storm skiing.

Skinning up to hunt pooter on Mary's Nipple.

The Chalet and MHF Yota after day one.

Freeride Mountain Bike Clinic

Come join us this Saturday at Pomerelle Mountain in Albion Idaho for a full day of riding and coaching from MHF’s top coaches. Clinic is $40 and does not include a lift ticket. We will meet at the Pomerelle base lodge at 11 am Saturday morning (click here for directions). For more information or to register hit up MHF’s website or email us at info@mountainhighfreeride.com. Hope to see you there. 

2011 City Creek Pedal Fest

Bikes lined up at Pedal Fest.

This past weekend the MHF crew helped to host the first annual timed slalom race at the 2011 City Creek Pedal Fest. The MHF crew spent the weeks before the race building and flagging off the race course. Thanks to the team, friends and other volunteers for their help in building the killer race course down Adrenaline and Lifeflight/911. Saturday started off with a kids race around the new pump track that Barrie’s Ski and Sports help put in at the bottom of City Creek and was soon followed by the multiple cross country races that took place during the festival. The day was rounded out with awards for the cross country race which was followed by the slalom/downhill mountain bike race. We had an amazing turn out with over 25 people pre registered and everyone seemed stoked on the course. We had a great timing system that was leant to us from Pebble Creek Ski Club and ran by the ski club coach Mike Collaer who did a killer job  timing the racers. The weather turned out to be perfect for the race and the race went down great with no one getting hurt. The MHF team did a great job representing. MHF friend and local pocatello rider Brock Dewall rode to a first place finish in the open class to no surprise and was followed closely by team coach Nate Avery. Team member Caleb Hoyle rode to a first place finish in the sport class and team member Logan Wilson also scored a second place finish in the Junior class and everyone else did a great job at representing the team as well. MHF team manager Travis did an awesome job at coordinating the trail building efforts, putting on the race and was the man that made it all happen. We’d also like to thanks the City Creek Trail Association for helping us make the race happen and all the Pedal Fest sponsors who supported the festival and ultimately made it happen. We’d also like to give a big thanks to the Sand Trap for providing us with a shuttle for the racers as well as great food and beer. We look forward to helping put on another race at next years festival. Here are a few shots we snapped during the race and festival.

Caleb helping get the Sand Trap shuttle ready.

The shuttle loaded and ready to depart.

Racers waiting at the starting gate.

MHF Team member Quinn Depperschmidt stretching in the starting gate.

Travis giving a racer the count down 5...4...3...2...1...GO!

Caleb on course.

Pedal Fest vendors


East Coast Adventurin’ Part Two

The Platekill Mtn. Base Lodge

Fresh off a rough outing at Highland Bike Park in New Hampshire we headed to my parents place in the hills of Cabot Vermont to rest up before we departed to third Pro Grt Race in Roxbury, NY at Platekill Mtn the second portion of our east coast adventure. Between relaxing and resting we found a little time to do some digging on a trail on the back 30 of my parents land. Rested and fueled up on Cabot cheese and Moms delicious home cookin’ we made the long winding drive down the western edge of Vermont on Rte 7 into New York. We rolled into Platekill Mtn thursday afternoon with enough time to get registered and make a couple laps on the race course. After a solid afternoon of riding we headed down to the lower parking lot and set up camp for the weekend. Being the second team their we scored a plush spot on high ground in the back of the parking lot neighboring Team Geronimo/Banshee Bikes. We also scored the last spot with a fire pit, a sure necessity when camping at the races. The next couple days we spent dialing in the race course, which took both of us down numerous times. It was a super fun course that was technical from top to bottom. It claimed most riders at some point over the weekend. Thankfully the weather held off during the days which provided for a some what dry course, but it still got hammered and developed some gnarly loose breaking bumps. The vibe at Platekill was one of the best outa all the races we’ve been to. The lifities tipped us off on a killer fire wood stash which allowed us to have a raging fire every night rain or shine. We also met alot of new friends chilling in the lower parking lot around the campfire in the evenings after riding.

A salamander we came across in the woods

Trail building.

Bandaging up my arm. Thanks Adventure Medical Kits.

Mid-night power snack.

By the time race day rolled around on sunday both our bikes and ourselves were battered, but we were amped up on the course and the clear weather for race day. After taking a few practice runs in the morning to dial in our lines and get our blood moving we headed down to camp to relax before our race runs. With a couple hours between practice and our race runs we stretched out and fueled up before racing. Even though Travis was racing on a slightly injured wrist from practice he still killed it finishing 15th out of 35 racers in the Cat 1 class. Myself on the other hand crashed in my race run and finished in the bottom of the pack. We were both stoked to walk away from a gnarly east coast race course with smiles on our faces and no major injuries. With a plane to catch back to Idaho monday, we packed up camp and headed back to Vermont to get some rest before our journey back west. It was a great experiance racing out east and we’re already plannin our next trip to shred the right coast on bikes.

The lower parking lot camp.

Enjoying the campfire.

Pro qualifying.

More pro qualifying.

MHF Heads East

The Race Pits

Upon postponing our Nelchina Glacier trip we’re looking for another spring adventure to cap off the winter with. With Travis fresh off his three week stint in Alaska we decided to head east for a two week long bike trip to start the riding season off. The Pro GRT tour stop #2 at Highland Bike Park in New Hampshire and #3 in Roxbury New York were the driving force behind our trip to the right coast. While a large part of the trip was for the races we were also coming east to ride the legendary trails the right coast has to offer.

I arrived earlier in the week to catch up with family and friends and met up with MHF team member Owen Packard to pick up Travis at the airport Friday morning to start the trip off. Owen and I played ground crew first thing in the morning and changed out his good winter tires he used to get his car inspected for his shady balled summer tires that he decided would be better for the journey to New Hampshire. Unfortunately when we stopped to get Travis we noticed that the drivers side rear tire which had been plugged a good four times was deflating rapidly. After a quick pit stop to throw the doughnut spare on we were south bound for Highland Bike Park in Northfield, NH.

We arrived with enough time to gear up and hit the lift for a few hours of practice and shred some of the other trails. We got a couple laps in on the race course and got some good idea of different possible lines. After a solid afternoon of riding we decided to hike the course to look at different lines and get a better feel for the layout of the course. Besides battling blackflies and mosquitoes the whole time we had a great day of riding and were amped up to hit the other trails in the morning and get some more practice runs in.

Saturday morning we started off by checking out the other trails around Highland and found some awesome stashes. After chatting with some other riders we got tipped off on Hellion, a flowy jump trail that turned out to be one of our favorite trails at Highland. Between laps on Hellion and a couple other trails we hammered the race course and got our lines dialed in. While the  weather held for us all day saturday they were forecasting a storm for sunday so we were prepared for the course to change drastically. My day was ended short after I mutilated my derailleur off a drop. Luckily Shimano was set up in the pits and hooked me up with a new Saint which was a huge upgrade. While I was getting my bike dialed in by the Shimano mechanics Travis headed over to the Red Bull slopestyle park he’d been eyeing all day. He was most keen on the Red Bull booter ramp which only two other dudes had hit all weekend. He was slightly intimidated by the 12 foot plywood ramp to dirt cheese wedge, but soon he was sessioning it with the biggest grin ever on his face. After we shot some pics of the session on the ramps and Travis got his fill of the dirt jumps we headed out to get some rest for race day.

Hydrating with the trusty sigg water bottle

Travis on course

Like they forecasted Saturday night it started to pour rain just after we left Highland and it lasted through sunday. To say the least it turned the course into a gnarly and sloppy mess which made  racing interesting. Sunday morning we hit up the course for a two practice runs in the mud before we tackled it under the timer. By the time the race started the course had once again changed drastically and was yet muddier and slipper. We decided we’re going to take it easy and focus on staying on our bikes and not hurting ourself. While that plan landed both of use at the bottom of the pack, we still had a great time and both walked away without any injuries. After washing our bikes and attempting to de-mud ourselfs we headed over to session the foam pit and practice some new tricks. Travis was keen on learning a 360, which he nearly perfected a couple times and would dial in quickly if he had more time in a foam pit. With a killer weeekend of riding under out belts we headed off to Northern Vermont where we are posted up untill the Pro Grt #3 in Roxbury, NY this coming weekend. -Ryland

Travis attempting a 360 into the foam pit

MHF friend Dick Patty throwing a Can-Can

Travis airborne off the Red Bull Ramp

Dropping!

Three Week Alaska Adventure Recap

Coming off a three week trip to the place that has been my second home for the past three years, my only regret is that I only had a mere few weeks.  After going to Alaska for seven years I should have known anything less than a month long trip will feel far to short. With low snowfall and extreme winds Alaska has had one of the worst snowfalls recorded in years. As I watched the weather online and got constant snow and weather observations from friends living in Valdez and the Alaska Avalanche Information Center (A.A.I.C.)I just kept telling myself it is AK and the snow will come. After long time friend Dustin Taylor picked me up in Anchorage and was generous enough to let me borrow the trusty Stanza to drive during my stay, I departed for Valdez. I was in shock with how little snow was in the mountains upon arriving at the Eureka lodge and enjoying a great lunch while talking snowpack with a couple of locals I just met. I made the decision to call Gabe Monroe and relay the fact we should postpone our Nelchina glacier trip until next year due to the low snowpack. Once I got to Rendezvous Ski Guides at mile 45 on the Richardson Highway I felt like I had entered the twilight zone. It looked and felt like I was driving through the Rockies in mid June.

Colorado in mid-june, joking, Alaska mid-March

The Stanza

When I got to Thompson Pass I headed for the Tailgate Alaskavenue to meet up with Sean Wisner and the rescue team for the World Freeride Championship, the reason I was making this trip to Alaska. We had introduction’s of the amazing rescue team that was put together for the venue and then started right into briefing and training. It was amazing that such a strong and knowledgable team was put together, it was compiled of truly world-class mountain people. The day after I arrived in Valdez some weather moved in so for the next two days the rescue squad and myself got dialed in with some rescue scenarios such as packing people in skeds and rescues toboggans.

Rapping the sked off a cliff

Rescue briefing with Sean Wisner

Within a couple of days we had a foot and a half  of fresh Chugach powder on top of the mahogany wind board from the previous wind events. During a couple of days of in and out weather and chasing windows of blue sky I lucked out with what I consider the most valuable internship under the legendary Dan Vandermuelen (Dan Van). Over the next week Dan Van, Rhett Foster, Dorian Densmor and myself cut slopes on the venue site and got acquainted with the Bro Bowl area. During this time I was learning more from Dan Van than I can put into words. He truly understands the mountains and his performance in World Freeride Championship proved that studying the mountains and understanding how they work can take you a lot further than just hucking your meat. While Dan punched in a road to the Tonsina glacier during a couple marginal days I rode the bluffs and lowers of Nicks Happy Valley right off of Thompson Pass.  I also hung out on the top of Berlin wall during a couple grey bird days waiting for the sky to break and be the first after a storm to ski a line on Berlin I’ve been eyeing for the last couple years. I didn’t get to tag the line but got some great riding down the bluffs and more important got to spend some time on the mountain with Jason Champion guide extrodinare and got to know Dorian a lot better which would prove to be very beneficial after the King of The Hill.

Dan Van run 1

Dan Van run 2

There was a couple more days of marginal weather before it popped blue and it was time for King of The Hill. The venue was in great condition the riders all chose technical and aesthetic lines. I choked on my second run and tumbled 75 feet over rocks and knocked myself stupid. If it wasnt for my Smith Helmet and Sigg water bottle in my pack I would have been one hurt guy.  Lucky for me a few stitches in the elbow (thanks adventure medical), little swelling, and being knocked goofy was all the injuries I sustained.  Dan Van took the top nod in mens skiing and Will Brommelsiek in mens snowboarding, Holly  Enderle took home the honors of the queen of the hill. As I said before Dan proved during the comp that mountain smarts is the most important thing in the Chugach range and other big mountains. Dans lines were more exposed and technical than any others and he skied them faster than anyone else road theirs.  He scored the highest point totals of any ski or snowboard competitor. Dan Van truly is the MAN.

After King of the Hill a storm rolled in for another day and then went blue. Rhett, Dorian, Brandon Gust, and my self decided when it went blue we were making a push for the Heiden Glacier to ski the Books. We called every heli operator and anyone we could think of with a sled that would be available to take us out to the Heiden Glacier and we wound up empty-handed. We decided we had to walk in, which turned into an eight hour slog with 50-60 pound packs.  We were the first people into the Heiden glacier after the fresh snow and we rode some awesome lines. I watched Dorian rip page one better than anyone I’ve ever seen and we knocked off six ramps while we were in there. After a long day of shredding we decided to start our departure back to the car. We got a lot of respect for walking into the Books and had a great time with new friends.  That was my first and probably last time I will walk into the Heiden Glacier.

Camp on the Heiden

Rhett after skiing the Pages of the Books

East facing ramps in the Heiden

The day after our epic adventure we went back to Berlin wall in hopes of riding the ever so elusive line I’ve been eyeing. Upon arriving at the top of Nick’s valley I was crushed to see some one had skied the line I have wanted so bad and unfortunately butchered it. So Dorian and myself decided to rip a couple untouched lines off Berlin wall. Mine was a super dirty line with wind board half way down that made me chatter out after a little air. Dorian chose an aesthetic line which sluffed and barreled down at the bottom of the run just in time to for his last turn around the cliff band. We decided to go for a couple of west, southwest lines off of Giovanni ridge that were fun. Dorian had warned me about the snow quality after he skied his line, but we still ripped them and the footy should look pretty good.

Dirtiness on Giovanni ridge

Our last day in the mountain together with my new friends we opted for some short steep lines off the little Matterhorn into gully two. The night before I had met some awesome people from Colorado one named Colin Murphy. He and his friends were kind enough to give us some sled bumps up to little Matterhorn as long as we showed them around a bit. It worked great for both of us as they skied some of the sickest lines they got to ride in AK and we filmed three great lines a piece between Dorian and myself. They were short, but very fun and aesthetic lines.

For not having a sled, Heli time, showing up on the worst snow year and never riding together we made it work. Mother nature was great delivering six feet of snow and we hammered  it every blue day. When it came time to leave I was throughly bummed as three weeks just isn’t long enough for the best mountain range in the world. Riding with Dorian, Rhett, and Brandon pushed me my last couple days. I was feeling down about my comp run and old after two days of solid hiking with a 50 pound packs, but their youth and stoke of the area made it so I was motivated every blue day we had. I left with pride restored after my big crash in KOTH, great new friends and another year in the Chugach that will not be forgotten.

The Chugach engulfs you from the first time you see the mountains, you know this is the place your mind takes you in your dreams of powder slash turns and cliff drops. It will always be my second home.

Dropping into the Heiden

Brandon Gust dropping in 3...2...1

Dorian ripping

Dorian ripping again


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