Josh Daiek battles Mt. Ruapehu in New Zealand

As ski season down under winds down, here’s an interesting story by Josh Daiek at www.joshdaiek.com:

“I powered down the table saw and took a seat for my lunch break when I noticed a missed call from Mike Douglas. His voicemail informed me of an upcoming ski trip to New Zealand, I frantically called back eager to hear the details. The trip was for a Salomon Freeski TV project, the plan, explore and expose some of the less popular skiing on the northern island. I was thrilled, I’ve always wanted to ski New Zealand. I tried not to sound overly excited or anxious as I confirmed with Douglas “I’m in!” I hung up the phone and began dancing around the room like an idiot.

My first instinct was to research and gather as much info as possible about the mountains and conditions on the north island, but as I began typing into the Google search I simply stopped. What does it matter? I thought. I’m going to get on a plane, fly half way around the world and go skiing during summer! That’s all that matters anyway. It seemed like the right thing to do, maybe a little more spontaneous, no expectations, no schedule, no worries.

After an airport rendezvous in Auckland, the crew assembled of 3 skiers; Mike Douglas, Chris Rubens, myself, 2 cinematographers; Anthony Bonello, Ben Knight and 1 photographer; Bruno Long. We crammed all gear and people into two cars and rolled out. We merged onto the highway and I unfolded a road map asking Mike “Where are we going?” It was then that he began to reveal the story of the natives, the Maori Tribe, and their sacred volcanoes. We were out to explore, document and ski these historical volcanoes.

Our first day we headed to Mt. Ruapehu to explore the ski resort Whakapapa. As we drove to the mountain I sat in the back seat, my eyes glued to the window, anxiously awaiting the sight of the mountains. Mother nature had other plans though, with dense cloud cover, rain and nearly nonexistent visibility we weren’t afforded a real view of the mountain. The first week we struggled to tough out the elements, battling in the rain and seeing how long are goretex would last. A combination of bullet proof crust and the gnarliest flat light I’ve ever seen (or not seen) made for some tough skiing too.

After a long day of strife at the resort we made our way home when all of the sudden, the clouds began to part. For the first time on our trip we actually saw Mt Ruapehu! I think we were all pretty excited to finally see the mountain and as the sunset behind the horizon I was pumped for the next day.

Read more in RUAPEHU

Buck Strikes Back rail jam at Mountain High on Oct. 4

Mountain High Resort is trucking in 40 tons of snow on Saturday for the Buck Strikes Back rail jam.  This season it’s taking place on the streets of Wrightwood.

Aside from the early-season shred session, guests can stroll through the vendor village, buy or sell equipment in the giant ski & snowboard swap, chow down on chili from the annual Chili Cook-off, and see the premier of Mountain High’s new short film, Montage.

“Nothing gets you thinking winter like 40 tons of snow.  It’s been seven year’s since we produced the last Buck Off so be sure to put October 4th on your calendar.  You don’t need to travel far far way to get in some pre-season snow play,” says John McColly, Director of Marketing.

The Buck Strikes Back uses 40 tons of snow to create a 10,000 square foot winter jib arena complete with all levels of rails and boxes.  It takes roughly five hours to cover the arena and park personnel will be on hand all day to make sure the snow stays at its best.

A 20 foot start ramp provides the runway and guests will have their choice of several different features including a down rail, flat boxes, a stair set, and a finishing jib.  Difficulty levels vary from easy to advanced so there is something for everyone plus there will be a Best Trick Contest at 4pm.

Twenty five participants consisting of pros, celebrity riders, and ripping pass holders will be competing for cash and prizes.  Be sure to put on your best performance because the Buck Strikes Back aint no “Wookie” competition.

The rail yard is open to all ages, male and female, skiers and snowboarders. There is no additional fee however a new 2014/15 season pass and helmet are required.

Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, OR download a liability form from Mountain High’s website at www.mthigh.com, have it notarized with a parent’s signature and bring it with them.

Guests who purchase their season pass at the event will receive more than $200 in FREE benefits and renewing pass holders save an additional $50 off Adult, Young Adult, and College passes.  Regularly $699, prices start at just $249 for Young Adults and $299 for Adults.

For avid skiers and snowboarders they are the best way to save money and pay for themselves in as little as 5 visits.  Children six and under receive a free season pass with the purchase of an adult season pass. Click here for a complete listing of prices and benefits. http://www.mthigh.com/season-pass-sale

For those not interested in jibbing, there are plenty of other free activities.  Guests can check out the latest products from Burton, Lib Tech, Explosive, Gnarly, Smith, Virus and more in the vendor village, plus get huge deals on snowboarding equipment from the nearby Mountain Outhouse.

New this year will be a giant ski & snowboard swap where guests can sell their gear or pick up new equipment for the coming season.  The festival begins at1:00pm with riding and entertainment until 5pm.  Guests are invited to stick around for the after party where they can quench their thirst at the Yodeler for just a buck-a-beer and watch the premier of Montage, the latest snowboard film from Mountain High.

Australia has best season in decades

By HENRY BELOT
Ski resorts on the Snowy Mountains are preparing for the final week of the ski season in what has been described as one of the best seasons in almost a decade.

With the season officially coming to an end, Thredbo spokeswoman Susie Diver described the year as a healthy result for the entire industry despite the doom and gloom felt when ski-fields were only dusted with snow for the Queens birthday.

“It really comes down to an amazing snowfall of two metres within just a couple of days in July and a very cold and dry August that meant the snow cover remained,” she said.

Read more Bumper ski season heads for the finish line – http://www.theage.com.au/act-news/bumper-ski-season-heads-for-the-finish-line-20140926-10la9a.html via @theage

Cali4nia Pass good at Mammoth, Bear Mountain, June Mountain, Snow Summit

 

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border="0"Introducing the Cali4nia Pass, the best thing to happen to California skiing since stretch pants. The Cali4nia Pass gives you unlimited and unrestricted access to Mammoth Mountain, Bear Mountain, June Mountain and Snow Summit for $689. From a quick getaway to Big Bear to a full family vacation at Mammoth, we’ve got you covered. Every style, every skill level and everyone is invited.Plus, the Cali4nia Pass offers amazing perks like discounted tickets for friends, special early mountain access, and savings on food, lodging, equipment rentals and more.

Mammoth + Bear Mountain + June + Snow Summit = Cali4nia Pass. All the benefits of Mammoth & June plus anytime access to Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.

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Lou’s travels in Chile: Lonquimay to Baños Morales

Here’s a fun story by Lou Dawson on www.wildsnow.com

“During spring of 1981 I was in Chile with my friend and climbing partner Rich Jack. So going back there several weeks ago was a nostalgia hit along with a fun dose of adventure travel. Our 1981 trip lasted three months. After nearly four weeks of skiing at Portillo (and before that failing on a couple of big Andes alpine climbs in Peru), we bypassed the closer Santiago region and headed farther south for the town of Osorno, where we planned on skiing a few volcanoes. Due to weather and transportation issues we only got up Villarica Volcano (fun back then, and still popular.) Honestly, I never thought I’d be back. I like Chile, but my home mountains in Colorado and the European Alps seem to be the ranges that call me.

Chile is huge, 2,610 miles north/south. Extending for much of those miles something like 4,000 volcanoes and the Andes mountains result in one of the most prolific collection of peaks in the world; when combined with Peru and Argentina, way more mountains than the Alps, perhaps even exceeding the North American northern-west coast ranges. Much of the Andes range is roadless. Even though parts of Chile are more roaded than most people assume, very little access is as easy as you get in western Europe. Thus, as happens in the North America, the places with road access to the alpine do become popular. Those are the areas I focused on during this trip, though “popular” is a relative term. (If you go outside those zones you’re looking at overnight trips supported by pack animals or your own back.)

Our new Chilean friend Casey Earle picked me up at Las Trancas after the Marker Kingpin tech binding event. We’d had terrible weather: scouring winds in the highlands and torrential rain at lower elevations. As optimists, Casey and I stayed a few more nights in Las Trancas thinking we could get up on the Nevados Chillan volcanoes for some touring. We were totally shut down.

My luxury stay during the Marker press event at Rocanegra was impressive, but wasn’t the real Chile you get if you’re a middle to low budget adventure traveler. Moving to Chil-in at Las Trancas gave me a soft re-entry into the world of less costly lodging that’s one of the more interesting aspects of South American ski travel.

What makes it “interesting” is you simply don’t know what you’re going to get. For example, the showers at Chil-in were hot and powerful, in bathrooms down the hall. At Rocanegra you had a bathroom in your room, but the shower stayed cool unless you ran it forever. Chil-in served good solid food but it wasn’t fancy. Rocanegra served the cuisine of a luxury European hotel. The great equalizer is Chilean wine. I was quaffing complimentary wine at Rocanegra that tasted like a $50 bottle from Napa; later we were buying that same wine for $5.00 USD a bottle in quaint regional mercados. In either case, who cares how the showers perform?

Read more of Lou’s story at CHILE

Mammoth Mountain owner buys Bear Mountain, Snow Summit ski resorts

 

Despite the warm temperatures this winter, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit have been taking advantage of snow-making capabilities to improve conditions on the slopes. (Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

Bear Mountain, a popular place for snowboarders, is one of two resorts being acquired by the owner of Mammoth Mountain. Snow Summit also is part of the deal announced this morning. (Big Bear Mountain Resorts photo)

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, owner of Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain, has entered into an agreement to acquire Big Bear Mountain Resorts, which operates both Bear Mountain and Snow Summit in Big Bear Lake. The two SoCal ski and snowboard resorts host nearly 800,000 visitors every winter.

The combination of these four iconic California mountain resorts creates diverse and unique offerings of both summer and winter experiences for day trips, weekend getaways and extended vacations, resort officials say. Bear Mountain and Snow Summit offer a full complement of outdoor activities from action sports to first-time family experiences, making it an excellent fit with the world class, big-mountain destination experience offered at Mammoth, they added.

“We couldn’t be more excited to enter into this agreement with Big Bear Mountain Resorts. These two uniquely Southern California resorts have been providing great skiing, riding and biking experiences to visitors from California and beyond. Millions have enjoyed their first mountain resort experience on the slopes of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, and we look forward to expanding upon the legacy that Dick Kun and his people have created over the past six decades,” said Rusty Gregory, chairman and CEO of Mammoth Mountain.

“This acquisition represents the beginning of a renaissance for both Mammoth and Big Bear and is the first step in the next era of skiing and riding in California. In the coming months we will be announcing exciting new development and expansion plans for each of our four resorts designed to attract visitors from down the street, across the country, and around the world,” he added.

Mammoth has announced a new season pass that includes unrestricted access to all four mountains at $689 for adults. The new Cali4nia Pass will go on sale at the Hot Dawgz and Hand Rails event at Bear Mountain on Saturday, and then will be available online at www.snowsummit.com and www.Cali4niaPass.com.

“The Cali4nia Pass will cut through the clutter in the market by providing the most diverse set of resort options available in California by allowing you to ski where you want, when you want and as often as you want,” Gregory said.

This transaction will create one of the nation’s largest ski companies with more than 2 million visitors per year.

Dick Kun, the driving force behind skiing and riding in the Big Bear region and long-time CEO of Big Bear Mountain Resorts, said, “Mammoth has always been the natural long-term fit for the Big Bear family and we are thrilled to enter this agreement. I am deeply grateful to the employees, shareholders, and the Big Bear community for their work and support during the 63 years of our operations.

“Mammoth’s experience and leadership will ensure that Southern Californians will continue to enjoy recreating in the local mountains and will undoubtedly bring in a new era of experiences and opportunities for all of our constituents.”

Intrawest Passport returns and goes on sale

Passport - Join the Ski Revolution
THE INTRAWEST PASSPORT IS BACK!
EARLY SEASON PRICING GUARANTEED
NOW THROUGH OCT. 20
Intrawest - Passport: Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Tremblant, Stratton, Snowshoe, Blue Mountain
It’s that time of year to begin planning for your ski or snowboard vacation with friends and family! Great news for you, the revolutionary Intrawest Passport is BACK and on SALE! The Intrawest Passport™ will allow guests to ski/ride for six days during the 2014-2015 ski season at Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado; Blue Mountain in Ontario; Mont Tremblant in Quebec; Stratton Mountain in Vermont; and Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia.
HOW PASSPORT WORKS
1 Primary Adult Passport $589 (required) + Additional Adults $449 (Up to 5 Passports) + Teen Ages 12-20 (Up to 5 Passports) + Children FREE (Up to 5 Passports)
THE MORE YOU ADD, THE MORE YOU SAVE.
Watch this video to learn more.
Click Here to Watch a Fun Video on Passport
Let's Go! - Click here to learn more

Powderhounds.com sums up Craigieburn ski field in New Zealand

Craigieburn ski field rope tow in New Zealand (Photo courtesy of Powderhounds.com)

Craigieburn ski field rope tow in New Zealand (Photo courtesy of Powderhounds.com)

Powderhounds.com delivers this analysis of Craigieburn ski field in New Zealand:

Steep, deep and cheap sums up Craigieburn ski field in New Zealand. The club field in the Southern Alps (about 1.5 hours north-west of Christchurch) is definitely not a “resort” as there are no frills and definitely no glitz or glamour. You won’t find any of the Prada wearing set here, as it’s reserved for hard-core ski enthusiasts and powderhounds. The famous mohawked skier Glen Plake loved the Craigieburn ski area so much that he joined the club. A run has now been named after him – “Plake’s Mistake”. If Glen Plake made a mistake, then it gives you a bit of an idea about the difficulty of the terrain at Craigieburn Valley.

Craigieburn Ski and Snowboard TerrainCraigieburn Valley (or Craigieburn for short) has some of New Zealand’s most challenging patrolled terrain. The Craigieburn ski terrain varies from steep narrow chutes to wide open powder bowls. There is no grooming except for the grooming that Mother Nature performs, so the ski area is all “off-piste”. Long runs resemble heli-ski runs when there is fresh powder. Heli-skiing at the price of a $60 lift ticket – choice eh?

Of course Craigieburn doesn’t have the luxury of a helicopter, but rather a fairly primitive lift system. There are three nutcracker ropetows to transport skiers up steep pitches to cover 500 metres of vertical. The lifts are pretty fast, but the basic nature of them is great for keeping the crowds away. The major benefit of course is that there are more fresh tracks for those who are super keen (and super-fit).

If the steep nutcrackers on the way up don’t humble you, then the terrain on the way down might. This is not a ski area for families or beginners. Even strong intermediates would struggle with the terrain unless the snow conditions were absolutely perfect. Sixty percent of the terrain is under-rated as blue, but perhaps these runs are considered easy in comparison to the triple black runs which are described as “suicidal”.

Officially the resort has around 400 hectares of skiable area, but Craigieburn is a gateway to many more acres of back-country terrain. A bit of trekking is involved to get the best snow, but it is definitely worth the effort. Craigieburn and Broken River ski areas are “interconnected” via a hike of about 15 minutes, which opens up even more terrain.

Read much more in CRAIGIEBURN.

Vail Resorts expands Epic Pass to include skiing at Park City

Vail Resorts, Inc. has announced that with the company’s acquisition of Park City Mountain Resort, the iconic resort in Utah will join the Epic Pass, expanding the collection of mountains offered on the season pass to 22 resorts and more than 32,000 acres of skiing and riding.

“We’re thrilled to be able to offer unlimited skiing and riding at Park City Mountain Resort on the Epic Pass for the 2014-15 winter season,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “We continue to provide even greater value and variety in skiing and riding with the Epic Pass and significantly invest in the guest experience at our mountain resorts, including new chairlifts, on-mountain dining options and innovative snowmaking expansions for the coming winter.”

The 2014-15 Epic Pass features unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City and Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan.

Also, Epic Pass holders have the opportunity to extend their skiing and riding adventures globally with up to five consecutive free days (when booking in-resort lodging) at the renowned mountain resorts of Les 3 Vallées, France (Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle) and Verbier, Switzerland, and five consecutive free days at Niseko United, Japan.

Vail Resorts is offering the season pass at $749 for adults and $389 for children (ages 5-12). Information: www.parkcitymountain.com

It’s hot out there, and Mammoth Mountain is already thinking ‘winter’

Mammoth Opening WeekendWith less than two months to the start of the ski and snowboard season at Mammoth Mountain, the resort is offering some early bird deals. They include:

  • Single-day lift tickets starting at $76, a 23 percent savings from last year’s price.
  • Two-day lift tickets for $151, a $47 savings from last year.
  • Three-of-four day lift tickets for $200, which works out to about $67 per day.

The tickets will be valid through the end of the snow season, although there are some blackout dates during the Christmas/New Year holidays and in mid-February.

For information, visit Mammoth Mountain’s website for “early bird lift ticket packages,” here.