Monday, January 31, 2011

Video of Michigan Backcountry Skiing

 - This video was shot on the now infamous "Checker Mountain."  Which continues to be a favorite haunt for about seven cross country and Nordic Downhillers. 

Anyone who is familiar with the telemark turn should please comment on mine...and what i could be doing better.

The best part of this is the accurate portrayal of the dirty bushwacking that we are calling "skiing." Ju'st listen to all those sticks, branches, and logs. It is hard to see in this, but there really is a nice line through all this.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vintage Rector Knee pads keep the downed trees from fucking up my knees when I crash.

To trespass or not to trespass that is one question that is a recurring theme in the pursuit of fun.  Should you jump the fence to skate the pool, should you jump the fence to ski the slope, should you hike up into the area that the lifts are not servicing yet... I think that if your impact is going to minimal ( just a few ski paths ) and you are not intending to sue anyone when you get hurt- you certainly should trespass. Especially if everyone else is at work.  This posting only has one picture taken on public property- all the rest are obviously of climbing over fences and shredding some backcountry back yards.

also included is a product placement for this kick ass Arnica Liniment. Feels good on your knees, bruised ribs, and other sore areas from high impact fun. 

Two great things to have at the end of a session at checker mountain.

A rare look at the eastern summit of "Checker Mountain"

these trees selflessly sacrificed themselves to provide easy access to some nice runs.

Not my Backyard technically...but certainly in my "backyard"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kalmazoo Ski Report or A good day out for Mr. P. Onepolsik

This one isn't making it outta the woods.

The snow pack in the Kalamazoo Region is aprox 8 inches of consolidated snow, a thin layer ice and about an inch of small, granular ice. The snow was not particularly fast but fast enough for the death of one pole section. 

Case in point:
This poor lad ( P. onepolski) wrapped his pole around a tree and lost it to a serious kink.  The price of radness is often a monetary one. Thankfully the only death during this session of fun was the pole. Everyone and everything else came out relatively unscathed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Letter to the Editor of Backcountry Magazine

Skiing the dune i was sitting near when i composed this letter to the editor.

Backcountry magazine-

            I was just sweltering in the August heat of Michigan.  Laid out like a lobster on the eastern shore of our namesake lake .  When I got back home,  sun baked sand encrusted , there was the Backcountry Gear issue.  Woop! Almost time to wax the sticks, stitch the gloves, and lay in wait of the first lake effect snow warning.

               The gear issue was nice and all but lacked any appeal to anyone short of those who live in the mountains.  Let me tell you about a class of skier that lurks in the upper Midwest  who bombs big hills, carves through the trees,  and seeks out pow on glacial leftovers.  

               Our hills are steep, short, and generally wooded.   We too seek the remoteness of the backcountry,  we too travel the untracked, we too hike our ass up ridiculous slopes in search for long clear rides.  We are conquerors of the diminutive, eschewing the groomed trail and the chairlift.  We engage in urban assaults, dulling our edges on the pavement of streets, chasing the powder before the plows can steal it away from us. Street lights are often our only partner. We are what Nietzche called “ human beings who know how to be silent, lonely, resolute, content and constant in invisible activities” 

                I can’t be alone in living in a non-mountain state, not in need of 600 dollar plastic tele-boots for the vast majority of radness I encounter.  Please test out Solomans ADX line and Karhu’s  XCD skis and boots or others out there in a similar vein. These rigs are not for the spandex wearer- they are for those who go into the untracked spaces where ever they lie and ski the shit out of them.

          We are your brothers. We are your Sisters.  We pray to the same snow god you do and worship with knees bent carving amongst the towering oaks. We skip work, we search out slopes. Snot freezes to our faces.  Please give us a little play.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Backcountry ski...Bangor, Michigan style

The snow pack here in South West Michigan has finally reached the point that the backcountry has really opened up.  Anything laying on the ground has become covered in a good 5 or more inches..with a heavy crusty layer on bottom and soft fluff on top.  Made a trip out to the Bangor area to ski with the folks from Mitten Backcountry in their ultra secret home compound and hills.  Old logging roads, tight turns, steep drops with dead fall waiting to swallow your skis at the end. Essentially, classic Midwest Cross Country Down hill  (XCD) terrain.  Telemark turns were difficult considering how tight it was- a lot more step turns with a tele turn often started with a little jump off of a fallen log. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

when it is dumping outside...and you are scheduled to watch the kids

all these dolls are reading montassori propaganda books together
 .....and you can't get kids to go outside.  They are playing so nicely inside, really creatively, making cognitive leaps through play- being completely Fun Til death with dolls- full tilt play. Whole rooms may be completely destroyed. So trying to ship them off to a friend, or guilt trip them into going out with you is not really a moral option.

while my skis gently weep

You can read some good stuff about skis and daydream about skis in between loads of dishes or whatever:

 I have been thrashing around south west Lower Michigan for a some time now on a whole host of Nordic ski rigs. Most are the straight sticks of the Cross Country Boom: waxless, edgeless and suited to low snow conditions and if you break them- not a big deal..there is another 10 dollar pair at Nu Way waiting for you.  I got my latest pair from "crazy bike guy."

If "crazy bike guy" ever resurfaces i will do a post on him.

I have always dreamed about a ski kinda like the Marquette back country ski-    so reading the posting in Universal Klister was a pleasure.  I looked out the window, sighed like emily dickinson.....and read this posting.

Universal Klister: Marquette Backcountry ski review back story:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

- more homemade curling-

The Winter of 2011 continues to be a productive year for Do It Yourself (DIY) curling in the Dexter and Ann Arbor Area. When not pulling 36 inch pike out of holes cut in the ice of local ponds, these guys are sliding home made stones on them.

" The curling "sheet" is the name of the entire playing surface.The D.A.C.C. currently has only created one sheet. We figure that  it is 50-60 feet from hack to button. It is a one house sheet meaning that you get tons of exercise at the end of each end by retriving the stones that you have thrown.

dexter ann arbor curling club


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Powder stash exploited on Checker Mountain, Kalamazoo.

Folks started arriving at 7am in Kalamazoo for a pre-dawn cross country and snow boarding tour of  a secret spot with in the city limits of Kalamazoo. It looks like a few more people know of this area for snow shoeing and cross country.  As with super sweet skate spots,  pots of gold, and other important partially fictional objects or  locations- this will remain known only to those who get initiated.

The Pre-dawn light and the low snow conditions made many of the early runs an exercise on making things up as you go.  As things got brighter and we skied, side stepped, boot packed and herringboned up the abandoned road to the summit area found some trouble, and some beautiful runs.

biggest problem was the low snow- many logs and stumps that could easily have become little pillows of fun were exposed and required anticipation and quick action to get over or around. 

 In order to keep it light and fast, i only brought the cell phone camera- here is what i got.

taking a breather. note snow on pack, and iced over hair sure signs of taking a few diggers.

check against blog title photo for snow pack comparison.

two hearty souls.

Both wearing a normal nordic set up. 

fiddling with layers, getting ready to drop down a big tree covered hill on a snowboard...and watching it all unfold.

This guy and his wife were featured in video I posted.  Mitten backcountry, bombing with confidence down hills that would make me terrified.

Peter arrives!      much joy is had by all.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mitten Backcountry secret spots

These two videos are exactly what back country Michigan skiing or snowboarding in this case is all about.  These two riders are obviously skilled, because they don't crash.  Let the steam rising from the Nuclear Power Plant be the only clue to where these stashes of fresh powder are hidden.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Planks and a Passion

History dorks and ski nerds alike will appreciate this book.  It starts off with statements like " the ski is older than the wheel"  and immediately the center of the civilized world shifts from China, the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, or other bastions of innovation and artistry to Norway. Who would have thought?

for the skier it is important to realize that people- real people, skied completely gnarly in gear that would make the modern person cry and beg for mercy.  From like 1000ad  to 1890 there are tons of people who maintained a "fun til death" lifestyle and sensibility long before the appearance of this blog or any other formalized attempt to have a revolution of everyday life.....and shred. Some of them were Vikings, marauders, Reindeer herders, and liberated women. Many of them were kick ass.

Nils Larsen, Dave Waag, and Naheed Henderson documented this skiing on film in  Altali Skiing roots...this film is a must watch- the skiing clearly shows a love of life and a commitment to Fun til death.

I claim this as my own heritage in skiing. Around the 2 minute mark this little gem from the Tatra Mountain filmed in 1932 gets good.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Nordic assault on lift assisted ski area.

  When NOAA states that there is a  "Lake Effect snow warning" this can be loosely translated as " skip work and go ski. " to day was a little different because I  PAID to ski.  Generally speaking the "pay to play" market,  for fun should be completely subverted by the " liberate fun " ethic, poaching can be such great pleasure. Granted this is an ethic that could lead to death.

As the Lake effect fell, I paid to ski for the first time. Rode a ski lift for the first time. Got knocked off the ski lift for the first time....and got schooled by an 84 year old woman in alpine skis.  I only wish i had had a sticker to give her. her partner was in her 60s and also was out having a ton of fun, and skiing lines that i was afraid to hit. Nan, if you read this- contact me and i will mail you a sticker.

I free healed it down with the Nordic BC/ cross country downhill set up.  Army surplus Karhus, Soloman Raid Bindings and The Greenlands.  I learned the shortcomings of my Telemark technique, and ate shit a number of times.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Skiing Ann Arbor

Undisclosed run in the Ann Arbor area.

65 55 60.. these skis were nice in low snow conditions.

NNN BC- these boots could kick, glide and drive the skis

Fun til death ski rigs

For an exhaustive look at ski touring gear see Dave's Nordic Backcountry Skiing page. Dave has taken the time to explain about every type of ski and its ups and downs. Especially helpful is spread sheet after spread sheet of skis, their dimensions, and their performance. 

We have just gotten about 5 inches of good snow down. This is enough to cover and coat the majority of downed logs in the woods so that you can float over them.

The rig I have been running has been based on the Saloman XADV Raid binding and compatable boots, the Greenlands are the ones i use currently.  I have been slapping these on various versions of the thrift store waxless cross country ski. Ten bux, strip the old three pin 75 mm bindings and put the Salomans, and ski until the ski breaks. This took usually about two seasons.

I also got a pair of "army surplus" telemark/cross country things. Mildly shaped, and a steal edge which makes all the difference.

The skiing for 2010 included a couple of trips out to a State Park on Lake Michigan. The snow pack was good enough both days to open up the dunes for the short and steep.  I grew up on the dunes of Lake Michigan and consider them sacred space. Erosion from human tramping has detrimental effects on the dunes, but when the snow is deep enough- seems like a fine time to take in the views from the top of these and plunge down them...and then boot pack back up for another run.

These skis seem like they might be really good for having fun in the bush of the Kalamazoo area. I seek out skiing like i used to scope out spots for skating.  It used to be " maybe there is a pool or a bank over there" to cruising neighborhoods looking for lightly wooded hillsides that could support  a few turns.

I have a number of regular objectives when the winter storms with lake effect slam into our cozy burg. Going out before the snow plows can clear it- a number of roads open up, as well as parks and yards. All supply me with space to ski with wild abandon.

Only now is the snow pack accumulating on the side roads making townie front door to untracked slopes a possibility.

Van Buren State Park, Michigan

Wide Dune Gully.

No shortage of crashes

getting set for the turn