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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outdoors blog

Backcountry skiers get away from it all

WINTER SPORTS -- Altough recent winter storms have made mountain slopes unsafe for winter travel in some areas, snow-goers who know how to pick stable terrain are having a ball.

Read on for the report from Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson, who filmed the short video above over the weekend during a ski trek at Rogers Pass in the chill of minus 2 degrees.

With all the recent snow (and cameras being sent off for servicing), we’ve been doing our share of winter activities. Last Saturday, we snow shoed to the top of Rogers Pass with a friend. There was one to two feet of new snow on top of a really deep base. Upon returning home that night, we decided to go back the next day with our ski mountaineering gear (and take advantage of the trail we had put in with snowshoes).

The next morning, we got up and hot waxed our skis. Then loaded the 4-Runner and headed for Rogers Pass. When we got there, to our surprise – it was 2 degrees below zero! There was a slight wind and it got progressively colder as we climbed. Rogers Pass is known for being the coldest recorded temperature in the lower 48 with a record -70 F without wind chill.

When we reached the top, we descended to some trees that protected us from the wind. We locked down our bindings (they hinge for climbing up) and pulled our climbing skins from the skis (rough purple carpet like material that stops skis from slipping as you climb).

We then proceeded to pick a route down the mountain through the trees. Our ski mountaineering form is not as pretty as skiing at a ski hill establishment. Gear isn’t as forgiving and extra weight with packs affects balance. But it certainly has its own rewards. The only tracks on the mountain were our tracks up and down! It only took 15 minutes to ski from the top back to the car!

I put together a three minute video from the trip (link below). It was captured with a small GoPro video camera attached to my chest with a harness. My editing skills are a little rough and I didn’t even try to add an audio track. But you should get the idea.

Outdoors blog

Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.

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