Tag Archives: backcountry skiing

February 14, 2017 The view from Baldy Knoll, Teton Range.

Photo Gallery: Backcountry Skiing the Tetons

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By Michael Lanza

After upwards of 20 trips in Grand Teton National Park—backpacking, dayhiking, climbing, canoeing, backcountry skiing—I’ve yet to lose the sense of awe I get every time I look at these sharply angled peaks, which resemble the archetypal pictures of mountains shaped like upside-down V’s that we drew as children. But there’s definitely something unique and special about getting out here in winter, when the high country wears a thick mantle of white. And there’s something very special about traveling through these mountains on skis. Continue reading →

February 7, 2017 Wallowa Mountains, Oregon.

12 Pro Tips For Staying Warm Outdoors in Winter

In Backpacking, Hiking, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   14 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Staying warm and comfortable while Nordic or backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking in winter is a constant challenge—we sweat, our bodies and clothes get damp, then we get cold. But it’s not impossible. In fact, as someone who runs hot when moving and cools off quickly—and who gets cold fingers very easily—I’ve learned some tricks over the years that have made getting outdoors in winter vastly more comfortable and enjoyable for me. Follow these tips and you could be more comfortable on cold-weather outdoor adventures, too. Continue reading →

February 2, 2017 Skiing below Mount Heyburn, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Photo Gallery: Backcountry Skiing Idaho’s Sawtooths

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By Michael Lanza

At a pass just below 9,400 feet on the north side of 10,229-foot Mt. Heyburn, in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, the wind that had been steadily turning the dial upward reached full volume. Another snow squall burst upon us, spraying white bullets sideways and dropping a veil over the rocky, snow-spattered, serrated ridge just overhead. Six of us had labored 2,000 feet uphill on skis in search of a doorway into a secluded mountain paradise of sorts, a high basin known in some circles as the Monolith Valley, though not marked as such on any map. A slender gash between Heyburn and another 10,000-footer, Braxon Peak, the Monolith exists in the topographical shadows, easily overlooked. Most of our group have only seen tantalizing photos that revealed legions of rock spires towering above untracked snow.

As sometimes happens, we had found something in between what we had hoped for and what we expected. Continue reading →

January 3, 2017 Ski touring the Elkhorn Loop, Boise National Forest, Idaho.

New Year Resolution: Getting Unplugged

In Family Adventures, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   6 Comments

[Note: This story was first posted Dec. 28, 2015.]

By Michael Lanza

This winter, for the ninth year in a row, my family will do something we have eagerly anticipated annually for almost as long as my children’s memory reaches backward. It will involve skis, backpacks, and spending four days at a yurt tucked away in snow-covered mountains a few miles from the nearest, very lonely, winding, two-lane road. But the details matter only inasmuch as they steer us toward our ultimate goal: We really go there to get completely unplugged.

We do that mostly for ourselves, of course. But I think we need this notion of disconnecting to catch on more widely, to save us all from ourselves. Continue reading →

February 11, 2015 My son, Nate, skiing Freeman Peak in Idaho's Boise Mountains.

One Photo, One Story: A Child’s First Time Skiing Wild Snow

In Family Adventures, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

On the day I first took my son, Nate, backcountry skiing, when he was 12, he made a quick mental calculation before we even left the house of the effort-to-payoff deficit inherent to this activity. I told him to expect that we would spend the first two hours climbing more than a thousand feet uphill before skiing back down. He contemplated that quietly for a pregnant moment, and then asked the logical follow-up question: “And how much time do we ski downhill?” Continue reading →

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