Tag Archives: Boise Mountains

February 6, 2017 At Kaweah Gap, Sequoia National Park, California.

Why I Endanger My Kids in the Wilderness (Even Though It Scares the Sh!t Out of Me)

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   12 Comments

By Michael Lanza

A glacial wind pours through a snowy pass in the remote mountains of Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park. Virtually devoid of vegetation, the terrain offers no refuge from the relentless current of frigid air. Some of the troops are hungry, a little tired, and grumpy; mutinous doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility, so I don’t want to add “cold” to their growing list of grievances. I coax everyone to push on just a little farther, down out of the wind to a sun-splashed, snow-free area of dirt and rocks for lunch.

But I don’t like the looks of the steep slope we have to descend. Blanketed in snow made firm by freezing overnight temperatures, and littered with protruding boulders, it runs hundreds of feet down to a lake choked with icebergs—in mid-July. A trench stomped into the snow by other trekkers diagonals down to our lunch spot. It’s well traveled, but someone slipping in that track could rocket downhill at the speed of a car on a highway. I turn to our little party—which ranges in age from my nine-year-old daughter to my 75-year-old mother—and emphasize that we have to proceed extremely carefully. 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 →

January 26, 2015 Backcountry skiing near Banner Ridge yurt, Boise National Forest, Idaho.

Growing Up On Skis: Two Families, Yurts, and Many Memories

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By Michael Lanza

As we slide uphill on skis, each of us carrying a full backpack, the three kids—two of them 14, one almost 12, but an advanced apprentice teenager—trail at least a tenth of a mile behind. If we parents slow down to let them catch up, they stop and tell us, “You can keep going.” So we do. Their audible, constant chatter and occasional screeches inform us that they remain within earshot—close enough that we’ll know if they need us, distant enough to not feel like we’re crowding their space with our oppressive adultness.

Yes, it has now come to this: They don’t want to ski with us anymore. Continue reading →

March 12, 2014 Backcountry skiing Winter Corner near Idaho's Mores Creek Summit.

An Ode to Favorite Spots Most People Don’t Know: Backcountry Skiing Idaho’s Boise Mountains

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

By Michael Lanza

Fresh snow from the storm of the past couple of days blankets the ground, padding by inches a white comforter several feet thick. Ponderosa pine boughs sag under the weight of a substance equivalent to an awful lot of very tiny feathers. But that storm has passed like a dream you can’t quite recall. Now, the sun throws operating-room brilliance on every nook and cranny of a mountain I’ve come to know well enough to have a detailed map of its terrain in my head.

It’s the kind of winter day you want to put in a leftovers box, to save some of it for later.

Unfortunately, no one has yet invented a box like that. So two friends and I will cut laborious zigzags uphill and float downhill on our skis until our time limitations—and our legs—inform us it’s time to head home. And in the long stretches of silence, when we’re strung out in a line climbing uphill, or taking turns riding gravity like it was a galloping horse, I’ll find myself contemplating the curious intersection of chance, passion, and geography where we find ourselves falling in love with an obscure spot on the map. Continue reading →

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