Last winter I received an email from an old friend, Joe Wilhem Jr., who said he was going to ski around the world for 6 months.
We caught up with Joe this week on Edging the Xreme on RadioBDC to hear about his amazing journey.
(From Joe’s recent email to me about his trip)
The tour has been a combination of skiing and sightseeing for the previous four and a half months, and this stop was about visiting the roots of skiing in an area some call “The Cradle of Alpine Skiing.” The region includes St. Anton, St. Christoph, Stuben, Lech and Zurs. Stuben is the birthplace of Hannes Schneider. Born in 1890, he would become the first ski instructor in St. Anton in 1907. Schneider moved to the U.S. in 1938 and a year later founded a ski school in North Conway, N.H., which helped popularize the sport throughout the U.S.
St. Anton benefits from a monster of a lift in the Galzig cable car that features cars bigger than a gondola but smaller than a tram, and able to move 2,200 people per hour up and down the mountain with its Ferris wheel motion. Terrain options from the top of the Galzig include beginner and intermediate terrain to the right of the lift or continue the journey up the mountain on the Valluga tram. The Valluga is the highest point accessible by lift in the area at 2,811 meters. The smaller Valluga II completes the journey to the peak.
The top of the Valluga tram provides a quad-burning run of nine kilometers back to the village of St. Anton, descending 1,351 vertical meters.
Another quad and lung burner is the run from Valluga to Stuben, and the reward at the end is a heated Valfagehr six-person chairlift. The comfort may be tough to leave on a cold day, but the lift provides guests with access to both the St. Christoph and Stuben terrain. On both of these long runs there are opportunities for piste and off-piste skiing.
The decision to visit St. Anton was also made because of the value provided by the Epic Pass I purchased from Vail Resorts. It is sold in all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries around the world. It features unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Eldora in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. Pass holders also have five free days at the resorts of Verbier, Switzerland, five consecutive free days at Arlberg, Austria, and five free days at Les 3 Vallées, France.
(Joe Wilhelm Jr. is currently a powder nomad, but in a previous life was a journalist who has been published in Skiing, Powder and The Jackson Hole Skier magazines, as well as several newspapers along the Rocky Mountain West and the East Coast.)
The new Killington Natural Woods Areas are a breath of fresh air for barks-biting winter riders who want to dive into the trees. The resort just announced that 745 acres of Natural Woods Areas are available for skiers and snowboarders within Killington Resort’s outer boundary, which spans from Sunrise and Bear Mountain to Ramshead.
These areas are not maintained or checked by ski area personnel and these areas are not opened or closed like gladed trails. In other words, ski at your own risk, which is a welcome sign to most backcountry and trees skiers and snowboarders.
And when it comes to new policies in skiing at resorts in the United States, this one sounds more like the big mountain policies you might find in Canada or Europe.
It gets even better because Killington and Pico now have an earn your turns policy, which is officially called the Free “Uphill Travel Pass.” This allows skinner and snowshoe traffic on the trails 24/7. So now there is no excuse not to get first tracks on a powder day.
This is a sigh of relief for outdoor lovers who enjoy the mountaineering experience of a quiet uphill workout and mountain-peak solitude with the added bonus of skiing or riding alone or with a few select friends early morning or late evening. The uphill travel policy outlines where you can go and how to be safe during non-operating hours so not to bump into groomers or snowmaking.
Tabke remains a mainstay on the ski tour through consistently finishing in the top 10. In 2013 he was FWT World Champion and in 2012 he was second overall on the Freeskiing World Tour and was ranked first in 2011.
In 2013 the Freeride World Tour merged with the Freeskiing World Tour, which provided athletes and fans with one global tour for all of the best skiers and snowboarders in the world to compete on. Winning the first year of this global tour was not only a huge accomplishment, but it was a clear statement that Tabke is a dominant skiing force.
In the last 10 years, Tabke has seen competitors come and go, and more importantly the prize purses have grown to almost 10 times the amounts they were back in 2004. Now, he's a season veteran who has established himself as an athlete with a balanced view on the sometimes deadly sport of big mountain freeride competitions. He credits his success to his time growing up in the mountain resort of Park City Utah, and his longevity to his persevering nature.
"I've stuck around long enough to know that consistency is a result of sticking with it. And now that we have one worldwide tour with a global audience sticking with it, it has been worth it," Tabke said on a late-night drive from British Columbia to his home ski area of Crystal Mountain, Washington.
Follow Tabke's success this season on his blog at http smallworldbigmountains.com And Listen to his entire interview on Edging the Xtreme on RadioBDC with Dan Egan in the player embedded here:
The 2014 Freeride World Tour season will open in Courmayeur Mont Blanc, Italy (Jan. 18), with men's ski and snowboard competitions. The Freeride World Tour will then continue with both men's and women's ski and snowboard competition at Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France (Jan. 25), Fieberbrunn Kitzbüheler Alpen, Austria (Feb. 1), Kirkwood in the US (March 1), Revelstoke, Canada (March 10) and the Swatch Xtreme Verbier in Switzerland (March 22).
When it comes to Action Sports, athletes are accepting huge risk for huge reward.
Athletes like Shaun White have made fortunes from extreme sports, but many have ended up on the complete opposite side of the equation with massive injuries and even death.
One man stands alone on the sideline of the injured, handing out "High Fives" for recovery.
Roy Tuscany who suffered a spinal cord injury while training in 2006 at Mammoth Mountain in California decided to pave a way for the survivors of action sports injuries from traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries and beyond.
In 2009, he founded the High Five Foundation to provide grants and gifts to injured athletes who need financial help during their recoveries. He doesn't stop there, and is a spokesperson for safety and most recently launched a "Helmets are Cool" campaign sponsored by the National Ski Patrol, POC Helmets , Snocru, Squaw Valley, and Alpine Meadows.
The CR Johnson Healing Center is named after famed freeride skier CR Johnson, who was an X-Games champion and well-known skier who pioneered new tricks in and out of the half pipe. He suffered a TBI while filming a ski movie when Kye Peterson landed on CR's head after the two skiers jumped off of the same back country kicker.
Johnson died four years later attempting to revitalize his ski career at his home resort of Squaw Valley, Calif.
Listen to my interview with Roy Tuscany in the player below.
The Boston Ski and Snowboard show is being held through Sunday at the Seaport World Trade Center.
This is the place to go for preseason deals on equipment, clothing and ski area specials. The annual gathering of ski and snowboard enthusiasts showcases the who, what, and when of skiing in North America and around the globe.
Look for me on Friday around the show floor. Ticket are only $12 and kids under 12 are free.
If you miss me there I’ll be emceeing the Warren Miller movie showing Sunday night in Duxbury. Go to tixbeast.com for your tickets.
When you are there, make sure you check out the new generation of the SkiTips apps series for iPhone and iPad, which will be debuting at this year's Boston Ski & Snowboard Show, with all proceeds going to local charity Christopher's Haven.
The SkiTips concept of self-teaching apps includes a complete course on snowboarding from beginner to expert by Olympic medalist and 36-time World Cup winner Mathieu Bozetto, while the five skiing apps cover every level from first-timers to telemark, off-piste and back-country touring.
The SkiTips team is working with Christopher's Haven to help raise money for this extraordinary Boston institution. All proceeds from sales of any of the SkiTips apps during the show will be donated to the Haven.
United We Ski is a new film by T-bar film and it looks at the community ski areas that still exist in Vermont. United We Ski includes Hard'ack, Northeast Slopes, and Cochran's Ski Area. The film also explores lost ski areas as well as secret ski tows hidden among the sugar-bushes of Vermont.
Listen to my weekly reports on RadioBDC ...
Shane McConkey was a real-life action hero in the world of extreme sports. His career ran for two decades, and he was known for his innovation on and off the slopes.
As a skier he pioneered fat skis, invented and marketed reverse camber skis, and became the name and face for ski-BASE jumping around the world.
Off the snow he founded an organization for freeride skiers, carved out new sponsorship deals with mainstream sponsors such as Red Bull, and was a family man.
His life ended in an accident in Europe when he attempted to ski off a cliff and wing-suit away and then eventually parachute to safety. Unfortunately, due to equipment failure, Shane McConkey jumped his last cliff March 29 2009 in the Dolomite mountains in Italy.
A new documentary film entitled "McConkey" is a heartfelt examination of the legacy one athlete left on the progression of his sports, and the path he took to achieve his dreams.
McConkey is revered as a pioneer of freeskiing and ski-BASE jumping, and through his talent and ability to use his trademark irreverent humor, he inspired countless lives.
Featuring incredible action footage and Shane’s own home videos, "McConkey" offers a rare look at his most intense risks as well as an intimate portrait of his personal life.
Through interviews with friends, family, and other action sports legends, the film celebrates Shane and the way he lived.
It is playing in Boston Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. at John Hancock Hall. Click here to view the movie trailer.
Click here for Boston tickets: http://mcconkeyboston.eventbrite.com/
Edging the Xtreme caught up with long-time skier and filmmaker Scott Gaffney for insight in to this film. Listen below:
If you're heading down to South America this season, you'll find fresh snow to ski on, and long runs to check out. Our group of compatriots has been great this year, tearing up the mountain and gliding through the powder together.
I'll let this video and the photos below speak for themselves. If you're interested in checking out what we do, follow me @SkiClinics on Twitter.
Standing at 12,500 feet in the Andes Mountains in Chile, staring down a steep narrow rocky chute, I was thinking to myself, "What a perfect summer." This August included, I've been skiing in South America since 1989 and I have never been sorry to leave the beach behind.
It's not the heat of the summer that drives me to the southern hemisphere nor is it a burning desire to relive the chill of a howling winter wind. Rather, this yearly pilgrimage has been more about the experiencing the look on the faces of my clients, who come to Chile with me. There is a certain magic that happens somewhere between South American hospitality at a middle-of-nowhere resort and being stranded at 10,000 feet in a driving snow storm.
Check out this video from the past week's skiing adventures:
Sure I love to ski, but this trip is more about the overall experience of the people, the place, and the time of year. This year has been extra special because I was joined by some long-time friends of mine: Jeff, Kate and I all ski raced at Babson College back in the '80s, so sharing memories from back in the day and catching up on family life now has been a blast.
Listen to the mid-summer's ski report on Edging the Xtreme on RadioBDC:
Jimmy Chin is one of the most sought-after adventure photographers in the world. His work has appeared in National Geographic, and he has been featured on the cover of Outside Magazine and others.
He has summited and skied Mount Everest, and has followed climbers to the top of El Cap and beyond. He has dedicated his life to capturing the human spirit communing with nature in some of the most extreme places on earth.
Listen to the entire Edging the Xtreme Interview with Jimmy Chin here on RadioBDC.
I met Vasu Sojitra last Friday while he was hiking up to ski Tuckerman Ravine. He was celebrating the end of his college career at UVM with a pack of friends, a typical thing to do on a beautiful spring day in May. Except Vasu only has one leg!
At nine months, Sojitra had his leg amputated, but he's never looked back. He climbs mountains, hikes and skies, and isn't deterred, although he does say he needs to eat more than your average person.
Listen to the most recent installment of Edging the Xtreme to hear more about the amazing backcountry accomplishments of this extraordinary young man.