Friday, January 31, 2020

Snowbasin, UT Report: Strawberry Laps & Powder Bowls Hiding in Plain Sight

Went for a little rip at Snowbasin, UT today. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Report from January 31, 2020

Snowbasin is already having an epic ski season. 

When we got there today we met up with our Snowbasin contact in the marketing department who filled us in on the current state of the snowpack at Snowbasin.
"We've had over 200" of snow this season already and it's only January so we're on track with our record season from last year," said Communications and Events Specialist at Snowbasin Resort, Megan Collins.
Then Megan immediately proceeded to show us some of Snowbasin's finest, early-morning leg burners.

The three of us started the day off on the John Paul chair and it was cloudy. 

We took a couple of high-speed laps down the Women's downhill - one of the meanest and steepest groomed trails on the mountain. 

The morning was chilly but the snow was fast. 

Ski patrol doing training exercises this morning. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Next, we took a double-black run underneath John Paul through the trees where the snow was creamy and surf-like.

The snow was buffed out, like a mock powder of sorts, as it hasn't snowed much at Snowbasin this week, but it was still quite soft. 

By the second run of the day, my lungs were working overtime and my legs already screaming.
Megan continued to kindly lead us around her mountain showing us where all the good spots were and where she and locals often ride. 

We got the inside scoop. 

She took us to Wildcat Bowl, the same run where Warren Miller had won a medal in a race in 1943.

Through the trees under John Paul chair. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Then we explored the central portion of Snowbasin where we found exceptionally fun and not-so-tracked-out bowls and pockets of powder tucked away behind rollovers and mini-ridges that you could easily ski right past without an untrained eye. 

These hidden pockets provided nothing but fast, surfy turns in surprisingly untracked snow.
They also provided big stoke for us.  

Sunshine Bowl was one of these pockets hiding in plain sight that was especially tasty. 
We lapped it several times because it was too good, hitting airs on the side of the bowl, landing at high speeds and bombing out and down towards the catwalk below. 

Sending it into one of Snowbasin's many mid-mountain bowls. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Then we ate lunch.

The food at Snowbasin is really, really good. 

Megan told us that "food is a big part of the Snowbasin experience," and it showed. 

We saw Chef Nick in Earl's Lodge where we ate lunch, who is Snowbasin's new master chef. 
I hit the new noodle bar after learning that Chef Nick spent two months in Southeast Asia for the sole purpose of perfecting his noodle recipe. 

The noodles performed.

To the noodle station we go. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

As did Strawberry Bowl, where we bulleted towards directly after lunch.

After lunch, the day turned from cloudy to sunny and we spent the rest of it in Strawberry.
The Strawberry side of Snowbasin has my heart. 

Strawberry could be its own mountain in itself- the area is HUGE and there is so much terrain to pick and play from. 

We found long, steep, and surfy bowls to rip down for hours.

One bowl, in particular, had us ripping high speed through aspen trees with a few-days-old powder tucked in between them. 

The powder was a bit heavy by now but still very fun and surfy.

Sisters Ridge in all her glory. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

We lapped Strawberry until the clock somehow read 3:30 pm and the Strawberry Gondola was closing. 

One last up the ol' gondola and we booked it to Demoisey Peak where we would hit Lone Tree - a small but epic north-facing couloir run.

This was hands down the favorite run of the day - and we had stumbled upon it by chance! 
I sent it over a rock locking into the chute and kept 'em pointed all the way down until the line widened out and I could make long, flowy turns in wind-buffed snow.

Lone Tree. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Why is the last run always the best run of the day? 

We capped the day off with one final lap to the parking lot through the terrain park where my inner, repressed park-skier showed his face once again before calling it a day. 

Every time we ski Snowbasin we leave with a smile on our faces and a benign sense of accomplishment. 

Snowbasin never disappoints. 

SnowBrains athlete Jacob Elsenheimer sending it into Sunshine Bowl. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20


Credit: Snowbasin 1/31/20


Extended 7-day forecast for Snowbasin, UT. Credit: NOAA 1/31/20


The Northern Wasatch Range. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Strawberry. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Sunshine Bowl. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Strawberry Gondola. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Snowbasin's gondolas honor ski champions. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Chef Nick's delicious Pho. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Some tree skiing off of the John Paul chair. Photo: SnowBrains 1/31/20

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

China to ban all single-use plastics by 2022

China banning single-use plastics
China is adopting a new, nation-wide initiative to ban all single-use plastics by 2022. Photo: Eddie Howell on Unsplash

China is by far one of the world's biggest plastic polluters but is unveiling a new plan to reduce its output of plastic waste across the entire country. By 2022, non-degradable bags will be banned in all major Chinese cities and towns (exempting markets selling fresh produce until 2025), BBC News reports.

China and its 1.4 billion citizens have been dealing with excessive plastic waste for years. However, China recently announced that it will be banning all single-use plastics by the end of 2020, from plastic bags to single-use straws. This is partly due to the fact that the country is running out of room to put its plastic waste.

China's largest trash dump is the size of roughly 100 football fields and is already full, 25 years sooner than anticipated. In 2017, over 215 million tonnes of urban household waste was collected in China, and the nation was accepting 45% of the world's plastic waste that we now know was not being recycled efficiently whatsoever. A new study suggests that if China were not to combat its plastic waste issue nor start taking on the bulk of the plastic waste produced by other nations, 111 million tons of plastic may have nowhere to go. It's a grim realization but China is finally starting to address it.

As of now, things are looking up as the world's most populated nation is working to reduce its plastic waste by millions of tons within only the next few years. Its new plastic saving initiative is revolutionary, to say the least, and we can only hope that other large plastic waste-producing nations will follow a similar suit.

California couple with Lake Tahoe vacation rentals plead guilty to defrauding investors of $1 BILLION

DC Solar founders have recently plead guilty to defrauding investors of upwards of $1 billion with a Ponzi scheme.

The owners of a solar energy company based out of the San Francisco Bay Area just plead guilty to defrauding investors of $1 billion with a massive Ponzi scheme they had been running for years, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reports. 

Jeff Carpoff, 49, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and is facing up to 30 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Sacramento said. His wife, Paulette, 46, faces up to 15 years in federal prison for money laundering charges.

According to the TDT, the couple had been running a Ponzi scheme for years and have since been caught, agreeing to a plea deal that will make them forfeit over $120 million in assets. Such assets include collector cars, vacation homes and rentals in the Caribbean, Lake Tahoe, and Las Vegas, and much more, all of which they purchased with cash.

According to prosecutors, the couple originally founded DC Solar in Benicia, which started off as a legitimate company. The company made solar generators that could be mounted on trailers, marking them as emergency power units for cellphone companies or power outlets for lighting sports events and such. But then things turned shady.

The company eventually developed into a Ponzi scheme by telling investors they could reap benefits of the federal tax credits that would ensue by having them lease the generators back to DC Solar, which the company would then provide back to other companies for use. But they never did that.

Instead of paying off investors with profits from DC Solar, the company rather paid them back with funds from later investors.

By the end of their run, the Carpoff's stole over $1 billion from their investors. One such company, owned by Warren Buffet, lost over $340 million.

What started off as a seemingly legitimate solar company took a turn for the worst and ended up defrauding investors of billions as well as landing its founders with potential multiple decade-long prison sentences. It's a classic tale of the power of greed that can inevitably lead to corruption and crime, which does not pay.

DC Solar's solar generators. Photo: Tech Startups

Friday, January 24, 2020

Alta, UT Report: Weak Storm, Strong Skiing

I like my tail butters. Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020

Report from January 24th, 2020
Location(s): LCC backcountry, Alta Ski Area

We started off the morning long before Alta's ticket windows opened by hitting the Little Cottonwood backcountry. 

Dawn patrol heavy. 

We took two backcountry laps on Scottie's Notch and Red Right Returning and were back at the car by 11:30 am. 

Snow was just starting to fall. 

Time to hit the resort.

And you know exactly which one we were going to. 

Pre-Alta ski backcountry lap this morning. Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020

First things first: get to Alta and take some 'Alta bombs' to celebrate some well earned lines in the backcountry.

Then it was time to rip Alta for as long as our legs allowed us.

We got to the top of Collins and immediately booked it to Supreme Chair.

It was snowing consistently but not very hard. 

The snow lasted all day but no more than a few inches hit the ground.

Nonetheless, the snow was still soft and we skied hard.

Classic Alta. 

A Supreme Chair-heavy day. Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020

Catherine's Area was the place to be.

There were lucrative powder turns hidden back there in between the trees.

If you could hike to it and turn your powder-scanning vision on, you could probably find the goods.

The turns we had in Catherine's were soft and playful. 

We stumbled upon a large cliff and immediately sent it.

The landing was soft -- very soft. 

We lapped Supreme several times, hitting Catherine's, groomers, and the Bat Cave. 

The Bat Cave was treating us well today -- real well.

The landing coming out of the Bat Cave was still fluffy as can be and I stomped my first front flip of the season. 

Time to go elsewhere.

Devin hucking off of a cliff on Razorback. Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020

We lapped Sugarloaf Chair a couple of times before digressing to Wildcat.

Wrapping up the day on Wildcat Chair in low vis is a right of passage. 

Westward Ho still had the soft stuff and there were plenty of fun cliffs to send. 

Alex sent one to the moon. 

We lapped Wildcat until it closed and our legs were begging us to go home already. 

From seven in the morning until four in the afternoon today, we skied. 

And we loved every second of it. 

Thank you Little Cottonwood and thank you, Alta. 

Alex going large off a cliff in Westward Ho today. Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020


Credit: Alta Ski Area 1/24/2020


 7-day extended forecast for Alta, UT. Credit: NOAA 1/24/2020


Into the abyss on Wildcat Chair. Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020

Devil's Castle that you back there? Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020

Top of Red Right Returning this morning. Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020

Landon at the top of Scottie's Notch. Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020

Intermission between BC laps. Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020

Ominous. Photo: Alex Davis 1/24/2020

Squad ski. Photo: SnowBrains 1/24/2020

Friday, January 17, 2020

Utah Governor Halts the Distribution of 100,000 Unique Condoms

NBC News The state of Utah is trying something bold: they're handing out condoms with provocative messages that promote safe sex and state pride. Photo: NBC News

The Utah Department of Health started a new program earlier this month that aimed to promote safe sex among teams by handing out free condoms with catchy, sexual slogans that also promote state pride. But a Utah governor has halted distributions of said condoms, according to a report by NBC News. Apparently, he was not in favor of their suggestive slogans.
Gov. Gary Herbert halted the distribution of over 100,000 condoms earlier this month, as his office said in a statement:
"The governor understands the importance of the Utah Department of Health conducting a campaign to educate Utahns about HIV prevention. He does not, however, approve the use of sexual innuendo as part of a taxpayer-funded campaign, and our office has asked the department to rework the campaign’s branding,” the statement said.
To the Governor's defense, the slogans on some of the condoms were indecent. Some found the slogans on them humorous while others viewed them as offensive. For example, one condom wrapper read, "SL UT," spelled out with two-letter abbreviations for Utah and it's capital, Salt Lake City, NBC News reports. Another displayed an image of a mountain with a slogan reading, "Enjoy Your Mountin'," while another showed a picture of a bed with the slogan, "This is the place."

The Utah Department of Health has subsequently issued an apology last Wednesday as a result of Gov. Herbert's decision to stop the circulation of these unique condoms. However, it still remains unclear just how many of these condoms with risque messages have already been distributed.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The World's Best Jewel is Also the Most Forgotten...

I like hazel eyes
Why is that we are so lustful for shiny rocks and rare gems that we forget the world's greatest jewel of them all; the one that is the most beautiful, the most unique - the one that is different but equally as lovely in any and every instance you encounter it?

It's not one that is buried deep in the soil nor hidden in some foreign land nor found in the farthest reaches of the jungle, no.

 It's actually that set of two treasures that the universe itself has gifted you, right there in that face of yours...

What is Love About, Really?

Photo: TripAdvisor 
I'm no guru and there is no correct answer to this question, nor will there probably ever be. It's the nature of the topic; ever mysterious, yet ever profound. Because even though love is not something you can measure or quantify, I'd argue that the stuff is just as real as anything. So here's a scenario provided as food for thought for the next time that little someone or something special has you feeling that ooey-gooey shit.

You're strolling through the hillside or the mountains, or a meadow, let's say. As you're walking you're taking in the lovely scenery, the pleasant vistas, the fresh air. You look down to the ground and see a beautiful purple wildflower.

You stop; you want to look at it closer. You reach down to pick it up and snatch it from the earth so you can look at it more thoroughly, maybe give it a good sniff and then take it back with you as a souvenir because hell, you love this flower and you really want to keep it. It'd look pretty good in that vase by the window in your home, or it'd make for an excellent gift to that one person who you know would love it. You want to take this flower and keep it as a possession because it's that pretty. But as you reach down, you stop right before you touch it. And you think to yourself...

"Hold up. I want this flower, but if I take it from the ground in which it is growing, I will kill it."

So you consciously decide to leave it be and to keep trudging along. Then you start to wonder about the nature of love itself, and ponder, is love about possession? I mean, I loved that flower, and if I took it with me it'd be mine, but it'd also die. So maybe love is not about possession after all; maybe it's not about making something or someone your own.

Maybe at the end of the day love is about appreciation. By leaving the flower where you found it, you allow it to keep growing - to continue blossoming the way nature intended it to, in its own way. You appreciate the flower for what it is and let it continue to grow and develop into its most brilliant form because you love and appreciate it. Perhaps this is what love is really about?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Crystal Mountain, WA to Limit Ticket Sales Weekends & Holidays

Crystal Mountain, WA Crystal Mountain, WA is changing its pass sales policy because of limited parking due to overcrowding. Photo: The Seattle Times

Crystal Mountain Resort, WA is announcing that it will be limiting ticket sales on weekends and holidays starting January 18, 2020. But why?

As of this season, Crystal Mountain has been suffering from a massive influx of skiers and riders - more than ever before, the resort claims - which is leading to dramatic overcrowding of the ski resort. As a result, parking at the mountain is filling up earlier and earlier each day leading to severe delays. Many are blaming the Ikon Pass as a direct cause of the resort's overcrowding arguing that Crystal Mountain's partnership with the mega-pass is playing a significant role in its recent overcrowding issue. Yet, Crystal urges that there is a larger context at hand.

Crystal's roads and parking infrastructure really just can't handle all the recent traffic. As a result, the guest experience has been impacted and many are upset. Traffic is taking hours for people to get to the mountain and some are even having to turn around from the mountain when they can't even find a place to park. That's why Crystal Mountain decided it was time to act. The ski resort's president and COO, Frank DeBerry said in a press release yesterday:

"Starting this Saturday, January 18, we will discontinue selling walk-up full day tickets at the ticket booths on weekends and holidays in order to hold skier visits to what our roads and parking infrastructure is designed to handle. We will monitor this closely and make adjustments as we continue to learn how this will impact our guests and the mountain."
Crystal Mountain said that they would still honor all Ikon Pass holders on weekends and holidays as well as those who have already purchased any advanced ticket product such as 5-pack vouchers, advance single day tickets, and so forth. They will also offer a limited amount of advance tickets online for weekends and holidays but will limit the available quantities of day tickets.

"Our belief is that this will have the effect of capping total numbers of skiers to a level that our roads and parking infrastructure can accommodate while still providing a premium experience," said DeBerry.

Crystal Mountain, WA Excellent conditions at Crystal Mountain this season is only fueling the resorts overcrowding issue. Photo: Crystal Mountain

However, limiting pass sales on weekends and holidays is not the only measure the ski resort is taking in retaliation to the recent overcrowding. Crystal mountain is also expanding its parking this summer 2020; they are implementing new public transit programs with luxury coach routes running from Seattle, Tacoma, and Enumclaw; and they are adding carpooling initiatives to reward those who can carpool with four or more people. These new projects all serve to free up some of the limited parking opportunities at the ski resort, and maintain the premium guest experience that Crystal Mountain has always strived for.

In this day and age, where word of big storms and fresh powder travel faster than ever before, more people are skiing and riding it than ever before, leading to bigger, scarier crowds. That's why Crystal Mountain is stepping up to the plate and addressing this issue. They will just have to strive a little harder to maintain that same level of satisfaction guests have enjoyed they since the mountain's inception.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Teton Pass, WY Closed Due to 2 Large Avalanches

Teton Pass, WY 2 avalanches broke onto Teton Pass, WY today closing the highway. Luckily, no one was harmed. Photo: btacavy/Instagram

Wyoming State Highway 22, or Teton Pass as it is commonly referred to as, was closed today by the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) due to 2 large avalanches that broke on Mt. Glory near the top of the pass, the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center reports. The slides broke around 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m today. The triggers remain unknown.
According to the BTAC, the slide was approximately 150 wide and buried sections of the highway 2-3 feet deep. It was a soft-slab avalanche categorized as D2 in size. A local resident and delivery driver, Riley Doyle, was caught in the slide as he was driving his delivery truck. He was unharmed by the slide.

About an hour later, a second avalanche was triggered from the Twin Slides Avalanche path burying the road up to 10 feet deep. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported. At the time of this writing, WYDOT is working to clear debris to allow cars to leave the highway and avalanche mitigation work to take place as the road will most likely remain closed today and through the night. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2020 Marker Kingpin 13 Gear Review

Marker Kingpin 13 The 2020 Marker Kingpin 13 is a solid choice for any backcountry skier looking to step up their game this season. Credit: Marker USA

The 2020 Marker Kingpin does it all. It the no-brainer choice when it comes to picking one binding to bridge the gap between resort skiing and backcountry laps. It's a durable binding meant to charge hard even on the most hardpack of days, yet will still bring stability and stoke when riding soft powder. I try to stay away from hardpack skiing but even when I find myself skiing terrain as such, I'm surprised how much the Kingpins can handle, and reliability is the name of the game with these suckers. After a while of skiing inbounds at a resort you can forget that these are a touring binding! But don't ask me, ask Lucas Swieykowski, professional skier, mountain guide, and Marker athlete.

“The Kingpin is my everyday go to binding, because of its easy touring, its durable and resistant for hard skiing. Great set up to make the most of your day up the mountain!" - Lucas 

I would have to agree with Lucas. Another thing that satisfies me with these bindings is the weight. At 758 grams the Kingpins are LIGHT for a hybrid touring/alpine binding. The weight is a huge appeal, especially to someone like myself who doesn't like lugging around extra weight if I don't have to. 
Side view of the Marker Kingpin 13. Credit: Marker USA

These things charge hard with a huge positive being the power transmission that is delivered by the spring-loaded heal unit on the bindings. This is a major improvement felt over the typical twin-pin tech heal connections, making it feel as stable as an alpine binding. With this feature, the Kingpins are built to charge and built to last, delivering trust in intense situations and longevity when it comes to wear and tear. The toe is also something I am a big fan of, as the PinTech design gives me the most direct possible connection to the ski, locking me in on the most critical of runs. They have 6 steel springs that capture energy when I'm skiing, while a lot of other pintech toe designs use only 4 springs, and the extra 2 go a long way. The DIN on the Marker Kingpins start at 6 and go up to 13. I like to keep mine at 9 or 10 which hold me for just about everything but when skiing 'no-fall zones,' I'll crank those suckers all the way up.

A big thing that strikes me with these bindings is how easy they are to operate. They are relatively easy to step into but the real ease comes when making the switch from tour to ski mode. It's a breeze going from ski to walk mode and vice versa, mostly due in part to the alpine heel piece and beefy toe. There are also 3 different climbing options of 0, 7, or 13 degrees providing the ability to get up a variety of terrain steepness, which are very easy to set. I'm not a guy who likes to fumble around with technology for longer than I have to, especially when I'm up above a fun looking line or in the backcountry where time is a critical factor, and for that I like these bindings.

I love the alpine heel piece of the Marker Kingpin 13 as it provides stability and also releases when it needs to. Credit: Marker USA

Marker made these bindings with their skiers in mind, offering a 3 year warranty on new bindings. I like this a lot as I have broken several bindings in the past outside of the usual 1 year warranty period. 3 years = 3 ski seasons where Marker's got my back.

The bindings are one size fit all and boots with a tech toe fitting are required. For more info and details on purchasing, click here.


Type: Tech

Weight: 758 grams

Ability level: Advanced/Expert

DIN: 6-13

Boot sole type: Tech

Warranty: 3 years

Touring with Marker Kingpin 13. Credit: Marker USA

2 Teens Rescued After Night on BC Mountain, Burned Homework to Survive

Snowboarders rescued
2 teens were rescued after a night lost in the backcountry near Whitewater Ski Resort, BC earlier this week. Credit: The Georgia Straight

Two 16-year-old snowboarders became lost in an out-of-bounds area near Whitewater Ski Resort, BC earlier this week, having to brave a night of sub-zero temperatures and snowfall in the Canadian Rockies. reports that the two, realizing they were lost with nightfall approaching, made a make-shift shelter and started a fire to keep warm. One of the snowboarders had homework in his backpack that they used to keep the fire going through the night.
The next morning the two were spotted by a helicopter and rescued. At least the two will now have an excellent excuse as to why they didn't complete their homework!

Heli-ski Expert Nicolas Gaide Killed in Horrific Ski Accident on Mont Miravidi

Heli-ski accident Heli-skiing expert Nicolas Gaide was killed in a horrific accident on Mont Miravidi earlier this week. Credit: News1 English

The Times reports that seasoned French ski professional and father of one, Nicolas Gaide, has been killed in a fall while attempting to ski Mont Miravidi on the Italian-French border. Gaide, 43, was participating in a safety training exercise with other heli-ski guides on a 3,000m (9,842') helicopter-accessed slope on Mount Miravidi when the unthinkable happened.

Gaide and other guides landed via helicopter on top of the peak on the Italian side of the border, but as the helicopter was departing Gaide is believed to have gotten caught in its cargo netting. Gaide was then dragged up in the air with the helicopter only to fall some 180m (600') to his death on cliffs below. It's believed that Gaide when back to retrieve a forgotten bag from the helicopter's netting when the helicopter began to take off and he was stuck in its netting. The helicopter pilot couldn't hear the yells of Gaide nor his team members and took off into the sky where Gaide sadly lost his grip and fell onto jagged rocks several hundred feet below.

His body was later retrieved from a snow gully on the west face of Mont Miravidi, according to French Police who told a reporter with The Times. A helicopter was later dispatched to retrieve his body.

Gaide left behind a wife and young child, as this is truly a saddening loss within the European ski community. He was an expert ski instructor and backcountry guide, having been guiding for over 25 years in the Alps. He was known for his positive attitude and smile along with his absolute expertise in the realm of backcountry skiing. May he rest in powder.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Alta Ski Area, UT Recieves 217" of Snow for Season, Over 1/3 of Last Season's Total

200" at Alta Ski Area Alta has already received 217" of snowfall this season. Credit: Milesclark/Instagram

Alta Ski Area, UT started off the new year having received 200" of snow this season. Now that number is up to 217" as of the latest storm that cleared last Thursday afternoon. That's one hell of a way for the legendary ski area to start off 2020, as Alta is on pace to hit last year's season total.

Last season Alta had a cumulative total of 640" of snow. Now, being only 3 days in to 2020, Alta has already received 217" of snow this season - that's over 1/3 of their entire season average from last year.

Of course, mother nature does what she wants, and there is no telling how much snow Alta will get this season. It could continue to dump, or we could be hit with a god-forbidden dry spell. However, what we do know is that it is looking good as of right now - damn good.

snow numbers Current snow numbers for Alta Ski Area. Credit: Alta Ski Area 1/3/20