When the mercury dips each fall, most of us are faced with a dilemma: light out for warmer climes or strap on some skis and keep the season going. If you’re keeping it local and looking to charge up—and down—some hills when the white stuff starts falling, applying ultralight methodologies to your gear lists for ski touring or backcountry skiing is key.
That’s because the backcountry is booming. With more and more people ditching resorts, you’re going to need to go further, faster to find fresh stashes of snow. Don’t despair, there are face shots aplenty out there still. You just have to know where to look and how to get here—safely and strong enough to make the most of the turns you’ve earned. Learn how, here with help from our crew of contributors feature Hyperlite Mountain Gear ambassadors and pro ski guides from around the country and abroad.
As we bid another busy week adieu here at Hyperlite Mountain Gear HQ, we thought we’d pass along another absolute banger from The Provo Bros. Why, you ask? Well, aside from the fact that this particular video set off an eye-bulging, forehead-slapping, jaw-dropping jealousy chain reaction around the office (seriously, there were echoes)—sometimes it’s just really nice to watch people give the gear we make “what-for.” Read More
Sometimes it’s the things that go unsaid that are the most telling. For instance, when people say that they’re into the outdoors, they’re also most likely not big fans of crowds. Sure, we might maintain that we’re just looking for a little peace and quiet, maybe some solitude, some unspoiled vistas, or fresh tracks— but no matter how you package your passions, “getting away from it all” is pretty much code for avoiding your fellow human beings.
Whether your taste for company runs more towards “prefers small groups” or full-on agoraphobia, if you’re a backcountry skier, untapped stashes devoid of the hoots and hollers of other powder harvesters are getting harder to find. In 2015, something like 3.2 million skiers and snowboarders slapped on a set of skins or snowshoes and got after it in the mountains under their own steam. That year saw an eight-percent increase in the sales of alpine touring gear, and the delta on that data can only have increased even more since then.
That means that increasingly, getting out into the good stuff means going further, faster. Suffice it to say, the kitchen sink approach—that pillar of the average ski touring gear list you’ll find on most sites—isn’t going to get you there (at least not like that).
Neil and Ian Provo have a good thing going. Just two years apart, they seem to have somehow managed to achieve the kind of sibling synergy more common in twins. One zigs, the other zags. Ian skis; Neil snowboards. Neil shoots video; Ian shoots stills.
Since moving to Utah in the early 2000s, they’ve put their uniquely comprehensive skillset to good use. Rarely pausing long enough for their gear to gather dust, they’ve progressed from committed powder hounds to fly fishing obsessives, bikepackers and serious wilderness explorers.
From time-to-time they’ll drop an edit, the kind of quick web clips that’ll make even the most committed office jockey spray coffee all over their cubicle. Pristine powder lines begging for tracks, gin-clear streams coursing with trout, veins of brown carpet single track cutting through obscenely beautiful backcountry terrain—these are the currency of the Provo Bros’ trade. Read More
Ambassador Tom Turiano’s Wrote the Book on Teton Pass Backcountry Skiing.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador and professional skier Thomas Turiano has been writing skiing guide books for 21 years, but his most recent is the first ever “guidebook for backcountry skiing on world-famous Teton Pass,” he says. Teton Pass Backcountry Guide boasts 130+ pages of maps, pictures and guides explaining how skiers can get the most out of their time in the Teton Pass backcountry. When not writing guidebooks, Turiano guides climbing and skiing trips in the Teton backcountry, and he plays guitar professionally. He also claims more than 400 ascents in the Greater Yellowstone mountains and packrafts throughout the area as a way to reach the most remote spots.
Turiano wants to help more people explore the backcountry, and he’s a big proponent of ultralight backpacking. Carrying less weight, he says, allows him to suffer less and thus be able to focus more on helping his clients achieve their goals. Turiano transitioned early on in his guiding career to lightweight philosophies. While attempting to put up new routes in the Teton’s during the 90’s, he was forced to rappel down after a failed attempt. During the rappel, his heavy pack almost flipped him over backwards due to the sheer weight of it. It was at that moment that he realized that it was time to reduce the amount of gear he carried and streamline his kit.
In celebration of the release of his new book, we chatted with Turiano about what drives him to write and what it takes to write an comprehensive guidebook.
Ambassador Kt Miller discusses her ski/climate change documentary, available for your viewing pleasure.
For two years Kt Miller was a helicopter skiing guide helping clients use the fuel-hungry machines to reach the top of mountains. After learning more about climate change and seeing the effect it had on the mountains around her, she quickly lost her fondness for the business and the obscene amounts of fuel the helicopters consumed. Miller made a choice. She cut back on travel that hurt the environment and focused on sustainable living. She now resides in a single-room 14-by-12 foot cabin in Cooke City, Montana, population 76. She tries to travel using sustainable methods wherever possible and hasn’t been on a helicopter since she left her job. Now she focuses on making awesome ski videos while bringing the plight of the climate into the public’s eye.
On one of her more recent expedition, she and four women embarked on a human- and wind-powered trip to the western coast of Greenland to document the effect climate change has had on the ice sheet in the area. They also skied multiple first descents along the coast to help motivate snow sport enthusiasts to get up and do their part to conserve winter landscapes. Now that the trip has finished and her documentary about the adventure is being shown across the world, we took some time to ask Kt Miller a few questions about her new documentary, “Shifting Ice + Changing Tides,” and the experience she had during the filming process. Click here for the full Q&A.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Beau Fredlund takes spectacular photos from his home turf, the backcountry around Cooke City, Mont. Beau ski tours extensively (often using his favorite backpack, the 4400 Porter Pack).
Photos by Beau Fredlund
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassadors are the team of elite athletes, guides and adventurers who help test and refine our gear. They also send us some spectacular pics and stories from their expeditions and adventures with our gear. And they remind us that outside it the place to be, and light and fast is the way to attack it!
Hyperlite Mountain Gear ambassador Luc Mehl is an Alaskan native who is no stranger to the snow and skiing. His infatuation with the backcountry started at a young age as he grew up in a remote Alaskan town surrounded by raw wilderness. Years later he was on track for a PhD at MIT, but ended up leaving with a masters in order to further pursue adventure back in Alaska. Mehl has completed month-long wilderness trips in America’s most northern state each year for five years, ranging from 150 to 370 miles, as well as six Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Classics, ranging from 120 to 200 miles. During these extreme events he has had many boots, skis, bindings and poles all fail. So in keeping with his ultralight philosophies, Mehl developed a system for creating a lightweight backcountry ski repair kit. In this post, he explains how he balances the weight and thoroughness of his kit.
At the end of an unsupported 180-mile ski traverse in Alaska’s rugged Brooks Range, Rob Kehrer showed me his repair kit. Rob and I worked from different ends of the spectrum, I cut too many corners to save weight (“Can we carry just share one crampon between us?”), and he carried too many extras (down booties, beer). Rob had a crooked grin on his face as he pulled out the repair kit… the standard stuff, duct tape, wire, but also spark plugs and wrenches. He’d brought the wrong repair kit, leftover from a snowmachine trip.
I’ve benefited from learning from Rob’s and my own mistakes, and have been especially fortunate to have mechanical engineers and a ski builder in my core group of partners. This guide is my effort to pass on repair kit strategies, tried and true, while keeping weight to a minimum. Read More
It all started after I spent a week skiing with Beau Fredlund outside Cooke City. More literally I followed him around, unsuccessfully trying to keep up. I didn’t know it back then, but that was the beginning of my transformation—a transition from being a passionate backcountry skier to an athlete. At 23, I finally started settling into my body and honing my physical stamina. I also learned, finally, to use efficiency as a tool to compensate for being small.
I had a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack that I had been using for climbing and absolutely loved, but for some reason I hadn’t even considered using it for backcountry skiing. Instead I used an old go-to pack that had a rear entry zipper I used to access my camera, a separate pocket for my rescue gear (shovel, probe, snow saw), a goggle pocket, a helmet pocket and more. It seemed perfect, but it weighed just under 4 lbs empty. After a few weeks of skiing Beau noticed I had an Ice Pack. He had been a Hyperlite Mountain Gear fan and user for years. He picked it up and then picked up my other ski pack. “Why aren’t you using this one?” He asked holding the Ice Pack a little higher. Read the rest of the article.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear has been the go-to source of packs for many of the elite athletes who participate each year in the grueling Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Classic. 2013 was no different!
The Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Classic has taken place in the Alaska back country each year since 1987. It’s a hard core, grassroots race with no big sponsors. The location of the race varies each year (it has been staged in the Wrangell-St. Elias, Chugach, Brooks and Alaska mountain ranges) and participants are required to be fully self-sufficient – there are no food drops, rest stations, or marked routes. The race has a set start point and an end point — it’s up to the competitors to determine the best route. The route is typically between 100 and 150 miles long and most people complete the event in 5-8 days. Teams, rather than individuals, are encouraged, but groups of skiers who travel at the same pace typically stay together.
The 2013 Classic started Sunday, March 31 at the McCarthy B & B in McCarthy, Alaska (Mile 46 of the McCarthy Road). As usual Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Luc Mehl was among the competitors with his Hyperlite Mountain Gear Porter Pack on his back to haul his gear and provisions throughout the race. This year also found five of the other competitors carrying Hyperlite Mountain Gear Packs — yes, they probably DO know something about how to go light without sacrificing any durability with Hyperlite Mountain Gear!