15 Types of Skiers You'll Meet on the Mountain

One of the great things about skiing is the many different types of people who enjoy the sport. Whether you’re chasing first tracks or closing the bar, you’ve likely stumbled into one of these skiers before. Remember: if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Backcountry Skiing

1. Powder Hounds

Perpetually on the search for first tracks and deep snow, Powder Hounds live to spend winter in the white room—the feeling of getting totally encompassed in snow while skiing powder. Easily identifiable by their super-wide skis, action cams, and snow-encrusted smiles, you’ll often encounter Powder Hounds speaking in hushed tones about their secret stashes.

2. Park Rats 

You’re just as likely to see a Park Rat sliding on rails, boxes, or flying in the air as you are to witness them sliding on the snow. Fueled by Red Bull and Monster energy drinks, on the rare occasion when Park Rats aren’t blasting music through their headphones, they’re communicating with an ever-evolving language that only loosely resembles English.

3. Après Enthusiasts

As the name implies, the Après Enthusiast is more interested in what happens after skiing rather than during skiing, and is more likely to be seen dancing on the bar than skiing on the slopes—because of this, you’ll rarely encounter them before noon. Gear is secondary for Après Enthusiasts, with the exception of their shot ski (which was handcrafted).

4. Snow Bunnies

Snow Bunnies are more concerned with looking good than skiing well. Lift tickets are just an accessory for a Snow Bunny; Despite the triple-digit expense of a day pass, you won’t see them on the slopes—although they might ride the lift for lunch at the restaurant on the summit.

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5. Old Schoolers

Sporting straight skis, sunglasses, and no helmet or hat, you’ll find Old Schoolers teaching a masters class on why gear doesn’t translate to skill or enjoyment. Styling runs on skis older than you while wearing a jacket that wasn’t all that warm or waterproof when it was bought 20 years ago, much less now, old-school skiers are as stoked today as they were when they first skied that run decades earlier.

6. Wannabe Racers

Aero helmets, skin-tight suits, and race skis, oh my. You’ll encounter Wannabe Racers all over the mountain, chattering about everything from how fast they were/are in high school/college/NASTAR or the latest tune they just gave their skis. From ski tucking down cruisers to slaloming through make-believe gates, these skiers are frequently found immersed in competition against an imaginary Bode Miller, Lyndsey Vonn, Ted Ligety, or Mikaela Shiffrin. Look for them in deep discussion about camber at the mountain’s shop.

7. Gapers 

Gapers go by a host of names, such as “Jerries” or “Joeys.” An interesting species of skier, gapers are totally clueless to the rules, but are totally dialed in their own minds. Known for their  namesake gap—the space between a skier’s helmet and their goggles—Jerries are also often spotted skiing in jeans, carrying their skis strangely, and yard sailing over the mountain.

8. First Timers

Awkwardly walking across the lodge, causing pile-ups getting onto (and off of) the lift, and performing top-to-bottom snow plows are first-time skiers. Recognized by their rental equipment, First Timers are hopefully spotted hanging around the ski school or accompanied by an instructor, but have an unfortunate tendency to stray into expert terrain unsupervised.

Courtesy of Camden Snow Bowl
Courtesy of Camden Snow Bowl

9. Gear Obsessed

Sure skiing is fun, but it’s even more fun if the rocker profile of your ski is perfectly matched to conditions, your boots have been custom molded, and your layers are working in unison to keep you perfectly insulated. Gear-Obsessed skiers are interested more in ski equipment than they are the sport itself.

10. Lodge Loungers

Gunning for likes on Instagram, you’ll find Lodge Loungers at tables in the lodge, eyes glued to a screen, posting about their latest epic descent. Although they may congregate indoors with park rats, you can pick these teens out by the heaping plates of chicken fingers and fries they’re consuming in the moments they can glance away from their screen.

11. Disgruntled Dads

These Dads didn’t sign their first-timer kids up for lessons and now they are paying the price. Easily found in three places: in the rental shop struggling to get boots on their kids, on the bunny hill with a kid on the ground having a temper tantrum, and in the lodge helping “the fam” warm up with some hot chocolate. Although they may lighten up come Après Hour, do yourself a favor and give Disgruntled Dads a wide berth on the slopes.

12. The Beverage Smugglers

Undeterred by signs prohibiting “off-premises” beverages, these hardly souls recognize that “après” only means “after” in France. The best Beverage Smugglers can be found carrying Northeast classics like Tree House and Alchemist. Probably a millennial, but worth befriending—hopefully they’ll share a can (or two) with you in the lodge.

After-ski drinks in the Paul Bunyan Lounge. | Courtesy: Loon Mountain
After-ski drinks in the Paul Bunyan Lounge. | Courtesy: Loon Mountain

13. College Bros

Frequenting events like Reggae Fest, retro day, and the pond skim, College Bros appear at Northeast resorts in March during “Spring Break.” They travel in oversized packs with nicknames like “Crew 22.” They’re definitely staying at somebody’s parents’ slopeside condo and may have some aspiring Beverage Smugglers in the group.

14. Kid Crushers

These mini shredders’ parents have had them on skis and in lessons since before they could even walk—and it shows. Kid Crushers are found everywhere from the park to the race course to the trees and, despite not being tall enough to ride a roller coaster, they’ve turned the entire mountain into an amusement park. May become Wannabe Racers, or Park Rats as they get older.

16. Ski Patrollers

Also known as “Red Jackets.” Occasionally spotted skiing, but typically only to migrate between the “Patrol Shack” near the top of the mountain and the “Patrol Room” at the bottom. Prefer hard, icy terrain and rescuing First Timers. Will sometimes be observed “in discussion” with Park Rats and Wannabe Racers.

Warren Miller said, “Don’t take life too seriously, because you can’t come out of it alive.” Whether you’re a Jerry, a Powder Hound, or an Old Schooler have a great ski season.


Three Beginner-Friendly New Hampshire Ice Climbing Destinations

If you haven’t busted your ice tools out yet or you’re a beginner just looking to enter the sport, now is the time to do it. But before you head out, consider exploring one of these three awesome New Hampshire locations as the perfect spot to get in the…swing of things.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Kinsman Notch

Blending a mix of beginner-friendly ice with steep columns and big bulges in a fun, craggy setting, Kinsman Notch is a destination where you can find something for everybody, no matter who’s in your crew. Located just outside Woodstock on Route 112, getting to the ice at Kinsman requires a short-but-steep, 15-20 minute walk uphill on an easy-to-follow path. You’ll know you’re at the ice when you see a short, steep pillar straight ahead and the approach trail begins to level out as it bends left.

Kinsman’s first crag contains two fun climbs: Pot O’ Gold (the WI4 pillar) and Killarney (an easier route up the ramp to the right). Whether you’re leading or top-roping—walk around right for good trees above to build anchors—these climbs are well worth doing.

Just a little ways left of Pot O’Gold are several other popular flows. The first is Shamrock—a long, wide flow that ranges from WI3 to WI4 depending on the conditions and the precise path you take. The next flow is Hanging By The Moment, two steep columns on either side of a large rock; these are among the hardest climbs in the area. The final flow in this area is Leprechaun’s Lament. It has three distinct parts with the left-most flow (WI2+) being the easiest, the middle curtain going at WI3, and the right-most ramp falling in between the two in terms of difficulty. All three climbs allow access to the top ledge, which climbers can use to set up anchors above the WI3 curtain as well as some of the more challenging routes on climber’s right.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

If all these climbs are occupied, climbers can follow the typically beat-in path further left for about 200 yards. Soon you’ll see the Beast (WI4+) and the Ramp Route (WI3-4), two multi-pitch routes with steep first pitches followed by some mellower sections above. If climbing columns is your thing, don’t miss the Beast!

If the multi-pitch routes are already taken as well—which is possible because Kinsman is a popular weekend destination—there’s an additional wide flow another 50 yards left of the Beast. Known as Blarney Stone, this is a great place to get some sticks in while the parties ahead of you get pumped out.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Champney Falls

Champney Falls is an excellent location for beginner and intermediate climbers looking to challenge themselves on steeper ice. Located about 30 minutes outside of North Conway Village, climbers will find parking at the aptly named (and well-signed) Champney Falls Trailhead. From the trailhead, follow the normally well-packed Champney Falls Trail as it climbs gradually for roughly 1.5 miles and take the obvious spur into the gorge. Inside the gorge, there’s a small cave which is perfect for stashing gear in—opposite the cave is a wall of ice ranging between 25 and 40 feet.

There are two options for setting up top ropes at Champney Falls. For those uncomfortable leading, it’s possible to scramble through the woods to the top of the cliff. This is a popular destination and you’re likely to have a packed-snow path to follow. If not, a rusty wire fence leads to the top, providing a guide to the clifftop. The other option is to lead the ramp in the back of the gorge—depending on the season, this ramp can range from running water to  snow to a big fat flow. Either way, pack a reasonably long static line for building anchors; the sturdiest trees are quite far back from the edge.

The routes at Champney are all fairly vertical. With the exception of the snow ramp/ice flow, the routes in the back of the canyon are the longest and steepest (WI5). As the routes move toward the front of the gorge, they lessen in both height and difficulty with a normally yellow-ish ice section in the middle going at WI4 and giving way to shorter and bulgier ice in the WI3 range. Some short-ish mixed lines that are fun to play on also form at the mouth of the canyon from time to time. Champney Falls is a popular destination and can accommodate only a few parties, so if you’re heading there on a weekend in prime ice season, you’ll want to get an early start.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The North End of Cathedral

There’s good reason the North End of Cathedral is one of the busiest single-pitch ice crags in New Hampshire—the approach is only about five minutes. Located on Cathedral Ledge Road just after the winter gate, the North End is the most accessible ice in the North Conway area. It sports several large flows offering everything from mellow slabs to steep ice.

The three most popular flows at the North End are Thresher, the North End Slab, and the North End Pillars. In good conditions, the latter two are wide flows that can accommodate multiple parties at once.

Of the three flows, the easiest is the North End Slab (WI2). It is also the longest climb in the North End, climbing a moderately angled ramp that is fantastic for first timers. For climbers planning on top roping the route, be aware that a 60m rope will be too short; climbers can instead build an anchor partway up the climb and top rope from there.

Thresher Slab | Credit: Tim Peck
Thresher Slab | Credit: Tim Peck

The North End Pillars (WI3-4) are located just to the right of North End Slab. A very wide flow, there’s often room for multiple parties on these easily accessible steep columns and they are a great place to practice climbing vertical ice. Climbers interested in top roping can access the good tree anchors at the top via an approach trail on climber’s right.

The final flow at the North End—Thresher (WI3)—begins a bit left of the North End Slab. It starts with a few sporting moves up a chimney, then ascends a slab and bulges toward the trees. One note of caution—you’ll need more than a single 60m rope to rap back to the ground. Of course, there’s an easy solution, enjoy this stellar route as a party of three.

Now that you have the beta on these three awesome areas, it’s time (if you haven’t already) to bust out the tools and get climbing. Make sure to tell us in the comments how you fared!


52 goEast Resolutions for 52 Weeks of 2020

With the new year approaching, it’s time to start looking ahead and planning our next outdoor adventures. With that in mind, we’ve gathered some of our favorite articles from the past year to put together the ultimate outdoor-focused list of New Year’s resolutions. Put these ideas on your to-do list for 2020.

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Winter 2020

  1. Ski the wrong way (or is it the right way?) and go uphill at the resort.
  2. Get a great night’s sleep in Siberian-like weather.
  3. Spark joy by getting organized.
  4. Explore an abandoned ski resort—on skis.
  5. GBA: Granite Backcountry Alliance or Great Backcountry Areas? You decide.
  6. Sharpen your skills on some easy ice climbs.
  7. Brush up on these basics before tackling the Rockpile.
  8. Sleep in the snow like a star.
  9. Ski Tuckerman Ravine like a guide.
  10. Take your hiking above the trees.
  11. Don’t let winter keep your four-legged friends from hiking.
  12. Keep your puffy looking pristine.
  13. Get on New York’s super-highway of skiing.

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Spring 2020

  1. Cook up some haute cuisine on an early season camping trip.
  2. Paddle to a sweet campsite for you and your kayak.
  3. Kick off hiking season on Cape Cod.
  4. Enjoy the ultimate pairing of recreation and relaxation: bikes and brews.
  5. Send in the Gunks like a guide.
  6. Break in your camping gear on these early season overnighters.
  7. Lay low this mud season.
  8. No joking matter, stay safe on April Fools Day.
  9. Don’t dirty the reputation of hikers, play properly in the mud.
  10. Get out of the rock gym and climb outside!
  11. Go on a hike that everyone will enjoy.
  12. Perfect your picture taking and add some action shots to your Insta account.
  13. Get down and dirty trail running.

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Summer 2020

  1. Add a pitch of paddling to your rock climbing.
  2. Take your running off road.
  3. Develop your dirtbag skills and learn how to find free car camping.
  4. Slide into summer on this off-the-beaten-path adventure climb.
  5. Hike the White Mountains’ most historic trail.
  6. Beat the heat and find cool climbing at warm-weather destinations.
  7. Style singletrack this summer.
  8. A trip with “great” in its name is a trip worth taking.
  9. Hunt for history in New Hampshire’s Presidentials.
  10. Take a short paddle on the longest canoe trip in the Northeast.
  11. Go on a multi-sport adventure across the Empire State.
  12. Storm the Adirondacks and hike a hurricane.
  13. Run Rhode Island, along the City by the Sea’s coastline.

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Fall 2020

  1. Visit New England’s neighbor to the north.
  2. Peep these trails and avoid Franconia Notch’s busy parking lots.
  3. Get the beta on building a rack and gear up for Sendtember and Rocktober.
  4. Step up your hiking on Acadia’s legendary ladder trails.
  5. Go fast and light this fall.
  6. Don’t let these simple mistakes keep you from sending.
  7. The only thing frightening about this New Hampshire ghost town is that you haven’t visited.
  8. Find heaven and hell on the Catskill’s most challenging trail.
  9. Step away from the NH48 and hike one of these 4,000-footers that didn’t make the cut.
  10. Break away from the grind on one of these shorter thru-hikes
  11. Or, go for a long paddle
  12. Or, take an even longer long road trip.
  13. Just remember, you’re never too old for adventure.

 

Of course, this list is just a starting point. If you need even more inspiration, you’ll find 52 more adventures on our 2019 list, and 52 more on our 2018 list.


10 Tips for Staying Warm While Backcountry Skiing

It gets cold in the Northeast. Unbearably cold, sometimes. But low temps shouldn’t be an excuse for missing that next backcountry powder day. Read on for 10 tips for staying warm this winter while backcountry skiing.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

1. Don’t Dawdle in the Parking Lot

Arrive ready to go—dressed, skins on, and fully packed—so that you can jump right out of the car onto the skin track. Screwing around in the parking lot ensures you’ll start your tour off too cold.

2. Start a Little Cold

Starting overdressed is a certain way to overheat, guaranteeing damp baselayers for the rest of the tour. It also ensures that 10 to 15 minutes into the day, you’ll need to stop and de-layer, starting a cycle of body temperature fluctuations that are difficult to manage.

3. Timely Layering

Everybody knows that layering is key to staying warm in the backcountry. But an underrated aspect of this process is knowing where and when to add or subtract a layer. For example, on the steep climb up a Tuck’s gully, don’t wait until you’re already roasting from the climb to shed that outer layer. Likewise, on something like Mount Moosilauke, which has a lengthy above-tree line segment, pause below treeline to add appropriate gear before venturing into the cold, windy terrain above.

4. Lots of Lightweight Layers

Instead of carrying a few heavy layers, carrying a variety of lightweight layers allow greater adaptability to conditions. For example, carrying two lightweight puffies instead of a single heavy one is a favorite backcountry ski trick, especially if one of those puffies is made with active insulation. On particularly cold days, this allows you to wear a puffy in the skin track or slide it under your shell on the descent, rather than reserving it for transitions.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

5. Pack for Success

Pack the layers you’ll use most often near the top of your bag so the whole group doesn’t have to pause while you dig that critical piece out of the bottom of your pack. Likewise, stash essentials like gels, a hat, and a buff in your pockets—this way you can get an energy boost and warm up on the move, without stopping to take off your pack.

6. Plan Group Breaks

Instead of everybody on the tour taking haphazard breaks, get the group on board with regular group breaks—we like to plan hourly breaks or at obvious transitions (up/down or significant terrain changes). This is a great way to improve group efficiency and keep everybody moving and warm.

7. Fuel Up

It’s difficult to stay properly fueled in the winter—you burn more calories, you don’t realize how much you’re perspiring, and you lose fluid through respiration. Dehydration + hunger is a certain recipe for getting cold, so make sure to eat and drink at every break to keep the furnace burning and the stoke high.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

8. Some Like it Hot 

Water not cutting it or freezing in your bottle? Try a thermos filled with a hot drink—it’s one of our favorite mid-outing pick-me-ups. Store your drink of choice in a Hydro Flask so that it’s hot when you want it. Likewise, a sippable soup in an insulated container is a lot more appealing than a frozen Snickers bar.

9. Do Your Homework

Pick the right tour for the forecast and snowpack, then research your route so you’ll stay on track. (Looking for more ski touring tips? Check out What Guides Think About Before Ski Touring in Tuckerman Ravine.) For example, there’s no need to sit on the couch because it’s freezing in the Presidentials; some great cold-weather options are Mount Cardigan and Granite Backcountry Alliance glades like Maple Villa and Crescent Ridge. They’re all at much lower elevations and minimize wind chills by staying mostly in the trees.

10. Pack a Dry Set of Clothes for the Ride Home

There’s nothing worse than driving home in damp baselayers. Ever so slowly, that dampness sucks out your energy, delaying your recovery for tomorrow’s powder day. Whenever you finish your tour, change into a dry set of clothes right away.

Do you have any tricks for staying warm while ski touring? If so, we want to hear them! Leave them in the comments below, so we can all stay warm this winter.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

A Laborer We Love: The Black Diamond Dirt Bag Glove 

Mark Twain famously said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” This feels particularly true in winter, when a day of snow is just as likely to be followed by a day of the dreaded “wintry mix” as it is by one well below freezing. While winter weather in the northeast is consistently inconsistent, one thing you can count on is finding us wearing the Black Diamond Dirt Bag Glove on any given adventure. Here are five reasons why the Dirt Bag Glove is a proven performer and ready to go to work for you or your loved ones this winter.

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1. They’re a Great Ski Partner 

A ski-specific upgrade to the classic work glove found at your local hardware store, the Dirt Bag has proven to be an ace partner over the course of numerous winters, equally at home in mid-winter skin tracks on Mount Moosilauke as it is bashing through slushy spring snow in Tucks. Black Diamond designed the Dirt Bag Glove “with the needs of skiers in mind,” which is something we can attest to—from ripping skins and gripping ski poles to cracking après beers in the parking lot, these gloves are remarkably adept. This is because, unlike most ski gloves (which are cut to grip a pole), the Dirt Bag is shaped to fit an open or closed hand.

2. They Play Nice on Ice

Although the Dirt Bag Glove was built for skiers, we find many of the qualities that make it such a valuable companion on the slopes also help it excel in numerous other winter sports. For example, the glove’s dexterity combined with its fleecy lining make it a natural for ice climbing something like Trap Dike or Shoestring Gully—offering just enough warmth to keep the screaming barfies at bay while providing the range of motion necessary for the mechanics of climbing such as swinging tools, placing screws, building anchors, and managing the belay station. As an added bonus, the stretchy fabric cuffs keep snow and ice from sneaking into the gloves while sealing out cold air.

Credit: TIm Peck
Credit: TIm Peck

3. They’re Comfy on Hikes

The Dirt Bag glove provides the perfect amount of warmth for winter hiking in the White Mountains, especially below treeline. From packing in the parking lot to pulling on microspikes, the Dirtbag Glove is a workhorse piece of our hiking kit. We especially love the low profile for holding onto trekking poles and their robust leather construction when gripping trees and boulders while navigating particularly treacherous sections of trail, such as on portions of the Lion Head Winter Route or Franconia Ridge in the winter.

4. They Make Short Work of Chores 

The Dirt Bag Glove was built for the guys and girls bumping lifts, handling sleds, and clearing snow who want one glove to do it all, but aren’t looking to cut into their beer budget by buying new gloves every few weeks. We love that the Dirt Bag glove seamlessly transitions from our skiing/climbing/hiking kit to digging out the driveway for powder days in a GBA Glade and hauling snow-covered logs in for drying out our gear by the fireplace.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

5. They’re Heavy Duty But Light on the Wallet 

Money is better spent on adventures and après than replacing gloves. Made with super-durable goat leather and treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish, the Black Diamond Dirt Bag Glove has stood up to years of abuse. In fact, unlike much of our ski gear, even our oldest pairs of Dirt Bag gloves have escaped the dreaded duct tape. The best part is that they cost under $50, putting them within reach of even the most diehard patrollers, lifties, dishwashers, and dirtbags living their ski and outdoor dreams.


Everything You Need to Know About Uphill Skiing

Uphilling at the resort is one of the fastest-growing winter sports—and early winter, before there’s snow in the backcountry, is the perfect time to try it. Whether you’re looking to learn the skills required for backcountry travel in a lower-consequence setting or just get some early-season elevation in your legs, uphilling should have a place in your quiver this winter.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Why Uphill?

Like so many alpine activities, uphilling has long been popular in Europe, but is rapidly increasing in popularity in the US. Today, more than half of North American resorts allow uphill skiing. In New England, the reasons to embrace the uphill are numerous.

Reliable Conditions: Let’s face it, the truth is that Northeast snow is unreliable. Some seasons it comes late, some seasons it never comes, and some seasons are interrupted by a mid-winter thaw. Snowmaking and grooming keep the resort a reliable option most winters.

Early Season: It’s the rare (and coveted) year that the backcountry season gets started with a huge November dump. A great thing about uphilling at the resort is that once it’s cold, there’s usually man-made snow on the ground, meaning you can get skinning immediately (subject, of course, to resort-specific restrictions).

Safe Snow: Many of the Northeast’s most coveted backcountry runs, like those in Tucks, are in avalanche terrain. Thus, skiers and riders require specialized gear and knowledge. They also need time for conditions to line up. Conversely, avalanches are not a concern within eastern ski area boundaries, making for one less thing to worry about.

Off Hours: Many of us have ski bum dreams but nine to five realities. Many resorts allow uphill skiing before and after the lifts spin—meaning you can earn pre- or post-work turns during the week and satiate your ski stoke, all with the added bonus of avoiding the lift-serviced crowds.

Fantastic Fitness: Running on the treadmill and sitting on the exercise bike might get you fit, but they’re boring and indoors. Uphilling is a great low-impact workout and allows you to train outside so that you’re in shape for when the conditions are right to venture into the backcountry. Plus, the ski downhill is way more fun than anything you’ll find at the local gym.

Enjoy an Old Favorite: If you live near a small mountain and have grown tired of lapping the same three or four runs, uphill skiing provides a new way to enjoy well-covered terrain. Additionally, that cruiser might feel a bit more challenging on post-ascent legs.

Great for First Timers: Interested in shredding one of Tuckerman Ravine’s iconic runs, surfing the pow at one of the GBA’s glades, or ticking a descent of a four-thousand footer off your bucket list, but uncertain where to begin? Uphilling at the resort is a great way to mimic the backcountry experience while minimizing the risks. Try a couple of uphill days to dial your kit, hone your technique, and get some experience in a lower-consequence setting.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Best Places to Uphill in New England

More and more ski resorts in New England are embracing uphill skiing; However, uphill policies are unique to each destination. In addition to whether or not a resort allows uphill skiers, some other things you’ll want to know are if the ski area charges for uphilling and if they have a prescribed ascent route. Before heading to the hill, check out the United States Ski Mountaineering Association’s list of uphill policies for US resorts, or stick to these uphill-friendly spots…

Magic Mountain: The gold standard for uphill skiers in the Northeast, Magic welcomes uphillers at all times, with the exception of powder days (when the mountain receives 6+ inches of snow) when they ask that uphillers wait for the lifts to spin before starting to skin. Magic’s “Hike One, Ride One” policy gives uphillers a token for a free one-ride lift ticket if they skin all the way to the top.

Black Mountain: Black Mountain is the epicenter for New Hampshire’s uphill ski scene. Uphillers are permitted from sunrise to 4 pm. It’s also home to a robust rental fleet of alpine touring gear and hosts Friday Night Lights, a ten-week uphill series for skiers of all abilities.

Mount Abram: Want to know what it’s like to have a ski resort all to yourself? Find out just twenty minutes away from gargantuan Sunday River at Mount Abram. This resort allows uphill access to its trails during both operational and non-operational hours—including Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday when the lifts don’t spin at all.

Wachusett Mountain: Skiers in central Massachusetts hoping to sneak in a run before work will want to check out Wachusett, which allows uphill skiing (at no charge) before the lift runs. Not an early riser? Check out Berkshire East, where the terrain is open to uphillers from dusk to dawn provided they’re season ticket holders or purchase a ticket—they sell both day and season uphill passes.

Mohawk Mountain: Proving that you don’t need to be in the mountains of northern New England to earn your turns is Connecticut’s Mohawk Mountain. The mountain is open to all skiers, including those who want to earn their 650-foot descent, during regular operating hours.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Uphill Ski Gear

In general, your uphill ski kit will closely resemble a backcountry ski kit without the avvy gear. To start, you’ll need an alpine touring, telemark, or splitboard set up with skins (although some mountains permit snowshoes) along with appropriate boots, poles, and layers. Although you’re at the resort, strive for self-sufficiency by packing a small first-aid and repair kit. You’ll also likely want a helmet, goggles, food and water, and a small pack. One of the advantages of skinning at the resort is that the car or base lodge is often close by, letting you pack light and make adjustments to your gear throughout the day. Another benefit of being near the lodge is the ability to sneak in and warm up between laps.

Uphill skiing is still in its early stages and many resorts are tinkering with their policies, so if you enjoy the uphill make sure to adhere to the skier responsibility code and be on your best behavior. Better yet, if a resort offers free uphill access, stop in and grab a beer or snack and show your support for them. Ski ya on the trails!


Support the Mountains of the Northeast With Your Purchase

At EMS stores this holiday season, customers making a purchase will have the option of donating to one of three outstanding outdoor-focused organizations: the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), and the Mount Washington Observatory (MWOBS). Vital to outdoor recreation in the Northeast, these organizations are making it much easier for all of us to get outside. So while you’re getting a great gift this holiday season, here are some reasons to consider making a small donation to one of these awesome orgs.

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Adirondack Mountain Club

The Adirondack Mountain Club has its roots in a store not all that different from EMS, at least at the time. In 1921, the club was conceived in the log cabin atop New York City’s Abercrombie & Fitch to improve the accessibility of remote areas of the Adirondacks through the construction of trails and shelters. From the first 40-person meeting at A&F in 1921 to the 75 (out of 208 certified charter members) attending the formal meeting a year later in 1922, the group has grown significantly. Today, the ADK boasts 28,000 members across its 27 chapters. However, one thing that has remained the same is the group’s mission to maintain trails, construct and maintain campsites, preserve a bureau of information about the Adirondacks, publish maps and guidebooks, and educate the public regarding the conservation of natural resources and prevention of forest fires.

Appalachian Mountain Club

From overnighting at a hut or tent site to maintaining the region’s historic trails to protecting wilderness in New Hampshire, the AMC has been providing assistance to hikers, climbers, and skiers in the White Mountains for generations. Born to encourage adventure and exploration in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Appalachian Mountain Club predates the formation of the White Mountain National Forest by more than 40 years. Founded in 1876, the AMC is the oldest nonprofit conservation and recreation organization in the US. The AMC has grown up a lot over the last century and a half, swelling to more than a quarter-million members in its 12 chapters between Washington, D.C., and Maine. With age, the AMC’s mission has also morphed; in addition to adventure and exploration, the organization now supports conservation advocacy and research, runs youth programs, maintains 1,800 miles of trails, and provides hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours.

Mount Washington Observatory

Whether you’re a hiker, skier, or climber, the MWOBS’ Higher Summits forecast is a must read before any day in the Whites. Operating on the summit since 1932, MWOBS recorded the world’s fastest surface wind speed ever observed by man: 231 mph. Although the instruments and technology employed by the observatory have changed over the years, the goal remains the same: to observe and maintain a record of weather data, perform weather and climate research, foster public understanding of the mountain and its environment, and provide excellent forecasts for the public recreating in the White Mountains.

 

Edward Abbey famously said, “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” So, this holiday season, give a little extra to help preserve the places we all love by supporting these indispensable mountain services.


10 Backcountry Ski Tools for the Tech-Savvy

Whether it’s avalanche airbags, magnetic goggle lenses, or shred-recording apps, technology is revolutionizing backcountry ski gear. With Cyber Monday upon us, here are 10 favorite tech pieces likely to be working their way into your backcountry kit in the near future.

Courtesy: SPOT
Courtesy: SPOT

1. SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger

Whether you’re day tripping in Tuckerman Ravine or on a multi-day tour in the Chic Chocs, the pocket-sized SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger is a standalone device (meaning it works independently of your mobile phone) with its own dedicated phone number that allows you to send messages, post to social media, send out an SOS, along with a host of other neat features.

2. Pieps iProbe II

Every second counts after an avalanche, especially if somebody is buried. The Pieps iProbe II works in coordination with a beacon to speed up searches and find burial victims faster using audio and visual cues. When deployed, the probe automatically turns itself on to narrow down burial sites—beeping and lighting up as you get closer to a buried transceiver.

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Credit: Smith

 

3. Smith I/O Mag Goggles

Awesome optics, huge field of vision, and multiple lens options have made Smith I/O goggles a long-time part of our ski kits. Although interchangeable lenses are nothing new to ski goggles, Smith’s I/O Mag goggles up the ante. Taking advantage of magnetic locking mechanisms on the lens, swapping lenses is easier than ever and fingerprints obstructing your view are a thing of the past.

4. Scott Patrol E1 Avalanche Backpack 

At first sight, the flux capacitor on the Scott Patrol E1 Avalanche Backpack seemed straight out of the future. On closer inspection, it’s a supercapacitor, but that doesn’t make it any less wow-worthy. Unlike traditional and lithium-ion batteries, supercapacitors can be taken on planes with no restrictions, are not sensitive to changes in temperature, and last for 500,000 charging cycles. Don’t you wish the rechargeable batteries in your headlamp would last that long?

5. DPS Phantom Wax 

Waxing skis or taking them to the shop to get tuned has long been an annoyance to skiers more interested in nabbing runs than scraping wax. DPS Phantom Wax needs only a single application to deliver a permanent solution for keeping your skis sliding. Unlike traditional ski waxes, Phantom Wax changes the chemical composition of your ski’s base, eliminating the need for regular reapplications.

Courtesy: Black Diamond
Courtesy: Black Diamond

6. Black Diamond Guide BT Avalanche Beacon

Black Diamond’s first foray into avalanche beacons has us thinking that it’s time to upgrade. The Guide BT (the BT stands for Bluetooth) is able to update its software, alter the beacon’s settings, and manage its battery all through an app accessed via your smartphone or tablet.

7. Salomon Shift Bindings 

A binding capable of delivering the performance of an alpine binding with the uphill ability of a backcountry binding has been something that ski-tourers everywhere have been dreaming of for years. Enter the Salomon Shift, which offers a fully certified alpine mode for downhill charging and pin-type toe for touring efficiency. This binding rips on and off piste and is a great option for skiers looking for a “quiver of one” binding.

8. The North Face Futurelight Fabric

Skiers are always on the lookout for layers that will keep them dry when it’s wet, breathe when they’re working hard, and keep them warm when it’s cold. Enter Futurelight, manufactured using a process called nanospinning—in which a fibrous material is extruded and repeatedly layered on itself into an ultra-thin and flexible web-like structure—to create thinner, more breathable, waterproof membranes. Proven to be up to the task of the most serious ski missions, Hilaree Nelson (O’Neill) and Jim Morrison put Futurelight to the test on their first ski descent of Lhotse Couloir.

9. Ski Tracks App

99 cents won’t buy you much at even the most budget-conscious ski resort these days. However, for less than a dollar, the Ski Tracks app will track just how much value you squeezed out of that three-figure lift pass. Working with your smartphone, the Ski Tracks app records metrics such as maximum speed, number of runs, distance skied, and total vertical. Don’t forget to thank us the next time you’re boasting about how much vertical you shredded.

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10. PeakFinder App

After years of arguing over which mountains are in the distance, the PeakFinder app is making it easy to know the answer without having to dig out a map. Using augmented reality, the Peakfinder app turns your phone into a directory of surrounding peaks and quickly displays the names of the mountains and peaks your looking at. Best of all, it even works when you’re offline!

 

Is there a piece of ski tech you’re particularly excited about this season? If so, let us know about it in the comments below.


A State-by-State Guide to Giving Tuesday in New England

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday—so much of our time (and money) around Thanksgiving is spent trying to find the perfect gifts for friends and families that it’s easy to lose sight of the organizations working to make our communities better. In recent years, the idea of Giving Tuesday has become popular, reminding us to support the organizations protecting our crags, keeping our waters clean, advocating for open spaces, and exposing the next generation of outdoor lovers to our favorite sports. If you’re in the giving mood, here are some New England outdoor non-profits that could use your support.

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Rhode Island

It makes sense that the state nicknamed the Ocean State is home to awesome water-based organizations. One of the most notable is Save the Bay. Turning 50 years old in 2020, Save the Bay is a 20,000-member-strong group dedicated to protecting one of Rhode Island’s most valuable natural resources, recognizable landmarks, and playgrounds for paddlers and surfers: Narragansett Bay.

Another ocean-inspired Rhode Island organization that will be amped if you hang ten (or more) dollars on them this holiday season is Spread the Swell, which is working to share the stoke by offering free, non-profit surf camps to underprivileged Rhode Island kids.

While the Ocean State is best known for its surf, it’s also home to some of the best bouldering in New England. Spot the Southeast New England Climbers Coalition a donation and assist them in their work to help protect and establish access to crags, along with maintaining popular destinations like Lincoln Woods.

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Massachusetts 

The Pan-Mass Challenge is synonymous with summer in the Bay State, as cyclists push their limits on a variety of rides, raising money for a cause everyone is on board with: defeating cancer. Go the extra mile this year by donating, fundraising, or committing to volunteer at the August event.

Helping keep cyclists safe as they train to tackle the Pan-Mass Challenge’s 187 miles and 2,500 feet of climbing is the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike). Help MassBike keep the wheels in motion toward creating a more bicycle-friendly state with a donation or by volunteering your time.

Investing in the sports we love is about more than merely maintenance and access. Chill Boston introduces underserved youth in the Greater Boston Area to board sports such as snowboarding, SUPing, and surfing. Drop in and hook them up with a donation to keep our board-based sports healthy and diverse, while also teaching young people valuable life skills.

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Connecticut

Connecticut is home to outdoor activities as diverse as its landscape, ranging from hiking to rock climbing to cycling. A donation to the Connecticut Forest & Park Association (CFPA) can put a spring in the step of the Nutmeg State’s hikers. The organization is committed to connecting people to the land to protect Connecticut’s forests, parks, walking trails, and open spaces for future generations.

Enthusiasts of Connecticut’s high and wild places will want to tick a donation to the Ragged Mountain Foundation (RMF) off their list. The RMF currently owns 56 acres of land in Southington, Connecticut—including Ragged Mountain—and is focused on stewardship, protection, and public access to the state’s cliffs and crags.

The Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program (CCAP) provides the state’s youth with an organized state-wide cycling league, allowing them to grow within the sport and develop values and skills that transfer to other parts of their life. Ride into the holidays feeling good with a donation to this great group.

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Vermont

Locally grown food, amazing craft beer, and outstanding outdoor experiences are commonly associated with Vermont. One of the orgs aiding Vermont in sustaining this reputation is CRAG Vermont, which is dedicated to preserving access to and maintaining the state’s climbing resources, along with giving hungry and thirsty climbers a place to play. Help CRAG Vermont over the crux with a donation this year.

Vermont is a destination for mountain bikers from across the US and Canada. The Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA) consists of 26 unified chapters dedicated to advocating, educating, and promoting mountain biking in the Green Mountain State. Your donation will facilitate the trails remaining fast, flowy, and flush.

If you think of Vermont’s mountains as more white than green, check out the Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) this Giving Tuesday. Cutting a check to the VTBC helps keep the state’s legendary tree skiing properly maintained, while also protecting and advancing access for human-powered skiing.

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New Hampshire 

It’s no surprise that the Granite State is a mecca for New England climbers. Friends of the Ledges is an org focusing on stewardship and access to the climbing found in the eastern White Mountains of New Hampshire and Maine. Keep this awesome group sending in the future—they secured nine-acres of land critical for access to Cathedral Ledge and Whitehorse Ledge in 2019—with a donation this year.

Accidents happen in the mountains to even the most experienced hikers, climbers, and skiers. If you happen to have a mishap in the White Mountains, you’ll be glad you came to the aid of Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue (AVSAR) with a donation this year, as they assist various agencies with search and rescues in the region.

If you pedal your bike in central or southern New Hampshire, you’ve likely spent time on the techy trails built and maintained by the Friends of Massabesic Bicycling Association (FOMBA). A donation to this awesome org helps keep their relationship with Manchester Water Works rolling, and access to these terrific trails open.

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Maine 

Maine is home to the only national park in New England: Acadia. The first U.S. national park originally created by private land donations, you can join in the park’s philanthropic tradition by becoming a member, making a donation, or volunteering with Friends of Acadia—a group helping to preserve, protect, and promote the region’s only national park.

Another incredible private land donation (and the Northeast’s best hope for a second national park) is the 80,000+ acres donated by the co-founder of Burt’s Bees known as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. While you probably can’t match enormous donations such as this, you can help preserve and protect this parcel by joining or donating to the Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, taking part in the tradition of selflessness and generosity that birthed this area’s creation

If you’ve ever climbed Mount Katahdin and marveled at the wildness of Baxter State Park, you owe a debt of gratitude to Maine’s 53rd governor, Percival Baxter, who gave the park to the people of Maine with the mandate that it remain forever wild. Get in the giving spirit of the former governor with a gift to the Friends of Baxter State Park, who are working to preserve, support, and enhance the wilderness character of the park.

Do you know of another nonprofit that could use some support this year? If so, leave it in the comments so our readers can check it out.


Alpha Guide: Climbing Little Finger on Lake George

alpha Guides | Better than beta.

With three moderate pitches of splitter granite hanging high above Lake George, Little Finger is one of the Northeast’s most enjoyable climbs.

How many climbs in the Northeast have a paddle approach? One of the most unique climbs in the Northeast, the approach to Little Finger begins with a short paddle approach across the clear, blue water of Lake George. Once situated at the base of the route, climbers are treated to three moderately rated, easy-to-protect pitches of splitter granite climbing 500+ feet above the lake. Be sure to style the climbing—you’re likely to have an audience of captivated boaters below.

Quick Facts

Length: 3 Pitches
Time to Complete: Half-day
Difficulty: ★★★
Scenery:★★★★


Season: May through November
Fees/Permits: None
Contact: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24493.html

Download

Turn-By-Turn

Climbing Little Finger begins with a paddle approach from Rogers Rock Campground in Hague, New York. Located right off 9N, the campground is just six miles from Ticonderoga.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Canoe Approach

From the boat launch, paddle left away from the swimming area (43.792904, -73.480690). Almost immediately, there’s a large cliff along the shore to your left. That’s not the climb, but it’s a good clue you’re headed in the right direction. Continue hugging the lakeside as you head for a shallow break between the shore and Juniper Island. Round the bend. After a few more minutes of paddling, the face is visible on your left. Aim for the low spot dead ahead (43.797157, -73.466560). Overall, it’s about 25 minutes of paddling.

Pro Tip: The water is deep, it’s often windy, and the waves can be big. Wear a PFD. Also, pack your gear in dry bags and secure them to your canoe, kayak, or SUP.

 

The Scramble

Once you’ve lugged your boat out of the water, scramble up to a sort-of-flat spot just above. This is a great place to transition from paddling to climbing. Empty the dry bags, don your climbing gear, and get ready to scramble along the base of the ledge to the start of the climb.

The scramble across is about 30 yards. It goes across, then down to the water, then up a short blocky section that you’ll want to watch less experienced climbers on. From there, it’s an easy stroll to the base of the climb, which starts at a good platform by a boulder right at the base of a vertical crack running up the entire face (43.797398, -73.466385). On the platform, there’s plenty of room to flake your ropes.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The First Pitch

The first pitch follows the obvious vertical crack for about 200 feet to a depression by a small overlap. Anchor there using, among other things, two new-ish pitons. Although the pitons are awkwardly spaced, there are opportunities to use small and mid-sized gear to build a solid three-piece anchor.

The climbing to this point is fantastic. Right off the deck is a short blocky section leading into an awesome crack that pierces the slab. The crux of the pitch is early on, in the bottom half of the crack, but it is never very hard, maxing out at 5.5.

After the initial difficulties, the pitch is a low-angle calf burner. There’s protection everywhere, with the crack eating everything from nuts to mid-sized cams. Since the pitch is long, be sure to bring a lot of gear in that range to ensure you have enough to zip it up.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Second Pitch 

Leaving the first pitch’s belay (43.797676, -73.466774), step up and right into the crack, then charge up it to the bottom of a large roof and build a traditional anchor there. Although it doesn’t look it, the pitch is a long one, running almost 200 feet.

Again, the climbing is moderate and well protected, all in the 5.4-5.5 range. The crack eats mid-sized gear, so protecting it shouldn’t be a problem. Throughout this pitch, there’s also lots of feet, meaning there’s plenty of comfortable stances from which to place gear.

The trickiest part of the second pitch is building the anchor. Just below the roof are several hollow flakes that don’t inspire confidence and aren’t the spot to place a cam. Slightly above the flakes there’s a small slot in the crack for a mid-sized cam and a medium nut. Below the roof, at about 11 o’clock, there’s also room for another mid-sized cam and, with some finagling, a bigger nut. If all this doesn’t sound appealing, there’s a small depression just below the hollow flakes (15 feet before the roof) with lots of options in the crack for a gear anchor.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Third Pitch

From the anchor under the overlap (43.797886, -73.467148), step up so that you can reach above the roof, then traverse right for about 10 feet to rejoin the crack. From here, the climb follows a runnel for about 175 feet toward bolted anchors, one at the top of the crack and another, with rap rings, about 25 feet off to the right.

The third pitch is well protected except for the traverse, where there’s little gear. To protect your second from a big swing, make sure to set a solid piece at the first good spot at the roof’s right end.

If you’re looking for something slightly harder than 5.5, consider the 5.7 variation that follows a thin vertical crack straight up from the belay. After a couple of difficulties, you’ll end up at the anchor just above the runnel that pitch 3 finishes on.

Once you’re atop the third pitch (43.798054, -73.467148), take some time—if you haven’t already—to admire the view. The climb drops away in the foreground, replaced by the deep blue of Lake George and the dark green of the mountains in the distance. It’s a fantastic setting, one you’ll be reluctant to leave.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Raps

Whenever you can break away from the view, it’s three double-rope rappels with 60m ropes back down to the ground. Each of the anchors is bolted and very easy to spot while on rappel. With true 70m ropes, you can do it in 2 rappels, but the last rap to the ground is a rope stretcher.

The last rap will leave you on a ledge a little to climbers’ right of the climb. On the ledge, coil your ropes, then scramble back to your boat. Just before the base of Little Finger, there’s an open slab that drops down into the base of the water. It’s easy to traverse, but watch less experienced folks closely as they cross; any fall would be a long (and wet) one.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Paddle Back

Once you reach your boat, dump your gear in your dry bags, put your PFD back on, get the boat in the water, and retrace the paddle you did earlier in the day. The paddle back will likely be challenging, as it’s usually into the wind and waves. Wakes from passing motorboats can add a little spice as well.


Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

The Kit

  • Between the waves and deep water, it’s great to have dry bags to store your ropes, rack, and climbing shoes. A couple of 65L bags from Sea to Summit will hold everything with room to spare.
  • The boat landing at Little Finger is rocky and slippery. Send it in style with a water shoe from NRS such as the Kicker Remix (men’s/women’s) or a river sandal like the Teva Terra Fi 4 (men’s/women’s).
  • On summer days, the sun beats down on Rogers Rock until mid afternoon. Wear a sunshirt like the Black Diamond Alpenglow Hoodie (men’s/women’s) to avoid baking in the sun.
  • Multi-pitch climbers on low-angle routes such as Little Finger are at risk of something either falling or getting knocked down on them. With this in mind, pack a climbing helmet like the Black Diamond Vapor.
  • Two 70-meter ropes, like the Sterling Fusion Nano Dry 9.0 70m allow you to cut out a rappel.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Keys to the Trip

  • Motorboat traffic can sometimes make communication between climbers difficult. Before you leave the belay, have a plan so that your second will know what to do even if he/she can’t hear you.
  • You might think that climbing above the water is a great choice for sweltering summer days; However, Little Finger has a well-deserved reputation for scorching unsuspecting climbers thanks to the exposed slab and reflective water. Consequently, it’s best avoided on the sunniest summer days.
  • Climb in a bathing suit because there are lots of places to swim on the way back (including the Rogers Rock Campground swimming area).
  • A great way to cool off and replace the calories you burned is with soft-serve ice cream from the Wind-Chill Factory.
  • If you prefer craft beer to ice cream cones, take the 30-minute drive to Battle Hill Brewing in Fort Ann, New York.
  • If you loved Little Finger and are anxious for more climbing, Rogers Rock is home to a lot more routes. Get the beta for the rest of the climbs in Adirondack Rock, the routes around Lake George are found in Volume 2.

Credit: Tim Peck
Credit: Tim Peck

Current Conditions

Have you climbed Little Finger recently? Post your experience and the conditions (with the date of your climb) in the comments for others!