A Great Big Circle


After a bit of a hiatus from the blogging world due to another (yes, another) interstate move, I find myself back to where it all sort of started…Bozeman. What I thought was going to be my next big life journey turned out to be nothing more than a two year extended working-vacation. I quit my job in California and packed up and moved to Montana with a great job offer at the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center as a remote sensing/GIS analyst.

This is great news for this site though. Being back in Bozeman means I have my old ski partners back which means more epic adventures! I have already braved the low snow pack and had a couple fun days since moving back.

Simon Peterson on the approach

Nearing the top of "The Sleeping Giant". Photo: Simon Peterson

Patrick Lawrence and Luke climbing a wind scoured couloir

My brother Zack climbing a Couloir up Hyalite Canyon outside of Bozeman, MT

Zack sending it up Hyalite Canyon

And of course I have a GoPro edit of all this fun stuff. Check it out!

Music by CCR and shot in California and Montana.

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Thanks Colorado, it was short


As I alluded to in my previous post I recently moved from sparsely populated western Colorado, to a “small” Northern California city named Redding. I moved here because of a job opportunity but there are plenty of fun recreational options, including fly fishing within a 5 minute bike ride, mountain biking from town, 2 cascade volcanoes within an 1 1/2 hour drive, and Squallywood a weekend trip away.

Gunnison was fun, but it was a little too small, and a lack of employment options left my fiance and I a little stranded. I had a great couple of months living the ski bum’s life collecting unemployment as documented in previous videos. So, without further adieu, here is my perspective of January 2011, my last month in Colorado.


Music: Lightsonic, by Groove Armada

Silverton PowCAM Edit


Alright, alright! Getting a heavy dose of the POV cam these days, but why not? With the great skiing in December it seems appropriate. In addition to my previous post, December also included the family ritual of shredding Silverton Mountain Resort after Christmas. This was my family’s fourth year together down in the San Juan mountains, and needless to say it was by far the best year.

So without further adieu, here is my latest installment of too much POV footage (and for those of you at work watching, this is a much shorter video than my last one).

Music by the one and only Dire Straits, with cameos by fellow cross-poster Jon Jay and older brother Zack Jay. Mad props to my old man, Howard Jay, for keeping up with us and making the trip happen every year. Also, thanks to Bent Gate Mountaineering for letting us try out next year’s (that’s right, 2012) Black Diamond Gigawatts, which appear in a couple of the clips.

A Very Merry December


Now that I don’t have a camera or a job, photographs might be hard to come by for the time being. However, my fiancée gave me a GoPro for Christmas so now I can be like almost every other kid out there and have helmet cam edits. So sit back, relax, and enjoy December from my helmet’s perspective.

Music is by Ween and Buju Banton, and features my two brothers and a couple other friends!

The Prison Shower – Mission Creek, Montana


I awoke to my phone ringing at 4:25 am, it was Shawtan, I silenced my phone so I could get 5 more precious minutes of sleep before my alarm would go off at 4:30. 4:28 my phone rings again, this time I groggily answer and tell Shawtan that I’m still down to ski and to pick me up in a half hour. I gear up, eat breakfast and slam some coffee before Shawtan picks me up, we make a brief stop to pick up Chris Shafer and take off for Livingston.

We arrive at the trailhead around 6, and Chris realizes that he can’t hike in Birkenstocks or his alpine boots as the snowline has risen well above the trailhead. He dons Shawtan’s slippers and we head up the trail. About 1/4 mile in we experience our first challenge, swollen creek crossing. Shawtan and I just walk through the water in our AT boots but Chris’s clogs are no match for the rapids. His first log crossing attempt nearly ended the trip 15 minutes into it.

Chris Shafer clings for life after nearly going for a swim.

We continue to hike in and out of snow patches for about a mile and a half before we put our skins on and start skiing towards and through a large burn zone. Concerned about the warm conditions, it didn’t really freeze the night before and it was going to be almost 70 degrees, we opted for an obscure and well protected couloir.

The Prison Shower from afar, maybe a first ski decent?

We skinned up to the base of the couloir where we switched to crampons and ice axes. The snow was “tricky”, a 1-3″ ice crust on top of mashpotatoey snow. Not the best ski conditions to say the least.

Climbing into the Prison Shower

The couloir was pretty short, 500-600 feet long, but it was steep and extremely narrow. At the crux of the couloir we discussed if our skis would even fit through the narrow slot. Snow conditions were too horrible to do any straightlining, so Shawtan with his long skis had to turn around. Before turning around Shawtan measured the slope angle and it measured in over 40 degrees steep. Chris and I continued climbing and the couloir got steeper. I finally topped out of the couloir and took in the stunning views of a Montana morning.

The Crazy Mountains from the South

Mission Creek headwaters, the peak on the left is known as the Elephant Head.

Chis reached the top of the couloir shortly after and put his skis on in the steeps. A precarious place for sure.

Chris Shafer gears up at the top of the Prison Shower Couloir.

I skied into the couloir and found extremely sketchy snow conditions. The thin ice crust was just enough to grab a ski.

Peering into the Prison Shower

I sidestep/sideslipped/survival skied the couloir and was only able to really get about 3 or 4 turns down the whole couloir. On the apron snow conditions did not improve and I slowly skied to Shawtann who had been waiting for us. Chris dropped in shortly after me and essentially skied it the same way as I.

Chris Shafer just above the crux of the ski.

Shafer entering the crux, it was less than a ski length wide, and I had to do a little airwalking on my skis to get through it.

Chris Shafer skis out of the Prison Shower unscathed.

We skied a little bit of corn on the way out before sitting on some rocks to eat lunch and watch wetslides peel off southfacing cliffs.

Chris Shafer enjoys a little corn on the way out.

We hiked out the last mile on dirt and had to cross more streams, we made it back to the car and had celebratory beers. Chris dubbed the run the Prison Shower because it’s so steep it makes you clench your butt while you ski it.

Shawtan jumps over a creek on the way out of Mission Creek Valley.

One other side-note, I’m moving to Gunnison, Colorado at the end of the month. So soon I will be skiing back in my home state!

Eurotrash 2010 – Update 5


Greetings from Kitzbuhel, Austria!

After a great stay in Seedorf Switzerland, Steve and I headed out to meet up with some Bozeman friends in Hasliberg. Leif and Katie had spent the winter as Chalet hosts at an awesome ski in-ski out chalet. It was their last week in Switzerland and the weather was looking pretty bleak. The first day we arrived it was super foggy, the next day we went up for a half day and skied above a crazy inversion.

Crazy inversion at Meiringen-Hasliberg, not ideal for skiing.

The fog was so dense we couldn’t even see 50 feet. The same weather held for another day, so no skiing, but finally it broke on our last day there. A few cms of new snow had also fallen making the skiing pretty good.

The Wetterhorn and Eiger

Steve and Leif getting ready to shred.

Leif Routman shredding his home mountain for the last time before returning to the States.

Leif Routman showing off his Seth Morrison impression.

Leif even let me use his helmet cam for a run, which turned out pretty good.

After skiing, we said our goodbyes to Leif and Katie and hopped on the train to Innsbruck. We arrived late in Innsbruck, and had to hustle to catch the last bus to the hostel. We made it, then went for a little evening stroll. We took a rest day and explored the historic and beautiful town of Innsbruck and met up with a high school friend, Elena Sprick. She is teaching English in Prague and took us to a really cool restaurant that had great food at a decent price. Thanks Elena, this trip has been amazing by meeting up with friends, new and old. The next day we planned to go ski the Stubai Glacier, but our lack of German speaking and understanding skills we ended up on the wrong bus and ended up at Axam-Lizum. The ski area was pretty cool and had a wild train that went to the top. We lapped a ridge with a short hike to get to for most of the day.

Lizum Austria, near Innsbruck

Austrian Alps.

Steve Gilson finding the goods at Axam-Lizum, Austria.

The next day Steve and I hopped on the train to Kitzbuhel.

We spent two days skiing in Kitzbuhel and we timed it perfectly. We arrived to light snow, and met up with our friend Max Hoener, who was just returning from Gulmarg, India working with a non profit organization skis4kashmir. We woke up to the biggest storm Kitzbuhel has had this winter, it was probably around 30-45 cms of nice powder. We skied pillow lines in the trees all day and it was great.

Max Hoener getting the goods at Kitzbuhel.

Max learning that there is other stuff to do than chase gates at Kitzbuhel, like drop pillows.

All stomps for Max.

The next day, it got really warm and the snow turned to mank, we explored the mountain and drank some beer. We then went to the start gate of the famous Hammenkhan downhill. We took some pictures then practiced our racing starts out of the start gate.

Steve and Max, asian touristing the Hammankhan Start Gate.

Eurotrash Update 4 – And a couple huge thanks!!!


Sorry about not posting in so long, have had limited internet access which has made it difficult post.

Before I go any further I need to send a huge thank you the Steffy and Matthias Albert-Arnold in Seedorf, Switzerland. They showed us some great hospitality, fed us well, and let us sleep at their house for a week. So thank you Steffy and Matthias!!

The very gracious Arnold family, from left, Steve Gilson, Cory Arnold, Claudia Arnold, Steffy Albert-Arnold, Me, Matthias Albert-Arnold. Thank you guys so much!!

Also thanks to our friends Leif and Katie, they let us crash at the chalet they were watching all winter and showed us around Meiringen-Hasliberg. Leif even let me use his helmet cam for a run!! (I will post the video up when I make my Meiringen-Hasliberg post)

After a final day at Andermatt, we hopped on the train to go back to Disentis and stay at a cool Swedish hostel. We had an excellent day at Disentis before clouds moved in and the light got super flight. One drawback about skiing Europe is that so much of it is alpine that if the sun isn’t shining you can’t see anything.

Looking down and Andermatt line

Steve G drops into a chute in Disentis, Switzerland

After the second day of skiing we returned to the hostel to be told there had been a misunderstanding and we didn’t have a room. Not sure what to do, we called Steffy and Matthias who graciously let us stay last minute at their place. The next day it was raining in Seedorf, so Steve and I took a rest day and checked out Seedorf. The next day, Steffy’s dad Cory arranged for Steve and I to go on a gravel barge across Lake Luzern, it was an early morning, we were up at 4 am but a great crew and plenty of coffee, led Steve and I on a awesome personal tour of beautiful Lake Luzern. The next day Steffy and Matthias took us to Lugano, in southern Switzerland to do some Via Ferrata (it was still stormy in the Alps so no skiing to be had).

Via Ferrata in Lugano Switzerland... a fun down day activity.

The next day the storm broke and there was 40 cms of blower pow to be skied. Steffy and her parents took Steve and I up our first Swiss peak, The Rossstock, and then we lapped deep snow the rest of the day.

Matthias Albert-Arnold shreds some Swiss pow at Chappelsiberg

Cory Arnold getting deep

Steffy Albert-Arnold showing us Americans how to ski pow

Steffy and Matthias working it

Steve and I lingered on more day to ski more powder at Chappelsiberg, which is a funky tiny 4 person tram that Steffy’s uncle built in 1964, but for 7 swiss francs takes you to a touring paradise. Steve and I explored a new drainage which led to some really fun faces to ski, and all of them untracked.

Steve skinning in Chappelsiberg

Steve slashing above an alpine hut in Chappelsiberg

Mountainman Steve

Untouched Pow, Steve Shredding

It was tough to leave Chappelsiberg after so many runs like this

After two days in Chappelsiberg we headed to see Leif and Katie in Hasliberg, which I will post about soon.