Silverton


My younger brother visited from Kazakhstan for the holidays. I rallied down to Colorado for a couple of days to see him and ski Silverton. Sorry not many good pics as the conditions were marginal (dust on crust), but it was fun to get out and ski with my two brothers and my Old Man.

Classic downtown Silverton

My older brother Zack hiking towards Rope-Dee chute with the legendary Silverton Chair below.

As with any ski trip, late night re-fueling is standard.

We interrupt this broadcast…


I figured that this is a ski website and all I have done is post tropical pictures. Well, I have been skiing and here is proof.

Last weekend up on Hollywood Wall in Frasier Basin.

Out with the old and in with the new


Currently I am taking a brief break from the mountains to attend a workshop at the prestigious Harvard University. It certainly is interesting sitting in a room full of Harvard PhD’s and future Harvard PhD’s.

I was recently going through my website stats and besides closing in on 35,000 views (thanks everyone!) I have not updated any links on my webpage since its inception 4 years ago. So with that in mind check out a few new links I have added to the sidebar. I am also removing a few irrelevant (that sounds harsh) or old blog links as well (RIP Steve Romeo).

The new links include:
MT Splitski: A blog devoted to splitboarding in Southwest Montana and the Jackson Area.

Junkfunnel: This is an extremely handy site for any Bozeman based backcountry skier. Nicely formatted charts from various remote weather stations as well as new snowfall summaries. I particularly enjoy the temperature charts as you can get a good feel for diurnal temperature fluctuations (and thus the formation of facets) very easily.

Southwest Montana Avalanche Forecast: I don’t know how I missed this one.
Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s accident reports: This is a great resource for any backcountry rider, learn from other peoples mistakes so you don’t get flushed.

Sadly, I am removing the following links:
Oronaut: my friend Evan hasn’t updated it since 2009 so I figure it is time to stop sending people there.
Shawtann Outdoors: like Evan, Shawtann hasn’t updated this site since 2010.
Tales from the Mid-Country: Same as above, my friend Cisco hasn’t added any new content since 2010.
TetonAT: I hate removing this link but since Steve Romeo passed away last winter I don’t see a point in keeping it around.
The Road Before Us: A former coworker’s site, but their content doesn’t really jive with this site.
Aspen Snowmass: This was nice when I was traveling a lot to ski, but since I haven’t returned to my home mountain in 2 years or so, it is time to let it go.

Now, since we are done with some housekeeping, enjoy a few photos from the last few weeks of touring around the Bozeman area.

Milky skies in Beehive Basin.

Milky skies in Beehive Basin.

Former Backcountry Magazine editor Drew Pogge drops into a line in Beehive Basin.

Former Backcountry Magazine editor Drew Pogge drops into a line in Beehive Basin.

Drew Pogge

Drew Pogge

Attempting to get a little artsy up in Hyalite

Attempting to get a little artsy up in Hyalite

My older brother Zack popping a small pillow while exploring up Hyalite.

My older brother Zack popping a small pillow while exploring up Hyalite.

Zack practicing stabbing bears with his ski pole while carrying speed.

Zack practicing stabbing bears with his ski pole while carrying speed.

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.

Autumn Rock Climbing Season


In the past few weeks I have stumbled across a wide range of really good climbing in the area. I may have missed these spots over the summer because it was 118 degrees out and too hot to even think about rock climbing. But with temps in the 70s and 80s in the fall I have been climbing almost every weekend.

Endless climbing to explore at Castle Crags State Park

I had the chance to go to nearby Castle Crags State Park and check out some really awesome and uncrowded granite climbing. The approach takes about an hour and climbs pretty steeply, but has some great views of Mt. Shasta.

Yet another Shasta photo... I think it is now the most photographed mountain on my site.

One of my new climbing partners, Jason, led our crew of mostly beginners to Super Crack Spire. This spire had a nice variety of climbs from a great 5.9 crack to a really exposed 5.6.

Nick on the 5.9 "Super Crack"

Nick checking out the views while on belay.

Apparently there are a lot of first ascents possible in area. I wouldn't doubt it, there was hardly anyone here and climbing as far as the eye could see.

Unfortunately, Castle Crags is on the chopping block to be one of the 70 California State Parks that is being closed due to budgetary constraints. I try to avoid politics in general, but I find it very frustrating that I lose access to public land that my taxes are supposed to pay for, but due to mismanagement and poor legislation I am forced to be crowded into less open space. Hopefully these politicians will come to their senses and realize how valuable recreation and wild lands really are… then again this is California and the politicians would have to get out of their cars to realize this.

While on this rant… I also have been up climbing in Lassen National Park, which has a whole different set of access issues.

The day started out with a brisk hike to help Nick get his turns in for October. He has been on a mission to ski one day every month this year and was cutting it close at the end of October. I helped him out and went and skied a few icey turns with him.

Nick enjoying the view before changing into ski boots.

A nice Halloween Eve

Does this look like October 30th to you? Maybe if you were on the East Coast...

After an icey but fun run. We made the quick hike to the “Rock Band” a fun crag at the base of Lassen Peak.

Mount Diller and Brokeoff Mountain, looks like good skiing.

The forbidden Lassen Peak

Nick and I set up a top rope on a nice 5.9 crack. It was a unique experience skiing and rock climbing without even stopping at the car.

Nick at the crux.

Nick on the way out

Skiing during the offseason?


A frosty Mount Shasta in October

A major bonus of living so close to the Cascade Volcanoes is the fact that they hold snow late into the summer and get new snow fairly early in the autumn as well. This lets me ski year round and I tried to take advantage of this over the past few months.

Jason and Nick hiking around Emerald Lake

My “offseason” started in June with a solo mission up the East face of Lassen Peak. I climbed to about 8500′ where I turned around to ski before the morning sun turned the snowpack into mush.

East face of Lassen Peak in June

In late July and early August I made it back up to Lassen National Park to ski a couple more times. In the summer Lassen National Park offers amazing pass skiing, but unfortunately the always “adept” National Park Service decided to close Lassen Peak to skiing and climbing for the next 5 years or so. There are still plenty of good, albeit short, lines off some of the craggy subpeaks, which offers some summer fun.

Brokeoff Mountain

Lassen Peak

Pilot Peak and Brokeoff Mountain

After a September spent traveling to Colorado, New Hampshire, and Montana, I returned to Mount Shasta in October to get some turns in after the first snow of the year. It has become a bit of a ritual for me to get out skiing after the first snowfall of the year, and this year was no exception. Instead of heading to the Hotlum-Wintun Ridge like we did in August, we headed up the closer and more popular Avalanche Gulch.

Lenticular clouds forming over the summit.

This was my first trip up Avalanche Gulch proper. I had dabbled on its lower flanks in February and March, but this time we made it to Lake Helen and had a great 1500′ ski.

The Casaval Ridge, this looks like it would be a fun but difficult climbing route

Jason gaining elevation

Jason topping out for the day

As always Mount Shasta’s scale was deceiving. I had expected to ski a a somewhat narrow gulley of rotten snow, but it turned out to be a football field wide, creamy, ramp. We had about 1000 feet of really good skiing, then we had to dodge rocks at the lower, less, snow covered elevations.

Mighty fine skiing in October

The new ski season is drawing more and more close and I cannot wait for the next storm!

Hotlum-Wintun Ridge – Mt. Shasta


It’s looking like an early start to the ski season for me out here in California. With temperatures in the valley consistently in 90-100s but abundant snow on the nearby volcanoes, skiing is perfect for cooling off. In a chance encounter I met a couple of Redding skiers on a solo mission to Mt. Lassen, who dragged me up Mt. Shasta last weekend.

We planned to ski Mt. Lassen but at the last minute we changed plans to head up to the Brewer Creek trailhead on the East side of 14,179′ Mount Shasta. Our crew consisted of Jason, Nick, Nick’s two sons Andrew, 15, and Gabe, 13, and myself. Andrew and Gabe were on their first big mountaineering mission and kicked ass, reaching 11,000′.

I was armed with an awful hangover and a 40 lbs pack, and we began the approach around 11 am on Saturday morning. The Brewer Creek trail dragged on as it needlessly switchbacks up the gently sloping base of Mt. Shasta.,

14,179 Mt. Shasta from the Brewer Creek Trail

Our goal was to ski the tantalizing couloir that drops from the summit onto the Wintun Glacier. At the right time of year this is the longest continuous ski decent in the lower 48. But after leaving the trail at treeline and beginning the climb up the Hotlum-Wintum ridge, the shear immensity of The Mountain in combination with a lack of fitness would make a serious summit bid improbable.

After an all day death march up the lower mountain, we pitched camp on a moraine at about 10,000′ elevation.

After a full day of climbing the summit still seems far away. It was sort of discouraging climbing for hours feeling like you were going nowhere.

Nick Akimoff at camp during sunset.

It turned out to be a beautiful night, with a great sunset and a full moon. There were very strong winds during the night, but they did not bother me as I was bivouacked under some rocks. However, it was a long, noisy night for everyone else sleeping in tents.

Full moonrise as night falls.

The full moon would have made for some fun climbing, but strong winds kept us hunkered down for the night.

Everyone was awake around 7 a.m., and after we ate breakfast and broke camp, we started climbing around 8:30 am. Both the boys had mild altitude sickness but made an impressive push to 11,000′. It was fun to climb with Gabe and Andrew and they did way better than I would have at their age. Nick stayed with his sons and Jason and I pushed higher, hoping to reach the top of the Hotlum-Wintum ridge where we would still get a 5,000′ mid-August ski descent.

Gabe Akimoff starts the climb up Mt. Shasta

Jason leading the way.

Andrew Akimoff reaching 11,000'. He was feeling well but felt it was better to hang back with Gabe, who was really having trouble with the altitude.

Jason Foust reaching the top of the climb. We skied from around 12,800' and skied to around 8,000' for 4,800' vertical on August 14th.

Thick clouds were rolling in and out by the time we reached the top of our climb. We spent some time resting and waiting for a sucker hole to ski down in. We finally had our chance and we rode about 2,000′ of perfect corn. Just below 11,000′ the snow went from good to Volkswagen size suncups. My brain rattled around in my head as I skied over the suncups to our gear cache. Here, we loaded our packs and skied the remaining 2,000′ of sun affected snow to the trail. Then we slogged back to the trailhead and reached the car around 3 p.m.

Jason snowboarding below the summit buttress of Mt. Shasta

Jason riding into the building clouds.

For the full descent check out the video below.