Fun Prison


Recently I spent 2 days sled skiing in the paradise that is Cooke City. I got home late Sunday, repacked, slept a few hours, then headed to the other side of Yellowstone National Park to the Centennial Mountains to stay at the Hellroaring Powder Guides for 3 nights and 4 days.

The camp is in a wilderness study area so everything has to be packed in and out every winter without the help of motorized equipment. This makes for a unique spot which is well supplied but still primitive and provides a great wilderness experience (as long as you don’t cross into the snowmobile area a couple miles away).

My buddy Austin came up from Silverton with some snowmobiles and we headed to Cooke City for a couple days of sled assisted powder skiing.

Pilot and Index peaks from just below Daisy Pass. We had great weather and snow conditions in Cooke.

Took Dudley out for a ski to watch the sunrise over Cooke City on Sunday.

Then I met up with some friends in Bozeman and headed to the Montana/Idaho border to meet up with more friends from Jackson Hole. We snowmobiled about 10 miles then had another 3 mile hike to the camp. Once there we unpacked and headed into the hills to explore.

Leif scoping his line across the valley from camp.

We skied both the east and west sides of the creek the first two days trying the find pockets of soft snow (we did!). The third day we all headed out to make a summit push for nearby Mount Jefferson (10,208′).

Olly stoked on Mount Jefferson.

Bee stoked after a successful summit mission on the peak behind him. We still had 2000′ vert of good snow back to camp too.

On the last day, we decided that instead of taking the same trail back to the trailhead we would attempt to climb and ski Nemesis Mountain(9,449′). After a fun but circuitous ski tour, we topped out on a large avalanche path. With our heavy packs we opted to stop there and ski the avalanche path back to the valley. The summit would have to wait.

Pat Owen enjoying the last run of the trip, 2000′ vert of perfect corn.

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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.

2012-2013 Ski Season Edit


I know, I know, the ski season is far from over and for me it is really just beginning as the steeps stabilize and access roads melt out. Nonetheless, I figure I should share the footage I collected over the winter in addition to telling the story of how I blew my knee out over a year ago with everyone. So enjoy some helmet cam footage of powder skiing in Southwest Montana.

Music by David Bowie (duh!)

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.

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.

California Springtime


Checking in from Northern California and besides being mega-busy with work I have been trying to get out. I have done some skiing on the nearby volcanoes of Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta. Since I live at a low elevation here in California I am also able get out mountain biking fairly often. Check out this video to get a taste of what my life is like in California (when I’m not at work…).