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Skiing on the Antarctic Peninsula

Tyler Reid - December 6, 2015 - Dispatches & Trip Reports
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Photos from an amazing 12 day expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula in mid-November, onboard Sea Adventurer. Starting from Ushuaia, Argentina at the southern tip of South America, we spent two days crossing the Drake Passage en route to the peninsula. For the next six days, we ski toured on different glaciers and islands every day, with our comfortable expedition cruise ship as a base camp.

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A fleet of large Zodiacs shuttled skiers from ship to shore, two groups at a time.

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Our ship, the 331′ long ice reinforced Sea Adventurer.

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Stig skiing on Brabent Island above Chiringuano Bay.

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Waiting for a zodiac pickup at the end of the day, as the storm intensified…

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Finding reasonable shore landings is often times the crux.

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Skiing on Nansen Island.

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Sailing through the super narrow, super dramatic Lemaire Channel.

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Porthole view from the 200 level.

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Christophe, Andrew, and Sharisse on “Mini Mill” Peak.

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30cm of fresh snow on Bluff Island. Powder skiing is especially special in Antarctica.

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Andrew McLean opening up a new run on Bluff Island.

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Chris Davenport and crew on Livingston Island.

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On the Set of Jumbo Wild

Tyler Reid - October 9, 2015 - Dispatches & Trip Reports
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Last winter I got to spend a week working with Sweetgrass Productions on the new Patagonia film, Jumbo Wild. It was super inspiring to work with such a talented crew on such a cool project. Be sure to check out the trailer here if you haven’t already.

Here are some behind the scenes photos of athletes Kye Petersen, Pep Fujas, and Josh Dirksen at work.

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Chile Volcanoes 2015 Dispatches & Photos

Tyler Reid - October 3, 2015 - Dispatches & Trip Reports
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Sept 21 – WARM UP DAY

Greetings from the Suiz Andina in Malalcahuello! Today was our first day with skis on our feet and it was a beautiful one. We rode the lifts at Corralco, a ski area on the lower flanks of Volcan Lonquimay, a training ground for the U.S. Ski Team. Spring snow conditions and the sun shining through ominous clouds made for an ideal day of remembering how to ski. The vibes are super positive in our crew and we’re psyched for what’s to come. Stay tuned…

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Sept 22 – VOLCAN LONQUIMAY

Setting out into uncertain weather today with Volcan Lonquimay as our optimistic feeling objective, I wasn’t convinced we were going to see the top. After three thousand feet of skinning we transitioned to climbing mode, and as cool as it feels to have skis on your back, whippet in hand, crampons on your boots…those skis make great sails in a gusty north wind. We climbed the direct route on Lonquimay and despite having to battle the elements on the way up – wind, diminishing visibility, pelting snow and rime ice coating us head to toe… with a take-it-one-step-at-a-time mentality we managed to ski from the cumbre (summit). It was sort of the opposite of a carefree descent requiring precision whiteout navigation and a few other guide tricks, but before we knew it we were back in Malalcahuello sipping on the legendary pisco sours at the Suiz Andina…well earned. Thanks Lonquimay!

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Sept 24 – SKI TOURING in ARAUCANIA

After an adventurous summit on Lonquimay, the last couple days have been focused on simply ski touring in the beautiful terrain this region offers.

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Yesterday we drove through the longest tunnel in South America to the Las Mellizas range, touring from the base of an abandoned ski area called Los Arenales. We had lunch on a mini summit called Mirador de Los Volcans and our ski descent dropped us into our first close encounter with Araucarias (monkey puzzle trees).

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With 15 cm of new snow and a bit of a break in the weather, today we skied beautiful long laps from another mini summit adjacent to Volcan Lonquimay – warm, smooth powder, definitely the best snow of the trip.
As I type, Sergio is preparing a traditional Chilean asado (barbeque)…an eating experience I have been thinking about for the last year. I have no doubt it will be our best meal of the trip (and the bar has been set high).

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Sept 25 – VOLCAN LLAIMA & SOLLIPULLI

With Sergio’s 4×4 driving skills playing a crucial role, yesterday our Hyundai van plowed through the 20 cm blanket of new snow over the road to Las Araucarias, a ski area at the base of Volcan Llaima. It felt like full blown winter leaving the parking lot – snow falling from the sky… We decided to take the optimistic approach and see if we could potentially climb out of the clouds. After an hour or so we were at the top of the ski area, with no reference points above. We were able to fit five of us in a tiny unused lift shack, and I did what I usually so when times are uncertain: put on some reggae. With my iPhone as the sound system and Chronixx filling the air, it was the ideal “out-chill the situation” maintenance break. Properly fueled and motivated, we ascended into the whiteness above. Hours later we found ourselves in the parking lot, this time Sergio’s Hyundai as the sound system, Protoje filling the air, cervezas in hand, smiles on our faces… Llaima (and the weather) said no yesterday, but what a positive day in the mountains it was.

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Yesterday evening we drove to another mountain, the Hyundai taking us up and up and up a steep lava rock road in 4LO, into a mysterious and remote mountain jungle. Out of the mist appeared Sollipulli Lodge, a place that inspires your childlike imagination. “Eco lodge” is probably the best term to describe this place – each room is its own incredible yurt-like pod situated on a lagoon, with other beautiful alternative structures connected by boardwalks. Mountain jungle living, combined with incredible comfort, and incredibly gracious hosts – the father and son duo Christian and Robert.

Sollipulli is a volcano with an expansive crater that similar to Crater Lake in Oregon and was once much taller before collapsing inward on itself. This morning we had a beautiful ascent to the summit, using a variety of ski mountaineering skills along the way. The weather was in and out, but eventually we found ourselves back in the “viento blanco” – low visibility, annoyingly windy, snowing…

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I learned a new tactic on Sollipulli for terrain reference in whiteout conditions. When you’re in the lead, it can be hard to know what sort of terrain you are on, or about to walk into, and guides will use various tricks in these conditions to ensure they’re not leading the group off a cornice or into a crevasse. These are low tech solutions like throwing snowballs, casting a piece of cord tied to your ski pole like a fishing rod…or bringing along a pack of three golden retrievers who follow you all the way to the summit, clearly loving every minute of it, while also providing valuable terrain reference. These Sollipulli dogs were amazing, and also very competent in the winter alpine environment.

Our Sollipulli descent ended in a wood-fired hot tub next to a crystal clear river, an ideal place to relax in the late afternoon rain.

Sept 30 – VOLCAN LANIN

My last experience on Volcan Lanin was two years ago, and it was severely windy. Since then I’ve yet to talk to anyone who has had a calm experience on this mountain.

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Two days ago as our team was climbing a steep gully, with 7,000’ of vertical relief above us, that Lanin wind taunted us. The weather forecast called for things to calm down in the late afternoon, but weather forecasts in southern Chile should be read with a degree of skepticism – there’s simply a lack data points in these parts to expect much accuracy.

At 3:30 in the afternoon I thought to myself, we’ll give it 45 more minutes. The wind needs to mellow out significantly. And we need to find a safe place to camp. Basically some alignment of the stars, or we’re going to have to retreat to the monkey puzzle forest…

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At 4:15 I scampered up the steep edge of the gully while our group took a break under a rock outcrop. On a protruding ridge I stumbled upon a perfect, safe, snowy ledge carved out by that Lanin wind. And then I thought wait a minute – where’s the wind? Gone.

We had an amazing evening camped in our fortified perch, looking out on dramatic cloud layers. Darkness turned to what felt like daytime, with a very full moon illuminating our tent walls.

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The next morning we started climbing – kicking steps in the frozen snow with crampons on our boots.

Our Chile Volcanoes trip landed in the middle of a very unsettled weather pattern here in Araucania. 1,500’ above our camp on Lanin, the snow started to fall, the wind started to blow, the clouds came in, and my attention started to turn from my surroundings to my GPS.

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Time to go down. Good thing skiing is so much fun in and of itself. We were smiling big by the time we rolled into camp, and smiling bigger by the time we hit the snow line on the lower flanks of the mountain. 3000’ or so of perfectly smooth corn…

Thanks Chile for 8 awesome days of skiing, and thanks Lonquimay and Sollipulli for allowing us to visit your summits. Llaima and Lanin…we’ll be back next year. And thanks to our awesome Chile 2015 crew: JP, Stephen, and Wendy. And a special thanks to our amazing local outfitter and guide, Sergio Perez.

Join us in 2016! Learn more here.

Wapta 2015 Photos: Seven Summits

Tyler Reid - May 9, 2015 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Evening light on Mt. Baker, Wapta Icefields

We had great weather and a strong, ambitious crew on our early May 2015 Wapta Icefields Traverse in the Canadian Rockies. Over the course of 6 days we climbed and skied seven summits including Mt. Habel (evening ascent), Mt. Rhondda, Mt. Gordon, Mt. Olive, Little Crowfoot, and two unnamed peaks. That’s a new record for me… We also skied a few steep descents including Vulture Col, the Diablaret Glacier to the valley, and an amazing evening run below Mt. St. Nicholas. Snow quality was very high for May, including numerous powder runs, smooth corn, and everything in between. Thanks to JP, Kim & Colin for an awesome trip. Here are a few photos:

Mt. Habel, Wapta Traverse

Nearing the summit of our first peak, Mt. Habel, around 7pm.

Ski tracks below Mt. Rhondda and Mt. Habel, Wapta Traverse

Ski touring on the Wapta Icefields

Climbers on Mt. Baker, Wapta Icefields, AB

A couple new Canadian friends across the way on Mt. Baker

Powder skiing on the Wapta Traverse

Beautiful ski summit on the Wapta Traverse

Glacier skiing on the Wapta Traverse

Ski tracks on the Wapta Icefields

Our 2nd peak of the trip (upper right). You can see our tracks off the summit.

Skiing Mt. Rhondda on the Wapta Traverse

Peak #3, Mt. Rhondda. This was a two peak day.

Skiing Mt. Rhondda on the Wapta Traverse

Skiing Mt. Rhondda on the Wapta Traverse

Touring between the Peyto Hut and the Bow Hut on the Wapta Traverse

Skiing Mt. Gordon on the Wapta Traverse

Smooth glacier turns on peak #4, Mt. Gordon.

Descending Vulture Col between the Bow Hut and the Balfour Hut

Descending Vulture Col between the Bow Hut and the Balfour Hut

Vulture Col, skiing the bed surface of an intentionally triggered loose wet avalanche.

Skiing below Mt. Balfour on the Wapta Traverse

Skiing on the Diableret Glacier, Wapta Traverse

Steep skiing on the Wapta Traverse

Steep and warm.

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Looking up after a 2,000′ descent off the Diableret Glacier.

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Ski mountaineering on the Wapta Traverse

Team photo on our 5th peak of the trip (unnamed).

Climbing Mt. Olive on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Climbing our 6th peak of the trip, Mt. Olive.

Skinning below Mt. St. Nicholas on the Wapta Icefields

Skiing on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Getting ready for an amazing evening descent below Mt. St. Nicholas.

Skiing below Mt. St. Nicholas on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Skiing below Mt. St. Nicholas on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Skiing below Mt. St. Nicholas on the Wapta Icefields Traverse

Admiring our tracks the next morning.

Ski touring on Little Crowfoot Mountain on the Wapta Traverse

Ski touring on Little Crowfoot Mountain on the Wapta Traverse

Ski touring on Little Crowfoot Mountain on the Wapta Traverse

Sparkly glacier turns from peak #7, Little Crowfoot.

Skier dropping off a windlip on the Wapta Traverse

Learn more about the Wapta Traverse here.

Three Weeks in the Wrangells: Part 2

Tyler Reid - April 29, 2015 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Our second trip included quite the cast of characters from the Olympic Peninsula. Our plans of camping high on a glacier were thwarted by a terrible weather forecast, but the silver lining had us setting up our base camp in a region that’s been at the top of my list to explore. We had a lot of tricky weather, but got out every day, and later in the trip had some truly spectacular days of Super Cub assisted plane skiing. Huge thanks to Jay Claus for the hospitality, and along with pilot Steve Davidson (both of Ultima Thule), putting us in some truly amazing terrain.

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Plane skiing in Wrangell St Elias NP

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Plane skiing in Wrangell St Elias NP

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Plane skiing in Wrangell St Elias NP

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Plane skiing in Wrangell St Elias NP

Skiing in Wrangell St Elias National Park, Alaska

Plane skiing in Wrangell St Elias NP

Three Weeks in the Wrangells: Part 1

Tyler Reid - April 27, 2015 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Photos from two base camp ski trips in one of my favorite places in the world, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. We had two groups on two separate 9 day trips in two different zones, and each was amazing in its own way.

It was a heavy feeling time to go to the Wrangells, with the loss of a legendary guide and amazing human being, Peter Inglis, better known as Pi, the day before we would get on a plane to Alaska. Pi was strong in our thoughts every single day and we felt his presence in these incredibly remote mountains.

Our first trip was with Dennis, Terry, and Clarinda from Idaho (Dennis and Terry had been on the Wapta Traverse with us the year before). Leaving Anchorage, the weather was not looking promising for mountain flying: strong winds and flat light. But with a little luck combined with the immense talents of Jay and Steve of Ultima Thule Lodge, by 7:30 that evening we were landing on a frozen lake in one of my favorite areas.

Andrew McLean termed this zone the “Slotterhouse” in a recent Powder Magazine article. He was kind enough to lend us his Chinese made, Duraflame log burning tent stove, which with some jury rigging integrated nicely with our Eddie Bauer Pantheon Dome tent (don’t try this at home… or do). Most skiers and climbers don’t get to enjoy the luxury of a heated base camp tent, but this system was successful enough to be worth repeating (which we’d do on the next trip).

Conditions in the Wrangells were in some ways similar to conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Shockingly thin at lower elevations, with surprisingly good coverage at upper elevations – a stark dividing line.

Photos from this first trip:

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Ski touring in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Three Weeks in the Wrangells: PART 2 >

New Mt. Adams Programs

Pacific Alpine Guides - March 14, 2015 - News
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Flying over Mt. Adams en route to Chile last fall.

We’re excited about the addition of another big, classic, cascade volcano to our lineup of programs for 2015: Mt. Adams, 12,281′. Through a competitive application process, Pacific Alpine Guides was awarded one of two permits to guide routes on the north side of the mountain.

Options range from the no-experience-necessary North Ridge, to steep snow and ice routes like the Lava Glacier Headwall, North Face of the Northwest Ridge, and the Adams Glacier.

Learn more on the new Mt. Adams page, and come join us this summer!

Winter in the Selkirks: Rogers Pass

Pacific Alpine Guides - February 21, 2015 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

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Photos by Julian Hanna and Tyler Reid from two Rogers Pass trips in late January. It’s been a tough winter for the Pacific Northwest, a record-bad snow year for the Olympic Mountains, and overall a strange pattern for North America, but conditions have been pretty darn good in interior British Columbia.

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Olympic Mtns Late Dec Ski Conditions

Tyler Reid - January 1, 2015 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

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Happy New Year!

We’ve spent 5 out of the last 6 days skiing in the Hurricane Ridge zone and over the course of that time found some really good skiing. We’ve seen the full evolution from “thin but skiable” to ankle deep powder, to really good powder skiing, to widespread wind affect, to entering spring mode. Overall, even though we’re still well below normal, we have twice the snowpack we had at this time last year. We’ve had a lot of NE winds in the last week which is counterintuitive for where the good skiing usually is, but the upside is this has loaded more snow on the sunny aspects that need it. All in all things are off to a decent start up there and hopefully this next warm spell passes quickly so we can get back to powder skiing.

Some GoPro footage:

Here are a few photos of terrain:

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Searching For Winter in the Coast Mountains

Tyler Reid - December 23, 2014 - Dispatches & Trip Reports

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Photos from a quick searching-for-winter mission up to Keith’s Hut in the Coast Mountains near Pemberton, BC with Billy, Katrina & Katy

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