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danhelmstadter

best of cc.com [TR] Black Peak - NW face 5/19/2012

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Once again... wow! Your TRs never fail to impress and continue to put a new perspective on ski mountaineering. I'm inspired that you raise the bar so high and am content and thrilled to be a spectator. You and Eric are very gutsy and very skilled - what more can I say. Thank you very much for sharing and stay safe!

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Had this face even ever been climbed before?

...

When Gary and I climbed the face, we were climber's left of the central rib. Our route had a step that I don't think would be skiable. I'm guessing that you guys were skier's left of the rib. Correct?

...

Hey Lowell, correct, we were skier's left of the central rib down low; we basically followed the zone of greatest snow in my picture over on Sky's site. I believe skier's right would require a chute, a wing, or some crazy free-ride skills. Tabke?

 

We did some quick research when planning this, which (aside from a rumored attempt) yielded only this: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/322546/ Thanks for providing a little data!

 

One last thing to add: we obviously had a rope and gear, but the snow conditions made their use impractical, and also allowed for safe--if tediously methodical--travel, with deep plunges of the axes or good sticks. I felt a whole lot better once I finally stood on 180cm of steel-edged planks to navigate downward. All to say, the (subtle?) subtext I'm picking up in some posts (that we were crazy or reckless) doesn't foot with my experience of the climb/ski. It certainly didn't feel casual, but not out of control either.

 

Thanks all for the kind comments on Dan's excellent TR.

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I thought you were probably being overly dramatic with the opening description... after looking at the pics, that's definitely not the case. Holy shit dude.. hats off.

 

Dan don't dramatize.

 

Nice one boys. Way to do the Cascades proud.....

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All to say, the (subtle?) subtext I'm picking up in some posts (that we were crazy or reckless) doesn't foot with my experience of the climb/ski. It certainly didn't feel casual, but not out of control either.

 

Thanks all for the kind comments on Dan's excellent TR.

 

I didn't read those remarks as serious intimations about your guys judgement or sanity, rather as an expression of how far outside most folks comfort zone this adventure looks. II think most are aware that skill and experience can make the apparently improbable a feasible proposition.

 

Great pics and report, I always love Dan's write ups. Is it just me, or are we in the midst of a golden age of North Cascade backcountry skiing? Do John Scurlock's aerial photos have the same impact for skiing that they have had on alpine climbing?

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Great pics and report, I always love Dan's write ups. Is it just me, or are we in the midst of a golden age of North Cascade backcountry skiing? Do John Scurlock's aerial photos have the same impact for skiing that they have had on alpine climbing?

 

Great question. From my very limited perspective, the ski descent movement gained momentum and widespread (washington) noteriety starting with Hummel's website, photos, tr's along with Ski Sickness afterwards. They continue to provide motivation to ski fun lines. Scurlock's photos are an additional "tipping point", whose impact can't be underestimated.

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I think Sky and the Hummels' vision and in turn their websites showed a lot of people what was possible in the Cascades ski-wise. A lot like the Skoogs, et al did a generation before minus the internet. It'll be interesting to see what the next generation comes up with.

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thanks Off, true, re-read the thread and decided i was overly sensitive...just a sensitive type i guess :[]

 

you guys pretty much cited the seminal influences for the recent Cascade ski-mtnrng renaissance: from the Skoogs to Scurlock to Sky and the Hummels--all helped publicize what can be done 'round these parts and/or likely places to get after it. The info. not only inspires but definitely reduces the cost for folks seeking adventure, makes for fewer false starts to be sure. Yeah Pete, maybe there will come a day that this face will become like our beloved Slot couloir.

 

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Nice work guys! Was wondering when someone would ski that line....when Jason and I went back in there to ski it way back when we got shut down on the approach trying to get to the base of the face from a little notch on the lower e ridge. Looks like that little traverse there is the crux of the route for sure.

Sick ski!

:rocken::brew:

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I think Sky and the Hummels' vision and in turn their websites showed a lot of people what was possible in the Cascades ski-wise. A lot like the Skoogs, et al did a generation before minus the internet. It'll be interesting to see what the next generation comes up with.

 

There are obviously a bunch of others who contributed to "the vision", and I don't want to railroad this thread into a backslapping recognition of everyone who's ever skied a sick line in the cascades and posted about it, but I want to throw Phil's name into the list of ushers. When I first began searching for partners/inspiration on the web in the early 2000's I came across his posts as often as I came across Sky's and Jason's.

 

I just looked at the photos here again. Still in awe. I like telemarker's "Lebron and Dwayne" reference. "Vallencant and Baud" come to mind as well. Hat's still off boys....

 

Edited by ryanl

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I don't know shit about basketball, but I do take comfort in knowing that world class athletes like Dan and Eric are out there quietly pushing a mainstream sport into a place that most of us can't wrap our heads around, just because they love it. I know Dan, and that's why he does this stuff. I also know of at least a couple of big budget pro skiers who wish that they could get after it like he does using nothing but his 1980's campervan and two legs. If anyone from the skiing industry is paying attention, you should at least hook this fella up with some skis or boots if he wants to take them from you.

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Rowdy! nice going Dan and E$!

 

You need to listen to Cole and label your rig the "Helmstadter Homesteader" - make it fancy with little skis for the "L"s and it will be perfect. You'll see your business go through the roof.

Edited by Blake

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you guys pretty much cited the seminal influences for the recent Cascade ski-mtnrng renaissance: from the Skoogs to Scurlock to Sky and the Hummels--all helped publicize what can be done 'round these parts and/or likely places to get after it. The info. not only inspires but definitely reduces the cost for folks seeking adventure, makes for fewer false starts to be sure.

 

Don't forget Ben Manfredi. I think he was the first in Washington to regularly pursue steep skiing AND publish his trips on his website: http://cascadeclassics.org/

 

The Hummel brothers and Sky got started with Ben.

 

Martin Volken has also been influential due to his writing, guiding and pioneering.

 

There were a small number of skiers who pursued steep skiing in the 1980s and 1990s, but before the Web, nobody knew what they were doing. The Web really changed things, because it created a tight social feedback loop. Improved gear has also made a difference, but I think the web is a bigger factor.

 

The following article from NWMJ #1 discusses the early days:

 

http://mountaineers.org/NWMJ/04/041_Steeps.html

 

That article is pretty out-of-date though. After publishing it I learned about people like Steve Lyford (in Oregon) and Karl Erickson (in Washington) who made descents that almost nobody knew about. They've been added to my alpenglow.org chronologies.

 

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Good point Lowell. Didn't mean to dismiss Ben's impact on modern steep skiing in the Cascades. Wish I'd had a chance to meet him before he died.

 

It's interesting how many of the descents we almost think of as classics, like the Slot on Snoqualmie and the N Face of Buckner, were only relatively recently first skied.

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...before the Web, nobody knew what they were doing. The Web really changed things, because it created a tight social feedback loop...

 

That's certainly true for climbing in the Cascades. Back in the 80's it was only with the annual publication of the AAJ that I'd get a chance to see which of my possible projects those danged Skoogs had scooped. Its almost difficult to remember what life was like when I only had the Beckey guides and a few other friends active in the range.

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thanks Off, true, re-read the thread and decided i was overly sensitive...just a sensitive type i guess

 

I think your sensitivity to criticism here is well founded. It has been my observation that all too often "contributors" monday morning quarterback other's shared adventures and this, unfortunately, has led to a reluctance by some good climbers to post up TR's.

 

I really appreciate your sharing of this TR. The pictures are fantastic. As a climber/non skier, I must say I am more than a bit envious of the things you guys do in such places... What you are doing is significant, and for those of us who cannot reach these places and do these things it is very nice to be able to share in it in this small way.

 

It's difficult to criticize effectively when not on site assessing conditions real time.

 

Lowell: In '79 I was cutting my teeth on the dogshead route on St Helens and you were climbing stuff like this... I hope you're still climbing...

 

d

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yes, beautiful pics.

 

Lunger, is your game more lebron or dwade?

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Great TR - interesting commentary. It'd be interesting to hear from folks operating in other mountain ranges chime in to see if they had something like the same "Renaissance," "Golden Age," etc emerge in the wake of the internet.

 

It sort of feels like they haven't - but I could easily be wrong. If they have folks posting TR's but not a Scurlock equivalent, then maybe it'd be possible to speculate a bit more productively about what specific factors lead to all of the new lines going down here.

 

I'm sort of surprised it hasn't already been mentioned (maybe it's been assumed), but I'd also like to offer the opinion that cascadeclimbers.com also played a role in catalyzing things by providing a central hub for like minded folks to connect and share/record their adventures.

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Great, great work guys. Ross and my attempt there can hardly be counted. We were sent home with our tail between our legs. Obviously you guys did the line proud and that is very cool.

 

The idea of the intensity of descents like this got me thinking too. While I often worry about the risk, when all is said and done, I feel like I've earned my feathers and you guys have too and that risk - while still high - feels like it is much less prevalent now than when I was younger. There is so much information and people that are highly skilled to ski with and draw wisdom from nowadays, not to mention better tools (skis, etc). I know for Ben and my brother, we felt like we were out there on our own. We certainly weren't. It was just that connecting with other like minded souls wasn't easy. The internet made that possible. It created a tighter nit culture that communicated and learned from each other. In the end, I believe that it has made for an educated community. It seem that you can indirectly back this up when you consider the amount of incidents that we have had. While there has been a few very unfortunate falls that I can think of (coleman HW, Liberty Ridge) and a few crevasse falls (Mt. Baker, although not confirmed and Mt. Rainier's Nisqually Glacier), there aren't many other fatal incidents involving skiers in the spring when a lot of ski mountaineering activity occurs. Considering what people are skiing that seems amazing to me.

 

On an aside, I know for Ben Manfredi (whom we met when 16 yrs old) and my brother Josh, we'd hear the Skoogs names a lot back then from skiers we'd meet even as kids on the Muir Snowfields. They were certainly an inspiration for us to forge further afield than we had previously.

Edited by AllYouCanEat

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