Dynastar News

Bruce Goodlad - Iceland/ Finnmark

We are all Vikings now….

I’ve always loved to travel and explore new places. As a semi feral 16-year-old I bought an Inter-rail train ticket that let me ride the rails throughout Europe and North Africa for a month and I sucked the experience dry. It felt like quite a thing to step from the Marrakesh Express at 5am, after sharing a carriage with a semi reformed heroin addict from Brixton called Dino, then wander through the city souk to a rising desert sun. Well it was in the early 80’s anyway – and if you didn’t do it to a Crosby Stills and Nash bootleg tape playing on your Walkman then it didn’t count. From that first train journey I was hooked. 

One of the great things about backcountry skiing is that it lets you explore cool parts of the world that you may not otherwise have been on your radar if they didn’t promise fresh snow and untracked peaks. The first time I went to ski in Alaska, I was prepared to be underwhelmed. Having climbed in Denali park a couple of times previously I was pretty unphased at the prospect of day touring the smaller peaks around Valdez. More often than not, I find that reality rarely lives up to the hype: e.g. blockbuster movies, cocktail happy hour, blonde chicks that ski hard… but man, Valdez skiing really is all that. Really good I mean. Take my advice - if you like steep skiing in wild places you really should go to Alaska.

In the last couple of years I’ve become enchanted by exploring mountain ranges closer to home. Last year fellow Avalanche Geek and ‘Titan of Touring’ – (he really hates that title bestowed upon him by Fall Line magazine, so I use it as often as possible) invited me to tail guide with him in Finnmark, a remote region of Arctic Norway a couple of hours drive out of Alta from where the famous Utah ski town namesake took its title.  And I was really impressed, skiing above the ocean is always something very special and confined to just a handful of locations around the planet. 

For a start it confirmed a theory I’ve been developing over the years about a belt of homogenous human culture that circles the northern hemisphere at a latitude of 66 degrees North. My theory runs that at this latitude the culture of nation states has been superseded by man’s need to wear plaid shirts, drive 4.0 litre engine pick up trucks (ideally with a snow mobile on the back), drink copious amounts of bad black coffee and eat hotdogs – lots of hotdogs. I’m not kidding, Norway has the highest hotdog consumption rate in the world per head of population – who knew right? As an avid consumer of American ski culture I felt right at home in northern Norway, the trip felt like a week in Western Canada but with fewer people to poach my ski line. Actually there was nobody to poach my ski line. The only other backcountry skier we encountered all week was greeted like a long lost cousin with the pin number to my dead grandma’s savings account. Frankly the place delighted me.

So this year, I aimed to test my latitude theory further by heading to ski up in the Troll Peninsula of northern Iceland. With EasyJet flying there from a variety of UK airports for the price of a hotel room in Aviemore, it seemed like a good deal. People, I’m here to tell you that it did not disappoint. In many ways it was very reminiscent of skiing in northern Norway but somehow different. The plaid shirts and opportunities to eat petrol station hotdogs sat next to a display rack of chain saw lubricant and HGV windscreen wipers were still in healthy abundance, but the place was somehow a bit rawer…wilder. Raw and wild it may be yet the skiing in the big mountains above oceans is still remarkably accessible. Unlike Canada, there’s no endless thrashing around in the timberline before finally breaking through to the alpine here – the goods start right from the road. 

As with Norway, the eye watering cost of living is best tempered by figuring out some form of self-catering option and the foresight to stock up at the airport duty free. But if you’re heading there with any expectation of having a plan of where you want to ski and the kind of skiing you’d like to do, then it’s probably not going to work for you. 

Matt Spenceley, one of a new generation of outstanding hard charging ski guides the UK is now producing has been to the area previously and together we poured over a map of the northern part of the Troll Peninsula one evening in January. I was hoping for some beta for specific lines,] and I was a little put out when he pointed to a sizable chunk of the map approximately 20km square and pronounced vaguely: ‘This is one of the good areas.’ He wasn’t being deliberately cryptic, you just have to work stuff out for yourself in these places as there are literally hundreds of potential ski lines and link ups. 

See a line from the road that appeals, check it out on the map and Google Earth, then go for it is the style of skiing in these parts. Maps are basic and tough to come by, guidebooks non-existent, and the weather is always going to provide a challenge (it can get a bit Scottish up there). However, if you’re starting to get fed up with the backcountry being the new cool thing and punter types ‘exploring’ the ‘side country’ in the very latest touring boots and bindings on your favourite ski hill, then the likes of Finnmark and Iceland will bring you some of the enchantment of exploration and wild snow skiing that means so much to old geezers like me. It’s that 5am Marrakesh feeling…

Bruce & Mike run guided trips to Finnmark every April and May. They have a growing collection of plaid shirts


Fabienne Suter, 2e de la Coupe du Monde de Descente

Riders in this news :  Fabienne Suter

Avec 4 podiums cet hiver en Descente (Lake Louise, Val d’Isère, Garmisch et St. Moritz lors des finales), Fabienne Suter a réalisé une superbe saison et termine deuxième de la Coupe du Monde de la discipline derrière Lindsey Vonn et devant Larisa Yurkiw.

Bruce Goodlad - Romsdal, Norway

I am a great believer in adaptability in skiing, being able to adapt to the conditions and change plans as conditions and weather change is often the best way to make the most of any time on the snow. As a guide I am always chopping and changing plans and ideas to get the best skiing for my team. Sometimes this may changing valley, having an off piste day instead of touring but last week we got on a plane and changed country and boy were we rewarded.

 

Plan A was to start near Nice and traverse the alp maritime, a season that had given the area a mix of high avalanche conditions then no snow put this plan in jeopardy. With a tem of very experienced ski tourers’ it was going to be a challenge to find a new area with great snow and terrain.

 

I had always fancied visiting the Romsdal area of Norway and luckily have a friend that lives up there so a call to Asbjorn revealed that they were having a great season with snow to sea level and a pretty stable snow pack. With good connections to Alesund we met up and headed for Andalsnes the center of activity in Romsdal. If you haven’t heard of the area it is probably more famous for climbing, the home of the Troll wall the highest rock face in Europe and the stunning Romsdal horn.

 

In winter the area is all about ski touring with one small lift it is all about human powered skiing, the perfect place to unleash my Dynastar Mythics. 9 days later we had skinned and skied more than 10,000m climbed 9 mountains seen the northern lights, eaten salted cod and wetted our appetite for more Norwegian ski adventures.

 

We split our trip into 2 parts 4 days round Andalsnes then 4 days in Sunndalen We started with the classic Kirketaket a solid 1300m day was a solid introduction to the area and quite long for a first day but with coastal mountains you never know when the weather may change. Luckily we were blessed with pretty good weather letting us enjoy the great snow and magnificent juxtaposition of sea and mountains allowing us to tick off the local classics of Skarven, Blanebba, Grontinden and Tarloysa.

 

Suitably warmed up we changed location to Sunndalen where the mountains area bit bigger with 1600m climbs giving some of the longest descents in Norway. Our first big outing on Kongskrona was a bit disappointing after 1600m of navigating we got great snow but difficult flat light most of the way down. We were rewarded on Flotatind the next day where pitch after pitch of perfect powder in the sun left big grins on everyone face. We finished our time in Sunndal skiing Trolltinden, there was only 900m of climbing but 900m of fall line powder skiing was pretty sweet. We tapped into some local advice for a tour on the way back to Alesund and skied Harstadfjellet with some amazing views out to the Atlantic. As we pulled into Alesund it started to rain.


Dynastar très bien placé sur la Pierra Menta

Riders in this news :  William BON-MARDION

Après 4 jours intenses de course, la 31e Pierra Menta s’est terminée ce samedi. William Bon Mardion et Xavier Gachet remportent l’étape du Grand Mont et terminent à la 2e place du Général derrière Mathéo Jacquemoud-Kilian Jornet et devant Michele Boscacci-Robert Antonioli. Chez les femmes, le duo Laetitia Roux-Axelle Mollaret (Dynastar) fait le grand chelem et s’adjuge la victoire finale. 

La dernière étape en video

Xavier Gachet: sa réaction après la course

 

Xavier Gachet & William Bon Mardion wins the last stage....

Posted by La Grande Course on Saturday, 12 March 2016

Couloir skiing with ambassador Lars in La Grave

Couloir skiing

 

La Grave offers a lot of open space and even good tree skiing but what brings people to the mythical French village is the big couloirs on both north and south aspects of the big ridge of Girouse glacier.

 

So what should you be thinking about when tackling a couloir? Almost certainly you will be with a group of friends, so what is important is to always make sure you communicate before you set off about where to regroup and how far it is to reach a safe spot in the couloir. This decision will be based on snow quality and the terrain around you.

 

You should also discuss the distance you want to leave between each skier, agreeing a safe and sensible gap. When you arrive at the top of the couloir it is a good idea to stop with your back to the couloir wall so you can easily look up and downwards without have to twist your head too much, which happens if you are stopping chest towards the couloir wall.

 

Have in mind when skiing that shoulders should be still and it is your hips and legs that are making the turns. Your eyes on the other hand should be on the fall line and not looking at the walls. To make your skiing as fluid as possible always initiate the next turn with your wrist slightly towards the fall line.

 

In soft snow always stay on a good safe spot to avoid surface sluff from other skiers, as well as your own sluff, which can easily grab your skis if not fully under control. If the snow is firm make sure to ski short distances between stops to avoid pieces of snow take other skiers out

 

Traveling in terrain with couloirs needs a lot of focus on temperature rising or dropping. This is to manage the risk of the couloir avalanching, but also to avoid skiing on refrozen snow where a hard glazed layer has formed, making a couloir descent tricky or impossible.

 

But when done in right conditions couloir skiing a reward that's hard to get from any other type of skiing and it makes you want to do it again and again!

 

Lars

 

Swede Lars Ake Krantz is a Dynastar and Lange ambassador and a big mountain skier in La Grave, France.