Backcountry Buzz: Early Season Advice
November 8, 2023
© 2023 by Henry Kvietok
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The snow is starting to fly, CAIC has started the forecast back up, you're done watching your gear collect dust, and you're itching to get out. If you choose to scratch that itch, here are a few things to keep in mind during the early season.
First, welcome to everyone new! I'll be regularly posting backcountry tips, reviews, news, giveaways, interviews, and more! It's always going to be 100% free. I've been trying to think of a name for this series and settled on Backcountry Buzz - if you have a better idea, send it to me, and if I pick it then you'll get a free ski wax from yours truly.
Enough of that - let's dive into the early season tips:
#1 Rock skis, rock skis, rock skis...
Unless I'm missing something, no one has x-ray vision to see rocks and stumps buried under snow. You ARE going to get dings, scratches, and core shots (unless you're somehow 100% sure of what's underneath the snow). Maybe leave your brand new QST Echos behind unless you really don't care about bashing em up.
This blown edge happened on 10/29. Good thing these are my dedicated rock skis!
#2 Ski Conservatively
Now's not the time to be practicing your Nikolai Schirmer straight lining. That buried log could end your season. A crash at slower speeds is a whole lot easier to absorb versus a crash when you're going mach chicken looney speed. I hate to see people getting injured early on in the season. Think long term.
Click the image to see a video of me blowing out the ski edge (seen in the pic above). Notice how I'm skiing relatively slow, which made the crash not that bad. If I had been going faster, I likely would have gotten injured.
#3 Stay light on your feet
Yes, the allure is there to make a strong slash and manufacture a face shot, but doing so is going to drive your ski/board down to the ground where the rocks and dead trees lurk. Chill powder wiggles are the name of the game in early season conditions.
Click the image to watch some early season pow action. I'm not making any huge slashes, instead just small, light-footed turns. This area is also mostly grass at the bottom.
#4 Do the research When the ground is bare (especially during the early season or Fall), take note of any grassy, rock-less, deadfall-less slopes in your area - they're going to be prime once a storm rolls in. This image is from some powder wiggles at a local sledding hill near me (it's a grassy slope). It's perfect for those early season dumps when there is no base.
#5 Use the snow stoke as motivation to get in shape for when it really starts
We're still months away from boot packing couloirs and bottomless pow laps. Add in that extra run, hike, or leg blaster workout, and your body will be thanking you later. Just imagine a perfect pow day... you want to do another lap and feel that magical floating sensation again but your legs are cramping and you're out of breath. Put in the work now and reap the rewards later. Image from a pre-season trail run in the Indian Peaks. Great cardio base training, and a fun time scoping lines!
Made Me Chuckle
Who knew that's how it's done?
October 13th - Luke enjoying some early season turns on a grassy slope. Want to be featured? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me a pic and the date it was taken.
As always, feel free to email email@example.com or DM me directly with feedback, questions, gear recommendation requests (what skis/boots/poles/skins should I buy?), or topics you'd like me to cover in future newsletters. Have a friend that's interested in backcountry skiing? Tell them to sign up here for future editions.
Ski on, and do your snow dances!
Disclaimer: Recreating in the backcountry is inherently dangerous. It is the responsibility of all users to inform themselves of proper backcountry safety protocols, especially in regards to avalanche conditions. It is your responsibility to make your own decisions. I assume absolutely no liability or responsibility for the use of information provided here.