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  • Writer's pictureHenry Kvietok

Backcountry Buzz: New Year's Ski Trip Report

January 19th, 2024

© 2024 by Henry Kvietok

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Happy 2024! I hope your year is full of bottomless powder turns :)

For this month’s newsletter, I want to write up a “Rose - Thorn - Bud” report from my ski road trip that I recently got back from. A rose is something that went great, a thorn is something that could have gone better, and a bud is something I'm looking forward to.


As a brief summary: I, along with quite a few awesome friends, got to ski in Utah at Alta, ski a bucket list line in Nevada (Terminal Cancer!), and then ski in California at Palisades and in the backcountry around Lake Tahoe. All in all, the trip was a total success; however, we all definitely learned a bunch along the way. I hope you find it entertaining, but also useful for when you plan your own next big ski trip!


Before we get into it, I am stoked to announce that this month’s newsletter is sponsored by Eldora! I’m sure many of you are familiar with the mountain, but I wanted to share a bit about my experience.


With such a convenient location just 40 minutes West of Boulder, Eldora is honestly where I get most of my skiing in. It’s never crowded when I go up midweek and they have an awesome uphill access program - ideal for fitness laps or just to get outside and test your equipment in a safe environment.


Plus, if your job is somewhat flexible/remote at all (or not - I’m not your boss!), I highly recommend coming up to ski and work from the lodge. Every Thursday and first Friday of the month, they have a dedicated coworking space setup in the West Wing lodge with fast internet, giveaways, and networking. I generally will get up there pretty early and ski some fresh corduroy (or powder if we’re lucky) for a few laps, work a bit during the middle of the day, and then finish off with a few final laps before driving home - not a bad day at the “office”!

Feel free to hit me up if you’re ever at Eldora for uphilling or lift laps- chances are that I’m there. Pic from the other morning!


Now, the trip report!


Roses / Highlights

Terminal Cancer Couloir


When we first began planning this trip mid-last year, I knew that we’d be driving in the vicinity of this famous line. Our route from Salt Lake City took us right through Elko, Nevada and from there it was only about 1 hour of extra drive time. The only things that had to line up was the weather and snow conditions, so we opted to mark it as a tentative stop on the trip.


About a week before we left, I saw a report from Miles Clark at SnowBrains that he had skied it. Not that this meant it would be safe for us to ski it a week later, but it did indicate that there was enough snow (even on this lower snow year).


At that point, we began diligently monitoring temperatures, new snows, and wind for the area. When we arrived and did some snow tests, we felt confident moving forwards. The bootpack was a bit of a wake up after driving for 4 hours, but it was all worth it. It’s such a unique line, and I feel really grateful that Luke and I got to ski it.


Here's a video of Luke & I skiing the line - not much to do other than jump turn!

New Year’s Day Ski Tour


With a group of 6 at all different experience levels (and hangover levels), we wanted to do a chill, high value tour. We opted to head up Tamarack Peak and it was an absolute blast.


The pace was totally conversational, the sun was out, and we had a beautiful view of Lake Tahoe. Sure, the skiing was subpar but that didn’t matter.


At the top, Luke & Grant ski-sabred a bottle of champagne, and we had some delicious charcute-ski snacks.

I could name several more roses (like Colin letting a big group crash at his studio apartment for a week!), but we'll move on...


Thorns / Lowlights

Snow Conditions (kinda)


Aside from a 9” powder day on our last day in California, we were skiing pretty hardpack, low tide conditions (oh boo hoo Henry poor you).


But, hey, skiing is skiing no matter what the conditions are, and we still had an absolute blast. Plus, warmer temps and not a ton of snow made for safer avalanche conditions.


Low tide ≠ low fun!

The Stench...


We weren’t really able to laundry the whole trip, so those poor ski socks were borderline chemical warfare after Day 3 of wearing them.


Anyone have any good tips for this?


Pic of our car loaded up with all of our stinky gear!

And finally, the Buds / What I'm Looking Forward To

Bootpacking Season in Colorado


Aside from some occasional green light periods during midwinter, true ski mountaineering time doesn’t start in Colorado until later in the season when the snowpack has stabilized.


Getting to boot a line in December has me stoked for the season to come!

Continuously Improving My Own Skiing


Blah blah blah people at Palisades rip blah blah Olympic Valley blah blah - umm, the rumors were right.


While lapping Siberia lift (see image), we consistently watched skier after skier send backflips, corks, and all sorts of sick cliffs. Plus, getting to see the famous palisades rock formation in person really puts all those videos I’ve seen into perspective.


Seeing all this has me stoked to keep progressing!


Thanks again to everyone that made this trip possible! It was the perfect way to ring in the New Year. I hope you have some awesome ski plans to look forward to this year and, if you don’t, then now’s the time to round up your friends and start scheming.


Before I go, Made Me Chuckle and Subscriber Stoke. Keep those photos coming in! I love to see what people are getting after.

Made Me Chuckle

Click to view Instagram post.


A couple drops of ptex will do the trick...

Subscriber Stoke

January 14th - Ryan's there for first tracks! Want to be featured? Email or Instagram DM me a pic and the date it was taken.


As always, feel free to email or DM me directly with feedback, questions, gear recommendation requests (what skis/boots/poles/skins should I buy?), newsletter sponsorship requests, 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!

Best, Henry

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.

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