Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Grateful Shred - Utah, Canada, and Washington

Well it's been far too long since I've updated this thing, but it's starting to get cold and skiing has been on my mind a lot. I'll be updating this blog a lot more in the coming weeks as we get closer to the season.

Last year, the lower 48 states had a rough snow year to say the least. The Wasatch mountains, like many in the West, developed a persistent weak layer at the bottom of the snowpack that plagued the mountains with dangerous avalanche conditions for most of the year. We also experienced some of lowest snowfall on record.

On top of all that, I took a hard crash in December and sustained a bone contusion in my knee that followed me around for most of the season. After resting and doing physical therapy for six weeks, I was feeling good and joined some friends for the Surface Canada Tour. We hit lots of good spots in B.C. like Whistler, Red Mountain, Revelstoke, and Whitewater. We ran ski demos on the weekends, and got to explore and ski during the week. We ended up staying with our friends at Sweetgrass Productions and got to film with them as well. The snow up north was awesome, and skiing it felt much better on my knee than skiing ice in Utah.

Sunrise to sunset with Eliel Hindert and Nick Mcnutt - one of the longest, best days of the year - Photos: Eric Balken

Photo: Bobby Jahrig

Photo: Bobby Jahrig

Photo: Bobby Jahrig

Whymer Peak - Photo: Eric Balken

Sunset ridge - Photo: Sweetgrass Productions

After spending a month playing in British Columbia, I linked up with photographer Garrett Grove and headed to Washington to ski a storm that was supposed to pound the Pacific Northwest. The storm delivered and we ended up skiing some of the deepest powder of the year at Baker and Stevens Pass. I'll be posting another update for that trip later.

When I finally came back to Utah in March, that same storm in Washington had made its way to the Wasatch and dropped some snow. We had a few good storm cycles and the avalanche danger had tapered off significantly. Conditions were finally good in the home country. My friends and I enjoyed the last month of the season in Utah skiing powder at Alta and Brighton.

Better late than never! Sunrise in the Wasatch - Photo: Eric Balken
Good morning Alta! - Photo: Eric Balken
LCC - Photo: Eric Balken
After a season of such terrible snowpack and numerous avalanche deaths, I was extremely grateful to ski some good snow. In the words of the Rollings Stones - you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.

This is a little video I put together from some of the more powder-rich portions of my season. Nothing too epic, just lots of fun times. Enjoy!
Grateful Shred from Eric Balken on Vimeo.