Monday, November 12, 2012


I've long heard about the ski resort in Dubai.  I've seen it featured in several films, briefly, and often thought how much fun it would be to try it for just one day.  Thanks to Arc'Teryx and Jordan Manley though, you can get a pretty good view of the place, the people, and the experience that it is.  Check out the video:

Then go check out the rest of Jordan Manley's videos over on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Outlook for 2012 Season

As fall fades away and winter is getting a start in much of the NorthEast of the US, most of the people I know have had their thoughts move to the idea of sliding down snow with some wood attached to their feet. I know I have.  I know a lot more have judging by the recent rash of swap meets, snow films, and emails going back and forth between friends.  The fact that ABasin and Loveland both opened already doesn't help.  I can honestly say I'm ready for the season.

NBC News had an article today that seemed to be a nice intro for the season.  The article ( talks about how the ski industry is looking to make a recovery this season after last season's dismal performance.

Lastly, having run into my TD (Technical Director) at one of the gear swaps, I've been informed that his goal for me this season is to finish my next level of certification.  This basically distills down to needing to pass the skiing skills section, as that is all that is left.  He promised to put in all the time I'd like with him to help make that happen.  Then I found out this week that he's stepped down as the TD, and possibly not coming back.  Not sure if that is a good or bad omen for the season.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Okay I know this is an add for Contour and their POV cameras, but it's still a pretty great testimony regarding some of the build quality.  Check out the vimeo site for the full story and links to other stories about it.

Basically, the user got caught in an avalanche two years ago.  He was okay through the process.  Somehow though 2 years later his friends were hiking in the area and found his goggles with the camera still attached.  You can now see the entire thing from his POV.

Fissile April 4 2010 from Lee Lau on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Approaching the 2012-2013 season

It seems yet another summer has come and gone.  We're fast approaching the 2012-2013 season and I'm busy getting back in shape for the season.  This season will see me replacing many of my base layers, socks, and external shell as none of these seemed to survive the spring/summer.  It's bound to happen eventually after the wear and tear many of these pieces are subjected to. 

While in my search for some updated layering techniques, I came across an interesting video on Patagonia's website on layering.  Yes it's mostly an advertisement for their gear, but the basic principles are the same.  Check it out:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Students Have Bad Days Too

Had a first for me in my several years of teaching skiing recently. In my multi-week kids program class, one of my students was having a bad day. All morning he wasn't interested in skiing. By afternoon, he was just not having it. His parents, unable to resolve the issue before the end of lunch, left it to me (and the rest of the class) to work with the student who was now just having a complete fit. At this time it was his goggles which wouldn't stay connected to his helmet (because he hadn't closed the back latch). After a little peer pressure from the other students, he came out to ski, while continuing to complain the entire way to the chairlift. Complaints ranged from his gloves being too hot, his goggles were off center, to his helmet was choking him. Each of these complaints included a complete melt down with tears and lots wailing sobs. At some point the rest of the class got tired of it and started telling him to be quiet, although in less nice terms. After finally reaching the top of the mountain, we had a new problem. Having spent so much time making our way to the chair lift, a storm had rolled in with the wind picking up, lots of snow dropping, and now a cloud arrived to further reduce visibility.

Knowing these students weren't ready for skiing without their primary sense (sight), I made a decision to take a little more advanced trail. The theory was this trail would be wind protected by the trees surrounding it, and usually has some good snow pack on it. In general it's a favorite run of mine most days.

Skiing down to the start, everyone was doing okay a mixture of snow and flat light. Just as we entered the run, one of the other students fell and required some help getting up. After hiking up to help, I return to find my problem student out of his skis, now with his jacket and gloves off, complaining that he was cold. Helping him get his jacket back on, then gloves, he couldn't get his feet in the bindings. This brought on the worst tantrum I've seen to date. Helping him again with the bindings, I started to see the snow changing color to yellow. When I asked the student about this he proudly told me he just peed his pants.

This just set the tone for the rest of the class for me.

Now, complaining about being cold again and wet, he stepped into his bindings in one quick movement, taking off down the hill. Collecting my skis and the rest of the class (who had moved on to sitting on the ground and building snowmen), we tried to follow the tracks to where he had gone, but the wind and snow quickly filled in his tracks. None of us could see where he had gone. Being upset that this kid had already given me a first, I was determined to not let him give me my first lost student. Especially with the conditions steadily getting worse.

The rest of the class and I slowly worked our way down the trail. Turns out my choice was both good and bad. Good because the trees added visibility. Bad because the one technical section had become wind blown ice causing all my other students to be frightened. Keeping an eye out for my now missing student, none of us could see him, and we were quickly losing his tracks due to the refill happening.

At the halfway point one of the stronger skiing students caught sight of the runaway student, and rushed ahead to catch him. When the rest of the class arrived, the now found student was still upset and crying. He was now upset that he had gotten lost.

Lesson learned: if your child really is just having a bad day, don't force them into a group class. They will just make the class miserable for everyone. All my students had the same comments to their parents and me afterwards: they didn't want to ski with the difficult student anymore.

[EDIT: fixed the formatting]

Friday, February 17, 2012

Continuing the blog

A little quiet of an update. I've been wondering recently if it's worth continuing the blog. Basic problem is there seems to be an over abundance of spam comments and replies. I had opted to use blogger because I had hope they would filter it, but it seems even that isn't enough.

Monday, February 6, 2012


I've spent many days out in the snow, usually with a pair of goggles on my face. I've tried the cheap $35 versions up to the higher end $200 version. My general opinion is that the $50 range is the right area to be buying goggles. They tend to work just as good as the more expensive goggles do, they have many of the same anti-fogging features, they cost significantly less so you're not worried if they get destroyed by a wayward student, and tend to last about 3 to 4 years. A few years ago I ran into a case of my goggles dying while on the mountain. Instead of wasting the day in the lodge, I decided to buy a pair at the mountain. In a stroke of luck, the resort was having a massive sale on everything. I was able to pick up a pair of Anon goggles. For the last few years, these goggles have been probably the best pair of goggles I've owned. This last weekend I had the opportunity to teach a class of upper level skiers, all of whom wanted to work on their steep skiing skills. Riding the chair up, everything was good, we reached a steep run to enjoy, and I went first to show what we wanted to work on. Three turns in I find my goggles are fogging pretty badly. By the fifth turn I can't see anything and decide I need to stop. I end up cutting a little too hard, falling, sliding to the bottom of the icy face, and pretty much yelling back not to do that. Taking the goggles off I see that my favorite pair of goggles has now died; moisture can be found between the layers of the lens and that was what frosted up my view. One of the students loans me his extra pair of Smith goggles and we continue the class. I have now been searching my local outdoor stores for a new pair of goggles. It seems none of them carry Anon anymore. Instead I can find Electric, Dragon, Smith, Oakley, VonZipper, Scott, and Spy. Having had a few sets of Spy, I wasn't very impressed with them and will not be buying them again. Anyone know what happened to Anon? Or better yet have a suggestion for an alternate pair of goggles?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

When to buy new gear

I know I've spoken about it before; the continued use of old gear. It's something that happens on a regular basis at every resort. Working as a greater some mornings I'm more amazed at the amount of old gear people come carrying up than anything else. Two weekends ago I was able to witness a couple carrying vintage Raichle Ski Boots in perfect condition. The bottoms looked like they'd seen very little wear, the sides still showed the original paints and what not. It was enough for me to stop them and ask how long they'd had the boots. Sadly the couple couldn't remember, but they loved the boots. As I was preparing for lessons that day in the Kids School, one of the employees from the sales area came walking back. Not terribly unusual but what was in her hand was. She was carrying the cuff to a ski boot. Apparently a family brought their child in for some ski lessons, bringing with them their borrowed gear from a family friend. Their child, once in the ski boot began to walk around, breaking the boot within a few seconds. It took less than a minute for the entire boot to disintegrate in the pay line. By entire boot I mean the plastic, the boot liner, and the buckles. All three were destroyed. The front desk employee brought the boot cuff back to give us warning that "Conan The Barbarian, Slayer of Boots" was about to be signed up for lessons, and left the boot cuff for us to inspect. We all joked about it for awhile, and the general decision had been that whoever gets this child needs an extra cut in their paycheck this week. Then the decision was the boot cuff should be mounted and shown why using old gear isn't the best idea. Ten minutes later I discover that "Conan" is one of the three children in my class. He was actually a fun student. After the class, I arrived at my locker to discover the Kids School had found some polished wood, drilled/mounted the boot cuff, and then hung it outside my locker with a name tag. The makeshift plaque now is going to be used to highlight the instructor who has had the most interesting pre-class story. So far I'm in the lead for 2011/2012.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sometimes it is the gear

Working with children is always a challenge. Even when you ask what you think are the right questions, it doesn't always mean the children will respond with proper answers. For example in my pre-class checks I like to investigate the boot fit as it's not uncommon for people to rent boots too big. I run through a series of pre-class questions that look kind of like this:
    How do your boots feel?
    Are they too tight?
    Where are they tight?
    Can you feel your toes touching the front of the boot? (When standing up)
    Can you try to bend your ankles?
I'll also do some checks where I see what has been stuffed into the boot (socks, jeans, etc) and check space for the shin bone. Often times just adjusting a little bit of the boot tongue is enough to make a tight boot suddenly feel a lot better for kids. This past week I had a student, lets call him Brian, who ran through all of these steps and everything looked okay. As a class we took some time to prepare indoors for wedge and parallel positions, walking, getting in and out of skis, and general starting processes like that. Once the class made it outside, Brian suddenly had all kind of difficulty in moving around on the snow. It wasn't terribly clear to me at first what was going on, or why he couldn't do simple tasks like a straight glide. Some of that was because Brian was a constant ball of movement even when standing still. About half way through the outdoor segment I started to see what was going on, his left leg was inverting at random times. It wasn't clear why but at lunch I had the chance to better inspect what was going on. It was at this point Brian was showing to the other kids in the school that he could turn his boot sideways and pop his foot out of the boot. The Kids School director and I promptly got Brian a new pair of boots that were a few sizes smaller, which made all the difference in his ability to control the leg. It did not however slow down his endless motion.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sarah Burke

This season seems to be off to an awful run. First we have had a complete lack of snow all around in the US (with one storm now dumping a lot on the ground). Now I read that Sarah Burke, Canadian freeskier, has passed away due injuries sustained in her January 10th 2012 accident. Full story can be found here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Just wanted to give a shout out to Justin over at for a quick recover back to a season on the snow.
For those who haven't seen it yet, Sh*t Skiers Say is making the rounds now thanks to Whistler Blackcomb.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Snow?

This has been a topic of conversation for most of this season. For the folks in the West coast the season started early (mid to late November) and then entered a drastic warm spell for December. For the folks on the East coast it's been a lot of warm with man-made snow being used as much as possible. Then a friend sent this little link to an article called Wheres the Snow?. It's an interesting read to see how things are going this season despite it being a La Nina season. Despite my attempts at laughing at the lack of snow, I've come to the conclusion it must be bad. CNN has published an article talking about it as well.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back alive on the blog. This one comes from the folks at Teton Gravity Research (TGR) to remind us to take care in the back country:

Puckerface avalanche from Jamie Culp on Vimeo.

Other details on this slide according to the American Avalanche Institute include a 36-inch hard slab, on a greater than 45 degree angle at about 11:30 am. Thankfully no one was caught in the slide. TGR also provided this interesting link to the current tally of deaths due to avalanche this season: