Apr 302014
 
Celebratory toast

Celebratory toast

For over 12 years, Sun Valley Trekking has run an internship program during the winter season. The goal of the program is to provide training and mentorship to aspiring ski guides. The “job description” is to : Ski from hut to hut throughout the winter, maintain hut supplies, gather snow and stability information, develop personal backcountry ski technique and experience, assist on guided trips as porters and tail guides and seek mentorship and skill development with the SVT Guide Team. Over the years, many interns have returned for a second year to continue this progression and many graduates of the program are working as professional ski and mountain guides today. We often finish the season with an “Intern Final Exam” designed to test the skill and experience developed over the season. There are two styles of exam open to the interns: to guide the guides or to be guided by the guides. Both styles can help push the learning envelope and provide a rewarding experience. This years team: Trudy, Toby, Niels and Alisa chose to guide SVT guides: Joe St.Onge and Chris Marshall on a particularly snowy late April tour in the alpine Smokey Mountains. Powder, white-out navigation, steep skiing and a Chinese Downhill tested the interns’ skill and grit and was followed by the end of the season Guide Games back in town. Good stuff!

April white-out

April white-out

Stoked Toby, taking the lead.

Stoked Toby, taking the lead.

Heading toward Peak

Heading toward Peak

Chris giving feedback on route finding and group management

Chris giving feedback on route finding and group management

The higher you get...

The higher you get…

Into the Alpine

Into the Alpine

Trudy, taking over the lead for the third descent of the day

Trudy, taking over the lead for the third descent of the day

April Pow!

April Pow!

Yehaw!

Yehaw!

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Alisa guiding a particularly challenging (and sweet) ski line

Alisa guiding a particularly challenging (and sweet) ski line

the Team

the Team

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wow!

wow!

Francie opening the "Guide Games"

Francie opening the “Guide Games”

Making the Toast!

Making the Toast!

Fun for all ages!

Fun for all ages!

Brian, showing grit.

Brian, showing grit.

Chris and Pato were an unbeatable pair!

Chris and Pato were an unbeatable pair!

Dec 122013
 
Francie, Chris, Marc, Pato and JP: an awesome collection of ski guides!

Francie, Chris, Marc, Pato and JP: an awesome collection of ski guides!

Every winter the guides of SVT gather to run training seminars and workshops. Typically we focus on particular goals at each training, dusting off skills, sharing lessons and tricks and evaluating how to do things better and more efficiently. This years early season training was focused on winter rescue. We discussed and practiced avalanche rescue, emergency shelters and stoves, 1st aid and then ran 3 separate sled evacuations off Titus Ridge to the trailhead. Check out the photos below to get ideas for different possibilities and approaches to addressing a forced bivy or having to evacuate a partner with a broken leg.

The familiar and always beautiful ski up Titus Ridge in the morning cold

The familiar and always beautiful ski up Titus Ridge in the morning cold

Niels hauling the SKED rescue sled

Niels hauling the SKED rescue sled

Brooks Range tarp emergency shelter as a pyramid

Brooks Range tarp emergency shelter as a pyramid

Francie using a Mega-Light, a deluxe emergency shelter.  Note the hot brews made with a sterno and ski poles.

Francie using a Mega-Light, a deluxe emergency shelter. Note the hot brews made with a sterno and ski poles.

Ed nailing a spacious and comfy emergency shelter with an 8x10 tarp and some trees.

Ed nailing a spacious and comfy emergency shelter with an 8×10 tarp and some trees.

Chris checking out Pato's shelter, beta-mid style.

Chris checking out Pato’s shelter, beta-mid style.

Pato's emergency stove. Simple: a sterno, tin can and metal water bottle will get the job done.

Pato’s emergency stove. Simple: a sterno, tin can and metal water bottle will get the job done.

JP using the brooks range tarp in another configuration

JP using the brooks range tarp in another configuration

Looking almost like a planned camp.

Looking almost like a planned camp.

Chris showing how a Alpine Threadworks tarp/sled can work for a simple shelter.

Chris showing how a Alpine Threadworks tarp/sled can work for a simple shelter.

Brooks Range all-in-one tarp/sled in a simple trough structure.

Brooks Range all-in-one tarp/sled in a simple trough structure.

Joe, demoing this simple emergency shelter and stove.

Joe, demoing this simple emergency shelter and stove.

Kyle with the 8x12 trap as a mid.

Kyle with the 8×12 trap as a mid.

Niels, improvising with no extra gear or tarp.

Niels, improvising with no extra gear or tarp.

Chris and Marc packaging Francie in an Alpine Threadworks sled.  Simple, quick and a guide favorite on the tests.

Chris and Marc packaging Francie in an Alpine Threadworks sled. Simple, quick and a guide favorite on the tests.

Ed and Niels constructing the standard Brooks Range sled.

Ed and Niels constructing the standard Brooks Range sled.

Packaged and descending in a SKED litter/sled.

Packaged and descending in a SKED litter/sled.

Fairly tight and comfy in the SKED.

Fairly tight and comfy in the SKED.

The SKED slides the best.

The SKED slides the best.

The SKED requires good braking on steep slopes.

The SKED requires good braking on steep slopes.

Feb 292012
 

The “earn” in backcountry skiing’s notorious phrase, “Earn Your Turns,” is almost entirely directed to the act (if not art) of skinning uphill. For those who are not familiar with “skinning,” skiers and splitboarders adhere a nylon strap to the bottom of their skis in order to climb uphill. Each skin has been fabricated to hold millions of tiny hairs engineered so that they lay flat and in one direction which allows for uphill gliding only; the hairs catch/grab the snow as it starts to slide downhill, stopping the ski.

Skinning, while aerobic, can range from incredibly easy (on the flats), to strenuous (deep snow), to precarious and even life threatening (if you slip on hard snow or ice). As backcountry skiers and boarders contour up a mountainside, every so often it becomes necessary to change direction due to obstacles or hazards or a slope to steep to make a gradual turn–thus, the kick-turn. Our IFMGA guide and master kick-turner, Mark Puleio, shows us in this first post (of two) how to make the perfect kick turn:

For Hard/Firmer Surface Conditions:
Step #1: Ski past where you want to turn and make a flat platform
Sun Valley Trekking guide Mark Puleio shows how to kick turn while backcountry skiing.

Step #2 Clear the uphill ski of snow and turn 180 degrees
Sun Valley Trekking guide Mark Puleio shows how to kick turn while backcountry skiing.

Sun Valley Trekking guide Mark Puleio shows how to kick turn while backcountry skiing.

Step #3 Place uphill ski flat/level in the new direction of travel
Sun Valley Trekking guide Mark Puleio shows how to kick turn while backcountry skiing.

Step #4 Transition weight onto uphill ski
Sun Valley Trekking guide Mark Puleio shows how to kick turn while backcountry skiing.

Step #5 Flex downhill hip back, allowing the downhill ski tip to rise
Sun Valley Trekking guide Mark Puleio shows how to kick turn while backcountry skiing.

Step #6 Bend downhill knee slightly and pivot ski along boot cuff to turn in new direction
Sun Valley Trekking guide Mark Puleio shows how to kick turn while backcountry skiing.

Step #7 Skin off in your new direction!
Sun Valley Trekking guide Mark Puleio shows how to kick turn while backcountry skiing.

Subscribe to our blog or come back soon to catch our second part regarding kick turns as Mark will show you techniques to help those ski partners who need a little support when kick-turning.

 Posted by at 8:22 PM
Feb 292012
 

Yesterday, Mark Puleio (IMFGA) and Joe St.Onge took the Sun Valley Trekking guides and interns out for a refresher training day and to test out their Outdoor Research technical clothing. Craig Wolfrom was along to capture images of the lessons which included aiding guests while skinning and kick-turning, self arresting, kicking steps, short roping in 3rd and 4th class terrain, as well as building a sled with skis and lowering an injured skier. The terrain Joe and Mark chose proved the perfect challenge and every lesson was completed flawlessly.

Mark showing how to use a runner clipped to a backpack to assist a kick-turn:
A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

Interns taking notes while Joe goes over proper ice-axe placement:
A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

Mark and Joe going over proper body positioning and ice-axe placement for self-arresting:
A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

Short-roping in mixed terrain:
A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

Joe belays Shane up to a stance:
A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

Climbing and belaying through mixed terrain:
A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

After building an “T” anchor, Mark lowers a party down a steep and narrow chute:
A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

Guides building a rescue sled:
A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

Guides practice lowering an injured skier:
A photograph from a guide training day with Sun Valley Trekking.

 Posted by at 10:39 AM