Friday, February 11, 2011

My first post for the La Sportiva White Room is all about anticipation.


The 2010-2011 winter season has already given so much, and I've spent the last 2 1/2 months primarily in Squaw and the Tahoe backcountry, my longest unbroken stretch in the United States in more than 10 years. With over 300 inches of snow in November and December, there were plenty of powder days, and a great base for all our backcountry ski adventures around the lake and down the East Side of the Sierra.


But now, part 2 of my winter begins. And I'm pretty excited about it. What do I have to be anticipating?


First, leaving for Chamonix, France on Tuesday. I've spent part or all of the last 5 ski seasons in the Alps, and my time there is always a huge highlight of my year. Of course the ski terrain is unbelievable - 9,000 vertical foot lift-served backcountry lines! up to 12,000 vert if you're willing to hike for it! countless steep faces, rock walled couloirs, endless glacier terrain! And then add to that beginning the day with croissants and cafe au lait, a midday break at mountain huts for 5 course gourmet lunches, and finishing with fondue, racelette, and great cheap Rhone wines... what's not to anticipate?


Second, I'll be heading directly from Chamonix for a couple of weeks heli-skiing in Valdez, Alaska in the beginning of March. More to come on this, but suffice to say there will be powder!


Third, March finishes with a long flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. Once again I will be guiding and climbing the tallest mountain on Earth, Mt. Everest. This season there will be a couple of additional twists - I am trying to combine the climb of Everest with an early season climb of the world's fourth tallest peak, Lhotse. And I'll be throwing some brand new ski gear into my yak loads hoping to put some ski days in up high on Everest and Lhotse.


This new ski gear is the other reason for all my anticipation. Before I leave for Cham next week I should be receiving my new La Sportiva 188 Hi5 skis with RT bindings! I skied the setup a couple of weeks ago in Utah at this winter's Outdoor Retailer show and was super-impressed. The Hi5 is a big mountain ski capable of handling all conditions from pow to crud to mank (everything you inevitably see on a 9,000 foot descent off the Aiguille de Midi), and combined with the 175 gram RT bindings, it's still light enough to tour with in the big mountains. Starting next week, this will be my go-to setup. I'll be posting here in the White Room pics and my impressions as I run them through their paces in Chamonix, Alaska, and the Himalaya... stay tuned!


-Adrian Ballinger, Alpenglow Expeditions

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