by Seth Lightcap. posted on 10 April
March roared in like a lion! Storms pummeled the Alps, Tetons and Sierra the first week of March and got a lot of shredders hopes up for a big month of serious dumpage. As it turned out, ’Miracle March’ did not live up to expectations, but it did snow a little bit, a lot of places. Here’s some shots from where our team and ambassadors found the fluff in March:
Alpine playground in Kosovo. Photo - Forrest Shearer
Luca Pandolfi (@pandolf73) went couloir hunting in the Italian Dolomites.
Luca charges into the Dolomiti mist. Photo - (@rickybrussa)
Splitboard guide Neil Mcnab (@neilmcnab)led a ’Backcountry Steeps’ course in France and Italy. Here’s his crew enroute to a line.
Chris Yapp cashes in on Mcnab’s masterful powder hunting skills.
Claudia flashed the steep line on the left in Telluride.
Jumping back across the Atlantic...check out this epic sunset Sten Smola (@sten_smola) caught on a splitboard mission in the Swiss Valais.
Another stunning scenic shot from Sten’s home turf in the Swiss Valais.
Miikka Hast (@miikkaphoto) chased pow to Northern Norway in March. Here he’s on the hunt in the Lyngen Alps.
An incredible northern lights show danced across the sky one night Miikka was camping in Senja.
We’ll leave off with a teaser to the April team powder report...it’s AK season! Chris Coulter (@chris_coulter) snapped this insane spine wall shot in Haines, AK.
by Seth Lightcap. posted on 7 April
Stoked to share a trip report from American Avalanche Institute Instructor and Bozeman splitboard guide Clark Corey. Clark is one of the most prolific splitboarders in the Northern Rockies and has explored all over Idaho and Montana on a Jones Solution. Here’s a report from an adventurous line he found last season in the Spanish Peaks of Montana:
South face of Beehive Peak
Story and Photos by Clark Corey
Some lines draw your attention because they are plum, clean, obvious and meant to be. Others perk your interest because of the mystery, because they do not go clean and you wonder how it would go down and in some cases how you would get off. These are fun because it involves creativity, a sense of adventure, and sometimes a sense of humor. The South face of Beehive Peak in Montana would be one of those lines.
Last season, long time ski-partner Drew Pogge and myself got to explore one line which we’d wondered about for several years on Beehive. The South face is really just a hanging ribbon of snow which skirts a 600 foot sheer rock face before abruptly ending in outer space. Not a whole lot of room for riding, but plenty of room for imagination and “what if’s?”. On some years the line isn’t filled in at all, and other years only for a short period of time.
On numerous occasions while riding various lines off and around Beehive we’d looked up and wondered; always trying to imagine how it would feel and where you would exit. Then one day I was talking with ski legend Tom Youngst about Beehive (who had pioneered other lines on the peak) and he mentioned the line. He too, had wondered about it, and always “imagined what it would be like”, but had never gotten around to it in his hay day. Although he didn’t have an intentions of skiing it now, he was clearly still excited about it and his enthusiasm was infectious. Drew and I started calling it “Tom’s face”. If nothing else, we had to ride it now so that we could tell Tom what it was like!
The climb up the backside is a fun adventure in and of itself. The route weaves around various snow plastered rockbands, past gendarmes and than ends in a short 5th class move and airy ridge to the summit.
We made calculated turns riding the upper snowfield. Snow was sun softened, smooth and creamy. Photo (above/below) by Drew Pogge.
We anticipated that finding the anchor would be the trickiest part, as the rest was pretty straight forward: climb the peak, drop into the snowfield that dead ends in a huge cliff. After all, it was fairly committing as you had to ride down right to the very bottom of the snowfield, and there were some unknowns about the anchor. However, we knew the rock on Beehive peak’s south face is good quality, with lots of featured cracks and blocks so we knew there had to be something solid. Via recon pictures and on the approach, we had identified a nice spot to pull up and assess how to get off, and when Drew skied up he quickly saw a perfect rock horn. One sling and 100 feet of rappelling later we were safety standing in the top of the Forth of July couloir. For once in life, things couldn’t have worked out any better.
After we were down in the basin we did laugh looking back up because there wasn’t a ton of riding off the top, and it almost seemed silly for all the effort and to risk falling off the south face just for a short amount of turns. However, this wasn’t about attaining maximum vertical for the effort, or picking the line with the best fall line riding. It was more about the overall adventure – summiting a cool peak, making turns in a wild place, piecing it all together and figuring it all out.
by Seth Lightcap. posted on 2 April
Exciting news to share! In December 2014 we asked our family of international Jones ambassadors to submit trip proposals for a new Jones grant award. This First Annual Jones Adventure Grant was awarded in January 2015 to the trip proposal that best showcased the spirit of exploration and the drive to discover and shred epic wilderness terrain. We are thrilled to now announce the winner of the 2015 Jones Adventure Grant and share a glimpse of the successful winning expedition that has already gone down.
So without further ado, please give it up for 2015 Jones Adventure Grant winner MITCH TOELDERER who led an expedition in February to the "Accursed" Albanian Alps!
Where the heck are the Albanian Alps you ask?! Here’s the lowdown from Mitch about this stunning off-the-radar mountain range and his mission to explore it:
Defining adventure in Albania: Mitch’s radical up/down tracks two days walk from the trailhead.
Trip Report and Photos by Mitch Toelderer
The country of Albania is located in Southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula in between the Adriatic and Ionic sea. Albania shares a southern border with Greece and a northern border with Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia. I had heard stories about the Albanian Alps a few years ago from my friend Martin `McFly´ Winkler, but I only started to look closer at the range last fall when searching for remote European mountains that were accessible without using a plane. From what few winter pictures I could find of the Albanian Alps, the peaks looked steep, reasonably sized and typically plastered with snow due to their location close to the sea. Pending a decent winter, I knew there would be amazing riding terrain in Albania and that’s exactly what we found.
The mountains in the central part of the range look wild with huge rock walls. From the looks of the jagged peaks ominously jutting through the clouds it’s understandable why the locals call them the ’Accursed’ mountains. There is also a legend about the origin of the ’Accursed’ mountains that goes like this:
Two brothers went hunting and found a beautiful fairy. Asked which brother she preferred, the fairy answered: one for his bravery, the other for his good looks. The brave brother killed the handsome one and took the fairy home to their mother. The mother was so angry she cursed the fairy and the mountains forever.
Our trip started in Innsbruck and we drove down the Balkan peninsula to Albania. We gave ourselves a few extra days enroute to ride any eye catching mountains we passed by and to visit some of the famous theaters of the Yugoslavian war.
When we got to Albanian we quickly realized that accessing the high peaks was going to require a solid effort. Unlike Central European mountains, with all the modern infrastructure that ski tourism brings with it, the mountains in Albania are still wild and mostly untouched. Life in the Albanian Alps is still very basic and people live as simple farmers raising goats, sheep and cows like it used to be in central Europe decades ago. This family’s home was two hours walk up a steep hill from the nearest road.
Over the course of almost three weeks in Albania, we made two extended overnight trips into the mountains. Each trip we faced difficult weather. At first it was very warm, then it started storming. Here’s our camp before sunrise on one of the few sunny days.
We stayed in several seasonally uninhabited shepherd’s villages located in some of the highest valleys. We sat out a multi-day storm in this hut. It was the only hut in the village with a second floor and therefore a dry room. We were so stoked to find it.
Here’s a look inside one of the nicer huts.
In the summer these huts are used by shepherds and berry collectors. It took us almost two days to walk into this valley and we were worried the village might be completed buried by snow.
After a week of bad weather that brought a meter and a half of fresh snow, we were running out of food and gas. On our last possible day in the mountains, the sun finally came out and I got to ride some beautiful lines. Here’s the crew at camp after two epic morning runs.
Huge thanks to Johannes Hoffmann, Jakob Schweighofer, Klaus Zwirner and Carlos Blanchard for joining me on this incredible adventure and to Jones Snowboards, POC Sports and Patagonia for making the trip possible. Look out for a film produced by Whiteroom Productions about our trip debuting next fall at the 2015 Freeride Film Festival in Innsbruck.
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