I’ve spent my first ski life attached to the resort. Not a lot ski touring in my background. Grew up in Big Bear. Big Bear does not breed ski tourers.
Simple hikes in and out of bounds at Mammoth Mountain has lit my ski touring fuse. Available fresh tracks well after the storm is the obvious draw. But, I also found that I liked the up treks back to the in bounds. The methodical huff and puff in an amphitheater of nature. Amen.
I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking in the eastern Sierras. Nothin’ crazy, anywhere from three to six day treks over passes and into Mars. The gothic rock peaks of the eastern Sierras are magnetic. Mt. Sill is next.
And I’ve been seeing lines in those peaks for years. But, I’m a long way from skiing those. Jeremy Jones and the big leagues are out of reach. It’s rookie ball for me and on up through the farm system.
Yes, I’m no trailblazer, just part of the gentrification of the back country. More of us resort folks moving into your town, Mr. Purist. Where I will try to buck the gentrifier trend is in doing it humbly and responsibly.
So I’ll be starting my ski touring career around Mammoth and at closer So-Cal spots like Mt. Baldy. Don’t slag So-Cal’s available tours, Lou Dawson classifies the ironically named “Girly Man Chute” of the San Gabriels as a D14, “sustained pitches of 50 degrees.” So-Cal has the surf, the ladies, and the ski tours. Step back.
The Marker Dukes were made for me. It’s the touring binding for the resort skier. No special boots needed. Dukes could live their entire life inbounds, and handle the role as well as any alpine binding.
Day hikes are part of the living-in-a-city fabric, and the Dukes are your main tools for the winter equivalent.
It had been an entire month since my first lunch with K2 Darkside. Ours is a shared love of pow, the sun, mountains, and speed. We have everything in common. So don’t try to talk me out of it.
K2 Darkside met up with me at Peter Norman Jewelers on Sunset Blvd in the Pacific Palisades. Since I don’t reward annoying, I’m not going to see Skip & Steve. It was Peter Norman that had what K2 Darkside and me needed to make this a binding (yar yar) relationship.
photos by Alex Clarey