Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Outdoor Research Vertfest 2014 ~ Randonee Race, Backcountry Clinics, Live Music, Beer, & a great time!

Olivia and I will once again be making the trek to Alpental for the 2014 Subaru Vertfest presented by Outdoor Research. There are tons of great events planned on Saturday, February 15th and Sunday, February 16th.  Official 2014 Vertfest Page 


Sportiva Intermediate Techniques for Efficiency Ski Touring Clinic 

We will be presenting a clinic on behalf of Sportiva, our ski sponsor. The basic idea is to teach folks how to speed things up when skiing in the backcountry.  People often make the mistake thinking that skinning fast is the secret to covering a lot of terrain on a backcountry tour.  In fact a huge amount of time is spent making the transitions from uphill to downhill skiing and from skiing to skinning.  We will focus on having a process dialed at each transition that can speed things up to just a few minutes.  We will also focus on arriving at the transition with your gear organized in your pack, having selected the proper layers, and having a plan for taking on food and water without slowing things down too much.  When we hike and climb in the summer breaks are often a good place to sit and rest.  When you do this in the winter people tend to get cold really quickly and constantly getting cold and then overheating can quickly sap you of both your energy and enthusiasm.  

Clinic cost $45 (Alpental Season's Pass or Lift Ticket Required)
  • Morning Clinic Runs from: 9am-noon on Sunday, February 16th
  • Afternoon Clinic Runs from 1 pm-4pm on Sunday, February 16th

About your trip leader: Olivia Cussen in an IFMGA guide and very part-time randonee racer.  In 2012 she won the women's elite division at Vertfest and in 2013 she took second place.  Olivia is sponsored by Sportiva, Patagonia, Petzl, CiloGear, and Ortovox.  She is a member of the AMGA Instructor Pool and co-owns the Northwest Mountain School with her husband John.  She leads AAIRE L1 Avalanche Courses and ski guides in Washington near Stevens Pass and in the Alps.  As a guide she has reached the summit of Denali 8 times and Cho Oyu 2 times.  

Olivia Race, Sportiva Verfest Clinic Leader
Other Great Half-Day Clinics at Vertfest 2014:
  • Women's Steep Skiing presented by Jasmin Caton and Osprey Packs
  • Co-od Steep Skiing presented by Pro Guiding
  • Speed Up: Presented by Dynafit (AM only)
Full-Day Clinics at Vertfest 2014 ($80, 9:30 am-3:00 PM & also requiring pass or lift ticket)
  • Avalanche Risk Evaluation presented by NWAC and Scott Shell
  • Ski Photography presented by Stephan Matera
  • Introduction to Split Boarding presented by Voile and Chair 2 Splitboards
  • Advanced Ski Mountaineering presented by Scarpa

For the past two years it seems that the weekend of Vertfest always produces wild weather and it look alike this year will be no exception.  We have had plenty of snow this week and more is forecasted through the weekend.  Looking at the various forecasts has us currently optimistic that the actual race will at least not be rain, but the snow conditions are almost certain to be a great challenge. This is one of our favorite events of the year as it always manages to showcase the enthusiastic, mellow community of Washington backcountry skiers. If you don't get out in gnarly weather in the PNW you probably don't ski often enough!

Some good weather & Avalanche links for Vertfest:
Top Reasons's to attend Vertfest 2014
  • Chance to blow yourself out in the Monika Johnson Memorial Rally
  • Interesting Clinics
  • Demo gear from Outdoor Research, Sportiva, Scarpa, Voile, Mammut, & Osprey
  • The outdoor band is always fun - Head Like A Kite is her this year!
  • Plenty of Beer
  • Ridiculous amounts of SWAG
  • Connect with the PNW ski community
  • Alpental Kicks Ass!
Now about that Race - Monika Johnson Memorial Rally

New Mom's managed well at Vertfest 2013!
Olivia and I did our first randonee rally a long time ago at Alpental.  Looking back the race itself was mostly a blur, but I do recall being so trashed driving home that I had a hard time holding the gas pedal down on the drive home because my legs were so tired.  Olivia am I are registered for the Patrouille des Glaciers this April in Zermatt, Switzerland.  In that race we will travel 53 km from Zermatt to Verbier on a glaciated backcountry course that climbs a bit over 4000 meters.  We had hope to be really fit by now, but it has been harder to do this year given a very odd winter.  We will be using the race to work out our gear and systems for the race and as a high point in this weeks training. The most we can hope for is a good PNW butt kicking.

Even of you have never done a race or don't feel ready for this one you should show up and give it a try.  In past years even the elite racers somehow find time to cheer us all along as they zip past on the downhill while many are still working on their first uphill.  It is not simply about crushing it is about getting out, getting stronger, and seeing what you can do.  The race entry is $45 and requires a lift ticket Vertfest moves on to Mount Bachelor in Central Oregon the next weekend, February 22-23, 2014 and then to Brighton, UT for the Vertfest Powder Key March 7-8, 2014.

Vertfest 2014 Race Categories:
  • Elite Race - 2 laps 4100 feet of elevation gain
  • Recreational - 1 lap 2250 feet of elevation gain
  • Heavy Mettle (200+ lbs - gear not included) 1 lap 2250 feet of elevation gain
  • Split Board - 1 lap 2250 feet of elevation gain
Race Check-in: 8:00 am Saturday, February 15th
Racer Meeting, Beacon Check: 9:00 am Saturday, February 15th
Race Start: 10:00 am Saturday, February 15th

About the Northwest Mountain School: IFMGA Guides, John and Olivia Race run the Northwest Mountain School in Leavenworth Washington.  We offer instruction in ski touring, avalanche courses, ski guiding in Washington and Europe, as well as rock climbing & mountaineering programs.