Onwards Into The Montana Backcountry
We arrived at Teton Pass where we're gonna skin for about three and a half miles to get to West Fork Cabin. Our friend Alex Strohl is here, with his new pickup truck.
Pretty nice. I got to ride in it, it was a very good experience. And now we're gonna skin up, put some skins on the skis. These are called climbing skins. You put these on there. You can put pivoting binding on, like this one, it's a pretty basic one. And what it allows you to do is basically like a cross-country ski, go forward, get grip and go, so you don't slide backwards, so you can go uphill. This isn't gonna be much of a technical skin, which is great for Rod's first time. It's just like a forest road, but it is closed to vehicles in the winter. So we're gonna throw some climbing skins on there and we'll get hiking, yeah.
Yep, that's what you're gonna have to carry.
Oh, nice, kettle bells?
That's for your... (bright music) (man groaning) (bright music) (men chattering) (bright music)...
One of the advantages. I think for people who maybe aren't familiar.
Even snowshoeing, yeah?
Yeah, while even snowshoeing, one of the reason you use snowshoes is because you can float on top of snow but these float, there's much more surface area compared to a snowshoe. And then the best part is when you get to top you rip off your skins and you can ski down, and you just have one tool to ski that does all of it.
You show them the little mechanism. This is a very rudimentary finding, right?
Yeah, I just mentioned that it's...
You'll lock it here, you know. This is a very... So this is how you can ski up, right? You know, then your heel goes and then your toe moves and then it kind of works, huh?
Yeah, not to that degree. (laughs)
Well, it depends if you go really steep, that's how you do right? (men laughing)
Anyway, this is a very rudimentary version. This guy actually is like a hybrid of a... There you go. See the little pointy things here? Yeah, these go here and the pointy thing in your boot, take a little hole here. And that goes in there, flips in. And then same thing, you unlock this binding here and you can do the same thing but you don't have the inconvenience of the big bar, kinda adding a bit of stiffness to the ski. So this remains much more natural to ski.
And weight is a really important factor, right?
It is much lighter. Although this is a pretty heavy setup, we're not going too far but you can go much more minimal. I'm sure Grami has your pin bindings, yeah, they could just two teeth and just save half the weight but then it's not as fun to ski with them.
Okay, so like we've talked about with the skis, these are climbing skins.
Same thing, but a splitboard is designed to give you that sweet snowboard ride but it splits into two skis. As you can see, there's a line down here and these buckles. So with this setup, a lot of 'em are different but with this setup, there's each binding, has a... So you'll just pull the pin out here and then rotate it, it's gonna pull the binding off and then same on this one. Pull the binding off, rotate it.
Just like that.
Pull the binding, just set it to the side. Then you take these buckles here. This one has a tip and tail clip as well. Like that, pop it out, and then I like to pull 'em all the around, so they're not on the way. I snap these ones back together, so they're not on the way. And then it's kinda counterintuitive, but with a split board, rather than skin them like that, you just swap places. So that these buckles aren't bashing into each other.
Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And then these climbing skins is the same thing as I showed you on the skis.
Gotta flip 'em over?
Yeah, just flip 'em over. And then my skins have this plastic that came with it in between, just makes 'em a little easier to pull apart. And then with this one, like you wanna pull all the snow off. So go ahead and hold that out, or you can scrape it off either way. You just don't want any snow between your climbing skins and your ski, 'cause it'll make the skin kind of slip around and not give much traction. So then this one, you can see like this is not the way, there's no curve there. Curve matches up on this side. So you want the straight edge on your skins, the straight edge on your splitboard. And I like to kinda put 'em on and then float them before I align them. So kinda like-
They stick, huh?
Yeah, they stick. They stick to each other. So hold on to the end of that for me, Rod.
Oh my God.
Yeah, so they'll stick to each other if you're not paying attention, like I wasn't. (skis thudding) All right, so then before I actually stick it to the ski, I've got it like hooked there.
Gotta make sure it's in the middle. I want it just back from that edge right there.
And the reason you want it, is because if you get in kind of a icy sidehill situation, you want this edge to be able to kind of grip sideways into the snow.
So you just pull 'em back. You don't want 'em over the edge. It's okay if they're far back from the edge like that and then I smooth from the top, Rod. You feel this here? That's like a cats tongue this way.
That's the grippy side.
And then the smooth side, you can feel it the other way. So I just smooth from the tip with the smooth side all the way back.
Take this guy and then I just push it. So it goes over the top and you can go ahead and try that. Just take some force. So it goes over the top. Don't worry about the side ones. Just do that one. So that's the back. Yeah, just like that. Perfect.
Okay, now the last step is the bindings here. You want these guys, these buckles outside of your foot. So you don't want 'em... Like you would never want 'em in here like this 'cause you can run 'em against. And like unbuckle like that.
So you want 'em on the outside. When you're in ski mode, you just take this guy here. Let me pop this buckle here really quick. And then as you can see, there's like a couple of holes here on the toe of the binding. So you take it down here and this rod just goes through there and it'll be your new pivot point. Just kind of goes through. And what I'm pushing it through is these two holes on this binding bracket here.
And then it just snaps down, down into there like that.
And then you can see it pivots. And if you go uphill, you have a little like heel riser.
So your boot will go inside of that and you'll strap it in just like normal. (wind whooshing)
So guys will start without the blue one?
So, okay, so the rule is to start cold.
Start cold. I know.
But it's so hard to follow, right?
'Cause you're like uncomfortable.
Right now I'm just like, can I just like not follow that rule?
You can not follow that rule if you have a lot of time and you're committed to, as soon as you get hot, taking it off.
So can stop, okay.
So I'm gonna start without my red puffy. I certainly wouldn't start with the shell, just 'cause like it's not raining out here. There's not a lot to be protected from.
I don't need it then.
So I would mind... I might keep this on until right before we go and then just stuff it my backpack, the blue.
But I would definitely get rid of the shell for now, put it in your backpack.
Yeah, yeah, okay.
And of course you want all that stuff close in case the weather changes.
I feel better without it.
All right, Strohl what are you starting with?
You know the thing, right? Is be bold, start cold.
Yeah, I know, I know, I know.
Well, I'm just gonna start, take the down off, put it in my backpack.
And just roll with my little sweater, and I'm gonna get hot in about 15 minutes and I'll take that off.
But yeah, the down is not necessary. What is it like 23, 22 degrees?
We'll get hot, right? You got a backpack.
Yeah, yeah you will get hot. I mean, it seems counterintuitive, but no I know we're gonna be active and yeah. (bright music) Maybe some just quick like beginner skinning tips. The first one is, don't lift the weight of your ski. Just like glide it along.
Glide it, huh?
Yeah, so like kind of letting your back foot kind of fall behind you and then slide on your toe.
You know what it feels like? Like a reverse moonwalk.
'Cause then your body won't be carrying the weight of the the ski or your splitboard.
You'll just be letting your body push it along. So that's part of the magic of skins is you can just slide it along and then it grips when you put the weight back on it.
Nice workout too.
And you know what? I think I'm starting to feel it. I might take this off soon.
(laughs) Already warm?
Oh yeah, already warm.
That's the problem. We can stop. We got time. You just wanna do it before you get sweaty?
Yeah, no, definitely. (footsteps thumping)
This feels nice. (bright music) (wind whooshing) (man bellowing) (bright music)
I tried doing something, it didn't work. You get that?
I got it.
Nice work, bro. I wanna grab a photo of you.
If you're not gonna fall down again.
(laughs) No, I'm kidding. Could you just like pop out here. I'm gonna pull my thing out. So maybe like just out by the edge. I'm gonna climb up here and shoot a photo of you in this kind of cool mountain scene. (wind whooshing) It's like almost some peachy type of light going on.
So, yeah, I'll hop up there and see what I can do. Saw kind of a pretty scene here that I wanna get a shot of. Rod, remember our adventure here? And rather than just shooting it flat, so it looks like we're on a flat surface here, and just seeing the mountains above us. I wanna kind of raise my elevation and show that drop. And it's kinda the wide expanse that's below Rod before we get to these mountains in the distance. And I think by raising my elevation, getting just a little bit higher than Rod, like my feet at his head level, I just like to look down on my subjects. So I'll shoot this probably at 24 to get the mountain and Rod in there. And I'll go back and forth and position him until he's aligned with the mountain in a way that I like, and until he's kind of outlined in those trees down there in a way that I find aesthetically pleasing. And my technique is to always take a lot of photos. So I think I learned a long time ago that when you get a good scene, if you really like it, to shoot it a bunch of different ways and then figure out which one you like best when you're back at the computer. So that's what I'm gonna do. (wind whooshing) Okay, so another thing that I'm gonna do when it's cold out like this, is I find that if I put my face up on the viewfinder, I'm gonna fog up my viewfinder. So I use the LCD screen a lot. If you have a camera with a good LCD screen, you can just, you know, hold it out away from you. It's gonna stay the same temperatures outside and it's not gonna fog up. But like for instance, if I do this, instantly my eye's gonna fog up the view finder. So I'll shoot it like this. (camera clicking)
Nice touch with the red glass.
Would you kind of turn sideways a little more like the way you are, but yeah, a little more. Yeah. (music drowns out speaker) Yep. (bright music) What I'm finding here is that Rod is totally blending into the trees here because of the colors he's wearing. It's not a big deal. What I'm gonna do is I'm have him adjust this position. So Rod, can you actually come into to the right here on the other side of the snowmobile track? (wind whooshing) Yeah. And what I'm gonna do is I'm actually gonna even increase my elevation a little bit more. So I'm looking at, he'll be a completely silhouetted figure on the white of the snow and that way he'll stand out from the background. So come even closer to me.
It's cool, right?
Yeah, it is cool.
Howling wind. So should I be like if I'm in action?
Nope. Well, yeah, you can probably be in action but come a little further towards that way and then turn uphill.
So you want it... Okay, like go uphill?
I think that'd be cool, getting like a-
So little tip while Alex is teaching him how to skin. I'm kind of like moving around. I've got a lot of pieces, my gloves, my poles, my backpack. I almost never use a strap except for in the snow situation like this. I can't set my camera down to maneuver. So I've got this pretty cool Polar Pro Strap gifted to me by none other than Alex Strohl. So pop it on there. And then I think this one locks, right?
Okay, so now turn towards that way and then roll forward just a tich.
Okay. (bright music)
Okay, right there. Way better perspective. We've lost a little bit of that peach light but still looks really good. (bright music) All right, go for it. (camera clicking) Perfect. All right.
You got it?
And then if you could just try and skin backwards, if you can.
But like just in the same position, like just walk backwards.
Oh, walk backwards.
See if you can. (wind whooshing) There you go. Keep going. I'm gonna shoot it in landscape as well. (wind whooshing) Bit Western out here. (bright music)
Got your meal. (wind whooshing)
I think we've taken a good photo. (man mumbling) Back to my backpack (bright music) (wind whooshing) (bright music)
You know, they told me, start hot. No start cold, and I started hot. (bright music)
Yeah, that's how you learn, you know. To be fair, I layered up too.
I just wanted to see if you were right.
It was really cold there. I layered up too, so I'm gonna do a layer.
Yes. (bright music)
Here we go. (wind whooshing) (bright music)
Yeah, I'll unzip you, bro. We'll do the cheater method.
Yeah, come close. Like come over here. Don't worry about my skis. Pop this, pop you here. (zipper buzzing) Pop you here.
Thank you, dad.
You're welcome. (bright music) And then pop your hat, bro. Pull your hat off and stick it to your jacket.
Like this? (wind whooshing) That does look really good. You look really handsome. But yeah, just kind of a cheater move, is just to unzip all your layers. Pop your hat into your jacket, like pull it off and put it in your jacket. And you'll-
Oh, just like take it off really.
Yeah, it's like kind of like a... It's not the right way to de-layer.
Oh, thank you.
But it will kind of like hold you over for a bit.
And then if you keep getting hotter, then your de-layer. But for now you'll be... At least you won't sweating as much.
My nasal is frozen.
I don't know if it's boogers, it could be, it looks good either way.
Later I can like lick and check for you to see if it's boogers.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
It keeps me hydrated though. It's nice. (bright music)
All right, wish be luck. Don't turn. Play dead. (bright music) Ready? (wind whooshing) (bright music) Woo! (bright music) (men mumbling) You got it, dude, nice. That's a hard thing. Like I wouldn't have done that on those this footboard.
No. No, 'cause they don't ski like a ski. It's like wearing a... (men bubbling) Nice work, dude.
It was weird.
(groans) Got it, ripped. I mean, that was difficult terrain even for me on skis 'cause the... Well it's just, you don't know what's under the surface kind of scary.
Yeah, yeah, awesome.
Yeah, I hit a couple of down logs, but yeah, I was just... You know, you just lean back, keep your tips open no matter what.
Things will work out. (bright music) Got it. Gotta put... (music drowns out speaker) All right, I'm gonna cool down. It is hot. Storytelling shots, right? Like this is our way in, how we ended up, you know kind of getting late. So a couple things that I'm doing here, lower my shutter speed, up my ISO a little bit. Open my aperture all the way. I'm at 2.8 here. But one of the things I can do to help separate Rod from the background, so I'm actually gonna aim my headlamp at him a little bit. And then I want him to aid his headlamp kind of like his toes a little bit. Yeah, like at the tips of his skis. So those are... It's really gonna help him kind of pop out against like this dark moody background.
And it creates the yellow and blue tint, that warm light.
Yeah, get some warm light, some cold light. And I'll just shoot, you know some details of him buckling his stuff.
What are your blue hour settings?
Just depends on the blue hour. It's really not too super blue right now.
Wait, when you edit it.
Oh, (laughs) when I edit it. That's the secret sauce, bro. No, I don't know, man. I just go with whatever the photo is, but right now because it's really not that dark out here, I'm only at 1250 ISL, 125th of a second. See? Rod's photographer too. He knows what up. All right now, shine just a little bit like halfway between me and you, with the headlamp a little less, a little more towards you. And then this way a little bit with your... Yeah, there you go. (camera clicking) (wind whooshing) (bright music) Right, now take one of your hands out of your sling on your pole. (bright music)
Wait, are you right handed or left handed?
So just do it with your right hand.
Take it off?
And then I just want you to toss it up and try and catch it, but I'll tell you when. (bright music) Just a second here to get my settings right. (bright music)
So toss it back?
Yeah, but like toss it up like a drumstick sort of deal. (bright music)
Wait, wait, oh, wait.
Yeah, If you can or just toss it in the air. We can try a bunch of different ways. Three, two, one, go ahead. (wind whooshing) And if you can toss it just a little higher.
Like I really want it catching some air. You might catch that wind, so maybe toss it like into the wind a little bit.
It doesn't have to spin so much as it has to go high. (wind whooshing)
I'll try to catch to it.
Tell me when you're ready.
Three, two, one go. (bright music)
Got, it, even caught it too. (wind whooshing)
That looks great.
Cool, all right, buddy. (wind whooshing) Go ahead and get started, I'll catch.
Yep. Yeah, I got a buckle this. (man chuckling) (wind whooshing) (bright music)
Woo! Here we go. (bright music)