Hi guys, in this episode I'm gonna give you just a little bit of insight on how we plan this trip. What I'm doing to make this trip, just the best I can and I wanna say that I start with the activity in mind that gives me the most access. So in the Winter in Montana, you can't just go for a hike. A lot of the roads, the mountain roads are closed so that means that we have to do things on foot, on snowmobile, and on foot you have to have either skis or snow shoes. I'm not a huge fan of snow shoes, I really love that glide that skis give, especially skis with skins, which are climbing skins that go on the bottom that give you grip, and you get to glide forward. So with that in mind, I'm gonna plan something that I can walk to with skis. Generally I like to go up, 'cause then you get the free ride on the way back down you can ski, take your skins off, ski your snowboard back down. So, that's kind of the basis and the nexus for where I start to filter my ideas through. So I wanna go somewh...
ere where I can go up to this place that I can stay in the Winter, camping kind of sucks, it's totally doable, it's kind of next level for most people, it's really cold, there's a lot of specialized gear you have to have. So what I'm also looking for is a place to stay. So a lot of places have mount huts, yurts you can rent, cabins you can rent. The best place I've found for that is Recreation.gov. Most people book these cabins in the summer, it becomes really hard to book these cabins in the summer, but a lot of people don't wanna ski or snowmobile to these cabins so in the winter, oftentimes you'll find these cabins completely open and on any day you wanna go, you can just click 'rent'. So Recreation.gov, that's kind of where I started, I was like, I wanna go out by foot, I wanna go somewhere that's harder to access. It's gonna look beautiful in the winter, but I wanna stay overnight so I can shoot sunset, sunrise, looking for a cabin. So Recreation.gov was my go-to there, but at the same time, I'm flying around with Google Maps. There's a lot of cabins that are in the middle of nowhere, but that nowhere is not exactly attractive or doesn't look like you went to the middle of nowhere. It looks like you just went for a short walk so I'm also using Google Maps to fly around. Now, inside of my calculation, I'm thinking that I can usually walk about three miles an hour, that's usually average for humans. In the winter there's a lot of complications, so you could have a ski break or something could go wrong or some of your gear could break. So, I'm not wanting to hike all day because, if for some reason something breaks on my ski, then I'm not only just hiking all day, but now I'm walking through waist-deep snow all day that takes way longer, less than a mile an hour. So I'm putting that in calculation that maybe I just wanna go two hours of hiking. So six miles, probably max, maybe a little bit more if I wanted to go more extreme. But since for this course we're trying to teach you the basics, you wanna keep it short until you feel more comfortable in the outdoors. So these are kind of giving me a filter from which to plan my trip. Now I'm going and I'm looking at the accommodations that I can get like cabins on Recreation.gov, like I mentioned. We found this cabin called Challenge Cabin near Glacier National Park, it was eight miles in. That's where we were gonna film this workshop, that was last week. Turned out last week was negative 20 degrees and we just thought that wasn't gonna be very fun, it complicates things, a lot of things get cold and break. Also, it just lowers your margins for safety if you have to be out there for a day and it's negative 20. You could really get into a danger zone whereas like 15 degrees or 25 degrees is a whole different story. So we actually canceled that trip and we found a different cabin, again through Recreation.gov, went to a place we'd never been but this place was only three and a half miles of skin or ski-in. So even made better, we got there and even taking photos I think we got there under three hours. Stopping, taking photos, doing all sorts of things. So keep that in mind as you're planning, you wanna just be able to pivot based on the weather and make things simple instead of more hardcore, especially as we're starting out. Again, you can do these things, people climb Everest, but that's not what this class is about. This class is about getting out, accessing the mountains in the winter, getting cool photos, and having a great adventure with your friends. So, let's talk about the friends. You probably don't wanna invite your friend who's not super outdoorsy on your first couple of adventures. The person who doesn't handle like things going wrong very well. You want to get your friends who are positive people, who kind of lift you up if things go wrong and your friends who are capable too at least as capable as you or if you are much more capable than them at least you can kind of help them along. So think about that as you're going through your planning phase, is "Who can I bring?" For me, obviously, Alex Stroll's a guy I do a lot of adventures with. He's very capable. We're pretty equal in our abilities outdoors so I'm always thinking like, "What is Alex gonna wanna do?" I know that I can rely on him. But for this adventure we also had another friend, which I'll introduce in a second, who is less skilled than us. More probably like, he's from San Diego, he's definitely done a lot of outdoor stuff, but his skill level is comparable to what most peoples' would be if we brought him just straight from San Diego to doing winter adventures so that'll be a fun thing to intro and show you guys who we picked and show you why we picked him. Working with locals. So for me, I was checking in with people who had been to these cabins, what it was like. Anybody who had been in the area at all, even if they hadn't gone to a cabin what the snow conditions were like. There's nothing that compares to talking with somebody who's been there and talking with somebody who's been there recently. (upbeat music) (indistinct chatter) David Steele is here, he works at RMO, which is the local shop to come to to get real knowledge and awesome gear. And he's gonna give us, hopefully, give us some local data on the West Fork area where the cabin is that we're headed to.
Sure, so you drive in kinda past the Teton Pass Ski Area and it heads down into the bottom there there's a series of cabins, there's kinda mountains up go around it, varies season to season of what the snowpack looks like.
Cool and so you have ski there or haven't ski there?
I have, yeah.
And it was good?
Sure, yeah it was fun. It was a while back so I don't remember it super well. I do remember somebody putting a full string of firecrackers inside of 55 gallon drum and dropping that inside a cabin.
Nice. (all laughing)
Well, that won't happen to us. So when we go down there is there any specific line or is there any dos or don'ts that we need to know about that area?
I don't know, it's been quite a while we skied some stuff out of the resort that was super fun and there were a couple kind of things around there.
And that's at Teton Pass Resort fifth before you dropped down to the cabin?
And you ski up the resort and then go off and then-
I believe that's what we did, yeah. We might've used snowmobiles to exit too but you could certainly just ski up the resort to exit onto some of those shoots.
Yeah I don't remember it super well.
And so this obviously is not an avalanche course. He is actually an avalanche instructor but that's not what we're teaching here. But over in that area, what do you know about in the snowpack or just any typical problems about things we should be aware of? Any just hot tips?
Sure, well kind of basic stuff, you need to know before you go. So checking any local avalanche forecasting that's going on in that area, if you don't have something specific to showdown or to Teton Pass in or the west for the cabin then trying to find stuff that's nearby to try and sort of extrapolate a little bit because it is on the front, it tends to get a lot more wind than other areas might and then also it tends to be a little shallower and potentially colder because you get a little bit more influence from Arctic air that's moving down the front in that area. So watching out for thinner, colder snowpacks that are more heavily faceted would be something I would be worried about. So I would be worried about things that you might not see as much over on this side of the world where we're in a more inner mountain or even sometimes maritime climate, which is, over there you would be looking for depth or you would be looking for things that are becoming way more sugary in the pack.
And so base level for somebody who isn't avalanche savvy and they want to learn where to find knowledge specific to that area. You're saying, when you don't have any forecasting what are you even just like looking for on the internet like you're Googling show to or the Teton Pass avalanche conditions or, and if you can't find that you're Googling areas that you know that are around there.
Yeah that might help but realistically, if you don't have a whole lot of avalanche knowledge trying to extrapolate with no forecast, no experts to base off of is gonna be a difficult task. I don't know if I would recommend that necessarily. So on that then you would just stay kind of front country terrain where it's controlled or stay on forest roads and don't really like go up and hit any crazy lines.
Yeah stay out of avalanche terrain essentially unless you-
And that's what we're doing basically is staying out of it.
Yeah cool, did you have any questions, (indistinct)?
Yeah I mean I'm from California so being out in the snow is not something I'm used to so, what's something you recommend if I'm not used to the snow, the cold, how do I stay warm, stay dry, all that.
Layers are good, you know layering system's been around for almost 50 years kind of as a concept so you have lighter layers underneath thicker layers outside, staying away from cotton is a good idea just because it's not warm when it's wet. Same thing happens with down insulation so certain types of climates that are a little colder and drier. Down works better but if you're a sweaty guy like me then synthetics are also nice. Because they're still warm when they're wet. So just thinking about kind of like having stuff that sort of builds up from the bottom as you get warmer, you delayer and kind of vent yourself out and as you get colder, you relayer.
Yeah, it's nice to have that option.
Cool, awesome man. Well we're gonna go have some fun, we'll let you know how it is.
You can do all the internet research you want but really if you don't know what it was like recently or if you don't know what it was like to actually go up there you're just gonna have a lot more surprises than if you just talk to somebody who's been there. So, I think it's really important to do that as well as your internet research. So something else to think about, when I first started doing outdoor adventures I didn't know much and I was very aware that I didn't know much and nobody likes to feel stupid about when they're going out there and learning. So there's kind of this tension that I feel when I'm out doing stuff where I don't wanna look dumb but, I will say that if you are out and somebody rolls up into the parking lot at the Trailhead where you're just about to go for your hike or your adventure, you can ask dumb questions. Being naive is not a sign of weakness it's actually, most people will love to help you and you never know what you'll find out. A lot of times I'll be in the parking lot there'll be somebody who rolls up and I'll be like, hey, have you hiked this before? What can you tell me about it? And instead of making me feel stupid when I get done with that conversation I usually have some nugget of like, hey, when you go up there, there's like this little trail that heads off left and you'll see this waterfall or something like that will come up in conversation. I'll learn more about the area by being naive. It's not stupid, it's naive. And that's a good thing because you will open yourself up to information that, not all of it's gonna be valuable, you may get some coup that's gonna tell you some sad story about how more people come here and it used to be so much better, but more often than not you're gonna get somebody who's gonna give you information that you wouldn't have known if you didn't just put yourself out there, be vulnerable and ask. So yeah, just like random strangers on the trail are generally out there 'cause they love the place, and that's a super good resource to ask. So just keep your head on a swivel looking for these people don't be afraid to strike up a conversation. To be honest like I know that people think that I'm a very outgoing person and I am, I'm definitely an extrovert but I'm not much for just striking up conversations with strangers. So, but every time I do, it's a great experience and so I've learned to just get over that, just ask questions, don't feel like, I may never see these people again so if they think I'm stupid, that's fine too. I just want the knowledge that they have and I wanna have a good time and that's one of the best resources.
Isaac grew up on a farm near Glacier National Park in Montana and from a young age worked as a stock hand and guide in the Great Bear Wilderness. He didn’t know at the time that his life was different, just that he loved the excitement of showing people the wild spaces of the world.