Alex Taran’s South American Beacon Project

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Disproving Avalanche Myths and The South American Beacon Project:

House Rider Alex Taran Sets Out to Make a Difference

Avalanches do not affect people in Chile*. “Gringa no tenemos avalanchas en Chile…” a group of my friends told me before they dropped into a path without avalanche gear, but with 50cms of fresh snow. (*Later that year, in that same path, an avalanche closed the road for 3 days and, in a separate incident, killed a young man).  When something like an avalanche happens it may be deceiving. It is actually not an avalanche*. (*One Patagonian avalanche related death was blamed on “glacial movement” while another death outside of a well known ski area was not deemed an avalanche, rather just a “delizamento de nieve (loose snow sliding)”…. wait isn’t that an avalanche?) Avalanches happen but don’t affect us *(*one patroller reassured me not to worry, all the avalanches in their area happen between 2-6 am, no one is around to get caught). PHEW!

The South American Beacon Project548513_260307954062584_1266026143_n is a movement we started in 2010. We identified two things missing in Chile: an atmosphere where the need for avalanche education is recognized and providing rescue tools for workers. The lack of proper equipment is not due to Chileean Resorts being too poor to purchase rescue tools; quite the opposite. Discussions about avalanches are not present anywhere near mainstream culture. It is just not accepted. Avalanches are a myth. That’s where The South American Beacon Project comes in.

The SABP reuses fully functioning beacons after testing for distances (search and send) as well as flux line drift. These beacons go into the hands of workers following an introductory class on basic avalanche mechanics and partner rescue. We also facilitate outreach avalanche education through presentations, as many avalanche centers in North America do, as well as more detailed beacon classes. Since The SABP was founded we have placed over 160 beacons and taught students in 21 communities in Chile and Argentina.

Volcan-VillaricaBut this is only the beginning. This year we are working on launching the closest thing to an avalanche center that Chile has ever seen. We are building a website where people find the majority of classes available, a history of accidents, current snow observations, and weather links. We are trying to change this atmosphere, disproving the myths through outreach and resource distribution.

This is not only our movement. This is a movement for everyone in the ski community. The key is our sense of community and togetherness. Whether you’re a skier in the northern or southern hemisphere, Europe or Asia, a beginner or an expert, we are all human and we all share the love for this sport and lifestyle. If you have an interest in getting involved, disproving these myths, and sharing this love please visit our website: WWW.SOUTHAMERICANBEACONPROJECT.COM. See you in the mountains!

By: Alex Taran

House Rider Alex Taran is enjoying the fresh coat of white in the Southern Hemisphere. Follow her Chilean Ski Adventures on Instagram: @alex_taran and @thehouseboardshop and follow updates on The SABP @southamericanbeaconproject and #southamericanbeaconproject

Diary of a Pro Skier: Alex Taran — #2

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Seeking To Wander

“I prefer the saddle to the streetcar and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the unknown, to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bread by cities. . . it is enough that i am surrounded by beauty.” — Everett Ruess

One middle finger in the air toward society and one thumb out toward destiny, in the direction of the unknown, Alex Taran has never been able to sit still for long. Home is where her truck is, her heart is in the mountains. An insatiable passion for skiing, a ski-vagabond mentality, and an altruistic desire to give back and teach have made Alex Taran the ultimate skiing adventurer. Her adventures from this spring alone are jaw dropping: she slayed powder in the North American West (UT, CO, and CA), skied a volcano in the middle of the Bering Sea, got lost in the Pacific Northwest, then got lost again in the desert, and made it back to SLC in time to pack for another season #chasingwinter in Chile.

Alex is headed for another season guiding for CASA Tours, improving South American Avalanche Safety with The South American Beacon Project, and pushing the limits of her skiing desire. The adventure fascination is an innate human virtue, passed along courageous lineage. It beckons us to climb high and travel into the depths of nature, explicating the depths within ourselves. In these travels, we untangle ourselves. We can amplify our beings while we elucidate our souls. We gain clarity, we relax, and we learn. For Alex Taran this must be done on the mountain with skis underneath her…or perhaps, on her backpack, thumb out, and smile cracked.

 

To Do -- Chile

 

Thumb’s Out, Fun’s Out: Hitchhiking in Chile

“I kept looking up the road, hoping to see another vehicle. It had been 20 minutes since the last car passed, and 2 hours since I started hitchhiking. An hour later I heard a thunderous sound. As it got louder, I could barely make out a bus in the distance. It was heading my way. I felt a sense of relief.

While hitchhiking most certainly saves you money, it’s money saving qualities are not the reason why several hours earlier I chose to demonstrate to oncoming traffic that I posses opposable thumbs. I choose to hitchhike purely because many times in remote areas there are no dependable bus schedules. Sometimes the bus shows up at 10am, sometimes it shows up at 1pm. On that day it showed up at 3. I climbed on board with my backpack on my back, skis in my hand. I barely got both feet into the bus before it started to pull away. I paid the driver 1.300 pesos ($2.50 USD) as the door shut behind me. For the next 3 hours I contemplated how I was going to get from the curb where I would get dropped off in Temuco to the Central Bus Station in Santiago.

This is Chile.

There are no coin washing machine facilities. Not many people here can afford cars and all the conveniences that come with them. All governmental organizations close at 1:30 (technically 2:00), and heating is so expensive that most people avoid using it (even in the middle of winter). But it is not really that bad. Most of the time the fact that data signals and 3G doesn’t work leads to conversations, and observations. The mountains that create cold housing and storms, which close roads, also create some of the most incredible skiing in the world. Waiting for a bus for 3 hours teaches you to laugh at yourself and be patient with the things you cannot control. We learn to become less attached to outcomes and more attached to the journey. Because after all will we ever be satisfied with an outcome, or will we just want more? Chile teaches you to stop focusing on the future while ignoring the present. Because here you don’t have a choice really, the bus comes when it comes.

So bring it on Chile. I will see you, your rickety buses, majestic peaks, and uncomfortable yet invaluable lessons in 2 weeks. Nos Vemos!” — Alex Taran

 

House Rider Alex Taran is enjoying the fresh coat of white in the Southern Hemisphere. Follow her Chilean Ski Adventures on Instagram: @alex_taran and @thehouseboardshop

 

By: Paddy O’Connell

 

 

 

Shred Argentina This Summer!

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TRACK DOWN WINTER WITH HOUSE RIDER GARRETT RUSSELL

Recently, I have found myself daydreaming often. I have been escaping summer heat and the noise of the cluttered concrete jungle with flashes of snowfall, powder slashes, waves of cold smoke streaming up from the edges of my skis in the mountainous expanse of my mind. But this brief respite from the doldrum of summer is not enough to satisfy the hunger of the skier within, the slumbering beast. I must feed my passion with the meaty center in the initiation of the turn, that feeling in my gut as the flex in the soft creamy goodness whomps me through the arc, the “phhlooohh” of a cloud, the sensation of the snow boiling up from my knees to my hips to my chest, the satisfying cold sting as my face cuts through the blanket of white with a frozen smile. Search yourself. Can you live without this for another second?! NO!

What are we to do? Where can we turn? How can we possibly survive until next winter?! TRACK WINTER DOWN!

As the snow leopard stalks it’s prey, so must you go on the hunt. Join House Rider Garrett Russell while he is #ChasingWinter in Bariloche, Argentina ski guiding fro SASS Global Travel. SASS Argentina is a full service, big-mountain, backcountry, skiing and snowboarding camp for all ages. They take advantage of the winter season in the Southern Hemisphere to crush pow while others are sitting in air conditioning or sweating it out on a glacier. Shred some of the most sought after terrain in the world and join Garrett and the SASS Crew in the Patagonian Andes.

SASS takes over an entire hotel compound right at the base of Catedral Alta Patagonia, South America’s largest resort. Every morning clients will have the ability to choose how they want to spend the day on the mountain. Your guide or coach will help you accomplish your goals while shredding with a small group that is on the same page in terms of both skill level and desired terrain.

This is the perfect opportunity for those looking to push themselves into the terrain they have always fantasized about. Learn what it takes to shred big mountains and the backcountry not only better but properly.

The All Star cast of guides, coaches and logistics staff are there to help you experience the culture and the copious amounts of snow and fun to be had in Argentina this summer. Seek out that which enriches your soul. Plan for pow. Plan for fun. Plan with SASS.

LEARN MORE

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By: Paddy O’Connell

How To Adjust Avid BB5 Disc Brakes

You’ll need a 5mm hex wrench and a Torx T-25 driver. Let’s start with the assumption that the rotor, caliper, and cable are properly installed on the bike, and that the rotor is true.

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1. Loosen the (2) black CPS mounting bolts with a 5mm hex wrench to a point where the caliper body can move freely.

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2. Loosen the inboard pad adjustment knob using a Torx T-25 driver.

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3. Slide a business card between the outboard, fixed brake pad and the rotor (be sure the biz card is between the outboard fixed pad and the rotor, not the inboard adjustable pad and the rotor), then tighten the pad adjustment knob until the rotor and business card are snugly clamped between the brake pads (you should not be able to pull out the business card). This aligns and centers the caliper over the rotor while leaving a business-card-sized gap on the fixed side.

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4. With the business card still in place, re-tighten both CPS bolts to lock the caliper in place.

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5. Loosen the pad adjustment knob and remove the business card.

6. Tighten the pad adjustment knob until the pad just barely touches the rotor, then back off one click to eliminate pad/rotor contact.

This method is more precise than the method outlined in the Avid BB5 Instruction Manual. It perfectly aligns and centers the caliper body and brake pads over the rotor. I’ve found it to be the most consistent way to minimize lever throw and ensure full engagement when using BB5 road calipers and road levers. And once you’ve  done it a couple of times, it takes all of 5 minutes.

Full credit for this method goes to Tim Grahl at Blue Collar Mountain Biking. I’ve only reproduced it here to make sure it’s available for our readers. —Alan

Sneak Peek 2015 Dynastar Cham Skis

 The phrase “CHAM wow” echoed more frequently at the 2014 SIA Trade Show in Denver, Co., than the reverberated sound of footsteps at the local buffet. No, the blissful oralation didn’t stem from the famous towel that soaks up everything, but rather from the adulation surrounding Dynastar’s award-winning CHAM series.  As like its phonetic twin, The CHAM wowed the crowd after it had soaked-up all the liquid stains [euphemism for competition].

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The CHAM is one of the most versatile freeride skis to hit the freeride market. In fact, Dynastar set-up a specialized R & D lab in Chamonix [hence the CHAM] to ensure the CHAM parallels the demands of freeride skiing. The result: multiple Freeride World Tour podiums and Outside claiming the 97mm “Outside Gear of the Year.” But something’s still missing in the series? It’s sorta like not having a gap wedge in your golf bag. Hmm? Amid all the hype, Nick, Dynastar’s version of Paul Revere, delivers an announcement so groundbreaking that even E.F. Hutton stopped to listen.  “A star is born!”

Dynastar has added the 117mm to the CHAM FAM to bridge the performance gap between the 107 and 127. CHAM’s award-winning technique of fusing rocker and 5-point sidecut with a paulownia wood core allows the 117 to transition seamlessly from playful freeride skis to fall-line crushers. Now that’s versatile! Dynastar has also mellowed the rocker in the tip to increase contact area and to eliminate tip deflection so you can track like a ballistic missile while maintaining predictable control. With the addition of a new rockered pintail design, your 117s will float on deep powder like a ghost on nitrous oxide yet maintain power, stability and speed on all terrains and in all conditions. Ride the revolution! CHAM 2.0 is here.

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SHRED THE HIMALAYAS!

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JOIN THE HOUSE FOR AN EPIC ADVENTURE

Join Man of the People, #PaddyO and The-House.com as they travel to the Indian Himalayas this upcoming winter. Come along as they journey to Gulmarg, a powder-seekers paradise in Kashmir, northern India, in search of fresh lines and cultural (mis)-adventure! This trip will be an amazing opportunity to ride some of the world’s best snow and discover a world little-known to most Western riders. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the hardy few. Come experience this life-changing event firsthand this February with TheHouse.com team!

Gulmarg is a small town in northern India in the Pir Panjal range, one of 6 mountain ranges which form the Himalayas. This is the first mountain range to be hit by storms sweeping across the Indus Plains and needless to say, Gulmarg receives a ton of snow, on average 15m (50ft) per year. Skiing Magazine recently called this one of the top 10 snowiest resorts in the world. Luckily, there is a gondola to access all this snow and huge amounts of terrain, including one of the highest peaks in the world (topping out at 13,054ft or 3,890m). From there, 4,260 foot vertical powder runs (1,300m vertical) await!

The mountain is so big with so few skiers/boarders around and regular enough storms that it does not get tracked up. A busy day on the mountain is maybe 200 to 300 people. If you know where to go, you can always find untouched lines in Gulmarg. 95% gondola accessible backcountry, the skiing and boarding is out of this world! But don’t think it’s just about the skiing and riding…you will see some incredible wildlife in Gulmarg; the ever present Snow Monkeys running on rooftops, the elusive Snow Leopard, or perhaps a Eurasian Black Bear.

An international ski trip this epic includes the entire cultural experience. Kashmir is a Muslim state, but is part of India. The local Kashmiri’s are some of the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world. They are warm and welcoming and eager to meet Western tourists, of which they’ve met relatively few. They are very curious about people from outside of their country and you will get to meet many of these wonderful people during your stay in Kashmir and in India. We finish our 2 week trips back in the capital of Kashmir, in Srinagar on the houseboats on Dal Lake. The houseboats are converted barges that have been turned into little floating hotels and your captain takes care of everything for you. All you have to do is relax, rewind, and reminisce about all the incredible experiences you have just been through.

All this wouldn’t be possible without the help of a quality tour company and a team of the best guides available. We are working with The Adventure Project, a US-based tour operator who has been operating in Gulmarg since 2011. They are experts in putting together trips to Gulmarg and take care of all the details for you: the accommodation, the international and local guides, the transportation, the houseboats, and provide safe and epic untracked pow runs.

ACT QUICK!!! $200 OFF WITH SPECIAL CODEHOUSE1415. Only available until July 15th.

FIND OUT MORE HERE

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Sneak Peek 2015 Armada

ski-images-armadaThis year’s SIA Trade Show in Denver, CO., had more blurred lines between apparel and lifestyle than on a Robin Thicke video. To distinguish between skier, boarder, skater or wanna-be was a daunting task for marketers who wanted to reel-in their target market. Who went with what? Armada, born from a few beers between the world’s best skiers, unblurred those lines as definitively as a pair of Foster Grants when it unveiled a full line of ski-specific apparel.

Not only does Armada make world-class skis, but it also creates lifestyle apparel that transitions seamlessly from hill to street. Armada identifies with the identity.

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Skiers crave their own identity, hoping never to be mistaken for a skater-dude or, at worse, a snowboarder. Kyle, Armada Brand Ambassador, talks about the transition from technical to lifestyle apparel which embrace and promote that skiing-is-life identity. “It’s about bridging the gaps between cultures and lifestyles by bringing people together,” says Kyle. You won’t need to be a tag spy to identify Armada’s apparel because it’s designed “for skiers, by skiers.” If you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand.

Armada bridges this gap by forming a symbiotic relationship between brand and cultural- influencers, like former artist Mateez, who may not know how to ski but sure the hell knows how to create visionary masterpieces that parallel the skier persona. For it is Lifestyle that will promulgate the Armada wearer as a member of a culture that stands proud from the mall to the mountain.

Aside from adding lifestyle apparel to its 2015 line-up, Armada is also introducing several new ski models. “We are a family of skiers, designers, artists, and athletes dedicated to making the best Outerwear and Skis in the world.” Long live the Armada lifestyle.

 

Find your lifestyle at  http://www.the-house.com/

 

Sneak Peek 2015 Rossignol Experience Skis

 

Rossignol Rossignol brought plenty of radical Experiences, literally, to this year’s SIA Trade Show in Denver, CO. The newly super-tech-injected Experience series is Rossignol’s attempt at monopolizing the all-mountain ski market. Proof? The Experience’s SIA booth produced longer lines than at a clinic after the Burning Man festival. For over 100 years, pow junkies have been conditioned to salivate from the mere mention of Rossignol, much like Pavlov’s canine bestie. So whether you prefer the small-waisted 74mm or the hefty-midsection of the 98mm, the Experience will outperform your expectations on-and off-piste or from just resting atop a ski rack.

experience 88“So how can I ski better with this new technology?” Well, this multi-award winning all-mountain ski charges-harder down corduroy, floats much better over deep pow and carves more predictably through off-piste obstacles. It’s kinda like old-school power meticulously integrated with new-school tech. Mouth watering yet?

Nick, Righteous Rossi Rep., shocked and awed powder bombers with the series’ new refinements. The most impressive upgrade is the introduction of Air Tip tech. This revolutionary tech, also available in the 7 series, lightens swing weight, generates faster turn initiation, and maintains tip flotation even in variable snow conditions. With a refined rocker profile, you’ll be able to bash through crud without your skis needlessly flapping like your mother-in-law’s jaw. The AutoTurn Rocker profile allows you to carve snow like a Porsche on hot pavement. The Experience is  hard-charging, nimble and lightweight ski that you can pin it to win it!

Rossignol has been steeped in pedigree for over 100 years, so it’s no surprise Rossignol has once again set the standard for which all other skis are being  judged. Why else would Ski Magazine name the Experience its Ski of the Year, two years running?

 

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Garrett Russell #ChasingWinter

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House Team Rider Tracks Down Winter in the Californian Spring

“The Heart is Open, The Gate is Closed”

This wasn’t the first time I have woken up as early as can be or driven an incredible distance only to find the access gate closed to my hearts desire. So what is one to do when lemons and salt fall from the sky…I like to turn the lemons into limes and make some tasty ass margaritas. In this neck of the woods, I have a lot of ground to cover and more to learn but the information I’ve gathered thus far is it’s nice to have crampons and an ice axe. More than once I’ve ended up puckered on something steep, wondering why I didn’t bring or have the proper gear.  

With plans up in the air, after a solid drive from Tahoe which included grazing a good sized deer at 55mph, we (my old roommate Finely and I) decided to camp where we were and figure out our ski in the morning . What we found was Mt. Gibbs, a score of an adventurous drive, and something I’ve never skied or even thought about skiing honestly. So we hiked, following the advice from some friends from the Tahoe area. I felt like we were doing the same thing they did but a few days behind. One of these days that gate to The Dana Plateau/Tuolumne will be open and I will get to shred more vert with ease. ‘Til then, I guess I need to earn my turns.

I felt a good bit out of shape on the the 4k climb to where we decided to click in. A couple of times, I honestly wanted to deadman my ice axe in the snow and anchor myself to the side of the mountain for a nap or just stop from feeling like I was going to pass out. Finley would not allow anything of that nature. I guess the day before it snowed and thats why the gate was closed…hard to tell unless you were on the snow and could actually see/feel the new snow. Our decent was a good one for my playful LINE Mr. Pollard’s Opus Skis. I would have hacked that mountain with turns from 10th grade if I was on anything skinnier.

Of course as we were hiking up Gibbs across Blood Valley, Mt Lewis was calling our name. The plan for the next day was made assuming the gate was closed. We set up camp in a baller ass spot near Walker Lake and hiked into the sunset looking for our route.

The ski on the second day was a breeze in the shade and the snow was a creamy concoction of old and new snow. At least we got to use our skins on this one but we were a week late. The final chute was a lot further from our camp spot than anticipated. On our drive back we could see the sign saying the gate yo The Dana Plateau/Tuolumne was open but it was too late. Hot springs and a burger were calling our names. We had to get back to work and our adventure was over. Spring park riding was the next thing on this kids mind…

By: Garrett Russell

 

GARRETT’S GEAR:

Hurley Suarez Shirt

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Hurley LogoHurley is brining sexy back, way back, with a heritage piece that speaks of a rich ancestry in surf culture the Hurley Suarez Shirt. Who is the Suarez named after?  Could it be Felipe, Diego, Pelayo, or Hugo Suarez?  What really matters is that the Suarez fit is perfect, it has a great fabric blend, and the graphic is awesome.

With a Regular Fit the Hurley Suarez will be a hit at the beach or backyard BBQ.  The shirt sports a 60% Cotton / 40% Polyester blend along with reverse Push Through Floral Print and hula girls, waves, ukuleles, palm trees, volcanos, and surfboards throughout.  Detailed with Pearl Buttons, a locker loop, and a patch pocket sets the Hurley Suarez on another level.

Get the Hurley Suarez before they’re all gone!  [PURCHASE]

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