It’s the day before the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market begins and the Backpackinglight team is assembling 35 miles southeast of Salt Lake City in Big Cottonwood Canyon for a day of “testing” snow toys. The Backcountry Base Camp is set up at the base of Brighton Ski Resort’s Millecent Ski Lift. The 3900 ft. long lift rises 1,125 vertical feet to a ridge just below Mt. Millicent’s 10,452 ft. peak. It’s a bluebird day, we’re surrounded by demo gear, and we have complementary VIP lift tickets…Hmm, what to do? Over 100 booths are here with nordic, alpine, and telemark ski gear, snowboards, snowshoes, you name it. The BBC includes an avalanche beacon search area, snowshoe testing grounds, sledding area, and nordic center. Short guided ski, snowboard, and snowshoe tours are given hourly throughout the day.
100+ booths filled with demo gear at the base of the Millecent Lift.
Mt. Millicent rises above the Brighton Ski Resort.
Anybody want to take out a pair of Atomic Skis?
I was the only skier in our group that didn’t have a chance to demo the ultralight Carbon skis from Goode.
New Backpacking Light staff member Joel Walthall checks out the integrated snowshoe/overboot system from Kahtoola.
Ken checks his gear before embarking on a snowshoe tour.
Vic is having fun on Northern Lites Backcountry Rescue Snowshoes.
Mike, Ryan, and Joel preparing to do some…umm…in-the-field product testing.
Joel carving up the groomers on Goode Carbon Skis.
Ryan warming up in-bounds, also on Goode Carbon Skis.
All of us were enjoying ourselves thoroughly amongst the plethora of new winter toys. Really, how often do you get a chance to try out so much new cool gear in such a fantastic setting. We were like kids in the proverbial candy store. All except Ryan, that is. He kept looking wistfully past the vendors’ booths and immaculately groomed ski runs towards the nearby peaks. He was mumbling something about avalanche transceivers, shovels, and steep couloirs. Then he started laying out plans for an afternoon backcountry ski tour while whistling the ”three hour tour” refrain from the Gilligan’s Island theme. Will, Janet, and Ken had clearly seen this behavior before and quickly decided to remain at BBC for the afternoon, taking photos of the booths and conducting interviews. Vic and I, on the other hand, lacking the wisdom and experience of our peers, innocently asked Ryan, “what are you up for?”
I’ve got blue skies, a free lift ticket, and new skis. I can’t understand why Ryan wants to leave all this and hike into the backcountry somewhere. (You’ll have to read Ryan’s article to see what happens next.)
That’s a wrap from the Backcountry Base Camp. Check back throughout the next few days as we begin our dispatches from the show.