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April 21, 2010:

Really Core Mountain Biking

The world's oldest lake. Most voluminous freshwater lake in the world. Deepest and most likely cleanest lake in the world.

Care to take a guess? If you said Lake Baikal, you nailed it. The superlatives keep on rolling - surrounded by pristine mountains on all sides. Home to 1,085 species of plants and 1,550 species of animals, the vast majority of which are unique to Baikal. Oh yeah, it's also set dead in the heart of Siberia.

All of this makes Lake Baikal a prime target for . . . a mid-winter circumnavigation by mountain bike? Well, my ski and bike buddy Eric Noll and a joint Argentinian-American group of adventurers thought so, and thought so highly of the idea that they arranged an expedition this year starting in late February which finished on April 4th of this year.

Eric Noll earlier this season, catching some powder turns in the Stevens Pass vicinity

Their trip marks the first human-powered circumnavigation of Lake Baikal in winter, and certainly stands out for originality. For a first-hand account of the trip, check out the blog here. The group is currently seeking contributions to help fund the post-production costs of the video documenting the trip, so if you happen to have some spare cash I can think of worse places to spend it.

Here's a particularly cool video showing a rider's-point-of-view of Baikal ice passing under a mountain bike's wheels . . .

April 6, 2010:

The Return of Winter

So your skis were already packed away in the garage, parafin slathered on the bases to prevent oxidation, done for the season?

O' ye of little faith, look what happens when April rolls around and winter decides to descend on the Northwest.

A battery of storms landed in Washington State last week, beginning with last Monday night, laying down somewhere between 6 and 8 feet of fresh snow in the Cascades and bringing the powder-deprived masses up to the mountains on Tuesday. I rolled with Russell and Joe all day, and finally found Kevin and Francine early in the afternoon. The Alpental regulars were out in force, with many familiar faces in the lift line. Saturday was a zoo at the ski area, and Seth, Crispin, John, Ian, Kevin and I headed for the Kendall Trees in an attempt to stay away from both lift lines and avy zones. The day was a complete success on both counts, with perhaps the best turns of the year for most in our group. Today was another epic day at Alpental, where Crispin, Kevin and I lapped the Alp for hours in heavy snow and fog. The season lives.

Here's some of John's shots from Saturday:

Crispin Prahl, tele with roostertail. Doesn't get much better than this.   John Mauro photo

Me, setting up for the dive into the trees. Best turns of the year for this guy.   John Mauro photo

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"Incoming" covers developments that have personal interest to me (ie. gear I might consider acquiring, or events I feel may impact the sport of skiing) - it is by no means meant to be a comprehensive enumeration of gear or events in the ski world at large. Feel free to contact me via the link below with news or images that may be of interest . . .

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