Ski touring, Alpine touring, Randonee, backcountry, splitboarding... called by many names, the sport of backcountry shredding is growing. Once the realm of only the most adventurous and fitness oriented, recent equipment advances have fueled the flames of popularity. If you've ever heard someone speak of a "Dawn Patrol" session before the workday begins, they were likely referencing a winter tour on The Cone or up Tumalo Peak. These days, retail shops carry more backcountry-specific gear, guide services offer more clinics and experiences and institutions including the Central Oregon Avalanche Center are staffing up to create more in-depth and professional forecasting resources. Whether a hardened master of the craft, or someone remotely curious, check out VertFest to find out what all the hubbub is all about.
In addition to equipment demos and educational clinics that cover backcountry basics, there will be fire pits, adult refreshments and music—as well as the SkiMo race. Short for "Ski Mountaineering," this type of racing typically involves a timed race, following an established trail through challenging winter Alpine terrain. Racers climb and descend under their own power using backcountry skiing or snowboard equipment and techniques. At VertFest, Elite division competitors race to the Summit, while the more recreational do a lap or two on The Cone.