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Freeride 16 August 2017 Back to list
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Catching Up With Noah Howell

Catching Up With Noah Howell


Winter 2017 in the Wasatch was one of the best ski seasons that I can recall! The snow fell deeply and often in my backyard so I wasn’t compelled to leave. This was the first winter in many many years that I didn’t travel looking for good snow until Spring. This allowed for plenty of gluttonous powder days in the trees, great chute skiing and some peak bagging. Once spring came we had a thick enough snowpack that I was able to tick off some coveted first descents I’ve been dreaming about for years. Check out for more pics and reports from those lines. 

Photo: Jason Dorais

For more than a decade I’ve headed to Alaska in the spring on ski expeditions. All those trips to Alaska have kept me from skiing much in the lower 48 states. This year was a poor one in the great white north, so I decided to stay in the lower 48 and focus on skiing the “50 Classics”. The Sierra Range had an incredible winter with many of the big classics filled in for the first time in many years. I made a few trips to the Range of Light to enjoy some of the best spring skiing on the planet. This photo was taken by Jason Dorais on our way off of the summit and onto the rarely skied “Giant Steps” line off Mount Williamson, the second highest peak in California.

Photo: Adam Moszynski

With the Tetons, Sawtooths, Elks, etc all having excellent snow, it was easy to just watch the weather and go where the skiing was good. It’s key to have good friends in those locations because they are dialed with conditions in their backyards and it’s much less work getting to know the snowpack. Adam Moszynski has Colorado on lock down and when he said the San Juan mountains were about to get two feet of new snow and then go bluebird, I jumped in the car and met him there the next day. We were fortunate to nail one of the most iconic lines, Mount Wilson (the mountain on the old Coors cans) in primo powder. He caught this shot halfway down the 3,000 foot face. My plan not to go to Alaska was working out well so far!

Photo: Jason Dorais

Skiing can take you to strange and beautiful places, like the flanks of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico at sunrise. This 18,000 foot volcano was not even on my radar last spring, but when my good friends Andy and Jason Dorais noticed it was about to get 10” of new snow, and then offered to DRIVE over 2,000 miles to get there I couldn’t say no. Luckily we came to our senses outside of Albuquerque and flew the rest of the way. The new snow was much less than predicted, but the adventure was everything we could have hoped for when skis and travel are combined. You never know until you go, always go!

Mid winter I was caught by my sluff in a brief lapse of judgement and I was tumbled and churned 500 feet down a gully on Kessler Peak in the Wasatch. I lost both skis, both poles, my Gopro and one glove. I was very lucky that’s all that I lost. I walked off the mountain and punched through the snow the whole way on that walk of shame. I had to wait until mid July to hike back up and try and recovery my gear. I was able to find everything but one of the ski poles. This is one of my skis laying right where it melted out. There isn’t much room for error in dealing with large forces like avalanches. You only get so many reminders and “learning” experiences so use them wisely.

Photo: Adam Clark

Summer is my least favorite season, but I do enjoy missing and craving the snow it creates. It’s a time to reset, train and come into the next winter stronger and faster. My summer routine includes training inside and out of the gym. The mountains are fun to run and adventure in, but the gym and working with weights provides great general conditioning and a break from the wear and tear that the mountains provide. It’s also important to mix up movements and work other muscles after dealing with so much repetitive volume in skiing. At my age I feel like it’s a key part of injury prevention and staying strong and balanced.

A few years ago I found and fell in love with a piece of land. It’s the perfect little wooded get-away just outside of Salt Lake City. On the weekends and in spare time you’ll find me there hanging out or working on projects. I’ve started milling using an Alaskan Sawmill that attaches to a chainsaw to make lumber. I’m starting small with benches and I’ve made a few fireplace mantles for friends. The dream is to someday build a cabin using as much local material and timber as possible. This photo was taken by the Game Camera that regularly captures the local moose, deer, elk and occasional cougar.  Right now I just have an old travel trailer and a fire pit, but Follow along with the progress at @The__Lions__Den. It’s a fun way to pass time until the next snow falls.

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