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Asit Rathod on the summit of Mount Hood. Photo by Blake McCoy

"Let the music blast. We gon' do our dance. Bring the doubters on. They don't matter at all. Cause this life's too long and this love's too strong. So baby know for sure. That I'll never let you go." — Justin Bieber

Some secrets are hard to admit to, but… I love boy bands!!!!  Whenever I am feeling scared before dropping into a line or I'm feeling sad I throw in some cheesy boy-band tunes to calm me. The simplicity of the lyrics and poppy beats make me smile and I start dancing. It helps remind me that life isn't so serious. In those moments I hear the sarcastic voice of my brother Shane McConkey yelling over the radio: "Hey Indian guy!! Stop stalling!  Go down there and jump off something, damn it!"

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Sammy C shredding Meadows in December 2013, with Mount Jeff in the background.

UPDATE: The votes are in, and Sammy won. Oregon-born-and-raised freeskier extraordinaire Sammy Carlson is the defending champion of the Real Ski Backcountry X Games competition, and his jaw-dropping 2014 video shows why won again this year.

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jet-forceI spied an interesting image in a recent issue of Backcountry magazine: Professional skier Nina Hance wearing both a Backcountry Access Float avalanche airbag backpack and a Black Diamond Equipment Avalung II artificial air pocket sling.

Although wearing both probably lessens risk of injury and death compared with wearing just one, the practice of doubling up has not been widely adopted. Wearing both an Avalung and airbag backpack is a bit laborious: travel in tight or technical terrain can be problematic with a larger, heavier pack — and donning and doffing both can be laborious.

Enter the new Black Diamond JetForce avalanche airbag backpack: it is inflated and deflated with a battery-powered fan, which may obviate the need for wearing both devices.

The JetForce works to prevent avalanche trauma and snow burial like all airbag backpacks. In addition, great potential exists to delay carbon dioxide displacement asphyxia by creating an artificial air pocket underneath the snow after an avalanche.

Trauma and Burial

Avalanche airbag backpacks have been around in Europe for about three decades. However, adoption in North America has been fraught with difficulties.

The packs are costly and heavy. The compressed gas canister has been cuffed with import regulations. U.S. airlines prohibit flying with full canisters: replacing and refilling canisters is costly and time consuming. Multi-day trips may obligate a backup canister in case of multiple deployments.

Avalanche airbag backpacks work by two mechanism. First, given the large volume of cushioning surrounding the head and neck, airbag backpacks help minimize trauma, which accounts for 25% of avalanche deaths.

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Tommy Ellingson, Josh Larkin and the Homegrown crew spent the summer solstice and the week following exploring Illumination Saddle at 9300 feet and catching some fine air off of their hand-built jumps.

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Chris Pew skis from the summit of Mount Hood. Photo by Asit Rathod

Broday Sunday Funday rolled right into Manic Monday, and firing up my phone I wondered what is it that we are looking for on Facebook, Instagram, or whatever is the next social media platform. How often do we really see something that is sincere? How about a post that doesn't make us feel like we were in high school? That feeling of insecurity, thinking everyone's life is so much cooler and happier than ours. I'm here to tell you all what you already know: It's all nonsense.

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Ben McKinley above the clouds on Mount Hood. Photo by Scott Rice.

Ben McKinley understands the importance of timing when it comes to skiing Mount Hood in late May. That's why he woke up at 3:20 am on a Saturday, to get started early and make it up to Wy'East Face for some perfect spring snow.

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Asit Rathod and Zach Carbo on the summit of Mount Hood

Editor’s Note: Asit Rathod has skied all seven major descents from the summit of Mount Hood: Wy’East Face, the Newton Clark Headwall, Cooper Spur, the Sunshine Route, the Sandy Glacier Headwall, Leuthold’s Couloir, and the South Side Route. He recently climbed to the summit and skied down for the 200th time.

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Photo by Jeremy Rooper.

I keep telling people on Mount Hood that uphilll/downhill races are way more fun than you might think, but relatively few people seem to believe me. Well, this year's Ram's Head Randonee served as proof that skinning it up and tucking it down followed by beer, barbecue and prizes can be an absolute blast. So long as you avoid doing what I did near the finish line.

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Rosenbarger's Instagram feed shows one deep powder shot after another.

“American Dave” Rosenbarger, who grew up skiing Oregon and moved to France to ski pristine powder, died in an avalanche today on the Italian side of Mont Blanc.

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John Loseth descending Reid Headwall. Photo by Yiorgos Makris.

March 22-23, 2014 turned out to be one of these weekends we don't get too often on Mount Hood: Two days with perfect weather for climbing and skiing.

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