By Matt Hansen
Published: January 7, 2011
The list of things that Europeans do better than North Americans might as well stretch from here to the icy summit of Mont Blanc. Cheese, beer, transportation, cars, and even tabloids put most of our similar products to shame. But the one place Euros really have us beat is ski touring. This isn't to suggest we can't go up and down like they do, it's more about the culture, the ethos—the steeze, if you will. It is seemingly part of their DNA to not only traverse the most terrible and beautiful mountains with ease, but do it in style. Tour around the Swiss Alps and it won't be long before you encounter a badass mountaineer whose backpack includes the essential items of a corked bottle of wine and a hunk of dark chocolate.
It was in that spirit that the Nachtspektakel debuted at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort last night. Brought to fruition by Chris Denny and Eric Henderson—of Jackson-based Denny Ink—the event was meant to blend the influences of Europe and the Tetons. Dynafit provided some demos to those lucky enough to secure them. The TLT 5, an extremely lightweight and stiff AT boot which resembles a cross between a skate-ski boot and a basketball shoe, continued to garner fans. (Note: The TLT 5 has become known as the "magic elf shoe." The credit for this moniker goes to longtime Powder correspondent Hans Ludwig, aka the Jaded Local. He's not jaded about it and would never even mention it, but it's time to give credit where credit is due.)
Dynafit President Benedict Boehm, one of the premier speed skiers and ski mountaineers in the world, and product developer Schorsch Nickaes, also a world-class athlete, had traveled from their native Germany to do some Nachtspektakeling.
After a week of subzero temps in Jackson, about 70 skiers rejoiced under relatively tropical skies at the base of Teton Village to begin their leisurely ascent up to Casper Lodge. Headlamps danced in the dark as they made their up past the Apres Vous lift, with the lights of Wyoming's most vibrant city (sorry, Cheyenne) casting a glow off in the minor distance.
After about an hour of skinning, we arrived at the Casper and proceeded to Nachtspektakel a keg of fine beer while shellacking plates of tasty cheeses. No Nachtspektakel would be complete without the playful flirtation of mustaches, real or imagined. Then we clicked back into our lightweight skis for the descent via the Sunlight groomer by way of headlamp. And so concluded the inaugural night spectacular, and it was clear that we still had something to learn from the Euros.
But let it be known that Americans are still better at skiing powder. And growing mustaches.