How a Group of U.S. Team Mogul Skiers Conquered Alaska

And the Columbia equipment that helped them do it

Paid Post: The content and distribution of this story was paid for by Columbia Sportswear.

When U.S. Ski Team moguls skier Troy Murphy landed in Valdez, Alaska, in 2011, he knew he'd stumbled into something big. The wild expanse of the Chugach Range proved a stark contrast to the manicured bumps on the World Cup circuit, and the perfect disconnect from the long weeks of competing and gym training.

Murphy vowed to make the pilgrimage again and has spent his spring in Alaska nearly every year since. Last April, the 2015 U.S. National Champion invited fellow U.S. Ski Team moguls skier and 2015 FIS Junior World Champion Hunter Bailey, freeskier Blake Wilson, and filmer Jannick Fjeldsoe to join in on the fun, setting up base camp in an RV outside Valdez. When U.S. Team teammate Keaton McCargo joined the gang a few weeks later, it was game on.

Over the next week, the crew scored late season powder under clear skies, ticking off bucket list lines in some of the steepest terrain in North America.

"For the mogul skiers in our crew, it's so important to get up there and just remember why we started skiing in the first place," says Murphy. "We're not worrying about anything. You can just wake up and ski powder."

In the process, Murphy and friends put Columbia's new winter line to the ultimate test, grinding out long sled missions and boot-packing up steep Alaskan couloirs. After days of pushing from the back bumper to the backcountry, Murphy and McCargo gave us their go-to gear for any alpine adventure in the Final Frontier.

Troy Murphy, U.S. Freestyle Ski Team Moguls athlete, 2015 U.S. Men's National Champion

Columbia Men's OutDry EX Mogul Jacket

Constructed with Columbia's new OutDry Extreme fabric for the next level of stretch and mobility, and the classic Omni-Heat reflective technology for combating Alaskan chill without trapping human humidity, the Men's OutDry Extreme Mogul Jacket is way more than just a bump crusher.

"The best thing I noticed about the Outdry Extreme Mogul Jacket was that I could hike those long lines—one to two hour hikes—without overheating," says Murphy. "When I got to the top, I wasn't sweating but I was still warm, so I could ski my line and hit the bottom of the glacier without feeling cold because my sweat refroze."

Built with the all-mountain skier in mind, the OutDry Extreme Mogul Jacket will be the U.S. Ski Team's jacket of choice for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Columbia OutDry EX Glove

Don't let the tough exterior fool you, the OutDry EX Glove is here to keep your digits happy with a chamois-lined, fully breathable liner designed to make the toughest mission a comfortable ordeal. The OutDry EX is fully waterproof and the thumb and outer index finger are reinforced to provide maximum durability on the bootpack or on the sled track.

"The glove was really thin and light, but they were surprisingly warm," says Murphy. "I ended up using those quite a bit for our sled missions, and even hiking. When you have your hands in the snow a lot, the OutDry EX keeps everything dry, which was pretty sweet up there in Alaska."

The OutDry EX Glove also integrates seamlessly with the Extreme Mogul Jacket, meaning less snow in your cuffs and more warmth where it counts.

Columbia Men's Heat Zone 1000 Turbodown Hodded Jacket

The best fit for any cold day excursion, the Men's Heatzone 1000 Jacket gets its insane warmth from 900-fill, water resistant goose down and 100 grams of Omni-Heat insulation. Add to that a thermal reflective liner and a wave baffle construction that cuts out the cold spots found in traditional jackets, and you have everything you need to battle the elements up high while staying warm and comfy down in camp.

"[The Heat Zone 1000] was sweet for wearing around the camper or around the fire while on the road," says Murphy. "When we were laying out watching the Northern Lights, that was the really warm jacket we were wearing. When our filmer was out there sitting in the cold, he was wearing that all the time."

In addition to coming in handy around base camp, the Heat Zone 1000 has a helmet compatible-hood and a ski pass pocket for days when your normal shell just won't cut the mustard.

Keaton McCargo, U.S. Freestyle Ski Team Moguls athlete, 2016 U.S. Women's National Champion

Columbia Women's Powder Keg Pant

The partner in pow to the OutDry Extreme Mogul Jacket, the Powder Keg Pant utilizes Omni-Reflective Technology and 40 grams of Omni-Heat Insulation to trap in heat but balances it out with Omni-Tech's breathable outer shell and pant-leg venting to keep it breezy on the uphill.

"I have a hard time with fitted pants, but I also want to look like a girl," says McCargo. "As far as movement goes I do appreciate a bit more room because this is a sport, it's not just fashion. The Powder Keg was actually really comfortable in that regard."

That comfort is due in large part to the OutDry Extreme material designed to stretch with you rather than fight against you, eliminating any unwelcome resistance skinning up or skiing down.

Columbia Women's Ghost Mountain Full-Zip

A mid-layer designed with high-energy activity in mind, the Ghost Mountain Full-Zip features Alpha fleece construction to withstand the low mercury days minus the weight of traditional insulation. The lighter construction also allows for easier drying during and after big backcountry days.

"It's the most comfortable thing in the whole world," says McCargo. "It's so soft, I wore it in my sleeping bag every night, I wore it under my jacket as an extra layer."

McCargo admitted it was a hard piece to put down during the Alaska trip.

"This will definitely be my go-to under layer next season," she says.

Columbia Women's OutDry EX Mogul Jacket

The Women's OutDry Extreme Mogul Jacket was designed with the all-conditions skier in mind. Slimmer than its male counterpart, the Women's OutDry Extreme Mogul Jacket features the same Omni-Heat reflective technology for maximum warmth as well as the brand-new OutDry Extreme stretch fabric for easy maneuverability in the mountains.

"It's different than anything I've skied in before," says McCargo. "It has the OutDry material that is really warm, but also really flexible and also really waterproof. As far as feel goes, I think this is the ideal winter jacket."

The Women's OutDry Extreme Mogul is also lightweight, making it a prime candidate for backcountry missions as well as those front side hero laps.