Review: Atomic Bent Chetler 100 Skis

I picked up these Atomic Bent Chetler 100’s last spring when we thought the COVID lockdown would be two weeks.  TWO WEEKS.

Specs

Designed by legendary skier Chris Benchettler, the Bent Chetler 100 is a versatile, all-around ski suitable for a wide variety of ski conditions.

Length tested: 172. Other lengths available are 164, 180, 188.

The dual rocker technology is distributed as follows: Front rocker 20%, camber 70%, and tail rocker 10%.

The ski features HRZN Tech in the tip and tail for increased surface area and float. The Light Woodcore, directional shape, and Powder Rocker make carving, slashing, and even sliding (when necessary) a breeze.

The turning radius of the 172’s is 18, while the 164’s are at 16.4.  The 180’s 19.5 and the 188’s 21.

My Experience

I only had a couple of chances to ski the 100’s last spring before the resorts shut down due to COVID.  The resorts are back open now for the 2020-2021 season and I’ve been riding the Bent Chetler 100’s exclusively.

When I first tried the 100’s, I was not used to them at all.  I was coming from the perspective of much wider and much longer skis.  Now I’ve got the feel for the 100’s and I’m really digging them. I’ve managed to experience quite a variance of  conditions from light powder to groomers to ice.  The skis are playful and easy to ski, but strong enough to take on more aggressive skiing and terrain.

In powder they float well for being relatively narrow.  I’m typically on 108’s and 116’s underfoot. Here’s a little pow video.

While they don’t necessarily ride on top of super light pow, they have enough float to get the job done.

Some of the most fun I’ve had skiing the Bent’s is making quick, short turns in tight places:

Final Thoughts

The Bent Chetler 100’s are a great one-ski-fits-all solution, or a great all-mountain addition to a skier’s quiver. The ski is reasonably priced at around $600 (without bindings).

 

It Took a Worldwide Pandemic for Snowboarders to be Allowed at Alta

When Alta shut down because of covid last season, I still skinned up to the top of many runs like Devil’s Castle, to get powder runs.  I made a few friends and many runs with snowboarders, who jumped at the chance to board Alta. It was interesting. It takes a worldwide pandemic for snowboarders to be allowed to board at Alta. May never happen again. Someone made an actual short film about snowboarders at Alta, and you can see many of the runs I skied last year in my quest for 116, skiing every run there in one season. Fun to watch. That chute they hit above East Greeley looks awesome. 

Silver Linings – An Alta Snowboard Film from Verb Cabin on Vimeo.

Point Supreme – First Lengthy Skinning Session of the Season

My buddy Michael and I did our first substantial skinning session of the 2020-2021 season today.  We started up the Summer Road at Alta and went up near Catherine Pass to Point Supreme.  We went nearly to the very top but it was very thin and dangerous up there so we didn’t go the last couple hundred yards. Here’s a little body cam video from Point Supreme.

I’m thrilled to say that all the mountain biking this summer has really made a huge difference in my fitness and ability to take on vertical like this at over 10,000 feet.  Unfortunately I had the wrong socks, and my touring boots are not fitted well and I ended up with nasty blisters on both feet. That needs to be resolved.

2nd backcountry ski session of 2020-2021

Did my 2nd backcountry tour of the season after work today.  These after work sessions are fun, but I don’t have a lot of time.  Between getting there and getting the gear on and such, I have about an hour or so of climbing I can do before I have to transition to downhill skiing before dark.  Still good to get out. I got up to the top of Albion and by then it was getting dark and very cold.

On the way up I saw my friend Snuggles, the porcupine!

First backcountry ski tour of 2020-2021 is in the books

I jealously watched all the pow videos from this past weekend.  I was going to go up, but had no snow tires and the road restriction was in place.  So today after work I drove up to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon as fast as I could and did my first skinning of the season.  I got about a mile up Grizzly Gulch before it started getting too dark to feel comfortable about safely skiing down.  It was a good warm up.  Lots of snow for this time of year.  Hopefully that means we are in for a great season.

On the way back down I was treated to a fantastic sunset. At that point I thought to myself, “I need to do more evening tours!”

First Mountain Bike Rides on Levitate Trail in Draper, Utah

I just got into serious mountain biking this spring so I’m pretty much a newb with a lot of it. I finally took a shot at the trail “Levitate” which is rated as an expert trail. Levitate is part of the Corner Canyon mountain bike system in Draper, Utah.

Levitate has a ton of jumps and I’m really loving catching air. When I’m jumping I feel like I’m getting major air, but the helmet cam video below seems to disagree. Not a badass jumper yet. Just an air bear for now. Making progress.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail – East Mountain Wilderness Park

Rode a new trail this morning, the East Mountain Wilderness Park section of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

Overall it’s quite an easy trail, but there were a couple of very rocky steep sections where I had to get off and walk my bike up.

The scenery was nice and there was a lot of shade which helped.  It’s still quite hot, nearing 100 today again.

Would I ride this trail again?  Probably not, unless I’m riding it to access some other trails nearby. It’s about a 45 minute drive and I can find more fun and challenging trails a few minutes from the house.  I wanted to check out something new though, and it was nice to get an idea of something up in Davis County, Utah.

New Specialized StumpJumper Mountain Bike

It only took me 30 years to upgrade mountain bikes. My old Scott Pro from 1990 served me well, but I badly needed an upgrade.  Here was my list of requirements:

  • Full suspension (front and rear shocks)
  • Seat dropper
  • 29 inch wheels
  • Hydraulic disc breaks
  • Modern geometry
  • Good looking
  • Around $2k price range
  • Medium frame size

Shopping was a little difficult because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Some shops were not open or were only open by appointment or special hours.  Some shops didn’t have inventory that met my requirements.  After visiting 4-5 shops I got a little bummed out and bagged the search.  Then after a few days I took it back up again and found a Scott bike and a Specialized StumpJumper in my size and with my requirements at one shop.  I test rode both.  The Scott felt cheap and didn’t ride very well.  The StumpJumper rode very smooth and “felt” like the one. I pulled the trigger right there and have been thrilled with the choice so far.

The bike is a 12-speed (photo below).  I didn’t have enough knowledge about the gearing options and manufacturer to have a “requirement.” I’m happy so far with this 12-speed setup.  It climbs well.  I just wish I had a gear or two more for higher speeds, but this is a mountain bike, not a road bike.

The rear shock (below) is fantastic. After riding a hard tail and hard fork I’ve felt every bump for 1000’s of miles.  Nice to have some absorption now and the shocks are a must when riding bumpy and rocky trails.

Upgrades

After my first ride, I had a flat tire.  We have these nasty, nasty thorns here in Utah.  So after some research I decided to go “tubeless.”  This is a process where they remove the tube and treat the rim with some tape, then fill the tire with air and sealant.  Since then I’ve had no flats at all.  Going tubeless was the right decision for sure.

I also upgraded the pedals.  My feet kept slipping off of the stock pedals.  The new pedals cost about $80, so that may factor into the purchase if considering this bike.

Total upgrades: $140.00.

On The Trail

I’m not the world’s foremost expert in mountain biking.  That said, I’m quite happy with how the StumpJumper performs in varying terrain.  I’ve taken it through mud, sand, rocks, gravel, pavement, slick rock, bark, pebbles, and just about any mix of terrain one could think of.  The only area that the bike doesn’t perform well is in sand, which is not unexpected.  The tires are pretty fat, but not fatties.

I find the bike climbs very well and I almost never need to use the lowest gears.

Downhill biking is a blast with the 29 inch tires and full suspension.  I love catching air and knowing that I can land softly without too much of a kick.

Final Thoughts

I’m just scratching the surface on my StumpJumper, and the whole mountain biking experience.  I’m thrilled with the performance, durability and style and looking forward to many years of riding enjoyment.

2019-2020 Ski Season Ends With Epic Hike and Ski at Gunsight

Had a fantastic adventure hiking up to the top of Gunsight at Alta today. I’ve now skied in 10 straight months. This has been the most epic ski season EVER. Skied every run at Alta in one season, and bagged many bucket list lines I’ve only fantasized about. Made it through the season with no injuries despite skiing in many ultra-expert and dangerous places. In fact, I only crashed and released a ski once all season. Sadly, I think today is the day I shut it down until next ski season.

Quest for 116 – Final Chapter: Baldy Chutes

GOAL ACHIEVED!

During the 2018-2019 ski season I started tracking the runs I was skiing at Alta Ski Area by tracing them in a yellow highlighter on the Alta trail map. After marking a few runs the idea hit me to see if I could ski all of the marked runs at Alta in one ski season. Unfortunately that goal was cut short when I had shoulder surgery on my right shoulder on February 14th, 2019.

When the 2019-2020 ski season started I once again set the goal to ski 116. This time I marked the map with a pink highlighter.

Alta Ski Area Map
That’s a wrap on the 2020 ski goal! All 116 runs marked!

I went at it hard and fast, skiing Alta 30 times, not including backcountry skiing there during the offseason. After each ski day I carefully highlighted each run and many of them are all-timers. There were several big pow days in Devil’s Castle, and another big pow day on Wildcat. Then I finally skied the elusive East Castle, which is not open very often. What a thrill and pretty steep at the top. Other very memorable runs included big pow in Castle Apron and Catherine’s Area. Can’t do a greatest hits without mentioning East Greeley. That’s a tricky entrance. It was all great preparation for 116.

Run 116 – Main Chute, Mt. Baldy

This run has been some 30 years in the making. The last and only time I “went down” the Baldy Chutes was with my cousin Phil in 1990. Upon entering the main chute I hit a rock which stopped my ski, throwing me off balance. The chute was so steep I fell over onto a mogul and instantly dislocated my shoulder. From that point I slid, tumbled, cartwheeled, fell hundreds of feet, all the way to the bottom of the chute. During the fall I was calm. Everything was moving very slowly.  I was puzzled that I couldn’t stop falling, but when on a slope that steep gravity wins.  At one point during the fall I was sliding and managed to get my feet below me. “I’ll just dig my boot heels in and stop now,” I thought.  When I dug my heels in I flipped. I remember watching the rocks on each side go by in slow motion.

At the bottom of the chute a ski patrolman was there and asked if I was ok. I told him I had dislocated my shoulder. He said, “no, you’d be screaming in pain if you did.” Well he was wrong. I was so full of adrenaline I couldn’t feel any pain. From the bottom of the chute I skied down with my poles in my right hand all the way to the parking lot. I would end up in the Snowbird Medical Clinic where I did eventually go into shock before they put my shoulder back in the socket.

A week or later my dad was up there talking to someone at Alta in the Watson Shelter and mentioned my crash. I’d become some kind of legend up there for falling all the way down Main Chute, surviving, and just skiing away. Since then I’ve re-dislocated my shoulder two additional times, one last summer hiking at…. Alta.

Alta Ski Area Baldy Chutes
Top of Main Chute – Just a wee bit steep!

Each season as I ski Alta I’ve been eyeballing Main Chute hoping to make up for that bad day. Could I do it? Would I crash again? Why even try it? Often times I would ski by and take a picture from below from Ballroom. I always made it a point to say hello and thank the chute for spitting me out alive.

This season at Alta I’ve been skiing my butt off. I’m skiing the best I ever have. I once again set a goal to ski all 116 of the marked runs on the Alta trail map this season and found some incredible, scenic, and difficult terrain I’d never skied before. I was killing it; sure to get in all 116 with several weeks to spare. Or so I thought.

Alta Ski Area Baldy Chutes
Baldy Chutes – Main Chute

Alta shut down for the season early due to the Covid-19. At that point I had skied 115 of the 116 runs. The final run was the Baldy Chutes. It looked like my goal would not be reached this season, which was a punch in the gut.

I’d been working out for over a year, eating better, and doing backcountry skiing since last spring. I lost some 45 pounds. I’ve built up some very good cardio, strength, and endurance. So this past Sunday I gave it a shot; I skinned all the way from the lower parking lot to the top of Mt. Baldy, 11,068 feet.

Alta Ski Area Mount Baldy
Usually going up is tougher than going down when skiing. Not this time.

It was almost three miles from the parking lot to the top, about 2,600 vertical feet. At the top of Mineral Basin near the top of the Sugarloaf lift, I had to take my skis off and “boot pack” up the side of Baldy with my skis on my backpack. The snow kept giving way straight down so it was hard treading. I almost turned around because it was too difficult to boot pack. But I found some better snow and was able to get better traction. Once up a small ridge it flattened out and I could put my skis, with skins on, back on. From there I was to the top in probably 20 minutes.

That’s where the video below BEGINS.

After all the vertical, sweating, leg fatigue, skinning and hiking up, now I had to ski down with rubber legs. At first glance I was stunned at how steep Main Chute was. Look closely when I meet the other skier at the top of the chute in the video. You can see straight down. I’ve skied some shorter patches of terrain that steep, but this is a sustained steepness with rocks on both sides. It is truly stunning and terrifying, especially for someone who has had 30 years to think about falling down it. I skied conservatively, and stopped often to catch my breath and composure. There are no style points here. Just get down in one piece.

Mt. Baldy - Utah
Main Chute – The Line

2 for 1

I got down in one piece and completed the 116th run on what would have been Alta’s final day of operation for the 2020 season, and also exercised a ski demon that had been weighing on me for three decades. I have a spring in my step now. I’ll have until next ski season to ponder….

What next?