Suffering for Turns

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"The weather got worse the higher we climbed, says pro freeskier Ingrid Backstrom of this six-hour slog up Baffin Island's Inquisition Couloir in subzero temperatures and 50-mile-per-hour winds last May. "We were getting pounded. The climb and descent—50 degrees steep and five feet wide at points—was part of a three-week expedition that Backstrom and teammates Kasha Rigby, Hilaree Nelson-O'Neill, and Meg Oster added to their ski-mountaineering resumes. "It summed up the essence of couloir skiing, says Backstrom, "combining weather, technical climbing, teamwork, and perseverance. And the skiing was perfect: tight, thrilling hop turns at the top to get your heart pounding, and then linked powder turns for the next 4,000 feet.