Going into the backcountry with Chip Smith at East Longmeadow’s Competitive Edge
About a mile past the X on Route 83, after Donut Dip and Pasquale’s Restaurant and Tavern, just over the Springfield city line into East Longmeadow, next to the Pride gas station, is Competitive Edge Ski & Bike.
It’s not the typical location for a ski shop specializing in backcountry gear. And East Longmeadow isn’t the place most think of when searching out a ski gear salesperson with an extensive knowledge of telemark and alpine touring equipment, but that’s where Chip Smith is anyway.
Smith stands six feet tall and speaks with the sort of enthusiasm a young man or woman from the East might use in anticipation of experiencing the majesty of the West for the first time. He says he’s 70 years old, but an athletic 60 would be more believable.
If you contact Competitive Edge inquiring about gear that would hold its own on a mountaineering trip in the Alps or a heli-skiing excursion in Alaska, you will be referred to Smith, their backcountry ski guru.
Smith grew up in the Springfield area. He first skied the famed avalanche-prone headwall of Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mount Washington in New Hampshire at age 16. He and his brother — who went on to captain the ski race team at Syracuse University — made the pilgrimage to Tuckerman’s every year before he moved out to the fabled West.