Sep 19 2014

TR: Goodness in Gulaba, India


Skiing in Kashmir, India

Skiing in Kashmir, India

We exited our jeep taxi at the end of cleared snow about a third of the way towards the pass. The Indian Army’s road crew had begun the multi-month task of clearing snow off the road over Rohtang Pass, a critical connector north to the contested state of Kashmir. The road is a remarkable feat of engineering as just this south side gains about 5500’ in twenty-five miles of steep eroded switchbacks. Here at about mile nine, we began our manpowered ascent marching past the road crew’s morning blessing ritual. We were unsure if they were blessing the heavy equipment that they hoped would cut through meters of wind-packed snow or blessing themselves that they may live through another day of high altitude work in avalanche-prone areas where spring weather can change to winter in minutes. Soon we were off the road with skins on, making our way through the thinning trees towards the alpine.
Keep earning your turns

Sep 15 2014

Review: Scott-Sports Cosmos II & Celeste II


Scott Cosmos II. Light & wide.

Scott Cosmos II. Light & wide.

In their second year building Alpine Touring boots, Scott made a few changes to address issues with buckles breaking and improve the touring performance of the Cosmos and Celeste boots. The buckle change is disappointing; their ability to hinge out of the way made getting in and out of the boot a simple affair. Unfortunately, too many users asked for warranty replacements when they walked with the buckles sticking out to the side and accidentally broke them off. Since reigning attitudes say Scott should pay, they eliminated the likelihood of that happening by removing the ability to hinge open.
Keep earning your turns

Sep 10 2014

First Look: Stanley’s Vacuum Coffee System


Stanley's VCS

Stanley’s VCS

Stanley is transforming itself from a second rate copy cat company of cool camping gear into a top notch source of goodies for camp decadence. The latest evidence of that is their 1-liter Vacuum Coffee System. You still need a stove to get the water hot enough to boil it for making coffee and your favorite beans ground to your prescription, but Stanley’s VCS handles everything else once you’re ready to brew a fresh pot.

Keep earning your turns

Sep 09 2014

Review: Dynafit’s Radical AT boot


Dynafit's Radical - Economical, Efficient, Powerful.

Dynafit’s NEW Radical

In recent years Dynafit has earned a reputation for producing low volume, high priced boots through their TLT line. Such is the price of trimming weight. Unfortunately those with higher volume feet couldn’t experience the touring freedom they offered. That changes this year with Dynafit’s new Radical boot. It isn’t Dynafit’s lightest, or stiffest boot, but it surely is their roomiest. A case could be made that it skis smoother than the Mercury or Vulcan, and is easier to switch modes.

Keep earning your turns

Sep 02 2014

Marker unveils the Kingpin


Marker's Kingpin. 2-pin toes, lateral release at the heel.

Marker’s Kingpin. 2-pin toes, lateral release at the heel.

The rumors of a new 2-pin tech binding from Marker have laid dormant until about two months ago when I caught wind of a junket in Chili to introduce the binding to the world. Very soon I realized threats to job security among people “in the know” must have been very strong as nobody who knew anything would say so much as boo.

Nontheless I did wrangle one detail out of an unsuspecting “insider” that the new binding would not latch in to the heel using the classic pair of spring bars on every other pintech binding, but hold down the heel like a regular alpine binding. This inevitably led to speculation that lateral release would come from the heel rotating ala a Tyrolia binding, which it does.
Keep earning your turns

Sep 01 2014

Review: Fischer’s Hannibal BC Ski

Dostie and I ran into each other walking dogs at dusk the other night. No, he’s not my alter ego, rather, my cousin, Jeff Dostie. We both happen to love backcountry skiing, work at ski shops, and purely by chance, live in the same neighborhood. We don’t agree on skin track strategies but we do agree that light weight skis are not as versatile as heavier skis. Of course, for the backcountry some compromise should be accepted. In our experience, when a ski drops to less than eight pounds per pair it’s difficult to maintain dampness and consequently, hold an edge on hard snow.

Fischer's Hannibal 2014 131-100-117 • 6½ pr

Fischer’s Hannibal 2014 — 131-100-117 x 180±10 cm • 6½ lbs./pr.

This season’s crop of lightweight fatties, however, is pushing that weight threshold closer to seven pounds and one of the better examples is Fischer’s Hannibal which clocks in at 3¼ pounds per ski (6½ lbs/pr). That’s light enough to suggest they can’t handle hard or heavy snow, but on groomers and velvety corn they’re awesome. Reality check; that isn’t versatile enough for serious consideration unless they can handle difficult snow too.
Keep earning your turns

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