Sep 12 2011

The Table

It's the first thing you notice...

What draws your attention the most
is an oval slab of granite…

It’s the first thing you notice when you enter Selkirk Lodge, which is odd considering it’s just a table. Sure you’ll spend a fair amount of time at it in the coming week as you log long days of backcountry skiing, but the skiing was the point of the vacation, not the table, right? Later on, when your vacation is done and you’re thinking back on the moments that defined the trip, I’ll guarantee half of them are at the table.

Rectangular in shape, the eight-by-three-foot top is a book-matched, edge-glued piece of local Revelstoke birch, with a spline of black walnut and a breadboard end. The finish is a clear satin varnish, thick enough to enrich the texture in the grain of the wood, but not so thick as to steal the show with its own glossy sheen. Instead of traditional posts, its legs are two pairs of laminated birch arches drawn like a bow, adding an under-appreciated touch of elegance.
Keep earning your turns

Aug 18 2015

Review: BCA’s Tracker 3 avalanche transceiver

 

Tracker 3. Lighter than Tracker 2, easier for two victims, but don't expect miracles beyond that.

Tracker 3. Lighter than Tracker 2, easier for two victims, but don’t expect miracles beyond that.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there hasn’t been any earth shattering news in the world of avalanche transceivers lately. By and large, the revolution in digital processing and multiple antenna technology begot by Backcountry Access’ original Tracker DTS appears to have run its course. In the last five years, most of the improvements to avalanche transceivers have been tweaks to the way beacons communicate their ability to recognize multiple signals. BCA’s Tracker 3 continues that trend yielding a significant improvement over its siblings, but compared to many competitors the upgrade fails to impress.
Keep earning your turns

Aug 12 2015

Redux: Ortovox recalls S1+ (again!)

Ortovox S1+

Ortovox S1+

While cruising the recent Outdoor Retailer Summer trade show, Ortovox reps asked me to remind S1+ users to observe the ongoing recall and the need to send their beacon in to be fixed. Based on results so far, very few actual customers have returned their S1+ beacons to be fixed. All the S1+ beacons pending sale in retailer inventory and at the Ortovox warehouse in Longmont, Colorado were returned, but not many others.

This isn’t just a software upgrade, there is an issue with the hardware that can cause a myriad of symptoms, the most egregious of which is the possibility that the beacon won’t actually be transmitting when you think it is. Or it might yield a display that doesn’t indicate anything other than the display isn’t working correctly.
Keep earning your turns

Aug 10 2015

Notes from Outdoor Retailer Summer 2015

 

Front door to the candy store for outdoor aficionados.

Front door to the candy store for outdoor aficionados.

Another Summer Outdoor Retailer show has come and gone. For the second year in a row it was not sweltering hot in Salt Lake City during the first week of August. Whew.

As a backcountry skier there isn’t much product to be dazzled by at the summer show, but there’s always stuff worth checking out, and a few surprises through chance meetings in aisles.
Keep earning your turns

Aug 04 2015

It’s about the Tour, NOT the Turn

Skinning up in howling winds at 70° north.

Skinning up in howling winds at 70° north.

It didn’t take long to figure out that turns taste sweeter when you earn them. After all, the more you pay for something the better it is supposed to be, even if you have to trick yourself into believing that to justify the cost difference. On the whole though, a product cannot sustain a higher price than its competitors unless the consumer recognizes a difference in the value.

Earning turns is no different, and even though the out of pocket expense might seem less, in reality the cost is higher because it involves a personal investment in time. Thus, it was easy to recognize that turns earned with sweat were better than turns burned beneath a chair, even if that were just a mind game played to justify the investment. What came as a surprise was the realization that it wasn’t so much about the turn as the tour taken to make fresh tracks.
Keep earning your turns

Jul 27 2015

First Look: Spark R&D Dyno hardboot binding

The vast majority of snowboarders prefer soft boots for the same reason I prefer tele boots over alpine boots — comfort. Unfortunately when you need mountaineering versatility soft boots don’t perform the way hard plastic boots do. True, hard plastic boots don’t perform in soft snow the way soft boots can, and soft snow is typically the prize splitboarders are chasing, but not always.

I spoke recently with a Seth Lightcap, marketing director of Jones Snowboards and an avid splitboarder and he confirmed the preference for soft boots and strap bindings, “except at altitude.” That’s where crampons are practically required and hard boots get the nod.

Top down view of the Spark R&D hard boot binding system - Dyno plates with Dynafit toes.

Top down view of the Spark R&D hard boot binding system – Dyno plates with Dynafit toes.


If you’re ready for that side of splitboarding, you’ll need to figure out what boot works best for you, but it’s a pretty solid bet it’ll be a plastic boot of sorts. That also means you’ll want a binding for hard boots.
Keep earning your turns

Jul 09 2015

BD recalls first year JetForce® packs

BD's Halo28 JetForce airbag pack

BD’s Halo28 JetForce airbag pack

A voluntary recall has been announced by Black Diamond, Inc. of all first generation JetForce® avalanche safety airbag packs sold under the Black Diamond, Pieps, and POC brand names. According to a letter by Peter Metcalf, the CEO, President and Founder of Black Diamond Equipment, the recall affects all packs using BD’s JetForce® technology sold during the 2014-15 ski season.

The recall, though voluntary on BD’s part, is strongly advised for all current owners of JetForce® packs. Although no one has been injured or buried as a result of a flaw in the firmware controlling how the airbag inflates, BD estimates the problem affected less than one percent of the JetForce® systems manufactured prior to this notice. The nature of the JetForce packs combined with BD’s long standing reputation for quality and their recognition of the importance of reliability with safety oriented products made the recall necessary.
Keep earning your turns

Jun 22 2015

G3 Expands Climbing Skin Connections

 

New minimal metal twin-tip tail hook from G3.

New Minimal Metal Twin-Tip tail hook from G3.

When it comes to climbing skins it’s important to be mentally prepared to split hairs when it comes to differences. Which is another way to say that if you’re new to the sport of backcountry skiing, don’t worry about who makes the best climbing skins, just get a pair. You need to get some time under your belt to be able to appreciate the differences between nylon, mohair, and blended skin fibers, and the multitude of glue formulas out there.

However, there is one area where you don’t need to be very experienced to appreciate differences between climbing skins and that is in the tip and tail kit. In that arena, G3 has recently come out with some first rate options for securing your climbing skins to twin-tipskis, or skins for splitboards, particularly where they attach at the ends.
Keep earning your turns

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