Apr 15 2014

BCM’s Gear Test: A Family Affair

Beer – it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

Snow Sista's sipping PBR's.

Snow Sista’s sipping PBR’s.

When you read the dispatches from the Backcountry Mag crew on the status of their annual Gear Test week at Powder Mountain resort you can’t help but think what a party scene the whole affair is. Indeed, a festive atmosphere does dominate the whole scene. How could it not? After all, a week of skiing where you simply MUST ski as much as you can, on as many different pieces of gear as you can, with a gang of like minded skiers sounds like a perfect formula for hedonistic bliss.

Except that’s only the facade that makes it to the headlines. What makes it all work is something far less sexy sounding – family values. Yes, I’m talking about raising families and doing the right things and not letting things get out of control even though they can, but in a family way, still do.
Keep earning your turns

Apr 14 2014

Testing AT boots at Mt. Bachelor w/ABB


The BC boot test team - Bob Egeland and Dostie at Mt. Bachelor, OR.

The BC boot test team – Bob Egeland & Dostie
at Mt. Bachelor, OR.

The annual ski boot test run by America’s Best Bootfitters for Ski and Skiing magazines was held last week at Mt. Bachelor. Conditions were classic spring with creamy corn conditions on all aspects allowing testers, a hodge-podge group of boot fitters, friends of fitters, and manufacturers, to put their feet inside more than 100 models of boots to see how they perform outside the showroom.
Keep earning your turns

Apr 06 2014

Apparel Review: Dynafit’s Mercury DST jacket


Dynafit does apparel too. And well. The Mercury DST. Breathable. Quiet. Sheds snow. Simple design.

Dynafit does apparel too. And well.
The Mercury DST.

Just as real skiers have a quiver of skis, at least two, so goes the wardrobe of backcountry skiers. You need two jackets – one that is more waterproof for when it’s puking rain, and one that is more breathable for when it’s not. Of course, the goal is always to have one that does both but anyone who has been around the block knows, you can’t really have both. Pick one, and optimize it for one side or the other – waterproof or breathable. Or, in this case, pick both, but a different shell for each. On most days, a softshell like Dynafit’s Mercury will be the better choice.

Breathable, not as Waterproof

For the sunny side of touring, you will be hard pressed to beat the performance of Dynafit’s Mercury jacket made of SilverShell. It’s a a dense weave of nylon and lycra that makes it fairly resistant to moisture absorption – no membrane required. Wind resistance is a default feature, where it rocks. You certainly wouldn’t want the Mercury in the rain but as long as you could stay warm by moving, which is where this jacket excels, breathing like a fish when the inside and outside are moist, you’ll stay dry and the snow will just pill up on the outside. It’s waterproof enough as long as it isn’t a drenching of the liquid variety of water.
Keep earning your turns

Apr 04 2014

TR: Tahoe rallys for best day of the season


Kris Thomas drops off Anderson Ridge near Sugar Bowl.

Kris Thomas drops off Anderson Ridge near Sugar Bowl.

The smiles around Tahoe are pretty deep this week. Most days you can find a smile on the face of any Tahoe local, especially if they’re a skier in the middle of winter. Work not withstanding, being in one of the finest places in the world to shred snow fosters an optimism that is harder to find in the big chity. Even when it has been the third wimpy winter in a row.

That enthusiasm for snow has been admittedly a dubious basis for good cheer recently, especially this season. As a backcountry skier though I must admit my patience for deliverance from the drought, however temporary, has been tested this winter. My smile, though not absent, was more stoic than bubbly. I noticed it with other backcountry skiers as well. The earning of turns has remained reliable throughout the season, especially with Sugar Bowl going official on their uphill policy. However, the turning has not been so good, at least, not compared to how good we know it can be.
Keep earning your turns

Mar 31 2014

Awesome April is here


Spring skiing extends the season - even with pow pow.

Spring skiing extends the season —
even with pow pow. CTE

This is the time of year when the wannabes fall away. Spring – when the snow alternates within hours from cold smoke to mashed potatoes. It’s the time of year when it’s icy in the morning, velvet corn in the afternoon. With the right conditions the weather warms for the day while the sun blazes and bakes the snow through blue skies then freezes solid under a dark starlit night. The melt-freeze cycle causes the snow to bond to itself and the avy lizard is frozen in its tracks, unable to wreak havoc.

It is also the time when most skiers stop skiing. They think the snow is too slushy. Bunch o’ powder puffs who only see value in one type of snow. I’ll admit sloppy seconds in spring under the lifts isn’t quite the same thrill as powder, but powder is fleeting and given a choice between frozen ice between storms in the winter, chopped up crud, or soft mashed potatoes in spring I’ll take soft snow over hard any time, winter, spring, summer or fall. For those who avoid spring slush, just know you’re also missing out on velvet corn in shorts and T-shirts.
Keep earning your turns

Mar 24 2014

Powder Mountain delivers for BCM Gear Test


Fun and games (gear testing) at Powder Mountain. photo courtesy BCM.

Fun and games (gear testing) at Powder Mountain.
photo courtesy Backcountry Magazine.

Howie put the question to me, live, with a video camera rolling. I hate being put on the spot like that. I’m a writer because I know how easy it is to say the wrong thing in the heat of the moment. It’s much better to consider the ramifications of what you say with a bit of thought over time.

Still, the integrity and honesty of a spur of the moment idea can strike to the heart of the matter. That’s how it was when Backcountry Magazine’s editorial director asked me why I thought Powder Mountain was a great spot to host their annual Gear Test. From afar Powder mountain looks pretty flat and rolling. To be honest the top third, the part you see from afar, is low angle and uninspiring.
Keep earning your turns

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