Car camping is great because you can bring all kinds of lifes conveniences, yet still get away from it all. Even so, if it starts to rain, or the desert sun is taking it’s toll it would sure be nice to have an extra room off your van, or camper shell, without having to buy a Winnebago. Backcountry turns continue… »
One of the most common problems skiers experience is the simple act of getting in to their boots. This is especially true when the boot is cold and has an overlapping tongue design. Plastic ski boots do get stiffer as they get colder and if you left them in the car overnight you’re sure to be cursing as you try to pry them apart to stuff your feet in them.
It happened to me last February while testing a bunch of ski gear at the demo days at Alpine Meadows, sponsored by the WWSRA. Fortunately I had two pair of boots to chose from, so when I found that I simply could not jam my feet into my Lange XT‘s, I opted for the Scarpa Maestrale‘s with a tongue that hinges open and completely out of the way. Backcountry turns continue… »
Louis Dandurand taking Spike out for a walk in the woods.
To the discerning telemarker, as oxymoronic as that may sound, there is a lot that goes into selecting the components of the best tele system. In the end it really doesn’t matter, you can’t make gear an excuse for poor technique but the right combination of a boot and binding can make a world of difference in the control and depth of the turn experienced. Most bindings present a compromise at one end of the spectrum or another, and all are adjustable to some extent, but few offer the breadth of options offered by Burnt Mountain Designs, the product of a tele dreamer in Vermont who built the Tele Bulldog, the first truly step-in telemark binding in the world in his garage while mending humans in an hospital emergency room by day. Though the new NTN bindings are pretty darn easy to get in to, the Bulldog family of bindings are easier still. Backcountry turns continue… »
One of the most common foot ailments of skiers and hikers are blisters. Half the problem stems from imperfectly fitting shoes or boots. The other half from the manner in which blisters form.
With a half-decent fitting pair of shoes or boots, blisters should be a rare phenomenon. However, even with good fitting boots backcountry skiers know that occasionally, especially on a long tour, blisters may rear their ugly head.
The common solution, one I’m adamantly opposed to, is to apply duct tape over the existing blister, or as prevention over a known zone of trouble. Duct tape has to be one of the stooopidest solutions to this problem I’ve ever encountered. Backcountry turns continue… »
Anyone who knows my quiver knows I am not fond of oversized skis, especially those whose waist has ballooned beyond 100mm. When forced I’ll accept another 10mm of blubber but only with a locked heel. That bias runs deep, so beware this review is an attempt to give enough information based on my experience and in spite of my perceptual handicap. Those who want fuller figured skis based need be careful how you interpret my experience with the Huascaran to see if it warrants a place in your quiver.
Dynafit delivers the fattest ski they dare – Huascaran, 115mm wide at the waist.
As a fat by width but skinny by weight type ski the Huascaran is a study in limits. On the uphill the weight is barely discernible from many skinnier skis because the requisite skins are wider too. Even so, that’s the major appeal of the Husacaran. Widebody float with moderate weight. Though it weighs by itself like it’s skin and bones it has some sinewy muscles to deliver a nice flex with a rebounding snap to launch you from turn to turn. This is particularly nice in all manner of soft snow, from mush to fluff, even crud as long as it isn’t riddled with frozen crust. Backcountry turns continue… »
One of the surprise gear revelations for next season was Atomic’s decision to double-down on backcountry boots. Atomic began their entry into the BC boot market with last year’s Tracker. It didn’t garner rave reviews but I did have the opportunity to put a pair on and walk around in them a bit. They fit well, had a decent walk mode, but were not particularly light. Nor were they very stiff. As an entry level BC boot they were worth considering if they fit you well, but they did not get rave reviews as a boot worthy of playing hard in-bounds. All in all, a good first attempt, but one that didn’t win any accolades.
In round two Atomic ups the ante by adding the Waymaker series to the Tracker. The Waymaker Tour keeps the customizable Intuition ® liner, stiffens the shell, and adds Tech inserts for true BC utility. There is also a Waymaker Carbon series that uses a classic alpine boot liner, carbon reinforcement in the shell, and DIN standard soles. They also expand the line from 3 Tracker models to 7 Waymaker models, from an ultra stiff, carbon reinforced Waymaker Carbon 130 to a moderate Waymaker Tour 90. Backcountry turns continue… »
Even Rossignol joins the AT crowd with their AllTrack boot
To say that Rossi’s new All Track boot line is designed with alpine touring in mind is only accurate if you’re a neophyte AT skier, not one who has actually logged more than 10-thousand vert involving physical labor and sweat. That’s not to say that you can’t hang with the gang if you’re wearing a pair, you certainly can. Just don’t plan on doing the High Route with All Tracks on your feet.
To be sure there are more budding BC skiers than those experiened enough to be dreaming of trudging across the Sierra for a week with all the essentials on their back. Thus, for the true backcountry snob Rossi’s All Track is an easy option to cross off the list. For the guy who still prefers to get his kicks with lifts, but is willing to invest a bit of sweat to respond to the lure of untracked snow out of bounds the All Track makes a lot of sense.
Ordinarily April is a good month to ski Mt. Shasta, but May is more reliable weather wise. However, the weather pattern for this season was well established; the much anticipated big storm at the end of the season was not going to arrive. That meant, as soon as we could coordinate schedules and head north, the better.
Fortunately for us, not only did our schedules manage to synch up, so did the weather. A quick call to Chris Carr with Shasta Mountain Guides indicated what we suspected, there was not a lot of snow, but enough. The West Face was possible, but the entrance had been scoured by the wind. On the other side, the road to the Hotlum-Wintun trail head was still blocked with snow miles from the trail head, same for North Gate. The good news was the winds that had been raging for the past week, preventing access to higher elevations or the snow from morphing to corn, were forecast to back off on Friday, the exact day we had chosen for our trip. Backcountry turns continue… »
Really disturbing news for backcountry skiers this weekend. We lost five in an avalanche on Saturday around Loveland Pass. The ironic thing is all the victims were participating in an event to raise awareness about riding safely in the backcountry. A total of six were caught, one skier and four snowboarders were killed.
Ross Collins nabs freshies off the E side of peak 10,120, near the 2-stroke smoke zone.
Once again Tahoe was the recipient of a weak storm. Though wimpy, it turned out to be better than expected, with Mt. Rose ski resort reporting up to 10 inches of fresh snow. Despite the belief that this was an exaggeration, the fact that snow had fallen sporadically throughout the previous day made it worth taking a tour to hunt for what would probably be the last powder turns of the season around Lake Tahoe.
Figuring the temperatures would be rising quickly Ross and I arrived at the trailhead to Lake Incline an hour earlier than originally planned. Two cars were already there, and two guys were busy changing boots and waxing their skins. They asked in a friendly way where we were headed but I replied evasively, “skins on we go up, skins off we go down.” Within minutes they hit the trail while we donned a second coat of sunscreen. Backcountry turns continue… »