Oct 23 2012

Ski Season 12/13 Begins – Day 1

First storm of the 12/13 season – more than enough to ski in.

Like every good storm I’ve ever seen in Tahoe, this one came in early. Cousin JD reported 18 inches of fresh yesterday at Alpine Meadows and I didn’t think we’d get half of that until tomorrow. So it’s time to organize and hit it early in the morning.

There’s been a bunch of gear begging for some publicity with nothing but the slippery slopes of speculation to judge them from – until now. I did a quick and efficient backcountry wax job on a pair of Volkl’s and G3 Spitfire LT’s. It is one of the narrowest skis G3 makes, but perfectly sized for a batch of skins that need to be experienced again to remind me of their subtle differences. There is little concern that they will grip adequately. I’m more interested in whether one seems to glide better, is easier to rip the hide with, pull apart after storage, or ice up if the conditions are ripe for it. G3′s Alpinist, BD’s Ascensions, BCA’s Magic Carpet and Colltex’s mohair/nylon blend are on the menu for comparison.

Besides checking out skis and skins, it will be the first opportunity I’ve had to ski the production version of Rottefella’s Freedom binding. Overall it looks remarkably similar to the prototype, which either says nothing was cured, or nothing warranted it.

One new piece of gear will be an airbag pack from Mystery Ranch. I’ll admit I dislike testing packs and boots. Packs require transferring all your gear from your fave pack to a strange one. With Mystery Ranch it is clear this is a utility pack that happens to have an airbag system incorporated in it. First impression was, “oh no, not a top loader,” which this pack can operate as, but thankfully it is adorned with a side zipper giving easy access to most of the main compartment almost as conveniently as a rear panel. The shovel pocket is voluminous too, making this a large day pack, or one that can expand to carry enough gradoo for an overnighter. You might think of it as the old Dana Designs Bomb Pack, only this one comes with an explosive canister of air.

While testing this gear may seem exciting, trust me, it’s only exciting because it involves skiing. Lets face it, the gear is great, but it’s not about the gear, it’s about the experience. Mostly I’m psyched that the snow is here and my obligations can be postponed half a day so I can zen out on the skintrack, feel the wind and the snow against my face and dance upon the slopes of the mountains. If I can weave in a bit of product “testing”, then that’s just one more reason to get on up there and earn a few turns.

Is this the start of the season? To be sure it is, although we need not be reminded of last year when it started early, went AWOL, then returned for the finish. No one is asking for a repeat of that, but regardless of how this season plays out, the key will be getting out while the getting is good.

© 2012
Follow up report here.