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… »
It had been a long time, too long, since we had all skied together. At least five years. Gilski and I had rendezvoused a few times at Mammoth in the interim but the last time I skied with Lou was at Onion Valley back in ’97 and with Rober’ it had been since ’05 in the Selkirks.
Reaping what we earned – Gilski takes a faceshot on the chin.
Waxing skins is an essential part of taking care of your climbing skins which will also improve their performance. While skins are used for their climbing ability, their ability to glide when sliding between grip modes will help you climb faster. It does so two ways.
Glopped up! Time for a waxy cure.
Most importantly it can prevent a skin from icing up, which severely hampers glide by creating a rough surface and extra weight. Trying to ascend with iced up skins sucks! By waxing your skins you give them a waterproof coating that helps prevent the fibers from absorbing moisture when the snow is wet. Once they get wet and they come in contact with cold, dry snow, it will freeze to the skin, and then more and more crystals will and soon you’ll have huge globs of snow stuck to the bottom of your skis.
Secondarily, and less noticeable, with the right wax you can increase actual gliding speed and distance on flats or going downhill. You’re less likely to notice the latter benefit, but certainly you can notice the first. So always bring a small bar of wax, and rub it on at the trailhead, tip to tail. It can help you and it won’t hurt you.
Ooops. Mount Judah’s east bowl wasn’t as stable as last visit.
On a recent local lazyboy tour I hopped Sugar Bowl’s Judah chair for a fast slingshot into the backcountry. The summit chair wasn’t open, but that was fine, it’s only a 20 minute skin to the top and if you set the line right you can experience snow conditions from the northwest all the way around to the south without ever making a single switchback.
My preference is to throw a few in. Makes for a quicker climb to the microwave towers while confirming the best, and/or avy prone conditions by throwing in a few jackknife turns in select zones. Plus I like to include a little technique test for those who are switchback challenged and can’t do the free-pivot switchback dance (yet). It requires a little ballroom footwork, but less energy once you figure it out. Backcountry turns continue… »