Thursday, December 30, 2010
La Nina may not be famous for delivering the early season goods to Interior British Columbia's prime powder playgrounds, but the Southern Monashees did not dissapoint last week. I have been up to Sol Mountain Lodge a handful of times in mid and late December, and once again, their snowpack proved to be in prime shape for skiing.
What a great way to spend the Christmas holiday, good friends, good food, good coffee (thanks to Stoke Roasted Coffee out of Revelstoke, BC) and good skiing . . .
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Free your heel at Mt Hood's Ski Bowl this winter January 11 and February 8! Actually, you can check out AT gear, too. The Mountain Shop of Portland has been promoting this event for ten years, and it is a great time to get a taste of all the new tele and AT minded skis and boots on the market. The Mountain Shop brings up their full demo fleet and reps from just about every player in the business are on hand to offer demos for the evening.
If that is not enough reason to go, consider the telemark lessons (from Wyeast Nordic), gear raffles and ski competitions that are happening. Not to mention that all proceeds go to support the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center.
Prices are great too - Tele/AT Demos $10, Telemark Lessons $20, Ski Competitions $20. Get all the details at the Mountain Shop's website
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Black Diamond Equipment is making a voluntarily announced recall of a limited portion of Fall 2010 Black Diamond AvaLung Packs because of a possibility that the intake tubing may crack under cold temperatures.
For more information regarding the AvaLung recall from Black Diamond Equipment, please go to:
For help identifying the potentially affected packs, for return instructions or questions on the status of a replacement, please contact Black Diamond at (801) 278-5533 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, December 13, 2010
The Marker Duke alpine touring binding made waves in the market a couple years ago offering stout alpine-like lock down in a touring binding. A lot of resort and sidecountry skiers adopted the Duke, for good reason; they are solid binders. Dedicated touring aficionados, however, shook their heads saying, why tour with a five-pound binding? Well, Marker has addressed the head shakers with their new Tour bindings the F10 and F12 (number refers to max DIN setting). The new Marker Tour bindings weigh in at 4.4lbs (over a pound less than the Duke), making them virtually the same weight as the venerable Fritschi alpine touring bindings. In fact, the F10 actually weighs in slightly less than the Fritschi.
My primary touring binding is a Dynafit, so the thought of a four-pound binding still sounds heavy for touring, but the Marker Tour F12 does offer certified DIN to 12, alpine ski boot compatibility, alpine-like step-in convenience and bomber downhill performance. I know there is a large group of skiers who are less concerned with the weight of their gear than I am, and the new Marker binding will most certainly develop a solid following.
The primary criticism of the binding revolves around the fact that you must remove your boot from the binding in order to change between ski and tour modes. Most of us pull our skis off when it is time to put on skins, but having to remove the skis when pulling skins and switching to ski mode is a solid gripe. But for many skiers the downhill performance of the Tour will compensate for the inconvenience.
The Marker's wider mounting footprint and the binding's bomber construction create an excellent, responsive connection to the ski. These bindings are the biggest competition the Fritschi has seen. They may not turn the heads of the go-lite crowd, but the new Marker Tour bindings are a solid choice for mixed resort and backcountry use.
Ski binding weight chart (tele and AT)
Sunday, December 12, 2010
We are in the midst of a serious pineapple express here in the Northwest. Skiing has gone form great to downright soggy in the past 36 hours. It's a good time to do some housekeeping chores around the office.
First off, we get many inquires about buying a subscription or swag with a credit card rather than Paypal. Our online checkout system now allows you to pay with a credit card or with your Paypal account! Just follow the same checkout link listed for Paypal and it will offer you both credit card and Paypal options.
Second, anyone looking to buy a gift subscription, simply follow the online checkout system and just before you "pay now" or "send payment", you can edit the shipping address. Simply change the shipping address to the receipient's information. It's that easy.
Finally, December 17 is the last date to send us an order and have it shipped before Christmas. Orders that arriver after December 17 will ship after Christmas.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
The issue, our 47th, includes and interview with ski mountaineer Chris Davenport, a look at La Nina snowpack statistics, select AT boots, avalanche tales, and more.
Current season issues are available by subscription and in retail stores. PDF downloads are only available for previous seasons.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
The Backcountry Access Alp 40 ski pack has been around for several years and has received high marks from us for its simple, skier-centric design. The traditional top-loading pack is well sized and simply organized for full-day backcountry touring. The shovel compartment, probe storage and general clean design make it an efficient and utilitarian ski pack. When BCA announced they were updating the Alp 40 for this season, I was curious and apprehensive to see what they would change. There was definitely room for improvemnt (we are opinionated when it comes to packs), but there were several key elements that we thought best left untouched.
Well, we got a new Alp 40 here in the office last month, and I have had it out skiing a few times. Many of the pack's main elements that made it popular with us remain; over all volume, dedicated avalanche tool storage, Stash hydration system, general top-loader style, modest straps and waist belt (with pockets).
The new Alp 40 also has several siginificant changes that alter the packs personality. The first big change is the materials, the new pack's material is significantly stouter than previous models. The previous model was arguably a bit light-duty on the pack material and, with time, the pack definitely suffered some abrasion wear. The upside was the old version was noticably light weight. The new pack material is bomber and a nice upgrade, though as a result, the new pack is a little heavier. The second big change is the top access. The pack is still a top-loader, but rather than a traditional drawstring closure, the pack uses a dry-bag style roll-top closure. It keeps a traditional lid to cover the roll-top, but the new lid is removable. The old lid was fixed to the pack. The last big change is the new zipered back panel access. The zipper runs around about half of the back panel (replacing the sidezip on the older version), and allows reasonable access to the depths of the pack, but it is not a full fold-out opening.
Initially, I was skeptical of the roll-top acccess. It creates a great, dry closure, but seems like overkill. In use, it works great. I miss the ability to stuff the top lid in the pack and draw the top closed around it, but the roll-top is definitely secure. The new material significantly improves the pack's durability, even if it does add weght. Still, the part of the pack that really makes the pack for me is the excellent avalanche tool storage. Shovel blade and handle and probe all have dedicated storage areas that do not interfere with the main compartment, yet they are easy to access from outside the pack when needed. The new pack adds an extra velcro flap for the probe and shovel handle sleeve, adding to the security of the pocket. The new pack also carries well, maybe even better than the old one. The back panel access is ok, but not a highlight of the new pack. Someone hoping for a full panel entrance will be dissapointed, and for those happy with traditional top-loader access, the back access is nice, but not really a significant feature.
Overall, the new pack is nice upgrade from earlier versions. I am always suspect of redesigned gear that already had a lot going for it, but the new Alp 40 is a great backcountry ski specific pack, maintaining the overall simplicity and functionality of the original with a few nice upgrades.