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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dynafit Huascaran Ski.....take 2


Ya, after my exposure to Jason and Eric, back to my reality now :-)

Funny how I can write a blog and have all these great ideas in my head about training and nutrition.  And weigh out my gear to the gram.  Then on a 2am start at the last moment ditch the plan (THE PLAN) and grab totally different gear for a specific reason.    Which may or may not be even remotely reasonable.  I never do that climbing.

Classic example of that this morning.  We took Sunday off to get some rest and prepare for a ski on Rainier. At the last moment I intentionally and mindlessly grabbed my 177cm Huascaran instead of my 168cm GTR La Sportiva.   Which added 3+ pounds to my kit.  Instead of my typical 1 liter bladder I grabbed a full 100 fluid oz or 3 liters of water.  6.6 pounds of water weight instead of 2.2 pounds.    Up 7.4 pounds before I even left the house!

How to plan defeat?  Jerry and I were both tired.  Him from driving 10 hrs and a day of skiing in trying conditions.  Me?  From a late night social dinner and not enough sleep.  Few ever call me social.

The last time I had skied the Nisqually chutes the one thing that kept popping into my mind was how bad the snow was (it had been exceptionally warm that day) and how good the skiing might have been on a fat ski.  When we left the house late for the two hour drive and then missed a crucial turn and added another 45 minutes I didn't care about what skis I'd picked up or the additional water.

When Eric, Stano and Nick blew by me on the Muir snowfield I was feeling like a dolt. (see )   I could hear their skins ripping off the skin tracks from a long ways down the mtn.  I'd just stopped for a bite to eat to cheer myself up.  Jerry a full 30 minutes ahead of me by now.

I had promised myself not to rethink the extra liters of water or the fat skis for this trip.  "Make a choice and live with it" was to be my motto that day.  My mind kept returning to this picture on the Muir snowfield a month ago.

A short day trip where I not only caught everyone I saw on ski or on foot but passed them all with little fan fare and no extra effort.  Something that literally never happens to me these days.  I was pretty stoked.  But Marker Dukes, downhill boots, long fat ski, big packs by comparison and a helmet didn't make passing them all much of a challenge either.

Yesterday I was all too aware, I was seemingly "them".  And while happy to be out.......I know the difference between "us" and "them".  And it aint the Lycra.  My "skinny" skis and boots were a big part of the fun previous.  Stripped to long johns and a minuscule race pack helped.   And the gear isn't even "light" versions oif the skis or boots by comparison to what is easily available.  I have never been disappointed in the light choice of gear in the mountains.

Ok, that said how were the Huascarans skiing down from Muir yesterday?  Well we abandoned the summit attempt after being totally demoralised in no small part by the Canadians running by and the lack of motivation earlier in the morning.

This is how I found Jerry @ Muir ;-)   Wrapped snugly in his Mont Bell Mirage jacket (review coming soon) and his favorite Patagonia Mixed Guide pant, sound asleep on his skis.  "I told you I was tired".  Unusual for Jerry as he's been the energizer bunny for the 40+ years I've skied and climbed with him.

Our fate now sealed, thankfully as Jerry naps ;)

Despite what Eric said in his blog about their speed ascent, "It was warm and windless so light gloves and race suit were hot!"  more here:

After a quick food and water break I found the Muir snow field both a little chilly and breezy just after sunrise just below where Eric and crew skinned past.  Hood up and puffy on.  The difference in effort involved obviously.   Jerry and I both had warm gloves and puffies on for the first part of our ski decent from Muir.

But as I said Jerry is usually full of energy.  So we aint waiting long for softer snow.  I'm game!  I brought full on "mountain" skis, and my TLT Performance boots, tongue and my innovative power strap add on to solve any skiing problem I might have imagined from the summit.  The upper hard pack and the Nisqually chutes are going to be kid's play after the GTRs in the wind crust and slush of the last time out here.

For those interested I'm using Voile straps for the TLTs in either version.  Makes the boot skin easier without the bolted on version and easy to add or remove.  I also like the progressive support they add differing from a typical Velcro power strap.  

Jerry was in a pair of TLT Mountain (no tongue or power strap) and short (166) Kilowats.  Jerry is likely capable of skiing any terrian, on any gear.  When we first met he was on 220s and a PSIA instructor.  He's 5' 9" and 150# on a good day and skiing prior to kindergarten.  Now he patrols in Montana after his last decade old gig as a full cert race coach.  I always believe I know how to ski,  until I ski with JJ again.

Jerry dropping off the Muir Snowfield yesterday

So the upper Muir snow field was some pretty hard snow.  If it were at a ski area it would no doubt simply be called ICE.   We skied it anyway.  Not a edge mark to show our passing for the first 2000'.  Hard and almost baby ass smooth terrain.  Fun skiing.  Sort of.   Jerry's feet and my knees were taking a beating from the hard conditions.  For the first time ever, I admit we are well worn.   Hard snow on fat skis and soft boots will do that.  And I had the advantage in every way with the Huascarans and carbon cuffed boots here. (tongue and power strap in place)

We took a short break to see if the sun would soften the snow enough to be really pleasurable.  Because it was pretty good skiing even being that hard.  30 minutes and things were starting to rock.  The right aspect and my Huascarans were cutting a razor's edge on the snow surface.  Just barely noticeable.  We both were getting huge grins and admiring the grand scale of the terrain on the mountain.

Note the distinct lack of Jerry's ski track in the dragon skin.  The tracks that do show are from the previous day's much  warmer snow conditions.

Yes, "GRAND", would be a good descriptor here!

So the Huascarans had skied a couple thousand feet of ice and now we are switching to some amazing corn snow for another 3000' and we'll end in 1000 vert feet of wet snow, almost slush.  Not terribly bad conditions any where and something any ski can handle easy enough.  But few skis will give you the kind of pleasure a mid fat, 113mm under foot,  rockered tip and a shaped pin tail will with a decent side cut, in ANY snow condition.  I have 3 such skis in my quiver.  All coming in at progressively more weight.  All of them amazing skis.  But only the Huascaran am I willing to pack up to Camp Muir or the summit of Rainier.  Because at least for me it is never "all about the down".   A quick (for me) three hour hike to Muir gets you a casually paced ski to the Nisqually bridge in 2 hours, even if some boulder hiking is thrown in.

The bridge just 10 minutes away

I had promised myself early on yesterday to "make a choice and live with it".   There wasn't a single turn I made yesterday (and I made a lot of them) except that missed turn on the drive over where I regretted my choice in skis.  I savored every single one of those turns.  I earned them after all.

The extra 2.5 liters of water?   I gave that away at Camp Muir to some needy climbers suffering through a bad night.

Jerry was gone 30 minutes hitching a ride and fetching the truck.  I took a nap in the bright sunshine .  "I told you I was tired".  Falling asleep staring at our route off the mountain and thinking just how much fun I had just had.....much of it due to my choice of boots and the Huascarans.  As I dosed off  I promised myself to take a few lessons and learn to ski more like Jerry for next year.  And rethink how much water I really need to carry  ;-)
Better to think  of your own efforts along the lines of Stano, Nick and Eric than "them other guys"  You'll likely enjoy the outdoors more more.
For anyone interested in my previous thoughts on the Dynafit Huascaran look here:

I have yet to do a proper review of this ski.  I have the 177cm that I've talked about a couple of times now.  I was so impressed with the 177s I bought a pair of  196cm Huascaran's as well.  This review turned into a short story of our day out as much as it did a review of the Huascaran.  I can't say enough good things about this ski.  But I'll try again in a proper review of both the 177cm and the 196cm version shortly.  Bottom line imo?  I own four really, really good, mid fat, 115+/-mm under foot skis.  The Huascaran is the lightest version.  If weight is important to you buy a pair of Huascarans on sale this summer and get ready to rip next winter! 

Trevor seems to agree.  And he actually does RIP!



John said...

Maybe it wasn't your intent at the beginning of the "review" but I do like reading a trip report every now and then too. Sounds like the trick to feeling good is to surround yourself with slower people. I got passed on Shasta by a twelve year old in running shoes who climbed 8k in 5 hours. Funny how I turned around soon after.

Dane said...

Thanks John. Much appreciated. I did the same trip by myself a month ago.

When I started this blog I wanted to make an intentional point of not adding in my own trip reports. Boring stuff. No matter how good the climb for me personally, always boring stuff. The gazzilion pictures of me are bad enough trying to get shots of gear I am reviewing. Fun to have a good "action model" along this time like JJ. And obviously the best trips are with good friends. Easy to write a TR on that.

Dane said...

Forgot...but seemingly important. I "race" some doing tris, road races and the occasional bike race or TT. I used to pride myself getting clients or partners to pass those in front of us. Races I do what I can to hunt those down in fron of me. With various levels of success. If I stopped or turned around every time I got passed in a race or on a mtn these days I'd never get anything done! My take at the moment any way, as painful as it has become, is surround yourself with rabbits and try to keep up. I'm convinced I am still the wolf. If required and they falter I can still eat them ;-) Their strenght? They can move fast....but for how long?

brian p. harder said...

I'm not sure what to say when 115mm underfoot is considered "mid fat". God help us.

I'll have to agree, Dane, that if you guys seriously considered the summit a goal for that day, your "at home" choices did, indeed, doom you to failure. I can't see any situation on the way to or back from Rainier's summit where that ski is appropriate if you are trying to avoid being one of the "them". And all that liquid.....sheesh.

I'm glad you experienced Eric, that day as they seemed to have left a mark on your psyche. I hope to cultivate that further in June.

All that said, I'm taking note of your enthusiasm for that ski as I ponder fatties for next season.

Dane said...

It is easy to make mistakes. Harder to identify them and then admit them in public :)

Also interesting to decide you are stronger than you have the recent experience to back up. And then meet the reality of that fantasy head on :-)

Vada said...

This is cool!