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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Skiing? The lines just keep on coming in Chamonix!


Dent-Blanche on ski

"TD, August 3, 1944  This route is very dangerous because of rock falls.

Crossing the bergschrund and rising through the couloir straight to the top. Halfway up it is slightly curved. A little below the curve, a very difficult passage requires pitons."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

La Sportiva? Back at ya, with the CUBE!

Just when I think there is a leap ahead for alpine boots someone else jumps back in and does a flash burn.

Many have asked me when will La Sportiva update the aging Nepal Evo and Trango Series of boots.  Like I'd have a clue.  I hadn't heard a even whisper out of La Sportiva.   And didn't expect anything new at the up coming summer OR show for Spring 2014 delivery.

Clueless again, guess I got that wrong!

New Trango Cube GTX

"the new state-of-the-art mountaineering boots - Nepal Cube GTX and Trango Cube GTX - set new standards in lightweight and waterproof properties for this sector. Trango Cube in particular has been made using the new and exclusive Thermo Tech Injection method, a thermoplastic coating that eliminates traditional stitching, making the boot even more water resistant than ever before."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dynafit's Cho Oyu and Nanga Parbat for Fall 2013

Last Winter's OR show in SLC had a few things that really interested me.  A few of them I was really chomping at the bit to get on and get them outside to play with.  While at least a little bit connected and knowing who to ask, doesn't mean you will get what you want no matter how much cash you happen to have.  And I am always strapped for cash for the "want items".

Super stoked to get into the Scarpa Maestrale RS ski boot and the Rebel Ultra early on.  Getting to ski on the new Dynafit Cho Oyu and Nanga Parbat has been harder.   The Cho Oyu was available at the 2013 Vertfest locally for demo.  Anyone could hook up that ride! And many did . Pretty awesome really.  But the Nanga Parbat wasn't to be seen there.  Or here :(

There is a magic number in lwt touring skis I look for.  That is 1000g per ski.  Many race skis will come just under that number but very few "real" skis will.  My Broad Peak and GTRs (167cm and 168cm respectively)  are just over in the 1150g range.  Light and still, almost, real skis.  Good enough for me anyway in any condition I really want to ski.

The  Cho Oyu is listed by Dynafit @ 1080g in a 174cm.  My demos came in at 1192g per ski.   Still doing really good for a slightly wider ski and short 174 compared to the 167/168 skis mentioned previous.

"Dynafit sez:Despite the wide geometry of the ski, the weight is only 1080grams and is thus perfect for deep snow as well as mountaineering and ski expeditions. The Cho Oyo offers a new 3-D flex-tip design and a micro sidewall construction to achieve optimum weight reduction. With ‘scoop’ rocker, triple radius, a paulownia wood core, and new carbon speed stringers for the Cho Oyo. CHO OYO Available length of skis: 174,182,191, MSRP $799.95"

Broad Peak is a 112/74/96mm ski
Cho Oyu is a 124/88/110mm ski

The Nanga Parbat is a 116/80/84mm ski and advertised at 1000g

No question I want to get my hands on the Nanga Parbat,  But while doing the research for this blog piece I realised that Dynafit is still making the Broad Peak.  It just isn't being imported to NA now. 

Hummmmmm.  Hate to do it but this is likely a good source for the Broad Peak and other Dynafit skis no longer imported to NA.

2014 Dynafit offerings

Sorry, I got distracted there on what is and isn't easily available in the US and North America.  I really like the Cho Oyu.  It is very light for the width and it skis very well.  Up front I really didn't know what to expect on this ski.  I took my 178 cm La Sportiva Lo5s and the Cho Oyu for some booting and short gullies at Crystal.  All skied in a pair of TLTs Ps.

Same gullies, different skis, and the man in the mirror.

First thing I noticed was the lack of weight.  Even with Dynafit rental bindings  the Cho Oyu was a pleasure to haul around and boot with.

My first run was lift assisted to get a feel for the ski.  It seemed a lot like skiing a Broad Peak or a 7 Summit to me.  But interesting enough less swing weight.  And a Broad Peak is no heavy on swing weight.

Of my quiver I thought the Lo5 was the ski would best compare to the Cho Oyu.  Missed that mark by a mile even though the Lo5 is 125/95/115 and the Cho Oyu is 124/88/110mm.   The 178cm  Lo5 is 3# 8 oz per ski.  The Cho Oyu is 2# 6oz per skis.   Add the fact that the swing weight is all under the boot on a Cho Oyu and you really notice the difference skiing and on a boot pack.  So no legit comparison to be had there.

The 174cm Cho Oyu really skis short by comparison as well.  Substantial tip and tail rocker for this size and genre of ski imo is just part of the reason.  The 174cm length even in a slightly wider ski skied like a much shorter ski for me.....closer to a 160cm ski in feel.  They were very quick turn to turn if required.

Lou offers some observations recently on his thoughts and some good pictures of the ski's profiles.

But there is more going on.  Part of it is the weight loss by chopping the ski up piece by piece.  Not that it seems to effect how it skis spring snow mind you.   Really makes me think about having a short Nanga Parbat for the weight reduction and Spring conditions.  And a longer, wider Cho Oyu to ski on winter snow.

Look Ma, no tip!

And a shaved pin tail!

So no comparison of the Cho Oyu to the Lo5 in any way I can think of.  But a very good ski compared to my all around Spring, and stand by, the Broad Peak.   Anything the Broad Peak will do, the Cho Oyu might well do it even better.   With only a 50g weight penalty and a tiny bit (may be enough) more ski under you to make a difference in weird conditions.   The tip and tail rocker and pin tail are going to make a difference in rough snow conditions and soft snow as well.  Much more ski under your feet than the GTR.  Which is another ski I like a lot in 168 and 178 cm lengths.  And a better comparison then the Lo5 to the Ch Oyu.

Love to get a pair of the Cho Oyus out with a set of Dynafit Race bindings screwed on them.  With Rainier in full on corn harvest season right now you can only imagine how much I wanted to pull the demo bindings and get after it on the Cho Oyu.

Bottom line?  For the most part they felt like a lighter Broad Peak to me.  Some of that was good.  But they aren't as damp as a Broad Peak.  The swing weight seemed better enough (less effort) that I am commenting on it.  Not a huge fan of the color or the tip shape.  I know, I know, this from a guy who still wears funky head bands and Vaurnets.  I really liked how much the ski weighted on the pack even with the demo binding.  They were notable in a good way and light.

Both the Cho Oyu and the Nanga Parbat are offering some pretty wild, modern and lwt technology for "speed touring" skis.  I have no doubt from my limited use of the Cho Oyu that either the Cho Oyu or Nanga Parbat are going to be great ski mountaineering ski.  Sad it will take another winter season and some deep snow to comment any further.  But for some winter conditions the Cho Oyu especially might really offer some unique soft snow surprises.  All in a very good way I suspect.  Good turns are only 4 months away if we are lucky. 

Summer fitness?


"Q: I think we should discuss summer training for skimo racers on two levels – for occasional racers and those that like to keep fit (REC category), and for the elite athletes shooting for spots on national teams and those seeking ultimate performance for their goals in the mountains (ELITE category).
In all cases, the emphasis is on efforts on less than 3h and the peak performances are expected to occur between January and March.
Do you agree we should address both groups specifically? If not, propose a better differentiation or none at all."

Answer:  I definitely agree that both groups should be approached differently, simply because their ultimate goals are different. Because of that, their preparation will be slightly different.
As an elite athlete myself, preparation is something that I absolutely love. I treat racing as puzzle, where you have to scavenge around to find the right pieces to achieve your ultimate outcome.
It’s that process of scavenging for what I need to do to arrive on the starting line of my goal race as prepared to compete as I can be that I thrive on. It’s a trait I learned from Simon Whitfield, one of my closest friends and someone who’s sporting results on the day speak for themselves."


It is a good read.  More here:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

the best of the lwt ice climbing boots

 The LWT ice boots:

Things have changed in the last couple of years and it continues to be for the better!

 Scrapa Rebel Ultra size 45 1# 14oz
Scarpa Phantom Ultra size 45 weight 2# 4oz

La Sportiva Trango Extr Evo GTX size 45 weight 2# 3oz

La Sportiva Batura 2.0 size 45 2# 2oz

La Sportiva Trango Extr Evo GTX size 45 weight 2# 3oz


Larger volume on the left,  the Batura 2.0 and the smaller volume, the Rebel Ultra, on the right
All these boots fall between these two for volume and warmth. 

 weights are PER Boot:
Scrapa Rebel Ultra size 45    1# 14oz
La Sportiva Batura 2.0 size 45  2# 2oz

Scarpa Phantom Ultra size 45 weight 2# 4oz

La Sportiva Trango Extr Evo GTX size 45 weight 2# 3oz

Zamberlan Paine GTX  2# 8oz

(how much do your gaiters weigh?)

Every boot listed here except the Trango has a gaiter built in.
All are Goretex lined.  Except the Phantom Ultra.  Which is notable imo.

La Sportiva Trango Prime is another  boot that would fit this category.
These are five of my favorite lwt single boots for winter use.  Given the option  it is a hard decision on which to choose when looking at the temps that will easily allow any of them.

Soles flexibility depends on you shoe size.  The bigger the boot the more flexible the boot sole.
All of these boots are rigid enough for vertical ice using the right crampons.  "Right" crampon choice on these boots is the key to performance IMO.

Scarpa's Phantom Ultra 
Phantom Ultra in use with a Petzl Dartwin

I am a big boy weight wise.   190# stripped and a good bit more kitted out on the ice.  The Scarpa Ultra (both versions) and a Dartwin is IMO a very good set up for vertical ice.   This coming for a guy who really prefers a rigid crampon and rigid boot mid sole.   I learned to appreciate the softer flexing mid soles Scarpa has offered recently.

But given a choice I still like a fairly rigid boot with lots of support.  The lighter weight the better, imo.

Let me do a run down of my thoughts on each and let you choose.

I have long skinny feet with very (VERY) narrow ankles. I'm a Size 45 or 45.5 in these boots. The Scarpa and Zamberlan lasts seem to fit me the best.   I see a lot of comments saying the La Sportivas are a narrower last.    I am not convinced as I can wear any of them with little complaint.  Best to always try on the boots you want to consider.  I find all of the boots listed very close on sizing and lasts.  Only toe boxes changing the fit very much  and of course the lacing systems.  For me lacing systems are best designed, KISS.  KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.   They make or a break a boot in the end.  I think that gets forgotten some times by the design teams.  I run between a 45 and a 45.5 in all of these boots.

Here is my 2 second review on all of them.

Scrapa Rebel Ultra size 45 1# 14oz

Best fit of the bunch for me in a 45.5 by far.  Easy enough to get in and out of.  Lacing is slick and ankle support very good.  I like this boot.  For the fit and support it offers for the weight I'll put up with the lack of warmth to a point.  1/2# per pair lighter than the Batura.

La Sportiva Batura 2.0 size 45 2# 2oz

Likely the warmest of the boots listed.  But the Phantom Ultra is right in there as well.  Very flexible ankle and a high tech honeycomb carbon mid sole.  Hard to not like this boot.  I find the lace system annoying.  If the lace system offered a better fit for me this would likely be "my" boot.  

Scarpa Phantom Ultra size 45 weight 2# 4oz

Advantage Scarpa here.  Almost the fit of a Rebel Ultra.  Almost the warmth of the Batura.  Heavier than either.  Easy in and out.  They dry faster than any of the GTX boots and they climb well.   I suspect they dry faster because they never get as wet on the inside.  The Goldilocks boot?  May be.  It needs a Scarpa update and to be imported into North America in half sizes.  Likely never ever happen though.  Phantom Guide is already well established in the market.
La Sportiva Trango Extreme Evo GTX size 45 weight 2# 3oz

Super slid all around performer.  This is the boot that needed a gaiter.  One designed "out of the box." But a super hard boot to dry out once  wet.  I really like this boot for a lot of reasons.  The best reason?  It is simple and it works every where.....till it gets wet inside. 

Zamberlan Paine GTX 2# 8oz

Old school fit and finish.  Which are good things.  The mid sole is pretty rigid and very supportive.  They fit almost crampon exceptionally well.  Not every boot here does.  They are a bit heavy.  But the craftsmanship and materials clearly show you why they are  6oz heavier per boot than the Batura 2.0.  If you have the money for only one boot and need it to last for a while.  This is your boot.    May be the most comfortable boot of the bunch for me out of the box.

FWIW until recently the Zamberlan boots were extremely hard to get a hold of in the USA.   That has changed.  I'll have full, detailed reviews up shortly on the Paine, Eiger and Denali versions.  They are boots you will want to know more about.  Took me 3 years to finally get a pair in hand and I think, worth the wait.

They are available here:

All but two of the boots offer sticky rubber soles with minimal lug height. The Zamberlan Paine and the La Sportiva Batura 2.0 being the exceptions with a full size lugs.   Makes short lugs a little slick in some snow conditions.  But that is why we wear crampons isn't it? 

I have heard of the Trango having too narrow of a foot print and being unpleasant on "ankle twister".     "BS" was my first thought...but I heard it more than once and always from people I trust using the boot. Not something I personally experienced though.  And I have walked a bunch in the Trangos. 

The Ultra is a OutDry lined boot. The rest Goretex lined boots.

All stay dry if you keep the water below boot top height. The GTX boots seems to retain more moisture from foot sweat. All are difficult to dry once wet.

More here on an Ultra and Trango comparison I made earlier.  I was wrong on the Dart/Dartwin/Ultra combo btw.  There are crampons that can be made to fit better but none more reliable and proven over the last couple of years now than the Scarpa-Dartwin combo.

Lots of options these days to get a really good boot and more importantly to me a GOOD fit.  It has not always been so in this category of boot.  Some work to be done yet.

As I have mentioned so many times previous.
A super light weight double boot that will climb ice, under the magic 1.5# in a size 45.  And something you can actually dry in the field over night should be the on every one's mind.    

Till then I will do my best to wear a few of these out!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Ski Extreme"

"They continued down making pedal-hop turns. Occasionally they stopped to film and take pictures of each other. Before pulling off their packs, they would anchor to their ice axe. For about a thousand feet they encountered snow with little rocks and often ice. The surface conditions forced Baud and Vallençant to make short and often abrupt turns to doge the obstacles. Baud wrote he did not find much pleasure in skiing those 300 meters, as he described the experience to being caught in a mouse trap, “…we were fighting alone, both of us looking for the best route between the rocks."

the rest is here:

better videos here:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Skiing mount position question?

Obviously I have been fixated on skiing this spring.

For all the skiers out there riddle me this?

Skiing steeps in a controlled manner with jump turns or pedal hop turns you will generally end up side slipping some or a lot depending on snow conditions.

One of the reasons most want a stable ski there that isn't wildly side cut.  And more importantly I suspect most everyone will want a "balanced" ski mount.  By that I mean a ski that you can stand on in a balanced ski position and side slip with good/great edge control and not have the ski go back- ward or forward but simply straight down the fall line with very little or zero effort.

Sure, good skiers can over come a poorly mounted ski.  Either mounted too far forward (stand up or if bad enough sit back) or too far back (lean forward or get on the front of your boots) and recover on every turn to a position that makes the ski neutral.

Might even be skiers out there that never use the ski in that manner or simply don't care because they have other priorities on their own mounts.  Landing BIG air might be a reason for a forward mount and more ski behind you.  I don't know the answer on that one,  just guessing by some of the skis I have seen intended for such antics.

In this instance I am talking off piste, steep skiing.  But suspect at least for me, all this transfers to every snow condition and every ski I want to use.   But, I am firmly convinced that many skis make it or break it in retail sales and reviews because the damn mid sole mounting marks are off.  Some times way off. 

Sometimes the answers can be a lot more simple than one might first suspect.

Add in the additional ramp angle of some bindings and or the boots you are using and things can get "sideways" pretty damn fast.     May be things are never really all that simple?  Care to comment?


Nate Wallace?

Voile introduction

Steelhead and Spines- The Provo Bros from The Provo Bros on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dynafit Nanga Parbat

Nate was lucky enough to get  a early pair of these guys.  I'm still joneing.   Nice ski by the numbers and after riding the Cho Oyu demos the last week.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Birthright on Grands Charmoz

Birthright on Grands Charmoz
Photo by © archivio R. Libera, C. Pozzi
The first pitches up the Birthright journey (Grands Charmoz, Mont Blanc)
"For Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey it was a brief escape that lasted less than 4 hours. For Claudio and myself it was a true ordeal which lasted for two days; the most intense two days of my life."
Rossano Libera - 2013

"First climbed by the Americans Mark Twight and Scott Backes 20 years ago, Birthright follows the large corner system to the left of the Cordier Pillar. It was attempted in 1982 by England's Andy Parkin and France's Thierry Renault but the two were forced to retreat after the first 6 pitches due to poor weather. Mark Twight and Scott Backes completed the line from 19 - 20 October 1993 and originally graded it ED+, 90°, 5.9, A2. In 2008 the Italians Rossano Libera and Claudio Pozzi made what is likely to be the first integral repeat of this difficult and ephimeral route. Birthright forms very rarely indeed and conditions obviously vary considerably from one season to the next, making grading a difficult task. Nevertheless Helliker feels the aid sections were freed by climbing difficulties somewhere in the region of M5. "
More here:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mont Bell Mirage

The conversation started like this:

 And ended like this at 7am @ 10K feet on Rainier.  Jerry crashed out and sound asleep at Muir just after sunrise and a quick 2 hr ski to get there.  Some amazing corn skiing to follow getting back to the Nisqually Bridge.

I suspect I am not the only one to stand in the early morning cold, sweaty and chilled wishing I had the warmth of a nice thick down parka to swallow me up and comfort me while I brewed a warm drink or waited for the first rays of sunlight to heat up the surface of your skin if not the air.

I've used a down parka so seldom in my own climbing career that they are seemingly trivial.  Unless of course you really need/want one.  And you are cold.

Jerry's relative comfort just made me really jealous on that trip where I didn't think I would need a Mirage.  Dumb mistake on my part.  Something I won't easily repeat in the future.   15oz of warmth is just too easy to carry when it will pack this small.  900 fill down and a silk weight material on the jacket's body will allow that.

For those that follow such things Cold Thistle started with a search for the "best" cold weather parka  as it applied to my own us.  If I looked I suspect I could actually tell you how many of the "best" parks I have bought or been given over the past 3 years.  I still have 3 of them in my closet now.

The Mont Bell is one of them and the jacket I now use the most.

It is an easy decision when you take a close look at this jacket.    It is fully box baffled for one.

My size Large weights in at 14.7 oz or 420g on my postal scale.

3.5" of loft made up of  900 fill down loft at the shoulder.

When stuffed this jacket doesn't even fill my lower compartment of the 9oz CAMP Race pack.  The Mont Bell Mirage jacket off my back at sunrise and into the pack just before leaving Paradise on a cold Spring morning.

The 9oz. 20l ski pack?
The perfect pack for a quick ascent of Rainier on skis.   The Mont Bell Mirage is the perfect compliment at the less than a pound of "survival gear" in the pack's lower compartment.

Any time I am "alone" on Rainier I like having a little extra security.  The Mont Bell Mirage offers that for so little extra energy.   Bigger, colder mountains?  Even more so.

The Mirage's pockets are perfect for me.  Two hand warmers and two big internal chest pockets.  Just enough for my needs.  The hood is simply an awesome design.  It is big and puffy.  Makes a great high collar as well when a hood is too much.  Easy to adjust and a Velcro tab in back to make bigger or smaller depending on what you require at that moment.   Cuffs are closed via a Velcro tab.  Simple and effective.

There has to be a down side right?  Of course not that I care about any of them or totally agreed with the detractors.

Mont Bell sez:

  • 900 fill power goose down
  • 7-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon shell & lining
  • Standard DWR treatment
  • Box construction eliminates cold spots, while encouraging maximum down loft
  • 2-way adjustable fixed hood
  • 2 zippered hand warmer pockets
  • Draw cords for waist adjustment hidden in pockets
  • 2 internal drop-in pockets
  • Adjustable alpine cuff

  • [Center Back Length] 29.3 in. (Size M)
  • [Weight] 12.8 oz. (Size M)
  • [Fill Weight] 5.3 oz.
  • [Compressed] φ5.3’’ x 9.5’’ (stuff sack included)
  • Size: XS/ S/ M/ L/ XL/ XXL
  • Color: rust/black
(I'd love this one is a full on BRIGHT red!)

They also say the 7-denier cloth makes this insulation piece a "mid layer".... or as they say "An excellent piece when you’re in need of warmth from every gram of your mid-layer."

My buddy Jerry thinks using the Mirage as a mid layer is a good idea and didn't think the Mirage warm enough for a full on Bozeman winter.  And just think my plan was to take it to the Cassin!   The 7 denier shell cloth doesn't repel wind like a heavier cloth but for my own use it is durable enough as a outer layer.  And a good enough wind layer.   So I sized accordingly.
Jerry is also the guy pictured here, sound asleep in his Mirage on top of his skis at Muir on an early spring morning.  So go figure!  He surely isn't using the Mirage as a mid layer there.  And seems satisfied with the performance.

I didn't get to Alaska a this Spring.  And may not again.  But I do have some really nice down jackets in my closet right now.  None being used in the mountains but the Mont Bell Mirage.  Some even lighter or close enough to the Mirage but none warmer for the weight.  There have been a few stand out products for my own use in the last couple of years.  TLT5 and Rebel Utra for boots come to mind.  Fat, rockered ski and full on race tech bindings are good examples.  The Nomic ice tool, Neoshell and Polartec Power Shield Pro garments a few others.  The Mont Bell Mirage is one of those pieces.  Gear that has set a new standard in performance for my own use.  That kind of gear is hard to find and difficult to replace.  I'd love to see this jacket with a water proof, breathable outer shell with a little more wind resistance even if it added a few ounces to the over all package.  And if they are going to that effort I'd add another 3 oz of that amazing 900 fill down to a size large.  Make this one a 20 oz, over stuffed,  water proof jacket and you would better anything else on the market.  Till that happens I am all in (and very comfy) with the Mirage.  Not may "heavy" down jackets that you can add to a super lwt ski mountaineering rig and still think you are still "feather weight".  The Mont Bell Mirage fits that bill so easily it is almost a no brainier.  Rather amazing really.

If I make it back to Alaska this is the jacket I will be using for any quick ascent.  Till then it will keep going into my skimo race pack. And on when I  want a little early morning comfort and a hot drink.

More here from Cold Thistle on Mont Bell:

and a review here:


Can you tell me why?

Why aren't we skiing?

Over the years I've spread my kind of love over a few climbing forums.  Enough so that I've been booted off at least one.  Not that I give a chit because I don't  It is simply entertainment for me.

Three of the funniest exchanges I've had (to me anyway) have been with in retrospect, obviously very young climbers.  No matter how good technically they might be or thought they were during the exchanges I was laughing at them and poking fun at their expense.  Yes, I know I can be a prick.  No need to restate the obvious in a comment.

In no particular order:

"Me Mum bought this fine jacket for insulated jacket ever made"...of course he'd never used or owned any other jacket at the time.  BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPP!    Last I checked he is still a little pissy about the exchange.  They simply don't know what they don't know

"Climb can't safely be done without several screws and half a dozen pickets" BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBEP!  My answer?  "Most anyone could solo that one in decent conditions.  And I have never ever placed a picket.  Mind you it doesn't mean I haven't wanted to just never had one :)"  Original climber sacked up and soloed the same moderate climb a few seasons later.  Same thing most of us had been doing for decades now with minimal gear.

"I've skied for years" a most recently famous alpinist tells us in a focus group on new gear. BBBBBBBEEEEEEPPPP!   Mind you the "kid" is just 21, no formal education past high school  and his experience skiing in the last 15 years (he started at 5)  is hard to relate to an uncaring audience of 50+ year old  engineers who have been skiing them selves since they were 5 or younger and designing or working in the ski industry since they were 18 years old.  Hard not to roll your eyes when I hear I've been skiing my whole life....when the speaker is 17 years old and the topic technical in nature.

"youth is wasted on the young"  J.B. Shaw had it right..  :)

Not that I am a rocket scientist myself or know much about anything in particular.  My BS meter has gotten better over the years how ever.  "Nice ski, but ya the mount point is FUBARED dude."
"Someone might ought to look at that more closely."    That stainless and plastic interface? Take body weight?  Maybe.  Hammer on it?  Not likely.  Trim the weight by making it smaller?  OK.  But make it so small it now breaks in the same application?  Makes no sense to me.

So, why aren't we skiing?

I've done Rainer by a dozen routes in all seasons, many, many times and until recently only taken skis on the mountain a couple of times.

Now I have to ask why are you NOT taking skis?  You can guess at my age.  But in any race I am not going to be in the front of the pack.  On the right day if you break down the age groups into 5 year splits I can generally hold my own with what ever amateur shows up.  As serious athlete will generally, and easily bury me.  I'm lazy and WEAK...there I admit it :)

So if I am doing  moderate climbs and skis like Rainier and I am able to catch you and eventually passing you on my light weight gear you might want to rethink your own gear choices.  When I can bury you on the up and then drop you on the down in light weight gear it is either time to  bury your head in shame or pull out the check book, 'cuz you obviously SUCK!

If you climb and read a winter climbing blog and don't ski?  YOU really, really SUCK!

All the spare excuses have been used and you have been found sadly, wanting.  If it is a fitness issue, change your diet and get a dog to run with.   They are likely the only one that  will have you anyway. 

I have one myself :)  His name is Marley and he likes to run, really likes to go on bike rides and anything related to skiing,  plus the occasional cinnamon roll or pistachio.


No one is really as good as they might think they are or as smart.  We generally judge each other much harder than we judge ourselves.  Never hurts to brush a little sand off your you friends ass instead of grinding it in.  You never know when you might need the same favor.

But I am still going to chuckle under my breath when I skin past you or ski by.   Simply because I know I'm the one having more fun...and I'm just the old prick willing to admit it  ;)    PS...Marley would be laughing as well he's just a much nicier guy when he sees a human...sucking @ the fun!

Demo days?

It is big fun for me to get together with a few fellow gear geeks with the same size boots and demo every one's skis side by side.  Even better if you can demo the same ski in different sizes which is what Brian Harder and I did recently.  Also wanted to thank both La Sportiva and Dynafit for throwing a few extra pair of skis we hadn't skied our way for comparisons.  The resulting Hang5 review comes in part from the loan of the first pair of Hang5s.   Also a big thanks for all the support from Dynafit and the loan of the Cho Oyu recently to make that review possible as well.  I can't buy every pair of skis I like but I sure am happy to ski on any loaners  that are being passed around.

More on Brian here:

La Sportiva Hang5

La Sportiva's Hang5

Product: La Sportiva's Hang5

Length Tested: 178cm
Turn Radius: 23/30/23m
side cut: 145/117/135
camber: 7.7mm
Tip rocker: 425mm
Tail rocker: 0
Running length: 1510mm
Weight: per skis: 1900g / 4lb. 3oz.

Binding: Dynfit Radical Speed toe TLT Speed heel 

Mount point:  Mounted @  La Sportiva's  suggested line

Ski weight with bindings: 5lb even per ski

Environmental Conditions: early and late Spring skiing

Location of Test: Crystal Mountain Washington

Number of Runs: 15+days of spring skiing, 

Snow Conditions: Early and late Spring skiing conditions ice to slush
Demo or Own: own

TOP SHEET: 0.5 mm Double Polyamide (ISO ICP8210) - Glossy
CORE: Vertical Laminated Light Karuba Paulownia Wood
LAMINATE LAYER 1: Tri-Directional Fiberglass
LAMINATE LAYER 2: Bi-Directional Carbon/Fiberglass mat
BASE MATERIAL: P-Tex 2000 factory hand waxed
EDGE MATERIAL: 1,8 mm steel + rubber laminate
FEATURES: Tip and tail attachment holes, flat/notched tail
SIZES: 178, & 188
COLOR: 99H Yellow

Tester Info:

Height/Weight: 6'1" 190lb

Ski Days/Season: 30+

Years Skiing: 30+
Aggressiveness & Moderate

Current Quiver: Huascaran, Aspect, GTR, Lo5, Hi5, 112RP, 138, Broad Peak, 112RPC, 138. Praxis GPO and Protest

Home Area: Silver Mtn Idaho, Crystal Mtn and Alpental WA.

Preferred Terrain: off-piste, trees, steeps

1 (worst) to 5 (best) star ratings