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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Monday, September 30, 2013


Might as well get *straight* to the ski stoke then :)

Axel">">Axel Peterson // A Few Lines on the Other Side of the Lens
from Bridger">">Bridger Brigade on Vimeo.">Vimeo.>

Fall to Winter

The Autumnal Equinox
The word equinox comes from the Latin words for "equal night." The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the Sun crosses the celestial equator.  From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights

Sept 22 to Dec 21 2013

First snow fall of the seasons, Sept 24 2013 Sunrise, Mt Rainier

Every year as the temps drop in late September and the air begins to get crisp I start thinking about ice.  Not water fall ice mind you but alpine ice.  In the NW there is a lot of easily accessible alpine ice if the moon and stars align and the conditions get and then stay favorable.

Which means a big storm or two rolls through, and the snow stays up high.  Then the sun needs to come out and the roads stay open.  Big ifs.

Not this year.  September left 2 feet and more at 6000' just last night.  At least for the moment winter is here for the Cascades.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fred Becky @ 90!

Is life all really just perspective and perception?

The Night of Lies?

"The riff raff from the Rockies getting together... drinking and telling stories and lies"
Night of Lies started off modestly but has since evolved into an event of national proportions.!/NightOfLies/info

It gets dark early in Canmore, late Nov.   Might as well  have a beer and a laugh while you have the chance!

"Night of Lies is an decade old (more?)  evening of celebration of adventure and the age old art of story telling. A social gathering that supports local causes by providing an entertaining evening of slide shows, videos, open dialog, prizes and lots of beer drinking."

When:Saturday, November 23, 2013
Where:The Cornerstone Theatre, Canmore, Alberta


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dynafit ONE and TLT6 comparison?

I do have some additional long term ski boot reviews in the pipeline but here is an interesting observation from this week that kinda surprised me.   Although I have both boots in the closet and have skied the ONE a bunch the thought never occurred to me to make a comparison.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Dynafit TLT6 ski boot, shake and rebake!

Lets see if I can sort through some of the early Internet misinformation and misrepresentation on the TLT6.  Admittedly some of it clearly my fault here @  C-T no matter how unintentional.

First up lets talk shells and add some definitive comparison numbers to the older TLT5.

Zamberlan 4000 Eiger Ice boot...

A few years ago at Winter OR I stumbled across a boot company called Zamberlan.  Honestly I can't remember if I had heard of them prior.  May be in Europe some time but I simply don't remember now.  Friend Jonathon Miller and fellow guides at the show really liked their Zamberlan boots and tried in vain to get me hooked up with Zamberlan that winter,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mammut Eiger Extreme Nordwand TL Boots

Mammut sez:

"Despite a complete range of technical features, this full-gaiter boot is the lightest in its category, making it a perfect fit for the Eiger Extreme range."

Weight is not the end all for even a weight weenie like me.  But since it is the very first comment of the online Mammut description I'll address that.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Is Winter here already?

Damn, that was quick!

Snow level is coming down in the Cascades.  Feels like winter here today.

I'll be skiing when the sun pops out again.

Patagonia Rover approach shoe give away?


Ya, I got a free pair of shoes this morning.  Two pair actually.  One for me to test and write up and a 2nd pair to give to one of you.

The C-T Dream Boot ? One of a few BTW.

In a recent  Dynafit TLT 6 boot conversation on the TGR tech forum (skiing specific)

 I was asked,  
"What would you have done (differently), aside from creating a One/Mercury/Vulcan? (honestly curious)"
My answer if you are interested is below.   Add a comment if this is a boot you would like to see built.  'Cuz it would be so easy to do!
"Gotta realise where I am coming from. It aint skiing.

Monday, September 16, 2013

North Twin bump!

Too good to ignore.  One of the very best climbs in NA this year....or last :)   It needed a bump for the added links to the Jon's web site and recent write up.

N. Face of Twin taken from close to where the new Alberta hut is now, 1977.
 Jon Walsh and Wharton made the 2nd ascent of the North Pillar on North Twin earlier in the week.

Congrads on a spectacular climb!   Internet chatter should peak on that story early next week.  The adventure  should make a good read and some amazing pictures.

Link is now up!  Stellar!

"1985 5.10d - which many of the pitches were rated, seemed sandbagged to say the least. Continuous crack systems, often connected by gymnastic face moves, led through vertical to overhanging terrain for 13 pitches, to a wild climax at the top. "

The Cheesemond/Blanchard line that was repeated is on the right

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weight? All it takes in money! Dynafit ski porn.....

By comparison Liposuction might be cheaper!  I' bet there would never be as much satisfaction though!

Race parts for the Porsche or the Cervelo ( or just the frames of either to get started) are light in weight and expensive.  Also known to have a short life span when used as intended.

Speechless? Batman Cave!

Not often I am speechless.  Nothing to do with climbing.  But this is good.

"The narrow cave, no wider than Alexander is tall, is located in Roca Foradada Mountains in Montserrat, Spain—a location that has inspired this professional Italian Norwegian athlete’s flying dream his whole life. Alexander hopes his success will inspire others not only to ‘climb over their mountains,’ but to also fly right through them!"

Saturday, September 14, 2013


photo stolen directly off Andy's web site :)  More here on what the gear was for:
I've been rather manic the last week or so.  Not able to get out.  But knowing there is an end to that nonsense.  I start devouring the Internet chatter and searching things that interests me at the moment.  That will be ice soon enough.   At the moment it is skiing.  Primarily trying to get the gear I want for this winter before it is sold out and unobtainable for another season.  2 pair of skis and 2 pair of binding to go yet.

Although 2 years old now, this a good piece I found and read while dicking around in my manic phase today.  In this game everyone seems to have an AHA MOMENT.  

Mine was the ski from the top of the Grand Montets tele over to the base of les Droites North face 2 months after Andy wrote this.  Took me another couple of months to wrap my head around $1000 ski boots.  But I have not looked back.  More like damn the torpedos and full speed ahead!  And you thought race bike and car parts were expensive? 

"Everyone does it. Bloggers, or as I prefer, those that keep "online journals", always seem to give unsolicited advice about how to go faster, be more efficient, or do things better. After a 3 hour aggressive conversation with a couple friends about training methods yesterday, I decided to put down my thoughts in a multi part series on everything from training, gear, clothing, partners, etc."

"They showed up on skinny skis and funny boots (F1s and early model Dynafit race boots). From the gun, I had trouble keeping up - even on the flats. By the time I landed on Box Elder's panoramic summit, Sam had been waiting for days and the other guys were half way up the Pfeiff. I was utterly blown."

More here:


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yard sale!

A few new things if you are in the market and the right size... Baruntse size 43.5,  TRAB skimo race bindings, couple pair of skis and some shells and insulation.....among other things.

Gotta pay for those new toys to review some how ;-)

What we won't see in North America? More Rando gear.

While I am waiting for  new ski gear to arrive I've been looking around the Internet.  Even going to OR doesn't mean you will see "everything" just what is going to be sold in NA.

If you live in the EU likely you'll have more choices than here in NA.  Just makes the choices harder :)

TLT6 with a fiber glass cuff/ plus something else there and  at least something similar to the Thermo Light (CL) foam liner @ 1120g and @ an exceptional price point.
TLT6 Performance version of the same boot is 1050g

TLT6 Mountain CL and the Thermo Light foam liner is 1225g in a 27.5
TLT "race" CL liner left, the standard NA-US CR liner on the right,
unverified weight difference is a marginal 120g 
And the two liner options?  Guess they didn't just drop PDG or the old P liner in the new TLT6.  Turns out they are very similar but slightly different, laces now, more reinforcement for durability and a bigger flex cuff in the boot shaft.  Thickness of the foam is different (1mm maybe 2mm) as well. between TLT and EVO.  PDG and Evo liners are thinner and offer an even easier ankle flex for a longer stride.  But the thin PDG/EVO liner it might be an option if you need more room in your TLT?!   Interested to see what the foam liner will actually be if it is ever available in the US...and what is available in Europe.  No question what Wild Snow is showing for the TLT6 is not the liner
Mountainski has pictured here.
I have the Palau liner Lou is showing and it is a thin version with little change other than thickness and flex insert size from the TLT5 P liners.
photo courtesy of

And two of the  bindings we will be missing.

Low tech Radical

Speed C-One

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Skiing la Grave is a bit different...


Kilian's rescue?

Call it part 3 of hdtdt :)

Or thankfully, the best outcome when you guess wrong.
It happens.

"I thought Frendo was inside my zone, but with the conditions it was and the stupid mistake I did to not take a lot of extra warm clothes. It went wrong."

Here is one I wouldn't make more of than what it is.

If you play this game in NA my suggestion is don't plan on a quick flight home or a helping hand on the first night out.

Monday, September 9, 2013

"speak now"

Spend enough time in the mountains and this, sadly, becomes all too common place.

How do they do that?...Part Two, Brain on?

At the time, the North face of les Droites was the unquestioned "hardest ice climb" in the Alps.

The first ascent had taken 5 days in Sept of 1955 and was done mostly as a rock/mixed route.
Their original line is rarely repeated today.

In '62 Axt and Gross made the 2nd ascent.

Reinhold Messner established his own line, solo and on sight in 1969.

Today some of the best alpinists in the world still count an ascent of les Droites North Face as one of their better accomplishments.

Few will make an ascent of les Droites without their brain being switched on.

Messner made the first solo ascent, via a new and direct line to the west summit and was back in Chamonix for a late lunch.  All this while using a short axe and a ice dagger for tools and no skis for transportation.

Put that into perspective on Ueli Steck's very public ascent a few winters back.

href="">Ueli Steck Speed Soloing the Ginat on the Droites

In part one of "HowDTDThat" I sent you to the link of a casual day out skiing up to and down from Muir.  Then off to a link where a guy dies of exposure on a similar journey.

The mountains and gravity make harsh rules to play by.  They don't care how "good" you are or how strong.  Fook it up and either will simply kill you in short order.  With less thought or circumstance than you would killing a mosquito.

That is life in the game.   Figure it out early, do it right or die.  That is not being melodramatic or over stating the obvious.  It just is.  Fun as everyone thinks this stuff is...Gravity wins every time if you loose that coin toss.  So you need to stack the odds.

Brain on!  Alpine and ice is all about conditions.  Yes ALL about conditions.  A romp up les Droites in good conditions only takes a few hrs. and some little skill.  In bad enough conditions no amount of skill will get you up les Droites. 

Admittedly it is a lot easier to tell what the actual conditions are (on any climb, any where)  in 2013 than they were in 1967.    But then people still die on Rainier and Mt. Hood every winter.  And in avalanches world wide. 

How do you avoid climbing in the afternoon storm?  Or on wet rock high on a mountain?  Or falling into that unseen crevasse?  You simply wait for good/better conditions.

Sure what you use for gear and what you take and consume for food and hydration are important.  Take too much or too little and things can  be unpleasant.  But nothing is going to define a trip like the weather or the actual physical conditions on the climb.

If you question that..think of a fun rock climb in 100F+ heat and bright sunlight and the same rock climb in low 70's temps, shaded and a cool breeze just barely blowing the air around.

Think about the difference in your strength and endurance in both conditions.

Brain tell me?

Case in point...

A couple of seasons ago, mid winter, a local from the Chamonix valley climbed up and DOWN Les Droite and was back in town in time to pick up his kid from school mid afternoon.  "We were in the first bin up with him that day, perhaps even more impressive was that it was delayed and didnt even get to the top of the grand montets till about 9.15 a.m."

And the end result of bad conditions in the same climb:

Between 1955 and today we have gotten more fit as climbers.  Or at least have the ability to get more fit with less error and time waisted.  No question the tools and gear we climb with is better today.  You have to wonder why everyone isn't back in Chamonix  for an early lunch from an ascent of les Droites.

If I were to hazard a guess it is the conditions on route.  And that everyone has some control over.

If buying a house or running a business is all about location, location location.  Alpine climbing is all about condition, condition, condition.  More here:



Sunday, September 8, 2013

More rando boot reviews worth a look...

If you ever wonder what I look at and pay attention to for reviews here are a couple that would have helped with my own decision making.


This came directly from the Patagonia Alpine clothing web pages.

Cold Thistle for me is all about "inspiration".  If this photo and the difficulty of the climbing in such a wild austere place doesn't inspire're like dead or need to find a new sport!

"Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll works the crux pitch of the Italian route on Cerro Cota 2000 -- 30 meters of pure stemming, friction, burning calves and screaming shoulders. Torres Del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile."  photo courtesy of  STEPHANE  HANSSENS
dbl click the photo for full effect.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Grandes Jorasses Pointe Hélène

My calves started hurting 10 minutes in :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Achor clipping from Will Gadd..


Most of this stuff is the same ice or rock.  Will is known for ice but it is worth a few minutes to read his recent thoughts and the resulting discussion if you haven't already.   Loved the reality check and the common sense approach.

"Most of the people proposing various strategies have simply not gone out and tested their strategies. I have. Bluntly, until someone experiences the violent forces and speed of high fall-factor falls I just don't think he or she really has an informed opinion on this topic"

My general thought is this:

"There are very few “absolutes” in climbing systems..."

Understanding the dynamics and the systems we are using is what I think is important and more than a penny of simple common sense added to the  problem each time.  I can count the number of times I have clipped straight into the anchor.  It aint many.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"The ski project" part 1

I have a few theories on gear that take time to prove one way or the other.

The same conversations I am having now remind me of the conversations from a few years back on leashless tools.   It is easier to climb leashless.  With a well designed leashless tool you'll climb harder, be able to wear less clothing, stay warmer and have more fun in any condition by comparison.  Took me just 3 days to be 100% convinced of that.  And years before it has become common knowledge in our community.

Skiing?  From the ongoing survey I get two distinct comments.  "More skiing" or "no skiing".  And surprisingly it is almost a 50/50 split.  Skiing is so much a part of my own alpinism and growth in the mountains and in the sport.  My apologies, but you'll continue to see skiing as a major topic of discussion at Cold Thistle.
So here is the long term ski project we've just started that I am very excited about.

I am convinced that modern, upright stance, AT boots are easier to ski in, easier to walk in and  and simply more fun to use.   I *think* it will be gear easier to learn on as well as long as a lift is involved to give you the time on snow going down hill.  And not wasting that time/energy earning your turns for the first season or two.   Took me longer than 3 days to come to that conclusion.  And I may yet be mistaken.  I know what the newest gear has done for my own skiing.  And my "ultimate" gear selection does not exist, yet.   But it gets closer every year.

BITD (early '80s) my partner and I have some of the earliest imported plastic, Vibram soled ski mountaineering boots.  They were most effective for the early predawn bomb runs while working patrol.  Not good enough imo for full on lift skiing.  But Larry used his to good effect most days and was a lot more comfortable in his boots going up and down a lift tower or stringing  fence than I was in my downhill boots.

My partner today and beta tester in this madness, hasn't skied in a few years.  And even she admits she was never much more than a beginner when she did ski regularly.

The plan is to start at one of the local NW ski areas with a season's full of lessons.  And then eventually ski off the Midi ( may be not this year and more my plan than hers ;)  all on the same gear we have here.  

Obviously I had some influence on the gear choices.  But with literally any option available for ski/boots and bindings (including full blown downhill gear) I did not choose the gear.  She did.  And for the most part knowing full well the limitations of her choices.  How those choices pan out over time will be an interesting project to relate here on the blog.

Some other's thoughts on the same question.  Ours is NOT the popular opinion.

Boots defined much of what was chosen here.  Her thought was an easier to walk in boot the priority.  That choice had nothing to do with back country skiing.  Weird as that might sound when you start comparing prices.  Simply having a rubber sole and heavily rockered boot made her confidence soar.   Elevated confidence just by walking to and from the lift is a good start.  I can attest to the comfort and support a good AT can offer if fit well.  And just how well they can ski.

Her first choice was a TLT6 or TLT5 Mtn.  Having the chance to ski both both and knowing the extra support with so little drop in performance walking and hiking ability I suggested the One PX as a better option.  The One's up right stance stance in Dynafit bindings is better than some of the comparable boots from other brands.  And because of that the ONE is also one of my favorites for pushing fat skis while riding a lift.  The added long term durability of the One PX over the lwt TLT5/6 made the decision for this project much easier.  I might buy a new pair of boots every season or two with little thought to  the expense.  She won't.

So the boot choice defined the binding style.  She thought the added confidence of the boot soles and all day comfort  would more than made up for the public's  "fiddle factor" impression of a tech binding.  We'll see if that continues to be her impression as the snow falls and lessons begin.

Skis?   This was really the most difficult pick of all the gear once the boots were sorted.  Even the boots were a easy choice by fit and known performance once the style of boot was decided on.  But skis.....they are so much of the sport.  The ski's design will make a difference on every turn in every snow condition, each time she gets off a lift.    These are rockered tip and tail with a progressive flex.  Good mix of camber under foot and a 5 point side cut technology.  Mid fat at 98mm under foot.   Pretty much an ultra modern ski design I could live with as a quiver of one. 

Praxis Le Petite

Dynafit TLT Radical ST

Boot?  Dynafit woman's One PX
A solid performer on the lift and in the backcountry.
Helped that it is also one of my all time favorite boots.

More to come.  All it takes now is some snow!

Happy Praxis girl!