Pageviews past week

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Monday, December 30, 2013

"Ya wanta sk that?"

Of course you do!  Don't we all!

Athletes in today’s action sports industries have increasingly taken on the role of entertainers. Do you think this overall relationship between the athlete and the audience could be an avalanche risk factor as well?

There was a great article in Wired Magazine recently that the use of social media has clearly caused a large increase in gang violence in Chicago’s South Side. Gang bangers regularly post their exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube and it often causes huge spikes of related violence within hours and days of a prominent post. They regularly pose with their guns to show off. Does any of this sound familiar? When the GoPro came along, we noticed a big uptick in the rad lines that people would hit right after storms when it’s most dangerous.

- See more at:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Avalanche death in the Tetons


Reposted from TGR

adrenaline junky

"Thursday I dug my friend's body out of the apron of pucker face. Check in with Bridger Teton Avalanche in the next week or so, where you will find a thorough recap on what went wrong, what went right and what our main take aways were from this tragic loss of our good friend Mike.

We share because we care and we don't want anyone to ever repeat the mistakes that were made yesterday.

And just an FYI, we weren't a group of uneducated kids out the gates. My self and most of my partners are experienced, avi 1 and 2 certified back country enthusiast that spend more time in gtnp and other remote ranges then you could imagine. The village sidecountry was new terrain and mistakes were made and we paid dearly.

On the red flags and warning signs:

- Yes, there had been avalanches on similar terrain, but most of these slid 48-36 hours to the event. Yes there were slides on the apron of no shadows and pucker but when we were hiking up and we passed Jackson Hole Mountain Guides with their clients heading to no shadows and 4 shadows, we got a false sense of safety.

- Yes,it was warming up but with the winds on that ridge we did not feel the actual temp the face was affected by.

- Cracks and whoomps we're not noticed on a similar aspects earlier. There was no way we could get onto this face and check with out putting our selves in harms way. When we cut the cornice I was roped up on belay just in case but I wasn't about to get on that face with a parachute cord attached to my waste.

- Yes, we had significant wind and snow loading 48+ hours before the event.

We made a ton of mistakes and ignored a lot of signs we shouldn't have. As a splitboarder who spends most of my time in gtnp, i was thrown off by not being immersed in a climb where I spend hours and countless tests/observations regarding what is safe to ski and not. Being unfamiliar to the sidecountry, I should have studied up on pucker because it is obvious we should never have been on that face and we paid dearly with the loss of a great friend.

Another problem was group mentality. We were a group of 6 which progressed our comfort on the line. We're we comfortable, no, we were all a little bugged out and even went over SAR scenario if it slid. Right before Mike dropped he asked if everyone was alright and committed to the line and everyone agreed. In reality I think we a had doubts but did not want to speak up being a group of 6 who had spent the last 40 minutes on top of a line.

After it slid is when good decisions were made. We all watched for visuals or a last seen point. A partner was on the phone with ski patrol in 20 seconds. I looked left and right , checking for hang fire and made the decision to descend the face, by snowboarding at the top and climbing/billy hosting down the rocks just above the apron.

Once I got down I started the grid and with the help of Dave Miller (lead guide) probed mike in 6 minutes. Once we had him probed there were more guides and clients all helping dig in a organized V formation. We got Mike's air hole cleared in something like 15 minutes but with the way he settled at the bottom, he didn't have an air hole or room to even expand his lungs.

We had two doctors, ski patrol, guides, everybody reacted so quickly and efficiently. CPR was given for 35 minutes but Mike was flat lined. The rescue effort and everyone involved deserves serious props. In many cases we could have saved a life.

This has been one of the toughest times for our party, Mike's family and friends. Please send positive vibes to Mike and learn from our mistakes. "

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Julbo Camel lens

photo courtesy of Julbo

Even just a couple of years ago I figured any ski goggle was just about like any other ski goggle.  If they got enough ventilation and you took care of them any goggle pretty much performed on par with each other for my own use.  I had used Smith and Scott goggles almost exclusively for decades.  With the odd pair of Bolle goggles thrown in.  The Bolle lens always seem a step or two ahead of the US technology.  Great lens for climbing but for skiing likely not worth the extra expense for me.

Skip forward a decade or two and I still had the mind set..."pretty much any decent ski goggle will do."   Some of the decent ones I had bought on sale for as little as $15 on sale but only $30 at full retail!  They were goggles I didn't mind giving away to friends in need.

Then I got a pair of Julbo ski goggles with a Zebra lens on sale from Steep and Cheap.  Took just one run that day for me to realise "NOPE!  All goggles aren't created equal!" 

Talk to anyone that needs a ski goggle full time and they usually have a favorite.   Try to pin them down on why it is their favorite and  things seem to get fuzzy. 

"They fit me so well."  "Been using them for years."  "They are cheap."

For me goggles are like glasses.  The only reason I wear them is to see better.  So while I might understand and agree with the "they fit me so well",  I really need more to make an educated choice for eye protection, vision enhancement these days.   A decent fit I'd require from the get go.  If  my goggles/glasses aren't enhancing my vision I'll want something different and something better.

Thankfully the frames on Julbos goggles and glasses fit me exceptionally well.

Enter the Julbo Zebra and Camel len's stand out technology.

Both lens style share these attributes:
Anti-fog > prevents condensation and guarantees maximum longevity
Oil-repellent > reduces finger marks from hair; makes water slide over lens; facilitates cleaning
Lens by name:

Zebra®—taking you out of the shadows and into the light / Lens developed for the Performance and Mountain ranges and Julbo Goggles, recommended for mountain biking, skiing and riding, and running and climbing.  Visible light transmission 7 to 42%.  Protection 2 to 4.

Camel®—all-terrain optimum vision / Lens developed for the Mountain range and Julbo Goggles, recommended for mountain, desert and snowy terrain.  Visible light transmission  5 to 20%.  Protection 2 to 4.

Camel lens in a Julbo Trek

I still have a number of really good sunglasses and ski goggles in my gear room.  And with each passing season I continue to be swayed more and more by the Julbo technology.  At the full on nuclear blast level of a white sand beach or bright mid winter sun on hard icy snow I keep going back to  Julbo.  Took me a while to be convinced there really was a difference in technology.  Now I am fully convinced.  When I go outdoors now Julbos go with me.

Brian used a pair of the Zebra lens for the first time last Spring.

"spot me a pair of sexy Julbo Trek glasses with cool photochromic lenses. Rainier is a big peak with bright sun so glasses are obviously critical. But when you move into the shade of a couloir, dark lenses are annoying. I was able to leave mine on as the lenses lightened, maintaining some of the protection from falling debris."

I have blue eyes and have been sensitive to bright sun from literally Day 1.  But as my eyes have aged I have used and liked a lighter lens better than the darkest shade possible.  Specifically the Zebra lens has been a rare find for me.  And it has become exceptional protection for my own use 12 months of the year. 

As I have written about the Zebra lens readers have suggested over and over again to try the Julbo Camel lens.  Late last Summer I decided it was worth making the Zebra/Camel comparison.  To be honest I figured (thinking I already knew the always) I'd find the Zebra my solid choice every time.  I really value the attributes of the Zebra that Brian mentioned in his blog, "when you move into the shade of a couloir, dark lenses are annoying."

Another shade or two in darkness with the Camel and the lens not getting light enough in the shade looked like I would have a very short and opinionated review between the two lens Julbo lenses.  Ya, I was about to be surprised...

Zebra offers a visible light transmission 7 to 42%. Protection @ a level of 2 to 4.
Camel offers a visible light transmission 5 to 20%. Protection @ a level of 2 to 4.

Same basic level of protection and half the light transmission in the Camel in the shade.  It wasn't a promising comparison in my mind.  But the lens contrast, at least with my eyes, in the shade seems better with the Camel lens.

Turns out (much to my surprise as always) on a bright sunny day, when skiing from bright sun to deep shade I actually prefer the Camel!   That kind of revelation is what makes  gear tests really fun for me time and again!  Skiing along at 30 or 40+ mph and how quickly your lens choice changes from bright sun to deep shade is important.  And a real safety issue.  I suspect the advantage for my own eyes are only having to react to 1/2 the change in light transmission.  Not sure all that is actually true, just my off the cuff guess at the moment.   I'm using the Camel lens in the Julbo Trek, which is one of my all time favorite outdoor sun glasses/ faux mini goggles.  Julbo offers full on ski goggles and other styles of sunglasses with the Camel lens if you have an interest.    Fun when I get this surprised.  Sad if you already own a couple pair of the Zebra lens and find you prefer the Camel lens.  :)

My "best use" guess is this;  for the really bright days use the Camel.  For the full on storm days, stick with the Zebra.   Glad I have an option.  Both versions are exceptional lens IMO.

This is a fun lens comparison from the Julbo web site:

Frame Technology
Julbo sunglasses are more than lenses; each model is equipped to intensify protection, stay on in all conditions and ensure absolute comfort and functionality.
Specific features are tailored for each outdoor activity. With the shape of the frames, noses, temples, grips and ventilation, Julbo pushes back the limits of the performance levels of its glasses. Look at the Key Features symbols on the product pages of the eyekit web sit for a list of benefits associated with your selection.
Lens Technology
Julbo lenses offer 100% protection against UVs: UVAs, UVBs, and UVCs. Classed as OPTICAL CLASS 1, their quality is guaranteed by international standards. All Julbo eyewear meets European, American and Australian standards, guaranteeing visual reliability and safety.
Julbo NXT Lenses
Julbo's regular NXT lenses in standard thickness meet the impact requirement defined by the NSI Z87.1 standard for industrial application. See our information section on ‘Which lens material should I use’ to learn about the properties of NXT materials compared to others.
Julbo have five NXT lenses as follows:
ZEBRA® Photochromic Lenses: Ultra Reactive NXT®
The Zebra® photochromic lens darkens or lightens depending on the light’s intensity. It can change from a light transmission rate of 45% to just 6.6%! Its anti-fog coating, directly integrated via laser, guarantees maximum efficiency and long life. Zebra® is recommended for mountain biking, trail biking and climbing.The Zebra® lens has a very quick activation time: the lens reaches 50% of its capacity in just 28 seconds.In the undergrowth, the Zebra® lens changes to category 2. In bright sunlight, it provides category 4 protection.
ZEBRA: From shade to light features are :
  • Adaptation to variations in light intensity.
  • NXT material - unbreakable, optically superior, half the weight of glass, solvent resistant.
  • Photochromic lens. Protection changing from category 2 to category 4. Will change from a a light transmission of 45% to 7% in somewhere between 22 & 28 seconds.
  • Exceptional antifog coating - No condensation, maximum longevity.
  • Hydrophobic coating on the outside - Prevents marking and facilitates the removal of water.
  • Brown lens - accentuates relief.
  • Ideal for mountain biking, trail running and mountaineering.

CAMEL:  Cameleon® Polarizing and Photochromic Lenses: NXT® Two-Fold Performance
Photochromic and polarizing, the Camel® lens offers evolving protection, darkens and lightens according to the intensity of the light, provides anti-dazzle protection and high definition vision. The anti-fog coating is ideal for active sports.
Polarizing + Photochromic lens: 2 perfectly mastered and highly reliable specific technologies. Contrasts, light, dazzle, colours, etc. – Camel® glasses meet all needs.
Camel Cameleon® lens features :
  • Adaptation to variations in light intensity.
  • NXT material - unbreakable, optically superior, half the weight of glass, solvent resistant.
  • Polarized – elimination of glare (99% of reflected light) to ensure purity of vision.
  • Photochromic Lens - Protection changing from category 2 to category 4. Will change from a a light transmission of 25% to 6% in somewhere between 22 & 28 seconds.
  • NTS technology - The lens gets darker or lighter regardless of the temperature.
  • Exceptional antifog coating - No condensation, maximum longevity.
  • Brown lens - accentuates relief.
Julbo Trek with Zebra Lens
may be a better day for the Camel lens here



Julbo Revolution Goggle w/Zebra lens

Solid, full blown storm performance!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Shiva! Best climb?

IMO the best climb of 12/13. I had mentioned it prior but not seen this video.  Nice discussion.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas! And a Teaser for you! "The perfect..POOF! line"

Frederich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 1887.  "And we are chained together in the house of pain searching for our truths — beyond good and evil."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Black Diamond's newest FUEL Ice tool?

New BD Fuel, photo stolen from:   

I haven't seen or played with a pair in person yet but my guess at the basics having seen earlier prototypes, are:

Slightly lighter in weight than Fusion (no hammer on the Fuel so a given I suspect)
Better balance by ditching the hammer.

Assuming from the BD comments as a "more all around/better ice tool it will be delivered with the current Fusions "ice specific" optional pick.  2 degree drop in pick angle is going to climb like/will be closer to a Cobra than a Fusion.  Numbers don't lie.

Looks to have a more open pommel for your little finger, which will better the rotation for ice. (hopefully it is more open..just guessing by the pictures I have seen)  Might just be an optical illusion however.  Reference Raf's comment below.  Grip/spike design has always been solid.  I'd be surprised if that basic design was changed much.  Hand grip angle looks changed a bit, steeper I think.  But it's a guess as well.  If so, it's really going to be interesting how that effects the over all angle of the tool handle, pick placement and and resulting use.

Lower profile spike than the Fusion (removable as is the Fusion's I'd assume).

Black oxide finish?  No more loose head bolts and picks. (chrome plate was a rookie mistake)

All issues noted on the original Fusion @ its debut.

Retail is unknown but assume it will be comparable to a Fusion.  No clue when they will be available to the public.  Likely Fall of 2014 if they are presented at Winter 2014.  Long wait if you need new/want  tools this season.  Nice on BD's part to give us all sneak preview at the 2013 Bozeman Ice fest.

The current Fusion, the tool the Fuel is based on in part

I've climbed with the Fusion a good bit and written about it several times.  The Fusion isn't and wasn't intended to be a beginner's tool.  The Nomic is very versatile/  A good many climbers rightfully though/hoped the Fusion would be as well.   The "ice specific" pick has helped.  But the Fusion is still a full on  race car.  Not the family sedan.    If the design fits your needs, great.  If not, better to look else where for a ice tool to make everything fun.  If you throw/ envision a figure 4,  I susepct you'll have all this sorted out aready.  There are enough good tools out these days that you won't have to look far.  I suspect the Fuel is a 2nd attempt with the original Fusion design/redesign to gain some of the Nomic's obvious market share.

I hope they have succeeded.  Always good to have options!

Looking forward to trying a pair myself when they become available.  Keep an eye out!  There should be any number of good reviews coming from the sales samples BD is handing out right now.

Me?  I really like the color combo ;-)  And all this is just my best guess, reality and YMMV!

An ice climing favorite for tool use...

One of my all time favorite videos.

I learned much about technique from "Bonfires" as I stared to climb leashless. Truely one of favorite alpine ice/adventure videos even today.  I love the soundtrack. Make sure you dbl click for the big screen and full value./

Using the modern ice tools

A tutorial here on the use of  modern tools.  BD Cobra in use on lead in this instance.  While the photographer was soloing with a pair of Nomics.  Solid WI3 terrain and perfect ice conditions.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How do I choose Ice Tools?

Jack and his famous Zebra taped Nomics

There seem to be a gazillion modern ice tools available today.  And all of them will climb ice to good effect.  Some might even climb ice or rock better than others.  Usually not both rock and ice better at the same time how ever.

Midi Mega Mix!

Reality check? Dynafit TLT6 and La Sportiva Spectra weights?

Two AT boots I am enjoying very much at the moment.
But much closer than I originally thought for weight.
La Sportiva Spectre on the left. Dynafit TLT 6 Performance on the right.

Friday, December 20, 2013

"He who can, does."

"He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches."

Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"
George Bernard Shaw.

'If you want me, just whistle...

"If you want me just whistle. You know how to whistle don't you, Steve?"
― Lauren Becall
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway

Say what?    Roll with it for a minute will ya   :=)

Your new Ice tool selection?

1973 Terro and a 2008 Nomic
The linage should be obvious

From the very first post here at Cold Thistle I have been hesitant to suggest any one ice tool is better than the next.  Took me 10 months to enter the discussion the first year.  The result is linked below.  I still think it all applies to the conversation today.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Seriously? You talking about Umbilicals again?

The Joke Slinger...gunning.

I try not to cruise the Internet climbing forums these days.  I read about crampons "breaking" because the owner has no clue on how they actually should be attached or to what kind of boots they were designed to be used with.   Or for that matter how a crampon is actually suppose to work.  Different from crampons, actually breaking.  Be nice if some would actually gain that education prior to bitching about it in public.  Everyone wants a voice on the Internet!


From the 1972 Chouinard Equipment Catalog

Happy Holidays!

Winter">">Winter Solstice
from Uncage">">Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.">Vimeo.>

Stay sharp...and stay alive this Winter!

Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

This has become my annual Holiday "card" from Cold Thistle.  It never gets old for me.  Make the effort to see it full screen.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Praxis GPO ski comments...and a systems approach

The Praxis Great Pacific Octopus...GPO for short.

another "selfie" of a happy skier
As an introduction this is Drew Tabke's signature ski from Praxis.  Co-designed by Tabke and Keith O'Meara, the owner of Praxis.  It was not their first rodeo effort together.  And  it shows.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Spain? Spanish? Skiing and Climbing? ;-)

Photo courtesy of Fernando Calvo González

I am not fluent in Spanish but I do appreciate a pretty picture, good skiing and fine climbing (and a good meal ;)  I also know how to use Bing translation software!   If you are of a similar mind set or can actual read Spanish and not have to just stare at the pretty pictures. I suspect like me you will find  Fernando Calvo Gonz├ílez's  blog interesting!

Fernando, please forgive me stealing your picture in the middle of the night.  But I liked your boots :)  Even more, your new Cho Oyu!
warm regards, Dane

Friday, December 13, 2013

It's back in my quiver! The Dynafit Cho Oyu!

June 24 2013

"Love to get a pair of the Cho Oyu out (skiing) with a set of Dynafit Race bindings screwed on them." 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Alaskan Way Video

The">">The Alaskan Way
from Godu">">Godu Productions on Vimeo.">Vimeo.>

Stainless crampons?

Typically this post gets revived every Jan/Feb.   Been that way since BD started using stainless crampons back in the Fall of  2010.   This year the warning comes a little earlier.  Typical email...for a stainless failure.

"Hi Dane

today we were climbing high above Thun, Switzerland on the Stockhorn. A
limestone peak with a small northface - and a cabin that brings you
up&down, Chamonix-Style :)