Friday, June 5, 2015

2015 Ski Season... That's a Wrap...

Meagan on Arkansas Mountain near Fremont Pass, CO. January 2015. 

I just finished perhaps my best ski season ever. Well, I finished the North American part of this ski season. Whatever more I get now is a bonus. And it finished just how it started. Meagan and I skied on the slopes of Arkansas Mountain near Leadville in mid January. And I just skied Mount Arkansas this morning. Full circle, via almost 200,000 vertical feet in six states and provinces. In the course of 57 days of ski touring (and four resort days), partners and myself made the most of an awful weird winter in the Mountain West. Mobility, fitness, and flexibility were key. Making the most of conditions granted sweetened the deal. 

I'll keep it short here. I've got words and photos elsewhere on the web. Wildsnow posted an article on the Wapta Traverse that I did with Jeff Witt. Also from Canada, my partners at Feathered Friends put up some photos and words. I've got some ski trip reporting on my site too: From the Tetons and Canada. From Glacier Circle on Rogers Pass. From the Wind River Range. Finally, I spent much of my winter testing skis and skins for OutdoorGearLab. The final results are here and here

Scrambling Selfie. Arkansas Mountain. This morning.

None of this would be possible without the support of partners of all types. Clients, employers, sponsors, publishers, and regular old ski buddies all play invaluable supporting roles. And my primary travel and life buddy, my lovely wife Meagan, deserves the greatest thanks of all. To score the skiing and climbing and socializing we got this in the course of our #dirtbagwinterroadtrip we covered over 20,000 miles of North American asphalt in the often-too-close confines of our beat up Subaru. Wouldn't have it any other way. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Outdoor Gear Lab Publication

I have put a great deal of effort lately into reviewing gear and writing articles for My dad wants to see all the articles I have done organized in one place. So here ya go Dad (and others). Each review is a compilation of the main article, a "buying advice" article, and up to 28 individual product reviews.

Quick Tip: Lowering on real skinny ropes

The other day Meagan and I were out climbing near Buena Vista, Colorado. We squeezed 8 pitches into a seemingly typical showery spring day. For a variety of reasons, we ended up doing some top-roping on real skinny rope (7.7mm). This is admittedly aggressive, but we made sure that we weren't running it over any sharp or abrasive edges. We also made sure that we could lower smoothly on the inherently lower friction cord. In order to increase the belayer's holding power, we used a regular belay device, and added additional friction. A second carabiner between belay loop and rope is the first and easiest step. If that is still not enough grab, one can create a woven carabiner brake in addition to the belay device. See the photo below for the detail. 

(Crucial to this "trick" is the usage of the pictured ATC Guide's auto block hole. The orientation of the hole on the Black Diamond device allows the simplest construction. With a Petzl device or other product with a hanger hole that is turned 90 degrees, one simply adds another carabiner between device and first "braking" carabiner. Fiddle around with it. You'll see what I mean)