Pageviews past week

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The skinny from the inside..SKI specific.

I have been working on a "ultimate ski quiver" thread for a while now.  Off from the typical topic of pure climbing.  But winter climbing and alpinism incorporates a lot of skiing in my world so I think it is a topic long over do. 

Having worked in ski shop and been certified by everyone making bindings at one time or another to mount skis, the more detail I look at in skis today the more confusing it gets.

What I have learned quite quickly is this: Don't assume any ski manufacturer's info is spot on for mounting points.  Make sure to give your ski shop specifics on what you want done and where you what your bindings mounted.  Bottom line is, the technician is responsible for the mount.  And you need to measure EVERY pair of skis prior to pulling the trigger on the drill. .  

The one of the best ski related web sites is: 

The owner Lou Dawson is a long time climber as well and one of a small group of Colorado climbers first doing hard water ice and mixed there and else where.  What Lou doesn't know someone else generally will.  But even there don't let them put you off any question you might have.

We've done a couple of reviews of the Lo5 and Hi5 La Sportiva skis here @ Cold Thistle.  And I'll be doing  updated reviews on the Lo5, Hi5 again and Hang5 and the GTR soon, among others.

But for those into such things if pays to ask questions.   I wanted to know how weight and mount points were chosen on the Lo5 specifically.  Colin Lantz the director of winter Sports at La Spotiva answered.  The original thread is here:

Author: Colin Lantz
Lou - Pavel - Dane: Just caught up with these posts about weight and mounting location. Regarding the weights, Lou pretty much has it correct. For a new ski model we use the first skiable prototypes (which are also the salesman samples) to get the weight. Typically only one or two sizes is created at this early development stage and so we calculate the remaining sizes using a formula that is more or less 10g for
each 1 cm in length adjusted for different width skis.

When we went to press with our W12/13 dealer workbook the weights were based on these prototype/salesman samples. For the Lo5 this took place in about October of 2011. The POP product stickers that Dane mentions are produced in the early spring to be ready in time for the bulk production of the skis at the factory. In this case, that would have been about April 2012. The bulk production of the skis takes place in May/June. When we receive the skis in our warehouse the first thing we do is QC everything from graphics, to flex, to weights. We spot check 10% of the skis and if everything is in spec then we OK them to be shipped out to dealers. If something is out of spec then we start ratcheting up the spot check percentage and if we keep seeing issues then we check 100% of the production. In the case of the Lo5 we immediately saw that the weights were heavier than the protos and we duly changed the weights of the web site to what we found in the actual production and of course put the updated  weight specs in the next (W13/14) dealer workbook.  This was the first year we put the POP stickers on the skis. In hindsight, it probably would be safer to not print the weights on these.

The product development cycle I’ve described above is pretty standard in the industry and is surely the cause of many weight inaccuracies published by ski manufacturers. It is what it is and we do our best to be accurate and transparent when it comes to technical specs on any piece of gear we put our name on. We understand that our customers are very technical and we feel that they deserve and require accurate product specs. It is not our intention to “trick” anyone.

As for why the Lo5 came out heavier than the original protos, we are still investigating and trying to understand what happened. Weight variations of plus or minus 30 to 50 grams is not out of the ordinary for ski production. For typical traditional wet layup ski productions it is just impossible to 100% control the weight of the ski down to the gram. Wood is a natural material and it is practically impossible to verify that every ski core is exactly the same weight. The other big factor in weight variations is the amount of glue/resin applied and the amount that is squeezed out of the mold when it goes into the hydraulic press. It’s like building hundreds of paninis (Italian sandwiches) and expecting everyone to weigh exactly the same. Like I stated above +/- 30 or even +/-50 grams is OK, but in the case of the Lo5 we were seeing weights heavier by 180-200 grams. It’s not the weight we targeted for the ski but after getting tester and customer feedback we were very pleased with the performance of the ski at the production weight.

Regarding the mounting location – here’s the how our process works to set the boot center. When we produce the protos/samples we set the boot center with the technical assistance of Mr. Tua. We then ski and  check these “theoretical” boot centers using a set of the prototypes with a rental binding that allows you to move both the toe piece and the heel piece for and aft. Our test team does this here in Colorado and we duplicate the process with a test team in Italy at La Sportiva HQ in Ziano. Each test team is typically 3-4 people and we try to test in different conditions to make sure we are not soft snow or hard snow biased in the boot center location preference. Typically the theoretical bc is pretty damn close, e.g., the LO5 188 proto/sample was marked at 78cm from the tail and after  checking/testing with the above method we moved it forward 1.5cm to 79.5cm. The boot center indicator on our skis is an arrow and this is stamped on the ski along with the serial number. Each ski is measured and the bc mark stamped according to our spec. For the Lo5 (measuring from the tail) the bc marks should be @70cm for the 168, @74.5cm for the 178, and @79.5 for the 188. So, that’s the skinny on how we set boot center. In the end this is a very personal preference as many experienced know and understand. Boot center should always be looked upon as a recommendation by the manufacturer and one that is chosen to best serve the largest part of the customer base.

Hope that helps. My apologies for the weight discrepancies. We’ll try and control this on next years production and get the weight back in the target window originally spec’d in the Lo5 product brief. Based on the feedback we’ve been getting in other venues we’re pretty pleased with the way the Lo5 turned out.  It seems to have hit a good balance between weight, surface area, and performance, with the latter being particularly praised. Peace out. -- Colin

Monday, April 29, 2013

Classic Spring skiing in the PNW.

Skiing the Muir snow field into the Nisqually chutes and lower Nisqually glacier to the bridge is a Cascade classic.  The bridge is seen in the distance @ 3900'.  The picture was taken from around 5000 feet. Muir is at 10,000'.  5 mile and 5000' gain on the skin up for less than an hour run down on moderate terrain early in the season.

Perspective on the size of things..

photo courtesy of unknown author via the internet

Below, looking back at the upper half

and down the Nisqually Chutes, mid section of the run.

and looking back at the majority of terrain skied from bridge level......likely close to 6000 vert showing here.

Likely as close as you'll get to The Vallee Blanche off-piste ski route in the CONUS.  Starting from the Aiguille du Midi the  Vallee Blanche  is 17km long with a vertical descent of 2800m.   Muir down is 9km and 1900m.  Add the summit of Columbia Crest and you get 13km and 3200m to the bridge.  Easy enough to make some comparison by those numbers.

Even on a busy day, skiing Rainier will seem like a wilderness and the food dismal in comparison to the Vallee Blanche.  Either way both runs are well worth the effort.  Different for sure but fun in their own ways.  Be a whole lot less folks skiing the Vallee Blanche with out the Midi tram.  

some nice turns..

Dash Longe 'Creature' Edit from Matt Philippi on Vimeo.

A second opinion on the Scarpa Rebel Ultra

Patrick in his new Ultras.
Photo courtesy of P.J. Cooke
a guest blog by Patrick Walsh
As one would imagine, I was very very excited when I found out I was going to own these boots. I had my reservations purchasing them sight-unseen, not knowing if they would be the right size and/or fit my feet properly. I figured worst case the boots should be pretty easy to re-sell if nothing else.

My first reaction, and that of most to the Rebel Ultra, has been “what are those, can I see them?” This is followed by “holy crap those are freakish light.” They are more akin to a sneaker than an ice boot, and often the next questions are “what size are they? Can I try them on!?” This initial excitement is soon followed by “but are they warm enough?”

At this point i have spent twelve days climbing in these boots. I was fortunate enough to receive them just before an end of season trip to the Canadian Rockies. I have now spent eleven back-to-back days and one single day  on the east coast in these boots. Although this is not a long time to have spent with a boot, I feel it has been enough time to offer some real feedback having spent the better part of two weeks in them day in and day out.

I guess first we should talk about fit. I have what had been described as a fairly low volume foot with a high arch. My feet measure US 11.5 left and 12 right. The first thing I did was toss the factory insoles and throw the gamut of off the shelf offerings at the boots in an attempt to get the perfect fit. In doing so I soon came to understand that these boots are not your average ice boot, and that bit of toe wiggling room one usually looks for in a attempt to stay warm and ward off black toe nails is not what this boot wants to do. This boot wants to fit more like a rock shoe (think "all day trad shoe") resulting in a boot that feels like a warm blanket but performs like tightly fitted sport climbing shoe. I went back and forth with insole/sock combos searching mostly for the ideal fit regarding volume. I kept coming back to a fit that allowed me to just barely stuff my feet into the boots without my toes bashing off the ends or cutting off my circulation, thus leaving little need to crank down on the laces to keep my foot in place. Fit this way, the boots offered an amazing combination of support and dexterity, all the while feeling much more like a overbuilt running sneaker than an uber-light ice boot of any sort. With so little to the upper of this boot, it really needs to be fit this way in order to offer the support ones desires in an ice boot. Had I fit the boots with room to wiggle my toes and cold weather circulation in mind, the boots would begin to feel a bit sloppy and lack the support I would want in a boot I planned on climbing ice in. Fit as I had them, the boots offer the perfect combo of support and all day comfort and performance.

My first impression of this boot was that it was a niche item. I figured it would be one more tool in my quiver of gear probably reserved only for warm and or fast and light days on moderate ice in moderate conditions. Having now done everything from long alpine days on both hard and easy terrain to a few short days spent ice cragging and even some mixed climbing in both warm and cold weather, I have to say these are a do everything boot and a does everything well boot. I would go as far as saying these are a do everything and does everything better boot. Yes on a couple cold days high on a route with wind whipping my feet got cold. But so did both of my partners’ feet in Nepals and Baturas. Add to that the fact that I fit them with a lightweight Smartwool PHD ski sock more akin to a cycling sock than a wool winter sock of yesteryear and I think, although far from a warm boot, the boots are pretty darn warm. On a coupe of high-teens to mid-twenties Fahrenheit days, my feet felt downright warm. These boots both approach and climb so well that even days i expect to be cold I still choose to wear them because they just climb that much better than any other boot I have worn, and I have worn them all. I simply no longer want to wear any other boot as my feet just love climbing in this boot.
In summary, this boot is crazy crazy light and built incredibly well regarding craftsmanship and materials! The boot makes me feel more like a spider monkey climbing ice simply on his way home rather than a giant ape clumsily making his way up the Empire State building only to be shot down by fighter planes in a attempt at freedom. For me at least this boot is a game changer and one I might go as far as saying you will have to "pry from my cold dead hands."

more feedback via previous emails:

On New England Ice?
"Boots are great! I can climb anything in them.  Meaning they climb hard ice just fine if not better than my other boots. Not sure if it is in my head but I suspect a little of both. They might be a 1/2 size small but only cuz I have had to run my high volume custom orthotics in them. In all reality I am pretty sure these boots made me a better climber for real. I pretty much have stopped kicking as I can just place my feet on the smallest of features. What once felt like a tiny ledge now feels like a giant shelf.  I am in love!! They will be cold on cold cold days but it is clear this is not a cold weather boot. Still though it will be very very hard to ever want to climb in anything else ever!"

Two weeks later:
"So we had a great first trip to the Canadian Rockies. We ended up getting out 11 days straight.   The boots rocked. I brought my Phantom Guides and never once wore them. I have only great things to say about the Rebels."

The original Cold Thistle  review is here:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Some times I am amazed at just how far.....

behind the outdoor industry is from their consumers and what is available on a limited  basis.

 Classic examples of what is still missing in a broader sampling or simply still missing.

Tech fitting in a alpine climbing boot?

Universal umbilical attachment point?

Alpine ski boots that you can *really* climb in?

Ski packs that easily carry skis?

Along those lines:

It takes so little to carry a pair of modern lwt mountaineering skis.  Two simple straps is really all that is required.  A cut resistant bottom loop.  The loop just needs to be  big enough so both ski tails will go through.  And a top strap to latch them to the pack.  If you want a quick transition ski set up just add a bungee cord and a simple hook (if you are making your own a peg board hook is perfect) to latch the edge of your skis instead of buckling your skis tight in the upper position.  Camp and Dynafit have had this one figured out for a while now.  I've been using one or another ffor the past 3 seasons and really like them!

50+ year old ski carry technology

Still a good working arrangement are simple side or side compression straps.  Again 50+ year old technology.   But there are better, more simple answers, now.  And a much easier system to use in the mountains.

Start with a cut resistant bottom loop that will take both ski tails at one time.
This one is Kevlar cord and a plastic tube over the top of the Kevlar.  Perfect use of materials imo.

Add a simple strap or a hook as the top strap (or better yet, both) depending on what you require for ease of transition or security.

strap here with a Fastex buckle fixed at the shoulder harness

 Hook here with a bungee going to the shoulder strap.
I broke my original aluminum hook, catching it on a chair lift.  Fretted about it for days until I found that a peg board hook again, covered in plastic tubing, made a perfect replacement.

Even with a super light weight and small (-20L) you can carry some good sized, modern skis in comfort..

Off you go now!  "a happy clam"  ;-)

Both Dynafit and Camp offer a limited selection of ski mo packs that use this kind of ski carry system.  These packs aren't for everyone and certainly an acquired taste.  But no reason the ski carry system can't be Incorporated into other packs.  It is a system we'll eventually see more of.  Be nice if it were sooner than later.

Blue Ice Warthog 38L

For those not familar with the smaller, original version of the Blue Ice Warthog, the 26L pack take a look here:

12Ls bigger to start with over the 26L Warthog.  Probably more realistic for most  of us in North America.   Same basic volume that I have been using for a long time most everywhere here, Canada and in the Alps.  It is an aquired taste/size.  All the same features as the original.

Same 18" back length and 3" spread at the top of the should straps.  Weight is 910g or 2# even.   Weight listed on the Blue Ice web site is 890g.  But stripped of straps and the removable waist belt it would be lighter than the 780g.    Material is 500 x *50 denier Cordura.  And a nice mellow red in color.  YKK zippers and a double fabric bottom.

Nice, simple and useful alpine pack.  I really like it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Ben Clark film...Haines Alaska and grief

The Alaskan Way from Godu Productions on Vimeo.

and part of the conversation that continues:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ah, spring rock climbing on the Midi :-)

For Kevin.....

Godspeed my are missed.
"People were always getting ready for tomorrow. I didn't believe in that. Tomorrow wasn't preparing for them. It didn't even know they existed."
- Cormac McCarthy

Trevor Hunt?

If you ski and haven't seen this, you'll likely want to dig around in here some.

Some of the pictures and lines skied are freakin amazing!

Interview here but  the web site's TRs is a real look at this guy.

Truth is....

I'm a simple guy.  For some reason something struck a cord this morning and reminded me, then or now, few things give me as much personal pleasure as:

earning your turns (my first here btw)

deep snow
 warm alpine granite
 moderate ice on a big objective

Or may be it was no reminder at all......

For the technically inclined gear geeks

I have been thinking my ski skills are much improved recently.

Then I thought a dose of reality was do.  Call it a gut check or soul searching.  Your choice.

For various reasons I waxed and took a pair of 207cm Rossignol 4Gs out for a spin yesterday.  The skis are like new and when purchased in 1993, state of the art.  Reality checked in on the first turn.  A few runs later and I was enjoying all the good things about an old school GS race ski.  Solid under your feet.  They carve like a Samurai sword and they are stiff enough to plow through anything.

Conditions were literally falling apart at Alpental yesterday.  Snow turning to water the moment it hit you.  BIG slide evidence everywhere inside the ski area and a foot or so of heavy snow generally cut up where it wasn't simply avi debris.

Truth is, almost perfect conditions for a snow board.  But even they were finding the avi debris problematic. 

The 4Gs were fun, but hard to turn prior to building up some speed (warp speed).  Damn scary by comparison to a fat ski (or snow board) in the deep wet snow.  Pretty fun blasting through the chop though.  It was the kind of day most of us simply didn't bother skiing  BITD.  Too much work and too easy to sink a tip and get seriously hurt.

Enter my 196cm  Dynafit Huascaran.  First turn was easy.  Mindless actually with almost exactly half the boot technology on.  The previously frightening experience in the chopped up junk became almost  (almost)  playful by comparison.  The entire mountain opened up to me...almost as much as it had been to the snow boarders.  The Dynafit ski almost  doubles the surface area on the snow.  115mm under foot as compared to 67mm under foot.   And the Dynafit is so much easier to ski in the majority of conditions I see on the hill.

And to be honest of all my skis this 196cm Huascaran isn't the easiest ski I own to ski. 

So truth is my skiing skills haven't found a magically fountain of youth and improved skills.  Instead I am lucky enough to see the gear improve enough that it has easily made me a better skier.  Imagine what you might be able to do!
"What would Trevor do?"

Dude, he'd change to a fat, rockered skis.

More gear geek info here:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The driving test.......Cebe, Julbo and Vuarnet

Lens, left to right...... Julbo-Zebra, Vaurnet-PX2000, Cebe-photochromic

Yes, an alpine climbing blog with a driving test to review sun glasses.  Go figure.

Turns out no matter what I do, short of running or riding my bike,  I have to drive to get there.
825 miles/ 1328K from my house to SLC where the winter and summer OR shows are held.  Typically 2 full days of driving.  Much of it is in Oregon with a 65mph speed limit on perfect 4 lane freeways.

Not a lot to interest me between Seattle and Salt Lake City, in August and even less in mid January.
The idea is to get there and get the goods.  If I am really lucky I'll get in some local SLC ice or just as good some skiing in the Wasatch.

This year my truck got loaded late.  I had decided earlier not to attend OR.  SO air flights were out of the question last minute.   The weather this January was terrible for driving.  On my trip down the Interstate was closed in several locations for hours on end.  The way back?  Even worse between snow and ice storms.  Bad enough that ice build up would eventually crack my windshield before I could break it all off my rig.

But knowing I was in for a long drive I preplanned one of the things I had wanted to do for a while now.  I wanted to make a sun glass comparison.   But not of  the typical sun glass collections I had previous.  This time it would be just the three sunglasses I have kept and keep using in the mountains.  4 days in a car by yourself will drive one to do some interesting things to keep yourself entertained.

So I took what I considered the three best sunglasses available to me on a road trip.  At least the three I use the most out of a previous two dozen I tested last fall.  They are the Julbo Trek-Zebra (brown photochromic) Cat 2 to 4 and 7/42% of visable light, Vuarnet Cateye2002 -PX2000 Brown lens, Cat 3 and 18/43%  of visable light transmission, Cebe Ice 8000 Cébé Variochrom Peak (grey photochromic) Cat 2 to 4 and  5/20% of visable light transmission.

Like anything gear related we choose to use it depends on the conditions and personal preference as to how "good" that particular piece of gear will be for your needs.  God only knows how many sunglasses are being made now.  And a lot of them are really nice sunglasses.  I just don't have access to all of them.  And at this point likely not all that interested in looking at any more of them.

I went looking for the best in mountain/sport glasses for my own use.  This is the pinnacle of that search.  YMMV 

I know all of these sun glasses are exceptional pieces of kit, with only minor limitations for my own use.

As I have aged my eyes have become less sensitive to light.  It shows to me by way of wanting some sort of very lightly shaded sun glass.  The mild sunlight we get in the Puget Sound region the majority of the year surrounded by green seldom requires a really dark lens.  But I have never liked a really dark lens in the mountains.  I found them too limiting at dawn and dusk or in heavy cloud cover when I might still want some protection.  But viability was still paramount.

The current photochromic lens options are a wonderful find for me.  Category 2 to 4 sun protection all in the same lens.

Each of these glasses has some distinct attributes and some failings imo.  All three are without a doubt simply stellar sun glasses.  But read on and you'll see why I own and use all three on a regular basis.

Vuarnet original Cateye 2002-PX2000 Brown lens, Cat 3 and 18/43% of visible light transmission

Lets start with the old school Vuarnet.  It is the only glass lens represented here.  Any one who puts on a high quality glass lens like a Vuarnet or a Maui Jim will  almost without fail comment about the clarity of the lens.  I still do if I haven't worn a Vuarnet in a while.  Enough so I always go back and make sure my poly lens are actually clean...which they generally are.  There is that much of a difference in lens quality no matter who makes the poly lens.  Big thumbs up for the Vuarnet here if you have to wear sun glasses for really long periods of time.  That lens quality will lower your eye strain.  Nice thing about a glass lens is you know what you have.  What ever the lens shade it you know it isn't going to change.  You are good 24/7 indoors or out if a sun glass (or disguise) is required :)

The Skilynx lens is the most famous and more common.  And my original lens.  I find the PX 2000 or Nautilux (famous for Vuarna-vision) and their lighter tint more practical now .

Durability?  I still have my first pair of Vuarnets.  One tiny divot in the left lens from dropping them face first onto fresh pavement.  But the lens are still usable.  I'm on the third frame now, 30 year later.  But the same lens.  Not sure I own anything I still use for skiing or climbing that is 30 years old.  A wool hat, a single pair of gloves and a wool scarf or two are the remainder of that very short list!  Part of that durability is the frame.  Vuarnet uses/used a very simple nylon frame.  They don't give very good side protection but they do give decent eye protection.  We made side shields from duct tape bitd.  But the frames fold very flat so lens and frame are well protected just by the frame design.

On of my few quarrels is the frames is sometimes they just don't fit well.  I have several pairs of Vuarnets now and all the same cateye frames. One pair of them is a little bent and dig into my ear.  It soon becomes painful.  None of my other frames do the same.  Easy enough to remold the frames (or change lens) either in boiling water or in the oven at 220F.  I have yet to fix the pair of frames I find annoying.  But I need to soon!

Rapid temperature chances will make these guys fog up.  It is annoying.  Once the lens heats up a bit generally it is fine and no more fogging.  But do a face plant skiing with these or pull them out of the case in a cold car and they will fog.  Minor issue but still annoying.

As a driving glass?  If you need a sun glass while driving these work exceptionally well.  You have plenty of eye protection even in bright light and full peripheral vision.  They aren't so dark as to hinder you in and out of a tunnel or going from dark shade to bright sun light,  If the frames fit right they are exceptionally comfortable (on my head).  Still one of the very best sun glasses lens and frame combos available  for every day use on or off the mountain imo.  No question the most durable and tough sun glasses in this review.

If you look closely at the title picture in this thread you will get a good idea of the lightest tint of the two photochromic lens.  Both the Julbo and the Cebe lens are not affected by the sun if they are shaded through windshield glass.  Once out in bright sunlight both lens act accordingly and change to the amount of protection required.  For me that is a good thing.  As you can see either the Cebe or the Julbo offer some degree of protection behind the windshield.  Either might be appropriate on different days depending on the sun light available.  The Julbo the lighter of the two obviously to start.

But lets talk about the Cebe Ice 8000 Cébé Variochrom Peak!   Hey, Jeff Mercier climbs in these glasses so I already knew they rocked :)   Cebe Ice 8000 Cébé Variochrom Peak (grey photochromic) Cat 2 to 4 and 5/20% of visable light transmission.


OK, so these are a darker lens from the get go than I generally like.  One would have to ask why I keep them around then? 

The first is they are absolutely the most comfortable frame I own.   And as secure on your head as any of them with no adjustment.  The Ice 8000 is a "gadget" frame.  Which I like a lot.   It has fold down side shields.   Take a close look in the picture below.  Shields are in the up position here.

The ear pieces rotate to collapse the frame into a smaller and less fragile package.  Ear pieces are rotated  and seen in the picture above.   And there is a really nice retainer strap that easily attaches included. 

I like this pair of sun glasses when I am wearing a wool hat.  The ear pieces can go over the hat and be even more comfortable.

Side shields down here.
 By far the least expensive pair of sun glasses in this review.  And as I said earlier one of the three I still use out of a couple of dozen from my original tests.   I could live with any one pair of the glasses show here.  On a budget?  The answer is simple as to what is "best" here, in the short term anyway.

As a driver?  These are pretty good all around.  On my SLC drive I wore these almost every time the sun was out.  Even behind the windshield they are dark enough to give decent protection.  On a long drive the frames additional comfort was really noticed.  The cushioned and ventilated nose piece and the soft rubber ear pieces in particular add to the comfort of these glasses.

Next up is the  Julbo Trek-Zebra (brown photochromic) Cat 2 to 4 and 7/42% of visible light transmission.  Hard not to write about gear and not have a favorite.  I recently wrote a glowing review on the Julbo Zebra lens ski goggles.   Every thing has a story.  Here is my story behind the Julbos. 

Last couple of years I've been using Native Sun glasses and for the most part happy with them.  But I had several pair  one with a light colored lens and the other a mirrored dark lens, on the same frame styles.  But the one pair of Natives that I liked a lot I only had one pair of frames for.  And that required me to change lens adding unintentional wear and tear to the system.  Eventually something broke and Native was really bad at the warranty time frame and eventual satisfaction.  Enough so that I went looking forr a new pair of mountain glasses.  I wasn't looking too hard for a new pair of $100+ glasses.  I ended up at REI because they are local and for the return policy.

My first pair of Zebra lens were in the Julbo Bivouak.  $160 at REI.  But my pair lacked the side shields and retaining strap.   I didn't realise anything was missing until I had used them over the weekend on a trip to Mt Rainier and then read the instruction manual.  I was impressed with the lens and frames but I took them back anyway wanting a "full meal deal" for my $160.  And you can find them online much, much cheaper.  Enough so my hardtail Harley riding, snow board buddy has adopted the black framed Bivouak as his sun glass of choice.  Bad in black??!

Julbo's Trek ear pieces are easily hand formable to any shape.  Sweat blocker has been removed above.
The Trek used here as a obvious Euro trash fashion accessory to good effect :-)

This is simply my favorite glasses to date.  Not because it is the most durable or the best lens or the most comfortable.  It isn't any of those things.  But it is very close on all of them and offers some attributes that I really, really like.

The Julbo is another "gaget" sun glass frame.  But even more so than the Cebe and although I haven't broken either... yet....I suspect Julbo's frame is more durable.  The Julbo Trek frames seem to be made of a softer plastic instead of the standard hard nylon or plastic.
 No clue what the material really is  but it is different!

The list of no nonsense accessories on the Trek is impressive. 

good view of the brow sweat blocker installed and grippy nose pieces

 Removable side shields (and one of the best frames available to avoid the use of side shields)
360 degree adjustable  temples
vented lens
retainer cord with easy and secure attachment
removable sweat blocker on the brow (a feature I very much appreciate)
And finally the anti fog and hydrophobic treated Zebra lens
ventilated nose piece.

The Zebra lens has a very light almost amber lens color when it is unaffected by direct sun light.  I find the shade almost perfect for much of my own driving or riding the bike in overcast weather.
The lens change in literally seconds (under 30) from a very light cat 3 yellow to a full blown dark, cat 4, brown.  The lens change so fast that I have taken to leaving a pair in the car and when it is too bright out I simply hang the Trek out the window for 30 seconds and presto...dark sun glasses as required at east for a few moments. May be not the best driving sun glass ;)  But I can forgive the Julbo Trek a lot of short comings.  Not that they have many.  Too heavy per chance?  Lens aren't tough enough?  (which you can't prove by me!)

Sweat blocker and side shields in place

I haven't found a better pair of sport glasses to date.  Among other places I use them on my road bike. There I really appreciate the sweat blocker and vented lens on hard climbs.  I like how the lens  adjust to the available light on the bike and while skiing.  Going from bright sun light to dark shade is dangerous on the bike.  The Julbos help there.  Same story skiing.  I started in bright sun the other day and ended up finishing in a dark and gloomy spring snow storm.  No need to change glasses or go to goggles.  The Julbo Trek did it the point I never noticed a need for anything else.

As a bonus if you buy the right color you are bound to win the best looking sun glass contest between your buddies next time out! 

Happyman diggin his Julbo Trek glasses! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

A short history on rockered skis?

This is a cut and paste from the DPS web site. 

Th full unedited version can be found here:

I've included some of their time line here because it mirrors my own thoughts in a similar time line.  It is not an endorsement of DPS skis.  I'll do that myself much more clearly in the upcoming ski reviews along with other manufacturer's skis.  I don't think anyone can deny Stephen Drake's/DPS's involvement in the current crop of state of the art skis. 

Back in the mid '80s there were European back country skis that were wider than normal...up to 80 and 85mm under foot.  The Rossignol Alps 3000s was an example.  They had  much bigger tip curves to help get the tips out of the snow and on plane quicker.  Typically skied in a 180cm or a 190cm.  Short when a 200 or 205cm ski was more typical for the adult male.  The short and fat, Alps 3000 was a common ski for Canadian Heli Guides at the time.

Prehistoric, The Rumblings: 1997-2002

1997DPS founder, Stephan Drake, is spending his second season in Las Leñas, Argentina. He is on Rossignol Viper skis, 60-something mm underfoot. After a 1-meter storm, he makes his 100th over-the-head face shot turn down Eduardos. He collapses in a pile of exhausted sweat at the bottom. His pro snowboarder roommate ollies over him at 50 mph and slashes a huge wave feature at the bottom couloir exit. Stephan (and Dane) wants freedom from the fall line, and ponders quitting skiing and taking up snowboarding.

1998Drake picks up Volkl Snow Rangers and Rossignol Bandit XXX's—temporary solutions that offer glimmers of hope.

1999Drake buys a dusty pair of Atomic Powder Pluses sitting unused in the backroom of a Colorado ski shop. 115mm underfoot and surfable, he takes them down to Las Leñas the following season. There will be no more thoughts of snowboarding from this point on.

2000Drake lands a cliff in the Aspen backcountry, and bends the tips of his heavy metal Powder Pluses into a Rockered shape. Initially he is bummed. After skiing them further, the skis take on a whole new life; they ski more dead, but are surprisingly more surfable. The fall line opens up.

2000Drake is spending every summer surfing pow in Las Leñas and experimenting with big skis. High speed pow skiing is now outpacing snowboards.

2000-2002Drake builds a collection of Rossignol Axioms and Atomic Powder Pluses. He custom paints their topsheets.

Beginnings: 2001-2005
2001-2002Drake is riding hard with Volkl Snowboarder and former Swiss ski team member, Cyrille Boinay in Las Leñas. Drake's skis are now 110mm underfoot, custom-painted, custom rockered Rossignol Axioms with a build date of 1993. The two chairlift rides and late nights are spent discussing how the lifestyle of storm-chasing powder junkies, and this new dynamic way of surfing powder on skis isn't being represented by manufactures or media. At Las Leñas' Atenas wine bar they conceive a new ski brand that will reflect the culture and a revolutionary ski technology—carbon fiber. Drake is tired of trekking around the backcountry and wrestling skis that weigh 14lbs/pair. He wants light, ultra-high performance versions of the double metal laminate clunkers he is skiing on. Surfing and snowboarding have it right; light equipment is best for both energy conservation and high-performance riding; carbon is the ingredient to make it happen in skis.

2002-2003DrakeBoinay, Ltd. is formed (DB Skis). A four-ski quiver is designed. A U.S. based manufacturing partner is secured. The flagship shape is the Tabla Rasa- the first 120mm underfoot pintailed, and rockered ski ever made - 30cm's of Rocker go into the design and design notes, but DB's manufacturing partner can't quite build it. It still skis great with its long nose and setback stance. In the Tabla Rasa's product and design descriptions, the benefits of "Rocker" are touted. Rocker officially enters skiing's vocabulary.

2002-2003Boinay and Drake meet Swedish ski photographer Oskar Enander in Engelberg, Switzerland. They enjoy great powder sessions and lines in classic European ski bumming fashion.

2001-2003Meanwhile, in Colorado, Shane McConkey and future DPS partner Peter Turner are building the Volant Spatula. Its design characteristics are dubbed, "Reverse Camber and Reverse Sidecut." The Spatula takes powder skiing to ‘11’.

2005Drake and Peter Turner meet in Utah. A partnership is born. Instantly they launch into discussions of flex patterns and laminate structures. The fire is rekindled for the perfect carbon fiber ski. Turner infamously tells Drake, "it will be no problem for us to build these carbon skis elsewhere." DPS is born, the vision to create the perfect ski using spaceage material continues, and the duo begin designing an entirely new five-shape quiver of skis, including the iconic and groundbreaking Lotus 138 and Lotus 120. The Lotus 138 morphs the Tabla Rasa and Spatula concepts into the first Rockered ski with sidecut: a design that is copied by another brand within 1.5 years. The Lotus 120 shape becomes the template for the iconic 120mm pintail design: a shape that practically every major and small manufacturer now produces.

2008-2009The move is made to switch back to plastic sidewalls. Another start-up issue forces yet another radical move in production engineering. Through the process, a huge breakthrough is made that gives long-term viability to the pure carbon ski concept. Now, pure carbon fiber skis can be made with the consistency and regularity of conventional fiberglass skis. All cosmetic durability issues are nailed. The warranty rate on a high-end carbon skis drops below 1 percent. The future of high-end carbon skis is secured.

2010The groundbreaking Wailer 112RP is introduced alongside a new Women's line. DPS relocates its HQ to SLC—under the shadows and deep snow of the Wasatch.

Editors note:
Bottom line?  What we can do so easily now on some of the most advanced ski designs, you simply couldn't do prior without using a snow board.