Thesis

Apologies for few updates, I’m finishing my Ph.D. thesis.

Gear thoughts from recent months: Microspikes are good, well made, grip well; BD Traverse poles (older model) are heavier, fold nicely, like ’em; BD Ion headlamp requires instruction-reading to install battery, is light, not super bright; 2014 BD Spot headlamp is bright, touch function is ~okay.

Skiing is good.

Allen & Mike’s Avalanche Book

We picked this book up at Powell’s in the autumn. I think my exclamation upon seeing it on the shelf was “No way! Allen and Mike have made an avalanche book!”


AllenAndMikesAvalancheBook

For those not familiar with Allen O’Bannon and Mike Clelland’s telemark and backcountry ski books, they’re informative and well-informed hand-illustrated guides to techniques and skills of use to everyone. All heartily recommended. This new book is up to date and down to earth. Snow science is described in functional detail, and the realities of avalanche terrain are shown in practical and visual detail. As with William Nealy’s “Kayak”, didactic cartoon diagrams can triumph over prose and photos.

For years, my singular recommendation for an introductory avalanche text has been Bruce Tremper’s “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain”. The quality of that text is timeless; it has a new companion. For new skiers without a scientific bent, or for younger backcountry travelers, “Avalanche Book” may be the more-effective book. A backcountry travel course with which I’m affiliated has chosen to try Allen and Mike’s book this year as the course avy text.

Another holiday gift recommendation from MeasuredMass. A look inside follows…

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The Snowflake (Libbrecht, Rasmussen)

A foray past the technical wing of Powell’s Books turned up a bunch of fun reading. Among them is this informative book on snowflakes.

IMG_0641Written by a physicist who developed a specialty in snowflake formation, and beautifully photographed. It’s a broad treatise on snow that’s accessible to everyone, from kids to graduate-level physicists. If you need a snow-focused holiday gift for someone who already has too many skis and bindings, this might be it.

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Voile Drifter 192 cm

After a fun demo of a pair of lightweight 120 mm skis at Vertfest, I’d kept an eye out for a sweet deal on a pair of truly fat skis.  The Drifter, at 153/128/141 mm, fits that bill.

These skis are used, but in stellar shape. The previous owner posted a review here. These skis are almost  certainly from Voile’s “zero-camber” sale of 09/10 skis.  Durability-wise, the previous owner claimed 70+ days; the bases are in stellar condition given that much use.

DrifterOverviewSmall

Weights: From the Wayback Machine in April 2010, the 192 claimed weight/ski was 2.11 kg/ski.  The skis weighed in at 2231 and 2217 g, yielding 2224±12 grams. That’s 5% high, even with binding holes drilled and some wear; perhaps pre-production weights were overoptimistic.

The ski dimensions are internally consistent at better than 100 microns, comparable to the amount of material removed by sharpening an edge. I haven’t yet made a major effort toward quantifying ski dimensions, but this is the best I’ve seen. Very nice work, Voile. Repeatability at that level hints at quality in other contexts. The ski topsheets claim 153/128/141 mm. My measurements give 155.1/127.3/141.3 mm, with uncertainties < 0.1 mm.  The ski shovel is so huge, it’s only barely measureable with a 6″ shop caliper!

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Outdoor Research Stormtracker Glove 2012/13

I have a pair of OR Stormtrackers from 2010/11 that I really love – they’re my favorite glove ever. The softshell material keeps hands warm, but not too warm, in most temperatures we encounter in the Cascades. The Windstopper keeps things dry, at least until the DWR wears out. The old pair is now worn out/holey after two hard years of use, so it’s time for something new.  What better to replace Stormtrackers than Stormtrackers? Found a minor winter/spring sale and bought a pair.

stormtracker_glove_overview

This year’s pair is red, which is nifty. The fit at the wrist isn’t as close as before, but the zipper closure does a better job of sealing at the wrist. Not sure which I’ll prefer. Dexterity is comparable. After some break-in, it may be equivalent.

What about weight? With the usual caveats regarding assessing uncertainty from two measurements, I measure 63.1±1.5 grams per glove, for size XL, or 126.1 g for the pair. The packaging claims 168 g/pair in size L, but the current OR website claims 116 g/pair for size L.

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Goode 95 172 cm Skis

A friend brought a beater pair of Goode 95s by for a mount on the mill. The skis themselves are in great shape, but they’re on their third or fourth mount. Skis have six inserts/ski for tele, and we added eight inserts/ski for La Sportiva bindings. Skis have had other holes filled (or not) with JB Weld.

Skis are stiff, minimal camber. The contact points are quite close to the ends of the ski. Looks like a very traditional design, and may be less forgiving of technical error than some modern skis.  Torsional stiffness is excellent; I’d expect it to hold an edge well.

goode95

 

For these skis, after calibration and unbiasing, I measure 1256 ± 40 grams . Individually, they weighed in at 1279 and 1234 g.  While these skis are holey, I’d be surprised if all 45 grams of difference between the skis is due to their post-sale history. 45 grams is a lot – almost two ounces. But, without a pristine pair, we cannot be sure.

New skis would be somewhat lighter, perhaps 20-30 g. Each ski has 17g+  of inserts alone.