Are worth the weight.

We use lightweight gear to move easily and efficiently in the mountains. It is easy to fall into a heuristic trap and believe that “anything extra will make me slow”, losing sight of “easy and efficient”.

After half a season of touring with radios, I am certain that they make us faster and safer.  Remember that time you lost your partner in the woods and you each spent twenty minutes looking for each other? What about the time that you lost sight of your partner around a dogleg on an uncertain route; is it safe to follow, or is she coming back up? What about that time you skied first, you had something important to say, and the rest of the party couldn’t hear you?

Doug Krause calls radios “an effective means of communication” (n.b. the linked podcast discusses what radios can’t do). He’s right.

What can you do with a radio that you can’t do without? You can ski longer pitches at once. You can stop in safer locations, out of earshot and sight. You can tell your partners when you just ate it in deep snow and it will take you five minutes to find your gear. You can communicate with a partner who got too far ahead of you on the ascent. At a ski area, anywhere in the world (check local laws), you can stay connected to your party.

BCA’s BC-Link radio is the current Cadillac of backcountry radios, but simple FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies will get you started for less than the cost of a lift ticket. Try ’em with your partner this winter, and see if it changes how you ski.


The Mountain Hardware Chuter 15, with added zippers and stitching

The Mountain Hardware Chuter 15, with added zippers and stitching

I am impressed by Andrew McLean’s designs. They’re practical; some break new ground. He’s not afraid to depart from convention to reach practical solutions.

I’d been considering the Chuter 15 ski pack as a functional step up in a small pack. Andrew’s post tipped the scale; I nabbed the last (?) retail Chuter available online. How better to explore a designer’s vision of the ultimate ski pack than to try it? After modifying the pack to correct a major flaw (hence ‘SuperChuter’), it’s the pack I hoped it would be.

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Avalanche Pocket Guide — Bruce Tremper


The ‘Avalanche Pocket Guide’ is perhaps most appropriate as an in-field reference to introductory avalanche texts for skiers in their first 50-100 days or 1-3 years (whichever comes last) travelling in avalanche terrain. Long-time backcountry travelers may like it for completeness, or when teaching, but won’t consult it at every decision point during the day. Check one out in person (or in the photos), to decide it’s useful for you.

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Garmin Tempe Temperature Sensor

Well, I bought a Garmin Fenix watch, to be reviewed soon; but I was just as excited about the little wireless temperature sensor Garmin introduced at the same time.


It’s an ANT+ temperature sensor built into the tiny Garmin footpod form factor. I’m looking forward to using this in winter, when temperature can be of avalanche interest in the field and back at home.

Read on for mass and temperature measurements…

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