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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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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Black Diamond Drift 166 cm 2011/2012

A great deal on a pair of Drifts appeared on our local gear swap today, and I couldn’t pass it up. A friend’s pair of 165 cm Kilowatts is nearing the end of its service life, and the Drifts may be a partial replacement.

BlackDiamondDriftKilowattComparisonBy hand flex, the Drifts are far softer than the Kilowatts; we’ll have to see how they ski in a month or two. The tails are stiffer than the shovels, but they’re softer everywhere than the Kilowatts.

Weight-wise, the skis aren’t mint. The previous owner has drilled them once for Dynafits, and added tip/tail rescue holes. That said, these skis weighed exactly the same on my scale; we’ll call them 1464±1 grams.

I can’t find an official BD spec from the 11/12 season, Backcountry.com (archive.org) claimed 1561 g/ski, which matches a blem spec at GearX. For the 12/13 model year (different graphics), the claim was 1432 g/ski.  These skis are very consistent in weight, and 6% lighter than the original spec, far more than can be explained by the drilled holes.

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Dynafit Broad Peak Carbon Ski Pole 2013

broadPeakPoleOverview

I’ve been toying with the idea of carbon poles for a while. With a gift card generously donated by Evo to the NSAS raffle burning a hole in my desk drawer, I finally gave in.

My original preference would’ve been the BD poles, on reputation alone, but they weren’t in stock for the season.  A friend uses the Dynafit poles with gusto, adding a plus to the Dynafit column. This thread, however,  makes me more than a little concerned for durability.

On to the real thing. With the usual concerns about extracting uncertainties from two measurements, the poles themselves weigh 180.9±2.4 g. The baskets are 13.5±0.4 g. In combination, they’re 194.4±2.4 grams. Dynafit’s claimed weight is 190 grams.

broadPeakPoleLatchView

The Dynafit pole lowers aren’t round, they’re D-shaped, with notches cut in them to physically block the pole from slipping. The engineering and build quality feels very fine; time will tell if the complicated linkage will hold up to years of use. I’m rather partial to the BD flicklock system (why did BD move to something with more moving parts?!), but this system seems reasonable. Dynafit has a two-year warranty on the poles.

Review/more photos below the bump.

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